Today I was in Winston-Salem to see Jim Neal address local Dems and hear his views before making my decision on who to support in the primary race the US Senate. When I arrived at the venue I learned that it was actually a double bill, with Kay Hagan as well.
I was told by one of the folks helping organize the event that Ms. Hagan had been invited to appear with Mr. Neal so that questions could be put to both candidates at the same time, highlighting their similarities and differences on the issues of the day. Ms. Hagan, however, declined to appear with Mr. Neal for some reason, so she was first up on the stage and took questions from two moderators, who picked from questions submitted by the audience.
This annoyed me, since if I have to submit my questions in advance and have them filtered, then I can attend a Republican candidate's talk (to their credit when I made this point, in writing, they took some questions directly from the audience during Mr. Neal's time).
Since questions were being screened and I had already heard Ms. Hagan's views I decided to take a walk and come back when Mr. Neal was up. I spent 15 minutes in a nice park catching up on the news on my iPod and began to think that perhaps I should go listen to her again, in the interest of fairness. First impressions can sometimes be misleading, and so I owed her another look. I went back in and listened to her expound on her views.
Interestingly enough, she seemed determined to impress upon us the need for "crossing the aisle" to accomplish legislation. She explains that that is how she accomplished so mush in Raleigh over the years. She expressed no desire to "fall on her sword" for issues when the best solution to them was compromise.
Where do I begin.
First, Ms. Hagan, Washington is not Raleigh, NC. In North Carolina we actually have a few sane Republicans who understand the need to work with Democrats in order to solve North Carolina's problems. This is just not so in Washington. There are no moderate Republicans who will buck the party on any issue of substance. Those that do are driven from office by the howling loons like Grover Norquist and James Dobson.
As a friend of mine recently put it, "Bipartisanship = date rape in the mind of your average Republican on the Hill."
Second, I don't want you to "fall on your sword" for ANYTHING, I want you to brain looney Republicans with your sword and explain to them that the adults are now back in charge of the nation. The fact that you seem to believe that a sword is a device for harming yourself, rather than defeating the opposition speaks volumes as to why you are not suited for the job you seek. We can't expect to accomplish anything in Washington if I and other North Carolinians have to constantly remind you "the pointy side goes toward the enemy."
If I was shocked by naivety about the lay of the political landscape, I was not prepared for the next question she answered.
She was asked if she would have voted for, or against, the FISA bill this week which would have granted retroactive immunity to Telcos for felony violations of the current FISA law.
Ms. Hagan explained that she was against Telcos spying on Americans, but that she would have voted FOR the bill, and granted them immunity, but that future law breaking would not be tolerated.
I'm sorry, but such an answer is worthy of Joe Lieberman and shows that Ms. Hagan is either hopelessly in the pocket of the Telcos, or completely ignorant of FISA, what it entails, and why these people must be prosecuted, or the whole rule of law becomes a joke.
I inferred from her remarks that she believes that the Telcos broke the law with "the best of intentions" and that is why they should get a pass. That AT&T et al, were so concerned about national security they agreed to something they didn't realize was illegal.
Sorry, that is just pure crap. They knew what they were doing, and if we put their asses on trial we'll probably learn the reason they did it was the promise of future contracts (after all, we need somebody to monitor these taps since we don't have enough FBI agents for the job and Halliburton's plate already full). We will also learn that the wiretaps were going on long before 9/11 and that the people being watched were probably probably watched for political, not criminal reasons. Retroactive immunity is the price Bush is willing to pay to keep these people off the stand and talking.
Bush and his Vichy Democrat collaborators frame the Telco immunity debate as being about saving American lives. It is nothing of the sort, unless these same people hold Telco immunity as more important than American lives, then the simple, sensible and ethical thing to do would be to strip immunity from the bill and pass the bill so as "keep us safe", while the issue of Telco immunity is debated separately. The only reason the immunity was put in the FISA bill was so Bush could accused anyone who didn't vote for the bill as helping terrorists and endangering America.
It is a kindergarten-level ploy that seems to be beyond the ken of folks like Kay Hagan, who has apparently fallen for it hook, line and sinker. Either that, or Ms. Hagan puts the welfare of corporations above the law, she'll have to tell us which it is.
No matter how we address it, Ms. Hagan has has expressed her willingness to excuse multiple felonies committed against the American people in order to "reach across the aisle" and "compromise" with the Republicans in the spirit of "bi-partisanship".
To that, I only have only this to say:
For the record, Jim Neal was completely opposed to immunity and would have voted NO on the bill.
Aside from the FISA issues Mrs Hagan is also a bit vague on issues like the war in Iraq and groups like Blackwater. She came to Carteret County and informed us that she was being backed by GOV Easley and several other "top" NC DEMs. I listened to her stump speech twice in one morning and the 2nd time when she got asked about the war and privitization of military functions(Blackwater/mercs) she tried to reiterate her line on NC being military friendly and how both her and her husband's families have strong ties with the military. No substantive explanation of how or if she would work to extract our troops from Iraq or pull the plugs on no-bid contracts. Hers was almost a "stay the course" line to me. Not exactly what I'd hoped to hear. Maybe she's courting the fence sitting REPUBs??
Haven't listened to Mr Neal yet but if he's got better ideas than Mrs Hagen I'm looking forward to supporting him as a more positive alternative to Liddy Dole and/or Burr.