Thursday, August 23, 2012

Character And Cowardice

It's always a sign of a person's character when we see how they react when faced with a difficult or personally embarrassing task.

A staff acquaintance and one of our regular readers, Randy Moody, showed exactly the kind of mettle this week that we expect to see in those we respect. A former lobbyist for the National Education Association, Moody also happens to be an old-fashioned Nebraska Republican - one with sense. What Moody did that was newsworthy was simple: he stood up for his principles.

Moody submitted a women's health care plank to the platform committee of the national Republican Party in Tampa. His proposal called for women to have the choice to control all their own health care needs - including abortion. As anyone who has been paying attention to American politics and the media must be aware, that plank was immediately tossed out of the debate in Tampa - no surprise to anyone familiar with the current GOP.

Even if the platform debates for either party are little more than a formality, at least the national Republican Party membership showed they know how to debate topics in public.

That's a trick Republicans should show their craven U.S. Senate nominee, Deb Fischer.

In case you've missed the news in the midst of the political firestorms caused by others in the Republican Party, the upcoming debate for the open U.S. Senate seat from Nebraska is the only debate scheduled for that contest so far.

It's not that Bob Kerrey has been avoiding debates. In fact, since Deb Fischer surprised everyone with her May primary win, Kerrey's camp has been attempting to schedule as many as seven faceoffs. He's even agreed to debate Fischer on Fox News, nationally - a hostile climate for any politician who isn't already bought and paid for by the billionaire masters of the far right, let alone a moderate Democrat like Kerrey.

Fischer, on the other hand, has deftly avoided debate - and also most media coverage. That would include many news organizations in the third district, according to our contacts and observation. Apparently, Fischer doesn't trust herself enough to correctly spout the kind of right-wing extremist nonsense that the fanatics of the GOP base love, but that scare the hell out of normal, sane Nebraskans.

In contrast, Bob Kerrey has been more than ready to face the tough questions, both in debates and in person. In fact, Kerrey's readiness to take on the tough questions, from whomever, wherever, whenever, earned him an unusual writeup by journalist Frank Bruni this week.  Bruni made the point that Kerrey is more than willing to address his consistent stands on gay rights, women's rights, debt and taxes - a bold stance dating back decades that many in both politics and the media seem to be stunned to see. Kerrey's more than willing to take a stand on his on ag policies too.

Sadly, since Fischer has been avoiding much of the Nebraska media, few unbiased critiques and interviews of her have been available to the voters of Nebraska. Apparently, she'd rather send out press releases and have her campaign flacks take calls and claim conflicts so she just can't appear at more than one debate.

This Saturday, at the Nebraska State Fair, Fischer will have to face the only debate crowd she's agreed to, so far. We hope neither candidate tries to hide from what we hope are brutally tough questions. We're fairly certain, from Bob Kerrey's actions, record, and history, that he will be ready to show everyone who he is, for better or worse.

As we've said previously, when they show you who they are, believe them. We hope Nebraskans are paying attention this Saturday.

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