Sunday, November 07, 2004

Senate Freshmen

God has blessed the U.S. Senate with 5 God-fearing Christians: Meet the New Republican Senate.

Tom Coburn - Oklahoma

The former doctor and three-term Congressman elected during the "Gingrich Revolution" of 1994 is undoubtedly the most right-wing member of his new Senate class. Coburn called his campaign against conservative Democrat Brad Carson "a battle of good vs. evil," suggested blacks have a genetic disposition toward a shorter life expectancy, and said "lesbianism is so rampant in some of the schools in southeast Oklahoma that they'll only let one girl go to the bathroom." Most noteworthy, Coburn favors "the death penalty for abortionists and other people who take life," explaining his ardent opposition by noting how his great-grandmother was raped by a territorial sheriff. Not surprisingly, he earned a 97 percent lifetime approval rating from the American Conservative Union (ACU).

Jim DeMint - South Carolina

A fellow three-term fundamentalist Christian Congressman, DeMint caused an uproar in his race against Democrat Inez Tenenbaum by saying that homosexuals and pregnant women with live-in boyfriends should be forbidden to teach in public schools. He opposes abortion even in the case of rape or incest and doesn't think gays should be able to adopt. A virulent supporter of strong national defense and unfettered free trade, DeMint told his opponents in a Republican primary debate to "stop whining about job losses." He advocates a flat federal income tax and co- sponsored a bill in the House to raise the national sales tax to a whopping 23 percent. DeMint matched Coburn's 97 percent lifetime rating from the ACU.

Mel Martinez - Florida

President Bush's former Housing Secretary earned rebukes from the state press for his dirty campaigning in the GOP primary and general election. The St. Petersburg Times took the unprecedented step of revoking its endorsement of Martinez after he ran ads calling his opponent--conservative Republican Bill McCollum--"the new darling of homosexual extremists" and "antifamily" for supporting bipartisan federal hate crime legislation and expanded stem cell research. Martinez accused his opponent in the general election--former state superintendent Betty Castor-- of allowing a "terrorist cell" at the University of South Florida, allegedly run by professor Sami Al-Arian.

John Thune - South Dakota

In his successful bid to knock off Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, the three- term Congressman pulled out every dirty trick in the book. In addition to illegally intimidating Native American voters, his campaign employed the "Southern Strategy" by sending out mailings reading "The dogs are lining up to vote for Tom Daschle,"--a reference to old racist store signs that used to say "No Dogs or Indians Allowed." As if blatant racism wasn't enough, Republicans sent out "Vote for Daschle and Vote for Sodomy" stickers to churches across the state. Finally, six South Dakota Republican campaign workers, including Thune's nephew, were forced to resign after forging absentee ballots, but later dispatched to help run ground operations for the GOP in Ohio. Thune would make Tony Soprano proud.

David Vitter - Louisiana

This far-right, family-values, three-term Congressman becomes the first Republican Senator elected in Louisiana since Reconstruction. As Vitter prepared to run for governor in 2002, the secretary of the Jefferson Parish Republican Party accused him of an 11-month affair with a prostitute. He denied the allegations but withdrew from the governor's race due to marital problems. Two years later Vitter--whom Charles Pierce calls "a polite David Duke"--ran for the Senate opposing all forms of abortion, gun control and affirmative action, prompting cries of racism in the heavily-African American state. He also ran possibly the most ludicrous ad of the political season, showing UN troops from Libya, North Korea and Cuba taking over Louisiana elections and lowering the American flag. Vitter even outdid his formidable arch-conservative colleagues by scoring a perfect 100 from the ACU in 2002, for a lifetime average of 93.
And on the Democrat side we have someone who sounds like we can allow him to live: Barack Osama On Meet The Press.

MR. RUSSERT: But, Mr. Obama, is it possible to find common ground on issues like abortion? If the president sends to the Senate a candidate for the Supreme Court, who every indication would vote to overturn Roe vs. Wade, or if the Democrats want to have national legislation which would sanction civil unions for gays and the president opposed it, or the president wants private accounts for Social Security or replace the IRS with a flat tax or a sales tax, can you find common ground on those kinds of issues where there are deeply held political and sometimes moral views?

SEN.-ELECT OBAMA: Well, look, I think some are more difficult than others. There's no doubt that on the issue of abortion, oftentimes it's very difficult to split the difference, although we can agree on the notion that none of us are pro-abortion and all of us would like to see a reduction in unwanted pregnancies, for example, and we could focus on those issues. I think that when it comes to Social Security, all of us want to make sure that our senior citizens can retire with dignity and respect. And everybody has to be open-minded in thinking how do we firm up a system that, in fact, is going to be in difficulty in the coming years. So I absolutely think that it's possible for us to find common ground.

You know, the president called me this week. He was extraordinarily gracious in congratulating me. We both agreed that our wives are sharper than we are, which was nice. And my sense is, is that if we can disagree without being disagreeable and if we're not involved in the sort of slash-and-burn politics that I think has become the custom in Washington, but we seek out common ground on the enormous challenges that we face ahead, whether it's the global economy that Karl Rove just mentioned and how we make sure that the middle class is, in fact, sustainable in this global competition or we're talking about how we provide the education that our children need so that they can succeed, those are issues where we all share, I think, success and one of the things I told the president was that we all have a stake in seeing him have a successful presidency. I don't think that the Democrats succeed by rooting against the president in office but we have to be honest where we disagree with him and he's got to make his case where he's presenting issues that we're skeptical about.


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