Monday, February 25, 2008

Who Bullies whom? -- A reply to the World-Herald -- PJM

Some of you may have read the Editorial page of the Omaha World-Herald on Friday suggesting the Nebraska GOP quit bullying a poor young candidate and an old U.S. Senator and quit attacking the Nebraska Supreme Court Justices appointed by that old U.S. Senator. In the event you didn't, it is copied below. With that said, your fearless diatribist authored a rebuttal which was quickly dismissed by the editorial page editor as an insult to his integrity. While said diatribist may have been a little aggressive in his assertions, he thought he would share his rebuttal with you. It follows the World-Herald Editorial. For the sake of decorum, the dialogue between said diatribist and the editorial page editor has been omitted. However, as that dialogue did assert on behalf of said editorial page editor his total fairness, said diatribist would recall that his rebuttal to an extremely flowery piece on soon to be declared U.S. Senate candidate Scott Kleeb (see diatribe of November 27, 2007) was never published or acknowledged by said editor. Said diatribist believes "fairness" toward conservative rhetoric continues to defined by he who buys the ink by the barrel.....

"Omaha World-Herald "02/22/2008, Page B06
"No need for bullying"
The Nebraska Republican Party is so dominant statewide that its closest competitor barely causes a blip when it gains 7,000 registrants on a single day and earns national attention in presidential politics.

Nebraska Republicans hold an advantage in registered voters of roughly 200,000 people. That’s why many Democrats change party to pursue power. In the Cornhusker State, at least, strength lies in GOP numbers.

That is why it was so distasteful to see the state GOP take needless shots at a young candidate (an Iraq War veteran) who has shown public mindedness by running as a challenger for an occupied U.S. House seat in the 1st District. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, who has proven himself a capable lawmaker, doesn’t need that kind of help from the state party.

Nor was it necessary to see the GOP so brusquely inject partisan overtones into its criticism of Nebraska’s independent judiciary after the Nebraska Supreme Court overturned a controversial but long-standing method of execution.

Republicans are not unique, of course. The Nebraska Democratic Party sends out snarky press releases poking fun at GOP elected officials all the time. Juvenile rhetoric from political parties is, lamentably, par for the course in America.

But in Nebraska, the GOP is so dominant that it shouldn’t be difficult for the party to show some class and rise above knee-jerk pettiness. A state party with an established power structure and prominent elected officeholders should not stoop to simple knuckle- busting.

Republicans don’t need to amplify the mistake of a young congressional candidate who foolishly posted personal photographs of youthful indiscretions online. But they did, and they should be embarrassed.

As for the State Supreme Court’s decision declaring the electric chair unconstitutional, the ruling certainly was open to criticism on a variety of scores. But the Nebraska GOP instead chose to cast partisan doubt on a respectable, independent court that has acted in an overwhelming majority of its decisions with sound, thoughtful legal judgment.

It might be legitimate to note which Democratic governor appointed all but one member of the current court. Left unsaid, though, was that that former governor, U.S. Sen. Ben Nelson, supports capital punishment. In fact, as governor he oversaw three executions and supported adding lethal injection as a method of execution, though the Legislature refused to act.

Even Ronald Reagan had judges decide against his preferences. So grow up. Press your own elected officials to pursue the adoption of a legal method of execution. That’s a proactive use of power more worthy of the state’s majority party. State GOP needs to act like mature, majority party, not brawler."

And the Reponse:

"The World-Herald’s editorial “No Need For Bullying”, February 22, 2008, while appearing to be well-intended simply obscures and reflects an overall political bias against the Nebraska Republican Party. The paper has a difficult time dealing with the prominence of the Nebraska Republican Party and its ‘underdog’ Democrat counterpart.

Recently, one would have concluded that the World-Herald had launched a massive effort to revitalize the Democrat party based on countless news articles and opinion pieces by Robert Nelson, Mike Kelly and the editorial page lauding the Democrats for their caucuses. Could such a barrage of opinion be construed as anything short of promotion for the ‘underdog’ party that has only one state-wide elected individual, Senator Nelson? Certainly as a result, Nebraskans know how a caucus works and how it has apparently created this great sense of rejuvenation among Democrats. On the other hand, one might ask why there has been virtually no information about how the Republican delegate selection works? Since the GOP is so dominant, maybe that doesn’t matter? It might be nice if the World-Herald were to discuss how Nebraska Republicans could participate in the GOP delegate selection process, how they need to file to attend county conventions by March 3rd, how they need to file a notice of intention to be a delegate, how they need to be elected at county convention to be a delegate to their state convention where they run for election as a delegate to their national convention. Maybe the World-Herald should note the May presidential contests for both parties are mere beauty contests? Fairness, thus far, seems to favor the ‘underdog’ Democrats.

The World-Herald editorial page has consistently panned the notion of political parties in the ‘non-partisan’ legislature, inferring that party politics has no basis there. Yet, not all of the paper’s reporters get the message as at least on occasion the paper notes the political affiliation of those who have filed.

Having noted the above biases it is instructive to consider the criticisms of the February 22, editorial. Yes, Congressman Fortenberry is a proven and capable lawmaker whom Nebraska voters in the 1st Congressional District our proud. Because the Nebraska GOP believes in the two-party system, it also recognizes that it has an obligation to its members, candidates and officer holders such as Fortenberry. Consequently, to look hard (not bullyingly) at those who oppose its candidates is its responsibility. Fortenberry’s opponent was certainly not criticized because he is a war veteran. No party supports the military more than the GOP and it is deeply appreciative of the service of Fortenberry’s opponent. On the other hand, if his opponent lacks the maturity to understand what his web and Face Book postings mean and convey, that is certainly relevant for the GOP to share with voters. Having observed the slash and burn election tactics of the Nebraska Democrat party over recent years one wonders what motivates the righteous indignation of the paper’s editorial page in this instance?

As to the party’s comments about Senator Nelson and the Nebraska Supreme Court, the GOP has every right to criticize. The party has consistently criticized Nelson in his re-election to governor and in his senate campaigns for the partisan appointment of Democrats only to the Nebraska Supreme Court. The World-Herald editorial page has never criticized Nelson for such overt partisanship. Judicial appointments are a legacy for both governors and presidents. Those that appoint deserve rightful criticism or praise for the decisions of their appointees.

In the same regard, the GOP has every right to criticize what amounts to legislating from the bench by Nelson’s six liberal Supreme Court appointees. There decision to virtually eliminate the death penalty flies in the face of the opinion of the majority of Nebraskans and the platform of the Republican Party. Oddly, the World-Herald suggests that Republicans press their “own elected officials to pursue the adoption of a legal method of execution.” Does that mean that in this instance there is in fact a role for partisanship in the legislature? In the case of ‘the Nelson six’, you can bet that the Nebraska Republican Party will actively oppose retention of these judges given their activist decision.

The strength of the party system is that it promotes its platform, its candidates and its office holders. While often times the process isn’t pretty, in the end it defines who wins and loses and it promotes the opinions of those it represents. If this is bullying, the Nebraska Republican Party proudly pleads guilty."


Anonymous said...

The World Herald will dance with anyone until it feels its veneer of fairness is being pierced by truth, revealing its ugly bias. Then it sews your mouth shut. It is a solid monopoly of print information, which necessarily makes it more like Joseph Goebbles than like the Fourth Estate.

Anonymous said...

I am reminded of that Teddy Roosevelt saying about the man who is not afraid to enter the arena and get his nose bloodied (that would be you) as compared to the whimpering weaklings that sit on the sideline (that would be the OWH). Thanks for the effort.

Anonymous said...

Don’t ever expect to be treated fairly if you a Conservative Republican.