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Disclaimer: The author of this site maintained the campaign weblog of John Kline's opponent in the 2006 election, which made Congressman Kline a bit testy.

As with all blogs, review the facts carefully and draw your own conclusions.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

A "Conservative Yet Independent" Republican

This past Monday, John Kline kicked off his campaign for a third term in Congress, describing himself as a "conservative yet independent" Republican.

No, really, that's what he said.

Now, claiming "independence" is a sly way for Kline to attempt to distance himself from George Bush and the Republican culture of corruption Kline has been marinating in for the past 3 years. But all independence really means is that Kline makes his own decisions about issues, which may very well be the case. However, sifting through Minnesota's major dailies published since Kline entered political life, it is remarkable to note how frequently he independently makes the same choices as George W. Bush:

  • During his 1998 and 2000 races for Congress, both of which he narrowly lost to Luther, Kline spoke approvingly of Grams' idea [for changing Social Security] but didn't endorse its specifics. In 1998, Kline said the final shape of Social Security "is going to look something like the proposal that Senator Grams has put on the table." In 2000, Kline said that he liked Grams' idea but that "Grams would move faster than I would prefer to do - so I have endorsed proposals such as that proposed by Governor Bush." (Star Tribune, August 5, 2002. What's interesting about this is that in 1998, Kline independently decided he liked the plan of incumbent senator Rod Grams. But in 2000, when Bush was running a strong campaign against Gore and Grams was headed to certain defeat against Mark Dayton, Kline independently decided he liked Bush's plan better.)
  • Kline argues that Iraq and the war on terrorism are the dominant issues. If Republicans are in control, he said, "there's a much better chance that the president's agenda would be advanced," especially in foreign policy. Republicans, Kline said, are more likely to lower taxes, cut spending, provide regulatory relief and streamline bureaucracy. (Pioneer Press, October 18, 2002. It seems a bit dishonest of Kline to ask voters to support him in order to advance Bush's agenda, since Kline is of course planning to decide issues independently of Bush's agenda.)
  • Countered Rep. John Kline, R-Lakeville, "I think that the president has done an incredible job, a remarkable job, in dealing with a major reorganization of government with homeland security, in attacking truly a global war on terror with great success, in putting together an economic package that I give a great deal of credit to for a rate of growth and recovery." (Pioneer Press, January 21, 2004. Kline can't say enough good things about Bush --- but don't be fooled into thinking he's a rubber stamp!)
  • A strong supporter of Bush administration policies on Iraq and the detention of suspected Al-Qaida fighters, Kline said U.S. guards in Guantanamo are "extremely sensitive to any notion that there is anything abusive or inhumane going on." (Star Tribune, July 13, 2005. Of course it's only a coincidence that Kline supports administration interrogation policies.)

On each of what many might consider the principal initiatives of the Bush administration, there was no supporter more loyal than John Kline. These are the war in Iraq, tax cuts, and Social Security privatization. Perhaps Kline did independently arrive on his position on these issues, and it just so happened to coincide perfectly with Bush's. But independent or not, Kline was as effective a rubber stamp as Bush could have hoped for.

And then there are the loyalty rankings. In 2003, Kline voted with his Republican colleagues 99% of the time, and with the Bush agenda 98% (Pioneer Press, October 18, 2004). In 2004, those numbers dropped a bit, to 99 and 94, respectively. I haven't been able to find these numbers for 2005; if anyone can point me to a URL, I'll post them.

Kline also voted with indicted former House majority leader Tom DeLay more than 97% of the time.


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