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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, October 11, 2006

John Kline: "Steadfast in Backing the President's Domestic and Foreign Policy Actions"

[Disclaimer: This post was first published on Coleen Rowley's campaign weblog.]

So says Kevin Diaz of the Star Tribune in a profile of Kline which appears in tomorrow's paper (Coleen is also profiled). When discussing Kline's campaign style, Diaz only gives us part of the story:

Far from adopting the typical incumbent's "rose garden" strategy of ignoring a rookie challenger, Kline has aggressively attacked Rowley in direct mail pieces designed to portray her as a fringe liberal out of touch with a bucolic district of farms and new suburbs.

Diaz is being charitable here. In an earlier piece, he described Kline's mailers as mudslinging. But in all of the discussion about Kline's attack politics, one salient fact is often left out: there has been very little of substance to John Kline's campaign. Of the four campaign mailings he's done (that we know of) only one mentioned any of John Kline's positions or votes in Congress. He's refused a number of debates, including most notably the League of Women Voters debate. And of course, his campaign web site is a joke.

Nevertheless, ths campaign is all about issues, and we get some brief glimpses into where Kline stands on them in this article.

We start with the central issue in the campaign: Iraq.

"Ultimately, we have to win," he said. "And win means an Iraq that is self-governing, sustainable, and capable of defending itself."

Like Bush, Kline defines Iraq as a central front in the war on terror, a formulation opposed by Rowley, who argues that the U.S. invasion was a strategic blunder unrelated to the larger war on terrorism.

An Iraq that is "self-governing, sustainable, and capable of defending itself" would no doubt be a great benefit to Middle East stability and the world. But after 2,700 U.S. troop fatalities, an estimated 655,000 Iraqi fatalities, and at least $6 billion a month spent for more than 3 years, our top generals in the region describe the sectarian violence as the worst it's ever been. Kline and Bush are great at describing noble goals, but their track record shows they have no idea how to achieve them. But John Kline is determined to continue on the same failed course if he's sitting in Congress in 2007.

Next issue: Kline runs as a "strong fiscal conservative," which is laughable on its face. Apart from the roughly $400 billion which has been spent bungling the so-called War on Terror, the federal debt ceiling has been raised no fewer than 5 times since Bush took office, from $5.95 trillion to $9.62 trillion --- more than a 50% increase in the debt limit. Kline may believe strongly in fiscal conservatism, but he doesn't seem to have acted on his principles much.

By the way, Coleen supports a return to the 'pay as you go', or PAYGO rules, which require that all new spending increases or tax cuts be balanced by equal spending cuts or tax increases --- a policy which, in the late 1990's helped Bill Clinton steer the federal budget into surplus. Coleen's position on this issue and many others is available on her National Political Awareness Test. Much to the surprise of no one, John Kline hasn't yet filled out one of these.

We get one-liners for Kline's positions on a number of issues:

On immigration, he has taken a more hard-line position than the White House, opposing Senate proposals for a guest-worker program, which he sees as a form of amnesty.

Kline has voted for measures to restrict federal funding for embryonic stem cell research, back a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage and grant the federal courts jurisdiction in the Terri Schiavo life-support dispute in Florida.

Kline and his supporters love to use the "amnesty" label when discussing immigration, but it's just a political trick. There are an estimated 11 million persons in the U.S. illegally; for them, Coleen supports an earned path to citizenship, which Kline denounces as "amnesty". So does Kline advocate rounding up all 11 million and deporting them, a process which we could never complete even if all U.S. law enforcement ignored all other crimes, which would tear apart communities, not to mention families where the children born here are now U.S. citizens? Kline doesn't have a good answer to that question. When Alan Miller asked that question on the public access TV show Access to Democracy, Kline responded:

Well, it wouldn't be, I mean, it's a false choice to say we have to let them stay or we have to bus them out. That's not the choice that's there. Many will leave themselves if there's a mechanism for them to come back in . . . .

So apparently Kline's solution is to persuade these 11 million people to leave the U.S. voluntarily. That's about as realistic as his support for the war in Iraq. On the issue of same-sex marriage, the article doesn't tell you that John Kline opposed the Federal Marriage Amendment before he voted for it. The article also overlooks Kline's rock-ribbed support for George Bush's doomed effort to privatize Social Security.

The differences between these two candidates couldn't be more clear. John Kline is a "steadfast" supporter of George Bush who supports an open-ended, indefinite commitment of U.S. troops in Iraq, a fiscal conservative who can't keep the lid on exploding federal debt, who wants to privatize Social Security, and who recently voted to eliminate habeas corpus and give George Bush discretion in obeserving the Geneva Conventions, because he trusts George Bush to do the right thing.

Coleen Rowley, on the other hand, supports responsible redeployment from Iraq, has a plan to do something about the debt, believes that we can keep America safe while remaining true to our values of liberty and justice, wants health care for every American, and will work to restore ethics and accountability to government and hold George Bush accountable for six years of failed leadership.

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