Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Nick Carter visits Laramie Co. Democrats

Nick Carter's a Gillette attorney who wants to replace Sen. John Barrasso in the U.S. Senate. He paid a visit to last night's meeting of the Laramie County Democrats to drum up support for what will be a long and probably expensive campaign.

Carter uses the word "tough" a lot. That's not unusual for a Wyomingite. "Tough" is supposed to be built into us, either by birth or by choice. We've all seen a lot of fake toughness from politicians who go to Washington and talk tough, but then do something weak-kneed, such as voting against funding for children's health insurance programs (SCHIP). Barrasso, a physician, has done just that, as has Sen. Enzi, a family friend of Carter's from Gillette. Enzi also voted an increase in the minimum wage. He supports Bush's plan to privatize Social Security, the most successful safety net in U.S. history. The list goes on and on.

Barrasso has pledged fealty to Bush and Cheney, voting the party line 95 percent of the time, according to Carter. The Democratic challenger says that he will be tough enough to be nonpartisan, even if the 2008 elections yield a Democratic president and a Dem senator from Wyoming. The latter would be miraculous as well.

Carter equates toughness with action. Ranchers that venture out during blizzards to feed their cattle. Roughnecks who work on the rigs in all kinds of conditions. The single mother who sacrifices buying work shoes because she needs the money to take her child to the doctor.

"In Washington, we have problems now that need somebody tough," he said.

O.K., I don't mind all the talk about tough. But what are his policies, say, on the Iraq War?

"A tough senator from Wyoming will force the next administration to define victory without the cliches," he said, adding that the military needs to define its mission and offer a plan on how best to exit Iraq.

A tough senator will require "a strict accounting as to where $2 billion a week is going in Iraq." He noted that Wyoming's share of that war spending is about $40 million a week. "That could finance clean coal technology and health care for all," said Carter.

In the end, he said, the so-called surge "is just a band-aid -- it's going to wear out. It's up to the Iraqis to figure this out."

I have no idea if Carter is a church-going guy, but most politicians seem keen to mention religion at least once in every talk, much more often if you're a Republican. Nick Carter wrapped things up by talking about a different type of toughness, one that considers the plight of fellow humans. He says that he tries to follow Jesus's principle on that -- "that which you do for the least of my brethren you do for me."

That "least" group has gained one heck of a lot of new members ever since Bush went to D.C. People without health care and jobs and homes. If "tough" is the answer, bring it on.

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