Bizarro worldThe race for the local Congressional seat (NY-20) is something straight out of bizarro world. For one thing, I'm still shocked that this actually appears to be something resembling a competitive race. Upstate New York is a very conservative area. The district has far more Republicans than Democrats. The seat representing my area has bee in Republican hands since the 1978 election. I can't even remember the last time a GOP incumbent was even faced with a close election. While the Republican incumbent has had little drips and drabs of problems, there's no 'perfect storm' to indicate that he'd be vulnerable in what has always been considered a safe GOP seat. Yet somehow, Rep. John Sweeney has a race on his hands.
His Democrat opponent, Kirsten Gillibrand, is certainly savvy and has a campaign behind her with two attributes Democrat candidates for this seat usually lack: professionalism and a fair amount of money. She's slick and smooth and without a great deal of substance or vision. She strikes me like Hillary Clinton-lite. Her main campaign theme is 'Sweeney = Bush.' Given how conservative this area is, I'm surprised that it appears to be working; the latest poll has her trailing by only 8 percent for a seat Republicans usually win by at least 25 points without breaking a sweat. Then again, this area is more conservative than Republican and a lot of traditional 'smaller government' conservatives are dismayed with the direction of the current Republican administration.
I believe there are two smaller party opponents in the race, but you wouldn't know it by reading the local Post-Star. The paper regularly runs editorials (rightly) criticizing Sweeney and Gillibrand for attacking each other and not talking enough about substance. Given their avowed disgust with the two major party candidates, you'd think the daily would do a little digging to see what the smaller party candidates think about the important issues. Especially since their reporters are already spending time on the alleged non-issues brought up by Sweeney and Gillibrand so denounced in the editorials. But it's no secret that The Post-Star, like most other corporate media outlets that claim to 'not make news, just report it,' would rather pretend that smaller party candidates didn't exist at all.
However, the most recent diversion is amusing enough to comment on.
Gillibrand proposes an eventual withdrawal from Iraq but it's cautious and fuzzy enough to be 'flexible.' As I said, Hillary Clinton-lite.
Sweeney has been an unquestioning defender of President Bush's non-strategy for unlimited and directionless war.
MoveOn.org has been airing commercials denouncing Sweeney, who's gotten tons of outside help too. Sweeney attacked the MoveOn ads which, in his words, were designed "to help Kirsten Gillibrand who, while cheering them on, was caught red-faced profiteering off the war in Iraq with war stock that has tripled as young American men and women fight for freedom."
In reality, Gillibrand's husband owns some sort of retirement fund which has investments in so-called defense contractors. That's the 'profiteering' in question.
Sweeney denounces her for allegedly profiting from an ad infintum war that he has voted for at every step of the way.
Is it only acceptable for companies with Republican ties to profit from the 'fight for freedom'?
Let me get this straight: Gillibrand wants end a disaster from which she's accused of profiting from personally. Sweeney is comfortable with the non-strategy of American troops dying in Iraq indefinitely, with no clear mission and with no expectations of Iraqis being able to provide for their own security.
Which is the less honorable position?