Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Dance with who brung her 

Each campaign in the Minnesota Sixth District House race brought out new ads this week. Incumbent Mark Kennedy runs an ad in which he ties himself to Bush's pursuit of the GWOT. It's pretty straightforward (though someone needs to tell Mrs. Kennedy to hold her head still in looking at either her husband or the camera). Challenger Patty Wetterling has an ad in which others cite her devotion to child issues as showing her as "tireless" and suggesting she'll work for Minnesota families. How she'll do that, we can't see in that ad. Like the discussion yesterday, these ads are more about image and posture than about issues, though other Kennedy ads have more substantive discussion.

Wetterling is unhappy that Kennedy's ad might indicate she doesn't support the GWOT as played out in Afghanistan. But she took money from MoveOn, and I doubt they'll be happy that she's supporting the U.S. role there, and that she's only upset with the cost of Iraq rather than the conflict there. That article also says she's flipped her views on late-term abortions.

Wetterling retreated from previous statements that she and others made that she opposed second-trimester and late-term abortions.

"I did have concerns about late-term and second-trimester," she said Monday. "I always have concerns about these. But it's between the woman and her doctor."

Wetterling said she opposes mandatory parental notification before a minor obtains an abortion, as well as a ban on so-called partial-birth abortion that has no exception for the mother's health.

...At her campaign kickoff in May, she said she was pro-choice but that she opposed second-trimester and late-term abortions. That was how campaign staffers described her position as recently as last week.

My estimable NARN colleague Captain Ed considers Wetterling's campaign a failure.

Wetterling hasn't clearly articulated any policy stands, and even on the basic abortion issues has communicated confusion and a lack of thought and philosophy. For a woman her age to launch a Congressional run without having a well-thought-out answer to the basic questions of abortion demonstrates not only a lack of preparation but a lack of skill as well.

It's apparent that Wetterling is little more than a placeholder, a woman with name recognition that the Democrats hoped would have enough sympathy to derail Kennedy's re-election. Instead of providing the Democrats with solid name recognition of her own, however, she has served to remind us of all the vacillating qualities at the top of the Democratic ticket this November without any of the experience that John Kerry has, whether he runs on it or not. She is an empty suit, a cipher, another Chauncey Gardener in a Democratic ticket full of them.

I don't completely agree with that. You would have to recall that she was sought out by the national Democratic party leadership when 2002 replay Janet Roberts dropped out of the race just before the party's district nominating convention. She hadn't prepared for this. All the advice at the time was for her to bone up and get ready to debate issues and show she had broadened her knowledge. But perhaps she's made a calculated decision to simply be who she is, which is a children's advocate, because she doesn't have the resume to be anything else. Jacob's Hope is how she got here, and she may well have decided to dance with who brung her.