Democracy Has Prevailed.

September 28, 2006

I Interviewed Bob Casey

I interviewed Bob Casey this evening. No joke - he was on a cell phone in a busy (and noisy!) airport somewhere and I was in my quiet apartment in Shadyside.

I knew he didn't have a lot of time so I wanted to make sure the first question was something interesting, so I worked it over for the last few days and came up with something that went like:
Pundits from across the state have been saying that no matter what the polls look like, it's going to be a close race. Given that, and given the fact that Bob Casey is not from (and this was not meant as a criticism) the liberal wing of the Democratic Party, what is he doing, or planning on doing to reach out to that section of the electorate that has a political philosophy more left leaning than his? In other words, there are lots of people in the state that will vote for him precisely because he's NOT Rick Santorum, but will that be enough? And if not how will he be reaching out to the States progressives to make sure he has enough votes?
Something like that.

He started by saying that he was looking to make the choice very clear for the voters. On his side there's a "new direction" and on the other, there's "stay the course" with Bush/Cheney. He went beyond that rather simple dichotomy, however, and said that he's not going to be working on just the major priorities (Economy, War on Terror, etc) but also on getting back to the basics of the Democratic Party (Education, Fighting for the powerless, etc) and reiterated a few things that we've all known for a while - Santorum's 98% voting record with Bush and Santorum's connections to Big Oil.

On Abortion specifically, he pointed out while he differs with the pro-choice community, he's hoped that his positions on other connected issues (family planning/caring for new mothers before and after the births of their children) would make a stronger case for a vote for Casey as opposed to a vote for Rick Santorum.

I then went on to ask him about something I'd seen on his website. It's written there that if he were to be elected Senator, he'd ask the "tough questions" and "demand accountability" so I asked which tough questions, exactly? Accountability for what?

That's when we began to talk about Iraq.

He said that when a nation faces a very serious matter such as war, the very minimum a Senator (or House Member) should do - whatever the party affiliation - is to ask questions about all aspects the conflict. Here he pointed out that Rick Santorum didn't ask a single tough question about the war.

Casey said he would have asked about the body armor, an exit strategy, whether there's a plan to disarm the militias (important now that there are issues of a nasty Civil War at hand) and so on. He would have asked how specifically the President would be working to bring the Oil production up to pre-war levels. Now, he said, all you get is spin from Bush and a rubber stamp from Santorum.

On challenging questions in general, he said that as a Senator "It's your job" to ask them. He feels that of the two of them, he's a far more independent candidate than Santorum is - much to the consternation of his party.

I'd read in a few places on line that the RNC or the RSCC claimed that we'd only seen the beginning of the negative campaigning from the GOP. I asked him if he had a general strategy for dealing with it. What happens, I asked him, when Rick produces a TV ad that puts him in a motel room with Jane Fonda and Janeane Garofalo?

(That was a hypothetical, of course, but if the Santorum campaign stoops so low as to actually produce such an ad and considering the "Jailhouse/Campaign Team" ad, I wouldn't put it past them, remember you read it here first.)

He chuckled a bit at that and said that in general the number of negative ads coming out of the Stantorum camp really speaks to their character and a sense of desperation. He's fully expecting the same "blizzard of fear and smear" from them. This time, however, he doesn't expect it to work. Consider this: the poll numbers haven't moved much, even after the Santorum crowd has spent roughly $10 million on TV ads.

God, I hope he's right.



Anonymous said...

The only thing worse than having Rick Santorum as the Senate's #3 leader is having Bob Casey as a member.
Now that the fundies have completely absorbed the Republican Party, they are successfully working on the Democrats. For example, I find myself likely to be represented at the Federal level by three right wingers -- Specter, Casey in the Senate, Mike Doyle in the House -- and the most reasonable one of them is the Republican! And I live in Pennsylvania, not Mississippi!
Bob Casey's impending victory is a disaster for Pennsylvania, the Democratic Party, small-d democrats everywhere, and the future of the United States.
For many years, I have voted a straight Democratic ticket on the theory that we had to fight the Republicans. Now the Democrats are the Republicans. I'm writing in Yoda for Senate and House.

Maria said...

I'd like you to reconsider your position and I hope that you'll hear me out.

First, I do understand where you're coming from. I am an atheist. I am pro choice.

I have been severely critical of Casey in the past on this blog. I am no fan of his.

I supported Pennacchio as best as I could in the primary (I certainly hope that you supported Chuck or Alan Sandals or put your money where your mouth was with someone when it counted).

I understand your wanting to send a message to Democrats.

I understand how hard it would be to vote for Casey.

You are correct in your concerns about our country and our constitution.

But it is the REPUBLICAN MAJORITY who just spit on our Constitution yesterday. It is the REPUBLICAN MAJORITY who just shit all over habeas corpus. And for all of Specter's talk about defending habeas, he caved in the end like he ALWAYS does.

I wouldn't vote for Casey if I didn't truly believe that we have a chance to overturn the REPUBLICAN MAJORITY in November.

And, make no mistake, not voting for Casey is voting for Santorum and is voting for a REPUBLICAN MAJORITY.

If you think you'd feel ugly voting for Casey, how much uglier will you feel having helped maintain the REPUBLICAN MAJORITY who support preemptive war, torture, illegal imprisonments, kangaroo courts, and spying on the American people?

Doyle will win unless he's found with a live boy or dead girl (as the saying goes). You want to protest or make a statement? Don't write in "Yoda." Vote for Titus North for the House. He and his supporters honestly collected signatures and qualified his name for the ballot.

But not voting Casey in November IS voting for a REPUBLICAN MAJORITY. While there are individual Dems who are shit, a DEMOCRATIC MAJORITY would be a vast improvement over what we have now.

Yeah, I'm asking you to take one for the team (and I fucking hate fucking sports metaphors), but it does matter.

Then after you vote, go do something good. Find a candidate or elected official that you can wholeheartedly support and volunteer for them. If you can't find one, damn it, run for something yourself. (My apologies if you already have.)

Jonathan Potts said...

Republicans--even if they are narrow majorities--don't think twice about supporting candidates like Arlen Specter or Lincoln Chafee, because they believe being in the majority with a few "liberal" Republicans is better than being in the minority. I think that goes part way to explaining why they control all three branches of government right now.

I really wish, however, that the Democrats would stop assuming that negative ads won't work, despite all evidence to the contrary. Kind of like Democrats assuming that the GOP can't use national security against them now like they did in 2002 and 2004. Let's assume it can work and figure out a way to counteract it.

Anonymous said...

Maria, I have heard that argument 447,364 times (and I think I missed counting a few) and I understand your point. I think you are missing mine: If the religious right takes over the Democrat party, it really doesn't matter which one is in the majority.
Think like a politician for a minute. Hmmm, we won in PA by running a right winger against a right winger. We got beat in Connecticut by running a centrist against a right winger. I guess we just have to run extreme righties from now on.
There are also several congressional campaigns like this going on in Western PA right now. For example, the Dems are running a winger against Mellissa Hart.
These are dark days, indeed, when it doesn't matter which party you choose. Either way, you get somebody who likes the USAPatriot Act.