Sunday, April 09, 2006

Special Election - You Might Have Heard

Apparently, there is going to be a special election to find a replacement for convicted Republican felon Randy "Duke" Cunningham on Tuesday. I guess this is becoming a real story and no longer just the province of bloggers.

Over at the Sacramento Bee, Ruben Navarrette, who also write for the San Diego Union Tribune, looks at the Republican side of the election.

Common sense was the first casualty in this race. The Cunningham scandal was about greedy scoundrels buying access to the political process. So you would think that Republicans would want to keep their distance from someone who makes a living selling access to the political process.

And yet, according to polls, the front-running Republican in the race is former Rep. Brian Bilbray -- a Washington, D.C.-based political retread who turned an earlier stint in Congress into a second career as a lobbyist. Bilbray has already proved to be a nice target for his opponents. Some of them say they want to end the "revolving door" of politicians who serve as lobbyists and then remake themselves as politicians.


As it turns out, the 50th Congressional District is now about 20 percent Latino, a fact that doesn't seem to concern the many candidates -- particularly Republicans -- who are trying to exploit the illegal immigration issue for their own political gain.

Several say they want to build a 2,000-mile wall along the border with Mexico. Others want to deny citizenship to the U.S.-born children of illegal immigrants. A few want to deport people.

But, being Republicans, one thing you don't hear them talking about is fining and arresting employers -- an approach that one of them told me would come across as hard-hearted.

It's become a cartoon: Two of the candidates have actually been arguing over which of them is endorsed by the Minuteman Project. You know things are bad when politicians are fighting over the vigilante vote.

I have to give Navarrette credit, he manages to bring out the cartoon nature of the Republicans in the race, without mentioning Howard Kaloogian. Dick Polman writing for Knight-Ridder isn't quite so kind, but he moves Kaloogian from representing the cartoon right to representing the right to repress.

More tellingly, California Republican congressional candidate Howard Kaloogian, in an attempt last month to rebut the media depiction of a violent Baghdad, posted on his Web site a photo of Baghdad that was snapped during his trip to the region in 2005. It showed a peaceful street filled with strolling pedestrians.


The problem with the Bush Republicans, said [Orville] Schell, the journalism dean [University of California], "is that, especially in wartime, they have almost a Marxist-Leninist view of how the press should behave. As a China specialist, I'm familiar with this notion - that the press should be the megaphone of the party in government. Controlled obedience, no dissent."

That would be Howard at with the megaphone exhorting the crowd to follow our glorious leader and ignore everything but our final victory, vindicated by history.

The Los Angeles Times takes a different approach to the special election story. No cartoons. No repression. The Times sticks with the nuts and bolts of the campaign.

Although the talk of the campaign is issues and philosophies, results could turn on the nuts and bolts of getting the vote out: persuading supporters to fill out absentee ballots, designing the most compelling brochures, appearing before the right community groups and marshaling door-to-door campaigners.

As an incumbent-less contest with an anticipated turnout in the 30% range, it's a kind of laboratory for campaign techniques, some consultants agree.

"This is Political Consulting 101," said Republican consultant John Dadian, who has no candidate in the race. "It's going to be studied for years."
If our country lasts that long.