Thursday, 17 June 2010

Sharron Angle vs. Harry Reid and the GOP

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Sharron Angle is going to have to learn how to fight with both hands in Nevada’s general election battle against Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, as Manu Raju explains in two articles appearing at Politico.com here and here. With her left hand she will be busy fending off attack ads from the Reid camp for her “extremism,” and with her right hand soothing sitting Senators with whom she might well be working after the election.

Reid’s ads started running the evening of Angle’s victory in the primary, saying in a document titled “Sharron’s Wacky Angles” that she questioned the benefits given to two working parents, criticized unemployment insurance, expressed concerns about alcohol legalization, breast cancer, and abortion. Jon Summers, a Reid spokesman, said that “Sharron Angle wants to kill Social Security [and] privatize the [Department of Veterans Affairs] and says that it’s not her job to create jobs in Nevada. All this and more from a candidate who says that if things don’t go her way, we should all arm ourselves and prepare for a revolt.” With $9 million in his campaign chest, Reid also is running ads reminding his constituents of his experience in Washington and that as the top Democrat in the Senate, “No one can do more” for the people of Nevada.

On the other hand, Angle is busy attempting to reduce Republican Senators’ concerns that she will allow Reid to bury her with his ads, putting her behind in her campaign from the very beginning. Chuck Muth, a former executive director of the Nevada Republican Party, said “If you start off in a hole, it’s really hard to dig your way out of it.”  

Angle’s ideas about privatizing Social Security, eliminating the Departments of Education and Energy, and getting the US out of the UN “were suggested about 18 years ago,” according to Senator Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), “and many times subsequently. Some candidates [like Angle] from time to time, perhaps attempting to show a sense of anger, outrage or whatever, express what I would characterize as very extreme views that do not have much basis to either practicality or what is going to occur in the evolution of our country.”

Such views may explain Lugar’s rating of just 35 percent according to the latest Freedom Index compiled by The New American magazine, which rates congressional representatives “based on their adherence to constitutional principles….” Senator John Thune (R-S.D.) echoed similar sentiments: “I don’t think that [privatizing Social Security] is going to be part of a Republican platform — and I’m not sure how she’s going to develop her policy positions with regards to [these] entitlement programs….”

In response to a similar question, Senator Lamar Alexander (Republican from Tennessee and a FI rating of only 37 per cent) said, “I favor the idea of making Social Security solvent — that would be my goal.” Senator Orrin Hatch, (R-Utah) was slightly more supportive, saying that [Angle’s] idea of privatization can work “pretty well … that’s why health savings accounts are so important — you wouldn’t have to privatize a lot of things if people are allowed to save their own money and develop their own ability to take care of themselves. The same thing could apply to Social Security, at least in part.” Senator Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.), said he opposes privatizing Social Security, but that he wants to keep it from going broke: “I want to keep the one we [sic] got from going bankrupt….”

Speaking to the issue of eliminating the Department of Energy, Senator Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) believes that the U.S. needs “to have a robust energy policy and I would think the Department of Energy would be an important part of that.” Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) said that “It’s not my program to do that right now.” Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) also backed away from Angle’s position on eliminating both the Departments of Energy and Education. However, he doesn’t think her positions are extreme: “I don’t think [they’re] out of [the] mainstream. I think most Americans would tend to agree [with her].”  

Not all Senate Republicans are taking such a soft stance on Angle’s positions. Senator Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) has a strong FI rating of 95 per cent and chairs his own Senate Conservatives Fund which has already raised $60,000 for her campaign as well as having invested another $55,000 in independent expenditures on her behalf. DeMint’s organization only supports candidates who have “demonstrated a core commitment to the nation’s founding principles and a willingness to stand up to their own party when it’s wrong,” according to Conservative Action Alerts. 

Rachel Maddow, in a recent television show, told her viewers that prior to joining the Republican Party, Angle belonged to the Independent American Party, the Nevada State affiliate of the National Constitutionalist Party. Part of the IAP’s platform reads:

We declare: That the proper role of government as defined by The Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States and the Bill of Rights is to protect the God-given rights of Life, Liberty and Property; that usurpation of further power by government constitutes tyranny.

Under the heading Defend America, the IAP states its purpose is to “protect America’s independence as a sovereign nation and stop the North American Union … to get the U.S. out of the United Nations, [to] end undeclared foreign wars and worldwide occupations [and to] bring our troops home and use them to protect our undefended borders.” Under Cut Unconstitutional Spending, the IAP wants to “cut taxes and end the IRS…restore…limited government… [and] to audit the Federal Reserve to end dollar-destroying inflationary policies.”  

Even though Angle certainly has her left hand full fending off her opponent Harry Reid, she also has her right hand full persuading weak-kneed, uncertain, and nervous-Nellie middle-of-the-road Republicans to support her candidacy to replace hard-Left Reid and begin the road back to limited, Constitutional government. The people of Nevada have, for the moment at least, shown how they feel about her chances. On June 10th, Politico’s polling center showed Angle leading Reid by 11 percentage points.  

Photo of Sharron Angle: AP Images