Touch Of Deceit, Incurable Political Ambition
Lie Behind Kerrey’s Belated Decision To Run

The smell of deceit and unquenchable political ambition (very possibly mixed with unrealistic optimism) hangs over Joseph Robert (Bob) Kerrey’s 11th-hour decision to run for the United States Senate being vacated by his fellow Democrat, Ben Nelson.

In the two months since Nelson announced his decision, Kerrey has taken four positions:

FIRST POSITION: Interested in the possibility of setting up legal residence again in Nebraska after a 12-year absence so he can try to return to the power and prestige—my words, not Kerrey’s—of a seat in the United States Senate.

SECOND POSITION:  On February 7 he announced that he wanted to run but decided his family comes first and therefore wouldn’t run.  (Kerrey and his second wife and son live i n New York City, and his wife has expressed no interest at all in spending time in Nebraska.)

THIRD POSITION, which leaked out some two weeks after he took his second position:  He was again considering using Nebraska as a possible stepping stone for return to the Senate.

FOURTH POSITION, taken the day before the filing deadline:  He has changed his mind and decided to run.

The Smell of Deceit Hangs In The Air

Where is the deceit in all of this?  It is in withholding from Nebraskans the fact that he has been talking with Democratic senators who were urging him to run and that he was reconsidering his decision.

Not until the day before his decision was announced did Nebraskans learn that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, in his words, has “had over the last several weeks, lots of conversations with Bob Kerrey.”

You also learned that Sen. Tom Carper, Delaware Democrat, had talked to Kerrey “to let him know we really wanted him back.”

There is no public record of similar “please run, Bob” pleas from Nebraskans, including Nebraska Democratic Party officials.  In fact, Nebraska’s representative on the Democratic National Party Committee, Vince Powers, has said he won’t support Kerrey but will honor his commitment to Chuck Hassebrook of Lyons, who filed as a candidate after Kerrey announced just 21 days ago that he wouldn’t run.

Hassebrook, To His Credit, Will Stay In The Race

Hassebrook, who gave up a chance to seek re-election to the University of Nebraska Board of Regents, has said he will stay in the race.  He had said earlier that Kerrey offered to help him after Kerrey announced he wouldn’t run.

Harry Reid and other Senate Democrats would probably rationalize that Democratic Senator Bob Kerrey would best serve Nebraska by helping continue Democratic control of the Senate.

I expect that Nebraskans, who have demonstrated they can think for themselves without any help from Nevada or Delaware or wherever, will not give a “Welcome Home, Bob” reception to a 12-year absentee whose election would be helpful to the Democratic Party in general and President Barack Obama in particular.

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Include Obama And His Supporters
Among Those Rooting For Rick Santorum

Today a look not at this week’s already well-publicized Romney/Santorum GOP nomination contest vote results.  A look instead at what I think might be learned from Santorum’s and Romney’s remarks after the Michigan results were known.

Addressing a post-election rally of his supporters, former Pennsylvania Senator Santorum went on and on in his usual style–including generalities about sending Federal programs to the states where, he seemed to be saying, they could be cut back or eliminated.

Santorum’s remarks seemed to imply that the Declaration of Independence ranked right along with the United States Constitution as fundamental to the formation of the United States.  (Santorum said the Declaration was signed by both men and women.  I had thought it was pretty generally known that the Declaration was signed only by men.)

In the long portion of Santorum’s remarks which I listened to, I never heard a reference to President Barrack Obama.

In very sharp contrast to Santorum, former Massachusetts Governor Romney targeted Obama repeatedly by name in his post-election speech at a rally of his supporters.

Romney, again in contrast to Santorum, promised a number of specific courses of action he would pursue as President:  Cut all federal taxes by 20%, abolish the estate tax, “finally balance the Federal budget,” restore the government’s AAA credit rating and “save Social Security and Medicare.”

Realistically unattainable in their entirety, as I see it, but at least specific goals, in contrast to Santorum’s generalities.

On to Ohio and all the rest, with—perhaps most significant of all—President Obama and his supporters pulling for Rick Santorum.

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More Judicial Diversity Or More Wisdom
Best For Justice From Our Courts?

A column in the Wall Street Journal touched on a touchy subject:  Is the cause of justice best served by “diversity” among judges, specifically more women and non-whites on the bench in the United States?  The WSJ column pointed out appointments by President Obama which placed two more women on the United States Supreme Court.  (There now are three female justices.)

One of the Obama appointees, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, has said that in her opinion judicial appointees should not be expected to set aside their ethnic identity.  Justice Sotomayor said it would be “a disservice to society and the law.”

Jamie Whyte, a senior fellow of the Cobden Centre in London, wrote that Sotomayor’s attitude “displays an alarmingly tribal view of the proper function of a judge and a peculiar ignorance of legal history.”

Whyte wrote that the legal rights of women and blacks were dramatically extended in Great Britain and America and the rest of the West during the late 19th Century and the first half of the 20th Century, by courts and legislators the vast majorities of whose members were white males.

Columnist Whyte points out that Sandra Day O’Connor, who built a splendid record as a Supreme Court justice, said that a wise woman and a wise man would make the same judicial decisions.

But don’t expect the likes of Barack Obama and other “diversity” zealots to stop promoting judicial appointments based more on diversity than on an effort to find judges who will interrupt the law impartially and wisely.

* * *

Another Smorgasbord of Commentary

Fed Interest Rate Policy Hurts Retirees.
NU Big 10 Move Is Looking Better.
Let’s Hope It’s Last Look At Streetcars.

Herewith another of my occasional servings of a commentary smorgasbord, with the hope, as always, that every reader will find something to his or her taste.

–I wonder if the powerful economic policy-makers or at least economic policy “influencers” on the Federal Reserve Board have any sympathy for what their incredibly low interest rates have done to millions of Americans who retired on modest incomes and were heavily dependent on a reasonable return on their investments in such things as certificates of deposit.

I should amend that “incredible” description to something more like “painfully credible” low-interest policy.

The Federal Reserve has set interest rates so low some corporations have paid banks to accept their money.  And rates paid on six-month or 12-month certificates of deposit—in the 5% range a few years ago—have fallen to the 1% range.


I surely support the efforts of the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which helps make wishes come true for children with life-threatening medical conditions.

As part of the effort to help the Make-A-Wish Foundation, the girls basketball team at Burke High School wore special pink uniforms to call fund-raising attention to the foundation.

The Columbus coach discussed the uniform with game officials at halftime, and the officials called a technical foul on Burke for violating a rule requiring the home team’s uniforms to be predominantly white.

There was a news story on this, of course, but hardly the cause for all the news media attention which was focused on what was, after all, a violation of a sensible rule.  But the issue became so dramatized that it resulted in a long lead editorial in The World-Herald applauding the Burke girls and a $1,000 World-Herald donation to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

A sympathetic reaction to the Burke girls’ following through on their coach’s suggestion is understandable.  But I found myself being able to be sympathetic without becoming heavily emotionally involved.

–I had mixed feelings about two stories involving problems with football programs at two Texas universities:

A feeling of satisfaction when reading that ESPN and the Longhorn Network—a deal negotiated between ESPN and the University of Texas—“is still struggling to find its footing.”

Nebraskans will recall that what many people interpreted as the arrogance of the Longhorns helped break up the Big 12 Conference.  From time to time you heard the conference described as “Bevo (the nickname of the Texas Longhorn mascot) and the 11 Dwarfs.”

But it was with sorrow that I read a story under this headline, “DRUG BUST HITS TCU FOOTBALL PROGRAM.”

Texas Christian University had a reputation that seemed appropriate to the name and traditions of the school.  Then TCU officials—perhaps at the urging of alumni—decided to try to develop a big-time football program.  They succeeded.

TCU teams ranked in the top 10 nationally.  Recently the public learned the price the school is paying.

Four members of the TCU team were arrested after allegedly selling marijuana repeatedly to an undercover police officer.  One of the arrested players told an undercover officer he had failed a drug test administered several weeks ago to the team and that he thought probably 60 other players failed as well.

What a tremendous price to pay for a football team that has gone 47-5 in the past four seasons.

The Horned Frogs are to join the rapidly disintegrating Big 12 Conference this fall.

The Nebraska Cornhuskers’ move to the Big 10 Conference looks better all the time.

–Another headline, this from The Omaha World-Herald:  “Study will give streetcars one last look.”

Good news, provided this is truly the last look at the impractical, unnecessary, expensive streetcar pipe dream.

As I see it, previous proposals and discussions of a streetcar system have never suggested the likelihood of a system that would be practical, of reasonable cost and, especially, reasonably well-used.

* * *

That Would Have Been Some Birthday Party!

I have been assured that this kind of electronic-age bloopers is sometimes committed by young people who grew up with laptop computers and all the rest of sophisticated ways to store and manipulate and deliver messages electronically.

But the featured player in this week’s column-ender is a friend of ours who didn’t grow up working on an iPad during her kindergarten years, so to speak.  Our friend was planning a small 70th birthday party for her husband.  She prepared an invitation which she thought she was sending to a relatively small group of family members and close friends.

Instead she punched a key which mailed the invitations to her Christmas card list, 170 or so people.  Marian and I were among the recipients—the recipients also of an unexplained cancellation of the birthday party invitation which arrived in the mail in the next day or two.

The party giver, a close friend of ours, called and explained what had happened.  We joined her in laughing about it and assured her that we weren’t offended by being disinvited but rather were reassured that some family catastrophe had forced cancellation of his birthday party.

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