Las Vegas Sun

April 19, 2014

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WHERE I STAND:

What do I think? Glad you asked

“What do you think about the election?”

Who hasn’t heard that question asked in the last month by friends, family, co-workers or complete strangers looking for insight?

I am not normally shy when asked that or any other question by well-meaning people who really want to know what I think. Of course, there are many others who already know everything and couldn’t care less what you or I think. Let’s forget them for a moment and concentrate on us!

What I think about the elections in Nevada and nationally are generally embodied in the endorsements that have been published in the Sun and on lasvegassun.com. While those are a combined effort of some very knowledgeable people at the Greenspun Media Group, I would be less than candid if I didn’t say that I agree with them.

But there is a lot more to an election cycle. There are thoughts, random and specific, that surround the events and the candidates that get stored away. Sometimes we remember to discuss them. Most times, not. Now is a good time to share.

•••

How many of you saw the last debate between President Barack Obama and former Gov. Mitt Romney? I watched it, just like some 60 million other Americans. Although, I must admit, I used the DVR to flip between the seventh game of the playoff series between St. Louis and San Francisco and my civic responsibility.

Bottom line? There was no doubt in my mind that having been the commander in chief for four years gave Obama a huge advantage over his challenger. Having said that, it is really hard to believe that there still are people in this country who have yet to make up their minds. I’m not clear how a lesson on foreign policy and its inherent complications will help.

In an election during which the media and the campaigns tend to focus on the economy, we should not discount the seriousness of foreign policy and national security. Both domestic economic security and international physical security are inextricably entwined. They can’t be separated, and we shouldn’t try.

•••

A little closer to home — although Nevada seems to be one of those places that will decide the presidential contest and is, therefore, home for everyone right now — I am equally perplexed at the idea that Rep. Shelley Berkley could lose to Sen. Dean Heller, who was appointed to the seat. Heller is a nice guy, but the comparison ends there. Berkley not only is an expert at protecting and promoting the only industry this state really has — tourism and gaming — but she has spent her entire political career making sure the hundreds of thousands of jobs in Nevada attached to that industry are advanced.

We always hear the question: What have you done for me lately? Well, Berkley has and continues to do everything that is necessary. Why on Earth would we not want that talent, drive and experience in the United States Senate working for us?

On a more personal note — and one I share with everyone of goodwill who believes in the safety and security of Israel, the United States’ most enduring and reliable ally in that part of the world — with the retirement of Sen. Joe Lieberman, the Senate will need an outspoken proponent and defender of that tiny democratic state in the Middle East.

Unquestionably, Berkley is the woman for that job.

•••

As for the House of Representatives, I am struck between the apparent closeness of the race between Steven Horsford and Danny Tarkanian. Yes, Danny and his dad have meant a lot to the Runnin’ Rebels — Jerry will always be an icon — but this is 2012 and a far more serious game than basketball.

This is hardball, and the last thing we need in Congress is another Republican congressman whose job it is to shove nuclear waste in Yucca Mountain. Danny Tarkanian wants to create a nuclear waste reprocessing center but not a dump. It is just plain naive to think that the federal government and its puppet masters in the nuclear power industry will get those trucks and trains rolling our way for one purpose and, once that deadly poison lands here, restrict its use.

No, the only sure way to make sure Yucca Mountain stays dead is to make sure people who advocate for opening it up have to speak from outside the House of Representatives and not from the well of the House.

That campaign is particularly dirty, so it is easy to get sick of the whole thing and ignore it. Folks, please don’t give up believing in the process. Horsford is a quality candidate who can do wonderful things for our state.

•••

Here is something I say almost every election cycle, hoping I won’t have to say it again. But I always do. Negative advertising works. As despicable, ugly, false and malicious as it always is, voters continue to respond. This year is no exception — except to say that it is many times worse. It is worse because there is so much money thrown at our television sets by the super PACs that there is no place to run and hide. We aren’t safe, even in our own living rooms, from the lies and distortions coming at us.

But we do have a way out of this jam. All we have to do is ignore those baseless and vicious ads designed to destroy the people running for office. In fact, if we promised to vote the opposite way those ads try to get us to do, you would see the negativity disappear.

And, yet, we continue to beg for more because we still pay attention to those 30-second commercials that make us sick to our stomachs.

•••

And, finally, I have to get this off my chest:

Romney is probably a really nice fellow. I thought the same of George W. Bush. But being president is not just about connecting and making people like you. It is about doing a job that is nearly impossible for one person to do. So I look at the folks around the candidates to help me decide.

Around Obama, I have seen a bunch of people who, for the longest time, just didn’t get what American businesspeople were trying to tell them. Most of what the president heard was a bunch of junk that, once said publicly, made him sound like someone who both didn’t understand the bottom line and didn’t understand the aspirational qualities of the American people.

On the other side, though, there are people around Romney who want to do all kinds of bad stuff to the people I care about most. And Romney doesn’t appear desirous of saying no to them.

For example, I worry about Yucca Mountain while Romney’s Republican friends in Congress salivate at the thought of his presidency. If he wins, they will breathe life back into the corpse and shove that radioactive mess down our throats. And I have heard nothing from or about him that gives me comfort that he will just say “no.”

I also worry about our Supreme Court. It is just one Scalia or Alito vote away from overturning Roe v. Wade, which will allow the government back into our bedrooms and our doctors’ offices with both feet. With the likelihood of the next president getting two lifetime appointments to the high court, my granddaughter may be forced to grow up in a world full of back-alley abortions, just like the world in which her great-grandmother grew up. Can anyone call that enlightened? More importantly, with the Todd Akins and Richard Mourdocks populating the new Republican Party, can anyone argue with my premise?

President Ronald Reagan took the votes and the money of the extremists in his party and then, once he was elected, told them to sit down in the corner and let him run the country as he saw fit. Those around Romney say that he will do the same.

I don’t think so. To turn an old phrase of Lloyd Bentsen’s, “I knew Ronald Reagan, and Mitt Romney, however nice he may be, is no Ronald Reagan.”

Brian Greenspun is publisher and editor of the Las Vegas Sun.

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  1. Well said Mr. Greenspun. Well said! Truly in the spirit of your Father. He would be proud.

  2. I agree and am glad you wrote this piece.

    I would like to see and in depth article on Michael Grunwald's book, "The New New Deal" about the success of the stimulus bill and the Recovery Act of 2009.

    It is a deeply researched book and would be a nice addition to the LV Sun's work to bring facts into the campaign.

  3. My thoughts! I've witnessed citizens deplete their savings between jobs in a musical chairs job economy, lose investments to fraud, bad luck and deception and face record low returns on savings accounts. Amidst this I witness attacks on our Social Security system which is a godsend for the forementioned. We need change!!!! I suggest that the path to stability, harmony and trust won't even be charted until we restore fair media, that conscience of nations. Government must not be obligated to special interests and our media ownership holds too close ties to special interests, hence I recognize them to stand between us and campaign funding reform.