Ed Case seemed irked when liberal Democrats referred to him as a DINO (Democrat in name only), yet he continued to actively reach out for Republican “crossover” votes. That was an inherent contradiction. Now that Sen. Akaka prevailed in the Democratic primary, Hawaii Republicans have chosen the most Case-like Republican they could find to run against him. Cynthia Thielen reached out to Case voters in her statement announcing her candidacy:
I invite 106,968 independent-minded Ed Case voters to support my candidacy.
To me, this supports the notion that many Case voters were Republican, or leaning that way. Further reinforcement of the crossover effect comes from the voter numbers. A friend provided this rough analysis:
235,000 participants in the Democratic primary at the senate level.
1,800 blank votes in the Democratic primary at the senate level.
180,000 participants in the Democratic primary at the governor level.
58,000 blank votes in the Democratic primary at the governor level.
56,000 “republicans” played in the democratic senatorial primary.
Supposing Thielen is a “moderate Republican” and Case is a “moderate Democrat,” what is the significant difference between those two descriptions? One might expect that difference would be found in their support (or lack of) for the Republican President and his war. I think it is interesting that Thielen is more critical of the way the Bush administration has handled the war in Iraq than Case ever was. Case’s stance on the war can be characterized simply as “stay the course.” In contrast, Thielen’s view on the war as outlined on her website is not unlike Akaka’s view. Thielen carefully prefaces much of her stance with statements like:
I want to succeed in Iraq. I want to succeed so that the sacrifice of our troops in Iraq has not been in vain. I want to succeed because the example of a functioning democracy in the Middle East would be a powerful example in that part of the world. I want to succeed so that the Iraqis can leave a safe and peaceful life.
in an attempt to hold onto Bush supporters. Then she launches into a well thought out criticism of “staying the course” that is better articulated than I have seen from many Democrats. A few notable quotes:
In this war there has not been a single instance of leadership, military or civilian, that has been replaced for not getting the job done. And yet, we have shown no progress in Iraq over the same period of time it took to win WWII. …
Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. In the case of Iraq. I will not support continuing to do the same thing because I know we will continue to suffer both more dead and horrendous financial cost, to no avail.
I support continuing in Iraq if the following steps are taken: First, that there is a new approach, one that is substantially different from what we are doing now and has a reasonable chance of success. Second, that the administration ruthlessly fire or reassign those that are not the very best leaders we can find for each position. This clearly includes Secretary Rumsfeld and General Abizaid. Third, that the Iraqi government either passes a bill requesting that we stay, or holds a referendum on this question. …
But if we do not make the changes that are essential to success, I can not support the war in Iraq. …
If we have no chance of success, then our only alternative is to plan for an orderly and efficient withdrawal of our troops.
There it is: A plan for withdrawal. ALMOST makes me think about supporting her. The undeniable fact, however, is that this is not about “supporting the best candidate regardless of Party.” When it comes to the US Senate, it is a numbers game plain and simple. The Party with the majority gets to assign the committee leaders and set the agenda. With the national balance of R’s and D’s in the Senate teetering on the edge of a potential Democratic majority after the Nov elections, it would be unconscionable for “blue Hawaii” to send an R to Washington.
Don’t get me wrong; I do not think that Thielen is the best for the job, I just want to point out this reality to those who might.