Our View – Iowans Should Re-Elect Tom Harkin Yo Six More Years In The U.S. Senate

OCTOBER 28TH, 2008 | Harkin for Senate

Read the original story at The Iowa City Press-Citizen

Democrat Tom Harkin would have our endorsement for a fifth term in the U.S. Senate if for no other reason than for how he was able to keep his cool after the insultingly bizarre pronouncements of his Republican opponent, Christopher Reed of Marion, in Thursday’s televised debate. But Harkin has our endorsement -as he did in 1984, 1990 and 1996 – because he has proven to be an effective lawmaker who looks out for Iowa’s best interests even as he plays a powerful role on the national stage.

Six years ago, we did decide to endorse Harkin’s Republican opponent, then Rep. Greg Ganske of Des Moines. We did so knowing the risk involved with replacing the power of a senior senator with the sometimes lone vote of a freshman. But we were gambling on the type of senator we thought Ganske could be in the future.

This year, we’re downright fearful of the type of senator that Reed could become.

If he’s willing now to call Harkin “the Tokyo Rose of al-Qaida and Middle East terrorism” – even though both he and Harkin are veterans who served their nation in the U.S. Navy – who knows what kind of bombastic, overblown, anti-American rhetoric he’ll use to denounce other senators with whom he disagrees. If he describes Harkin’s support for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq on a scheduled timetable as being the same thing as “providing aid and comfort to the enemy,” how would he ever be able to listen objectively to any proposal to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq or to improve U.S. relations with any other Muslim nation?

In short, Reed, who operates a telephone answering business, shows little promise of being as effective a legislator as the senator he means to replace. All he seems willing to do is to repeat the perennial complaint that “Washington is broken,” without explaining the practical steps he would take to fix the problem. In fact, Reed’s perspective on domestic and foreign issues just left us scratching our heads after his Editorial Board interview in May.

• Reed said he wanted to reduce the size of government, but then told us it was “unfair” to ask him what types of programs he would like to cut in order to accomplish this.

• Reed provided a lot of rhetoric about ending earmark funding, but then failed to appreciate the small amount of the federal budget taken up by earmarks and failed to provide alternative ideas to ensure that federal money would come back to Iowa.

• Reed stressed that he wanted the U.S. to stay in Iraq until we got “the job done,” but he was unwilling (or unable) to say when or under what conditions he would consider the job done.

Harkin, on the other hand, was much more practical in his Editorial Board interview.

• He focused on how he has worked hard to help Iowa schools receive federal funding for modernization, and on how he has teamed with Republicans to extend student loans and Pell Grant coverage that will help a lot more citizens go to college.

• He discussed his plans for improving conservation efforts in Iowa’s farm fields.

• As the main author of the Americans with Disabilities Act, he talked about the groundbreaking work being done to help the United States undergo a paradigm shift into a “wellness society.”

• And he discussed how, although he did vote for the resolution to authorize military force in Iraq six years ago, he has come to regret that vote and to understand just how often the Bush Administration has missed opportunities to engage Muslim countries in dialogue and support.

On top of all that, voters shouldn’t forget that Harkin sits as the chairman on the Senate Agriculture Committee. From that vantage point, he continually puts Iowa front and center in the fight for good farm policy, agricultural research funds and in discussions on international agricultural trade. (Although Harkin’s opponents suggest that the senator fails to make the most of his chairmanship, it hardly makes sense to replace him with a junior senator who won’t be able to earn such seniority for decades.)

Six years ago, we thought Iowa Republicans had a candidate who might be worth a temporary drop in Iowa’s senatorial clout. This year, we worry about what Reed’s nomination says about the future of Iowa Republicans.

Vote Harkin for U.S. Senate.

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