Skip to comments."Pair on par for great debate" (Alan Keyes, Obama as updated Lincoln-Douglas?)
Posted on 08/08/2004 3:46:25 PM PDT by churchillbuff
If Alan Keyes accepts the Illinois GOP's bid to run for the U.S. Senate -- as he is expected to do Sunday -- the nation will be the beneficiary. Not since Republican Abraham Lincoln and Democrat Stephen A. Douglas have two more sharply differentiated people run for the Senate. That the state that gave the nation and world the Lincoln-Douglas debates can now present an updated version is truly an exciting prospect. The human rights parallel then and now is rich with significance.
First, the so-called carpetbagger issue. When he criticized Hillary Clinton for destroying the concept of federalism, Keyes was in fact wrong. It was for good reason that the founding fathers did not draw a strict requirement on residency for the U.S. Senate. Then as now, people were always on the move -- ambitious politicians among them: Lincoln from Kentucky to Indiana and then Illinois; Douglas from Vermont to Illinois. Sam Houston was congressman and governor of Tennessee before he moved to Texas, becoming president when it was a republic, and finally senator.
Consider Illinois' peripatetic second senator, James Semple: born in Kentucky; moved to Illinois, then to Missouri, back to Kentucky, got a law degree and returned to Illinois, where he served as state attorney general, state representative and House speaker; then to Bogota, Colombia, as charge d'affaires, back to Illinois for election as state Supreme Court justice and then to the Senate. In our own era, Robert Kennedy, with houses in Massachusetts and Virginia, moved to New York and overnight ran for the Senate. And then we recall my former Park Ridge neighbor and later Arkansan then Washingtonian, Hillary Clinton, the junior senator from New York.
Now the contest itself: If Keyes accepts, it will be the best opportunity the nation will have to listen to two eloquent men debate an enduring question that has been nullified by too much political timidity: Is the culture of the country declining or improving? Certainly, Barack Obama has every expectation that he will be elected. But if he is, it doesn't mean his side of the culture wars will have won, any more than because Stephen Douglas emerged victorious in 1858, the issue of human rights for slaves was won. Lincoln's views ultimately coincided with the national ethos. And make no mistake: Obama's voting record in the state Senate will be the yardstick by which the campaign will be fought.
The publication Human Events, which calls itself objective and accurate but not impartial, gives a taste of what will assuredly be Keyes' advocacy. As state senator, Obama has not been defender of what conservatives maintain is the inalienable right to life, having twice voted against bills to ban tax funding of abortions. Indeed -- and this is truly extremism -- Obama voted in April 2002 against even the bill to protect babies born alive after a failed abortion procedure. He twice voted ''present'' on a "partial-birth" abortion ban and absented himself from a third vote. In 2001 he voted ''present'' on a bill to notify parents when their minor children seek an abortion. In 1999 he voted against requiring school boards to put Internet pornography filters on school computers meant for students' use. These are votes Obama will be called upon to defend.
The publication, which has been a veritable Bible for conservative activists like Keyes, focuses on other germane Obama votes. On the issue of inner-city well-being, he twice voted ''no'' on a bill to let school districts require disruptive students to complete suspensions before being re-admitted in a new school district. He voted ''present'' on a bill that passed with heavy majorities requiring students who fire guns on school grounds to be prosecuted as adults. ''Obama has been markedly soft on crime," writes the publication. ''In 2001 he voted against a bill that added extra penalties for crimes committed in furtherance of gang activities. He also voted against a bill making it a criminal offense for accused gang members, free on bond or on probation, to associate with known gang members. In 1999 he was the only state senator to vote against a bill prohibiting early prison release for criminal sexual abusers.'' All this before we get to tax increases.
For allowing this truly Great Debate to take place, many people deserve the thanks not just of our state but the nation, beginning with House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert and extending through state central vice chairman Steve McGlynn, who played a decisive role in the Keyes selection, with state Chairman Judy Baar Topinka, who under law has no vote, playing the role of the honest broker. State Sen. Dave Syverson was an influential contact with Keyes, and Board of Tax Appeals member Maureen Murphy also weighed in on the election.
With Keyes' acceptance, the agony of the GOP over these many weeks will not have been in vain. And as for the liberal critics who shout ''carpetbagger,'' if it were Colin Powell, they would not be dismayed at all.
"The human rights parallel then and now is rich with significance."
Only in the sense that Roe v Wade has been the modern equivalent of the Dred Scott decision.
Indeed -- and this is truly extremism -- Obama voted in April 2002 against even the bill to protect babies born alive after a failed abortion procedure.
No doubt, Obama must be defeated. I hope Keyes can overcome himself, and win out.
Thanks for posting this. I was glad to get to read about Obama's record.
Let the games begin. I can hardly wait to hear the socialist frat boy try to keep up with Keyes! LOL
Sounds like somebody's gonna get an ass-whuppin'!
Not because Obama has a better grasp of the issues but because Keyes comes across as overly intellectual, self-righteous and lacking in charisma, while Obama is much more likeable and will connect with the voters on a much more personal level.