I've been hoping Rob Christensen at the N&O would weigh in on the 2008 US Senate race for some time now, thinking he'd dig in behind the scenes of one of the biggest contests to hit North Carolina in a good long while.
Well, he did weigh in today, but it was a waste of time and ink. Not only did Christensen have nothing interesting to say, he dutifully parroted worn-out GOP talking points about Liddy's legendary prowess on the stump. From all I can tell, Rob is either a secret member of Senator Dole's campaign staff, or he left his brain back in 2002, when our very senior Senator could actually walk and chew gum at the same time.
The Liddy Dole that Rob Christensen wrote about in this column doesn't exist today. And that's a fact.
Republican Sen. Elizabeth Dole is the only Tar Heel politician who passes the waitress test. Any politician worth his or her salt can gin up a crowd on the rubber chicken circuit. But Dole is the only North Carolina political figure who, after the dishes have been cleared, attracts a crowd of waitresses wanting her to pose with them for photographs. That is one of the reasons most of the heavyweights of the Democratic Party -- including Gov. Mike Easley, Attorney General Roy Cooper and State Treasurer Richard Moore -- are declining to challenge Dole next year.
How can I say this politely? This is total fabricated bullshit. Easley is choosing not to run because he's tired of working and doesn't want to settle for a demotion to United States Senator. Cooper, who was looking closely at running for governor last year, wants to run from a safe seat, which he can do against Richard Burr in 2010. And Richard Moore? He thinks he's presidential material and needs to get his "Governor" ticket punched on the way to the White House.
No candidate is unbeatable. But Dole is a formidable candidate -- a function of celebrity, a deep resume, gender appeal and a huge Rolodex. Then there are the state's Republican leanings in Senate races. Dole may look like the candidate from Southern Living magazine, but she also has political smarts. In recent days, she has been repeatedly calling for tougher enforcement along the U.S. border, tapping into public discontent with illegal immigration.
Political smarts? I guess by that Christensen means "she knows how to pander." But the truth is, Dole is deeply vulnerable because she's a sold-out tier-one Bushbot. Christensen uses one short paragraph to barely acknowledge these shortcomings after all that gushing about what a dynamo Liddy is.
But Dole has weaknesses. She has closely tied herself to an unpopular president. There has been grumbling that her constituent services have not matched that of her predecessor, Sen. Jesse Helms. And she has spent a lot of time away from North Carolina. And unless things turn around in the Iraq war, 2008 could turn out to be another Democratic year.
Unpopular president? Ya think so? Constituent services? Liddy doesn't even know where North Carolina is and hasn't lived here for 30 consecutive days in the past 20 years. To my knowledge.
Christensen goes on to dismiss Congressman Brad Miller with a personal attack for which he should be fired from the News and Observer:
Miller, a Raleigh Democrat, is being courted by the national party to run against Dole. While smart and hardworking, Miller was not the party's first choice. He has never been seen as the Democratic Party's rising star -- too shy and awkward.
Shy and awkward? Is Christensen on Art Pope's payroll along with Sponge Bob Orr? I know Brad Miller, and I can tell you for certain, awkward he is not. Shy? Maybe a little, but I find that refreshing in the face of egomaniacs like Dole.
The other fact Christensen gets wrong is his statement that Brad is being courted by the national party. Brad is a grassroots/netroots candidate with strong on-the-ground support here in North Carolina. The fact that he has finally attracted the attention of DC insiders does not make him someone being "courted" by anyone - besides us, of course.
And more to the point, Brad is not the only contender who could take on Dole. Many of us are also excited by the possibility of Grier Martin running against Dole if Brad decides to stay in the House. Grier is a major in the Army Reserves who has fought in Afghanistan. He could put Liddy Dole in her place with one hand tied behind his back.
Between Miller and Martin, we're in a great spot to cover all the bases, no matter how the chips fall.
The days when DC consultants drove decisions about candidates are coming to a close. The days when incompetent incumbents like Liddy Dole could coast to victory after six years under the microscope are already history.
Liddy Dole is worse than vulnerable, she is a basket-case who is failing miserably to serve the needs of We the People. Her record is indefensible on every front: the OLF, fiscal responsibility, fighting terrorism, supporting the troops, environmental stewardship, personal freedom, government accountability, constituent services and more.
I don't know of anyone who's afraid of Liddy Dole, nor should they be. She's a washed-up has-been who could hardly care less about North Carolina - and it shows.