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Monday, October 30, 2006

The New London Day endorses Courtney

I knew there was a reason I liked this paper.
Voters in Eastern Connecticut confront an unusual and hard dilemma in this year's congressional race in the 2nd District: The choice between two exceptional candidates set against the background of a close and crucial struggle for control of Congress.

If his performance on bread-and-butter issues in the district were the only criterion, the edge would go to the Republican incumbent, Rep. Rob Simmons. He has been outstanding in his three terms in Washington for his accomplishments for his district, his hard work and his attention to constituents' needs. The Day has endorsed Rep. Simmons enthusiastically since he first ran for the office. He is among the most impressive congressmen to serve this district in decades.

But it is hard to ignore the fact that on important national matters, the newspaper and the congressman are at opposite poles. These issues prominently include the war in Iraq, measures taken in the war on terrorism that infringe on both civil and human rights and fiscal policies that threaten to bankrupt the nation. It is in the self-interest of voters to ask not only whether Congressman Simmons has done a good job delivering the bacon for his district, but also whether they agree with him on issues critical to the well-being of the country. Does he represent their beliefs on where the federal government should be leading the country?

Never mind the decision by Congress to support the entrance into the Iraq War on what turned out to be false premises. Most members of both houses supported that action. But Rep. Simmons and his party have stood by the Bush administration for three years on the conduct of the war despite one fatal mistake after another.

Rep. Simmons can rightly say he has fought to increase submarine production, but he also has supported a foreign policy that has eroded the ability of the country to sustain the Navy's fleet, submarines included. The U.S. is spending about $120 billion a year in Iraq. One of the reasons the Navy is reluctant to move ahead with building the two submarines a year the congressman has been seeking is the cost of the Iraq War. And a good argument can be made that the Bush foreign policy and measures taken in the war on terrorism have complicated the job of defending the national interests abroad.


A Democratic Congress would moderate the arrogance of this administration and bring about real debate on Bush tax cuts, Medicare drug coverage and other measures railroaded through Congress since 1994. A shakeup in Congress would be a step toward addressing public discontent with that institution among more than three-quarters of the American public.

The simple presence of Rep. Simmons' name in the Republican roll-call, regardless of how often he votes for or against his party, helps sustain the number of bodies the Republicans need to maintain control of the House.

This election, more than most, hinges on issues. It provides voters with the opportunity to change the direction the country is taking under the Bush administration, a course with which polls show more than half the American public is unhappy.

Like Mr. Simmons when he first ran for the office, Mr. Courtney has the potential to be an outstanding congressman. Mr. Courtney, too, had a reputation in the legislature for working hard and taking principled stands. His qualities of integrity, intelligence and good nature mirror those of Mr. Simmons.

Eastern Connecticut has many reasons to be grateful to Rep. Simmons. He played an important part in getting the Submarine Base removed from the base-closing list. He was instrumental in guaranteeing that the Coast Guard museum would be located at Fort Trumbull. His military background no doubt helped him bring about these results and protect the military interests of this region. His office was especially helpful and responsive to constituents.

But there is every reason to believe Mr. Courtney can provide equally good representation, particularly if his party takes control of Congress, as many expect it will. If Mr. Courtney's party does succeed in that, Mr. Courtney and his colleagues will have the opportunity to steer a saner and more promising course for the country than the one it's currently on.
In short, Rob Simmons isn't a bad man personally, he's just part of the Republican rubber-stramp" problem in Washington which has given us such great hits as the Iraq War, TORTURE, illegal wiretapping of Americans, the Terri Shiavo bill, and OF COURSE huge tax breaks for the top 1 percent of Americans.

Two words: Joe Courtney