Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Kelley Gets Slammed

Randy Wanke had a commentary in today's Duluth News Tribune on Steve Kelley's anti-war signs outside his Duluth office (which just happens to be near an Army recruiting center).

For a background on the story, click here.
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War numbers sign in Kelley's window panders to antiwar left

The antiwar political activists who dominate the endorsement process at the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party have a tendency not to favor moderates.

By some counts, or at least by some standards, DFL gubernatorial candidate state Sen. Steve Kelley is "perceived" as being moderate.

That may be why he allowed the posting of a sign, which lists the number of U.S. service members killed in Iraq, in his Duluth campaign office window right next to the U.S. Army recruiting office. Kelley is keeping the sign up despite requests from local servicemen to take it down.

Kelley appears to be trying to shed his "moderate" image by making a quick dash to the antiwar left. In doing so, he is showing himself to be a political opportunist who is willing to exploit and cheapen the sacrifice of our soldiers. And worst of all, he has done so in a manner that is tantamount to a daily slap in the face of those who bravely serve and are looking to serve our nation.

Here is some unsolicited political advice for the senator: While it may gain you antiwar supporters you seek for your party's endorsement, when the general election rolls around, most Minnesotans won't take too kindly to insulting our service men and women for political gain.

Sen. Kelley may want to listen to the members of the military at the recruiting office, who are forced to read the sign every day when they go to work in service of their country. Perhaps he should listen to Army Staff Sgt. Gary Capan, who called the sign "ridiculous" and said that it "makes it so troops are just a number."

So far, he does not appear willing to take advice from those he claims to be trying to help. A Kelley spokeswoman offered this weak defense of Kelley's actions: "He supports making sure everyone has accurate information" about the Iraq war.

If Sen. Kelley truly "supports making sure everyone has accurate information" about the Iraq war, perhaps he should post some other numbers and information in his campaign office window to reflect the progress in Iraq, which has been made possible by the sacrifice of American soldiers. For example:

Saddam Hussein, a brutal dictator who butchered countless people, is no longer in power. (According to a 2003 New York Times article, "Accounts collected by Western human rights groups from Iraqi emigres and defectors have suggested that the number of those who have 'disappeared' into the hands of the secret police, never to be heard from again, could be 200,000." The number of lives lost at the brutal hands of Hussein probably are much larger and the true human cost of his rule may never be fully known.)

In October's constitutional referendum election, more than 9 million Iraqis voted.

And as U.S. Senator Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.) recently pointed out, the Iraq war is "between 27 million and 10,000; 27 million Iraqis who want to live lives of freedom, opportunity and prosperity and roughly 10,000 terrorists who are either Saddam revanchists, Iraqi Islamic extremists or al-Qaeda foreign fighters who know their wretched causes will be set back if Iraq becomes free and modern."

Or maybe Steve Kelley could simply put up a sign saying, "America thanks our servicemen and women for their service and sacrifice."

I don't expect that we will be seeing any of this information or these numbers hanging in Kelley's window soon. After all, these are not the kinds of facts that appeal to the political base Kelley is trying to court.

We all mourn the loss of those who have sacrificed their lives in this war. Yet, success and freedom in Iraq are the best monuments that we can build in their honor.

Those are far greater monuments than a politically motivated sign in a campaign office window.

Many Democrats understand that important fact. Unfortunately, in his attempts to curry favor with the antiwar faction in his party, Sen. Steve Kelley has shown himself not to be one of them. (Source: Duluth News Tribune, Dec. 14, 2005)

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