mardi, janvier 30, 2007

One smart Republican

Driving back from the gym tonight I heard the end of a conversation that Terry Gross, host of the NPR program "Fresh Air", was having with Senator John Kyl. Sometimes lost in the shadow of the 'other' Senator from Arizona, John McCain, Kyl just happens to be his parties' third in command. Two barometers of how reliably conservative Kyl is: he is to the right of President Bush on immigration and he has come out (as it were) against gay marriage. Given the amount of unctuous baloney that passes for political conversation in D.C., Kyl sounded candid, straightforward, and intelligent. Gross, who has proved over and over again what a good interviewer she is, had a couple of misses today. Questioning Kyl about dissonance between his opinion on gay marriage and the fact that VP Dick Cheney's daughter is a partnered, pregnant lesbian is a major stretch, in my opinion. Kyl's not married to Dick Cheney, he just happens to share a party affiliation with him-and if Cheney refuses to answer questions about Mary Cheney, why the heck should Jon Kyl? In addition, Mary Cheney makes an odd subject for a symbol of discrimination-nor is there much indication that she wants to be the subject of a crusade. Although gay marriage may be a cause celebre among the chattering classes,left and right, it doesn't seem to arouse simmering passions among moderates. There is growing support for legal rights for partners, but no great public outcry for gay marriage-which suggests, agree or not, that Americans draw a distinction between cohabitation and marriage. Gross's other mistake was most unlike her, but it was also unintentionally funny-she asked Kyl about his father, the Congressman. Gross thought that he was still alive, and serving in Congress. Congressman Kyl, who died several years ago, left Congress decades ago. What most impressed me about the present Kyl was his willingness to take a hard look at why the Republicans lost-and why, from his viewpoint, they deserved to lose. His reasons, while apt, are do not tell the whole story. But his capacity for self criticism, particularly while serving as a mouthpiece for the minority, is relatively rare. Although Kyl will not openly blame the mendacity and arrogance of this Administration for the Democratic triumph in both Houses of Congress, he must quietly reflect on what it would have been like to have a conservative President who knew how to work with his party, and not against it.

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