Coleen Rowley on WCCO
I haven't gotten an chance to post on this as I have been busy with my own fair related business. Coleen Rowley and Congressman John Kline engaged in a couple of debates at the Great Minnesota Get Together (aka the State Fair) on Friday. The first was an interview that melded into the debate on WCCO's Jack Rice show. Below are some notes and comments from that interview/debate.
When introduced as a "whistleblower" by Mr. Rice, Ms. Rowley said that she prefered being called a "stickler for the truth" (ed holy cow - talk about hubris!) She said that the word "policy" (in describing this country's Iraq policy) is "too good of a term" - stating that what we are doing now is not a working policy. She said that she agreed with Congressman Murtha's plan to "re-deploy" our troops out of Iraq. She said that the current "lack of a plan" in Iraq is not working and she also accused the President of "not leveling" with the American people when it comes to Iraq and our lack of progress over there.
She was asked if she found herself having to figure out who her opponent was. She said that she was the "true Conservative" in the race and that she is seeing more and more "reformed Republicans - like those that Nick Coleman wrote about in his screed last week. My question to her is this - would a true Conservative quote Common Cause (see below)?
She was the asked if they (the Republicans) are the party of "small government", what are you? She didn't answer the question directly - she just went on to attack the special interests that seeem to "control" the Republican party (Mr. Rice interjected here that the Democrats have their own special interest groups "). Coleen answered that yeah that is true but because the Republicans are in power, it is "their problem" (HUH?????) When asked how SHE would fix the problem, she said that she pledged to propose much stronger ethic reform. She admitted that she needed a lot more Dems to sign on to it with her in order to get it passed. She said that we needed "good, common sense reform" such as proposed by Common Cause.
Jumping to National Defense (and the actual debate portion of the program) Ms. Rowley and Congressman Kline was asked about the sectarian violence in Iraq. Ms. Rowley started off slamming the troops by saying "I look at the insurgency as it continues to grow and what I see is them (the troops) doing everything they can but is it enough? How can you stay the course and say it is a good course?" OK - in Ms. Rowley's defense she will say she was slamming the Administration, but in all honestly given the context of the question and her answer, the troops were the ones to get the broadside - in typical Democratic fashion. Congressman Kline's response was much better. He said "The troops are doing a terrific job and morale is high. They are doing a great job. When you say 'stay the course' you imply that there are no tactical changes being made and that is incorrect! The sectarian violence is a problem - this hatred has been building for centuries. The answer to that problem lies in the hands of the new Iraqi government. The key is the Iraqi Army and they have made great progress. The Iraqi Police is not developing as fast, but the Iraqi Army putting a greater presence in these troubled areas will make things better.
Question - "Coleen Rowley, what is the Democratic Party specifically proposing we do? Answer - "I am in the majority now of the people in the country who say that there is no progress in Iraq - that is a no brainer (ed - she has used that phrase a lot in this campaign) One vote did not get us security. Regarding redeployment - I can't go into details that would tke an hour. We need responsible redeployment..." At this point Congressman Kline interjected with "We have seen Marines redeploy to Baghdad and they are making progress. If you sare saying we pull out of the country...you thin it is the wild west now???" Ms. Rowley continued "No one knows how effective this Administration has been in negotiating with the insurgents (ed - more on that little nugget in a separate post). Redeployment is part of the plan." Congressman Kline countered with a question of his own - "You mean redeploy to a neighboring country like Okinawa Japan?" Ms. Rowley answered "I am hoping to get Mr. Murtha here to explain the plan to Mr. Kline so that he can understand it...." Congressman Kline said "that is fine, but I am not running against Congressman Murtha."
Question - just recently 2500 Individual Ready Reserve troops were recalled - a shakey number because it changes. Do we need more troops (in the form of a draft) in order to relieve those that are there now. Congressman Kline "there is no doubt that our military has fewer members. In the 1990's the Army was cut from 16 divisions to 10 (ed - under President Clinton) however, I do not think that a draft is necessary." Ms. Rowley "I think a draft is something we should look at!"
That was the end of the debate time. After that it went into an interview of Congressman Kline (and I got a phone call). I would like to add a couple of thoughts here. First is that Coleen is much more comfortable addressing the issues now (as compared to February when I first heard her speak) however neither the interview nor the debate got off of National Security which is by far the subject she feels most comfortable speaking about. Second was anger - every single one of Ms. Rowley's answers came from anger. She genuinely seemed to be pi$$ed. Congressman Kline, on the other hand, was cordial to both Mr. Rice and Ms. Rowley during the whole debate - no shouting, no harsh words....none of that.
Which leads to one last observation. Mr. Rice asked both candidates what they liked about being on the campaign trail was it "fun". Congressman Kline talked about the parades and how fun it was to get out and meet the people and shake hands and talk to everyone. He admitted that come October, it tends to drag, but it (campaigning) was still fun because he did get to meet so many people. Ms. Rowley's answer was telling. When asked if she found any part of campaigning fun she simply said "No". She went on to add that when she signed on to the FBI she took a vow to protect the country and the Constitution (so did Congressman Kline when he took his Marine oath) and she sees this as an extension of that vow, but there was nothing "fun" about this.
Therein lies the core difference between the two.