Thursday, February 15, 2007
Heather & Pearce Wrestle With Iraq Elephant, Plus: Big Bill's Balance Of Power, And: Video Of All UNM Prexy Candidates
She's against the President sending more troops to Baghdad to quell sectarian violence there, but she's also against that non-binding U.S. House resolution disapproving of the troop build-up, the subject of fiery debate and which the House is expected to approve Friday. So goes the balancing act of ABQ GOP Congresswoman Heather Wilson as she grapples with the #1 issue facing the USA and the one that nearly caused her defeat in November. Wilson, weighing in on the House floor Wednesday on the 95 word resolution, could not bring herself to join what is expected to be as many as several dozen "moderate" Republicans in voting for the resolution and thereby buying more political protection when 2008 rolls around.
What hook did Heather find to hang her hat on in voting against the measure since she had already agreed to no more Iraq troops?
"The resolution intentionally leaves unanswered the question of whether we will fund the bullets and body armor for troops who are not there yet but are going. I believe a majority of this House would vote to equip and support the men and women being sent there, even if they question the President's strategy," explained Wilson.
(Wilson is now saying she supports more troops deployed to Anbar province to fight al-Qaida operatives there.)
Since her less than 900 vote re-election win, Wilson has devoted more study to Iraq and it shows. The Air Force veteran and fifth term representative entered this lengthy analysis into the Congressional Record. But understanding the problem is not what is giving Heather headaches; it's the solution.
"We must adopt strategies, tactics and apply resources to secure (our) vital interests and garner the support of the American people for doing so."
That's how Heather concludes her analysis, but the vast majority of Americans, including those in the 1st Congressional District, have concluded that our "vital interest" is to get out of Iraq which is why, in large part, the Congress is now controlled by the Democrats. Wilson is accommodating the new reality by opposing the troop build-up, but not embracing it as evidenced by her decision not to support the resolution.
THE POLITICS OF IRAQ
NM Democrats have been quiescent toward Heather since her near upset by Patricia Madrid. No first-tier names have yet surfaced as potential '08 challengers and a redistricting bill to make her district more friendly to a Democratic challenger died before it was even introduced at the state Legislature.
It is a bittersweet irony for Heather Wilson that the Democratic takeover of Congress that relegated her and her party to back bencher status seems, for the time being, the circumstance that is insulating her from the fervent passions that will force a conclusion to the war in Iraq.
There may be some give to Heather's previous hawkish Iraq stance, but her GOP NM colleague, Steve Pearce, seems to be growing even longer talons. Taking his talking points direct from the hawk notebook, Pearce took to the floor of the House Wednesday and compared Bush to Lincoln who he said both "faced generals who listened too much to the public."
Steve, you ever hear of the old expression: "That dog won't hunt?"
BILL'S BALANCE OF POWER
Isn't this the really big story of this legislative session so far--Governor Richardson's in-the-work compromise with the state senate to restore capital outlay money he vetoed last year? It signifies that the balance of power, tilted toward the Guv in recent years, is being restored which means a more collaborative approach on major legislation. Is that a good thing?
Fans of Big Bill think his varied legislative successes were accomplished because he lit a fire under reluctant lawmakers and awoke a somnabulant Legislature. Critics, especially fiscal conservatives, see a Governor who ran roughshod over the solons and embarked on unrestrained spending.
PICKING A PREXY
Of the five contenders for the presidency of the University of New Mexico, we called Dan Lopez, president of New Mexico Tech in Socorro, the even-money play. An Alligator monitoring the action gave us a new set of odds as we await the final decision Saturday. He has Lopez at 8 to 5, but still the favorite. But many disagree seeing an out-of-stater taking the prestigious posting. Judge for yourself. There are video interviews with the staff and the faculty posted on the UNM Web site.
Keep the politics coming. Email your news and comments from the link at the top of the page.
(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2007
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