Mike Kueber's Blog

March 25, 2012

Spineless politicians

Filed under: Issues,Politics — Mike Kueber @ 4:04 am
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The biggest issue in this year’s campaign for the Republican presidential nomination is whether Mitt Romney is a dependable conservative or someone who is running as a conservative but will govern as a moderate.  This charge resonates with Romney because he has a history of governing as a moderate when he was governor of Massachusetts, and now his campaign positions are more conservative.  As all litigators know, whenever individuals have given two different answers to the same question, they are vulnerable to charge that they were either lying then or they are lying now.  Either way the individual is shown to be a liar.

A Texas example of shifting positions was recently reported in the Texas Tribune.      Texas Comptroller Susan Combs is planning to run for lieutenant governor in 2014, but such a run is problematic because she started her career as a pro-choice state rep in Travis County, where being pro-choice is acceptable.  Such a position is not acceptable, however, in a state-wide race for lieutenant governor in the Republican Party.  Not surprisingly, Combs changed her abortion position last year and now opposes abortion except in cases of rape, incest, or the life-threatening complications.  But the true believers wonder whether Combs is dependable.

President Obama is in the process of doing the same conversion thing in connection with the issue of same-sex marriage.  During his campaign in 2008, he opposed same-sex marriage because otherwise he would have been hammered by Hilary Clinton on the issue.  But the country (and even more so, the Democratic Party) is moving left on this issue, and President Obama last year started laying the groundwork for reversing his position by declaring that his position was beginning to “evolve.”  I don’t think there is any question the he has always favored same-sex marriage, but declined to take a principled position because it would hurt him electorally.  Now he is making an electoral calculation that being in favor of same-sex marriage will no longer hurt him.

I agree that voters have a right to be skeptical about politicians who significantly modify their positions to accommodate political considerations.  But ultimately that is what politicians should do in a democracy.  Politicians retain their legitimacy only as long as they faithfully represent their constituents.  Furthermore, although politicians might occasionally take principled positions contrary to the wishes of their constituents, they can’t do it very often if they want to retain the support of those constituents.

August 7, 2011

Susan Combs and abortion

Filed under: Issues,People,Politics — Mike Kueber @ 2:16 am
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Six months ago, I blogged about State Comptroller Susan Combs’ position on abortion – “anti-abortion, pro-choice.”  Combs, who is a rising star in Texas politics and a favorite to be the state’s next Lt. Governor, adopted her position in the 90s while running for office in liberal Travis County.  In my blog entry, I predicted that, because being pro-choice was no longer an option for Texas Republicans, “I sense a conversion coming on.”

Earlier this week with the zeal of a convert, Combs announced to the Texas Tribune her opposition to abortions:

  • “I’m unequivocal about it. I was wrong.”  She said abortion is too often used as a form of birth control. “I just find it morally repugnant.”
  • Combs has talked about running for another state office when her term as comptroller is up in 2014 — lieutenant governor is mentioned most often — but said her position on abortion has been developing for some time and isn’t keyed to her political ambitions.  “Either people believe I am telling them the straight, unvarnished truth or they don’t,” she said.

Forgive me, Susan, if I don’t believe you.  Just as I don’t believe that the positions of President Obama and VP Biden regarding same-sex marriage is evolving.  What’s evolving is the political climate.

February 7, 2011

Susan Combs – a rising star in Texas?

The Texas Tribune published an article today that explores whether a Republican candidate who is pro-choice can survive a primary challenge.  The general consensus of pundits was that a pro-choice Republican would be a goner.   

This consensus led to a second article – what abortion position will rising-star Susan Combs take?  Combs is currently Texas’s Comptroller and is the favorite to be the state’s next Lieutenant Governor because of her formidable campaign chest of $5 million. 

As the $5-million fund suggests, Combs is a part of the Republican aristocracy.  Her family’s ranch in west Texas, which she ostensibly manages, is more than 100 years old.  She went to Vassar College, worked on Wall Street before obtaining a degree at UT-Law, worked as a prosecutor in Dallas, became a state rep for Travis County (1993-1996)(winning her first primary run-off with 50.08% of the vote), worked as a state director for Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, and finally won state-wide elective office as Agriculture Commissioner, replacing Rick Perry (1999-2007).

But according to the TT article, Combs’ last known position on abortion was, “anti-abortion, pro-choice.”

Anti-abortion, pro-choice – huh?  That sounds like political double-speak, and if you look closely, you will see that it mirrors the position of Combs’ former boss – Kay Bailey Hutchison.  Both Hutchison and Combs have opined their support of Roe v. Wade because they believe nonsensically that Roe v. Wade is a valuable tool in outlawing late-term abortions.

Combs adopted her position on abortion in the early 1990s when she was running for the state legislature in Travis County, which is the most liberal county in Texas.  Being pro-choice in Travis County didn’t take political courage.  If the TT pundits are correct, being pro-choice while running in a Republican primary for Lieutenant Governor is political suicide, even with $5 million in the bank.  Perhaps that explains why Combs’ spokesperson says that Combs will be announcing her position on abortion after the current legislative session.

I sense a conversion coming on.