Posts containing my opinion of the race.

Past the Use-By Date

Even though he's professed his belief that this isn't the time for campaigning, Randy Kuhl still feels the occasional need to throw some red meat to the restless, ravenous base. The latest portion came in the form of a press release decrying tax increases in "Democrat Budget". The question I have for Rep. Kuhl and his supporters is how he reconciles the red meat with the milk. It just isn't kosher.

Using taxes to inflame the base is the first page of the Republican playbook, especially in a state with a tax burden like New York's. Kuhl makes a number of claims in his press release, most of which are based on projections five years in the future. Of course, those projections assume that Congress does nothing to tweak the budget or the tax code, so they're probably exaggerated. Nevertheless, Kuhl's fundamental claim is true: taxes are going to go up in the next few years.

I don't think this is news to anyone, since we're waging a trillion-dollar war. If you don't like taxes, you're not going to enjoy the next few years, because we're going to have to pay for what we purchased in Iraq and Afghanistan. Since Rep. Kuhl doesn't like taxes, you'd guess that he'd be working to cut spending. Of course, you'd be wrong.

Randy Kuhl is the only New York member of the House Agriculture Committee. In that role, he's been quoted frequently in news articles about issues important to farmers. Last week, Kuhl, who loudly denounced the Iraq supplemental because it was full of pork, noted that dairy farmers are in a pickle because funding for the Milk Income Loss Contract (MILC) didn't get included in that bill:

I am really very concerned that, unless these farmers get some immediate relief, they may not be able to survive. [...] We've got to figure out what else we can do very quickly.

The MILC compensates farmers when the price of milk falls below a certain amount. When Wal-Mart comes to town and puts the local hardware store out of business, there's no WILC (Wal-Mart Income Loss Contract) to save the day, and there's no expectation that Congress will compensate for the "family hardware store". But the "family farm" is sacred to Congress, and billions are spent every year to create artificial markets for agricultural products like milk.

Kuhl is also at the forefront of adding new provisions to the latest agriculture bill. Rochesterturning linked to this account of the wrangling over the new farm bill. The piece notes that Randy Kuhl has allied himself with a group of other Republicans in support of H R 1600, the "Eat Healthy America Act". It has a number of provisions (something for everyone), but, most notably, it extends farm subsidies for crops that aren't currently subsidized.

Kuhl's support of both of these bills is probably good representation of his constituents. There are a lot of dairy farmers in the 29th, and the 29th also includes crops that would be covered by H R 1600. But his support of these bills, which use taxpayer money to fund false markets for agricultural goods, flies in the face of his recent rant against higher taxes. If taxes are going to rise to an intolerable level, why is John R Kuhl Jr. co-sponsoring more government handouts?

I know a lot of smart, fiscally conservative Republicans who don't buy what politicians like Kuhl are selling. They want to see the rhetoric about taxes backed up with action. Kuhl hasn't done that, but he's certainly able to use anti-tax talk to whip up his base. My question is when (or if) his rhetoric will cease to pass the sniff test with more than a few, smarter constituents in the restless base.

Oversight in the 29th

This morning's Democrat and Chronicle carries a story about the Federal Rail Administration's (FRA) inspection of CSX. In the aftermath of a catastrophic derailment in East Rochester in January, the FRA's investigation found 3,518 problems at CSX, of which almost 200 might lead to civil penalties. Randy Kuhl has been on top of his issue, requesting FRA inspection of track in the 29th.

Over the past week, the D&C has also carried stories about the water quality in the town of Victor. For 17 years, the town has been aware that toxic solvents may be contaminating homeowners' wells. The most recent story in the D&C quoted Randy Kuhl asking for an EPA inspection.

On the face of it, Kuhl has been reacting vigorously to two cases where more government involvement is needed. On a deeper level, these cases raise serious questions about Executive incompetence and Congressional oversight.

The CSX case is most clear-cut. Apparently it takes a train falling off of a railroad overpass onto a busy street to gain the attention of the FRA. Once the FRA awoke from its bureaucratic slumber, it found thousands of violations. If CSX is violating that many regulations, shouldn't the normal FRA oversight process find some of them? Do lives have to be endangered to get the attention of the FRA?

Randy Kuhl has said that he'll also be following up with increased Congressional oversight. That's good, because an agency that missed over 3,000 violations hasn't been under strict oversight for some time. As a member of the House Transportation Committee, Kuhl should be taking the lead in fixing the problem, and he should keep the 29th informed about how the committee will ensure that the FRA will be proactive in watching CSX.

In the case of the polluted Victor wells, it appears that New York State has primary jurisdiction, but it's still worth asking why it takes 17 years for the government to even acknowledge publicly that there's a problem. Shouldn't the EPA have had some previous oversight function here?

Both of these cases raise issues that cross the boundaries between Liberal and Conservative, or Republican and Democrat. Regardless of ideology or party affiliation, most voters believe that government has a legitimate role overseeing the safety of our transportation and drinking water. When watchdog agencies fail, Congressional oversight becomes an issue that can unite voters. It's not an abstract or "just politics" when trains start falling off overpasses.

Union Membership and Income

Unions tend to be a Democratic sacred cow, so a lot of Democrats might think that Randy Kuhl's recent anti-labor vote will hurt Kuhl in the long run. I'm not so sure that the average voter in the 29th will buy the link between more unions and higher wages. To those with who think otherwise, I'd like to share some simple statistics.

In 1990, Rochester was 59th in a list of US cities ranked by median income. In 2000, Rochester was 68th. During that same time, the percentage of workers in Rochester who were union members grew from 12.5% to 14.4%.

This is far from a sophisticated economic analysis, but it does indicate that there's no clear relationship between prosperity and union membership. It's an inconvenient fact for those who are inclined to support the ad campaign mentioned yesterday.

What's Orwellian?

Randy Kuhl's press release on HR 800, the Employee Free Choice Act, says:

This Orwellian bill is the most misnamed legislation I’ve seen in my years as a legislator. [...] The bill actually takes away an employee’s ability to make a ‘free choice’ on whether to organize a labor union.

At his town meeting in Henrietta on Saturday, Kuhl also mentioned that the bill was supported by the Communist Party. As I pointed out last week, Kuhl co-sponsored last session's version of the bill, and withdrew that sponsorship only after the election. Since he's saying that this bill is now an Orwellian, Communist plot, I wondered what's different about this year's version.

Not much, as it turns out. There are exactly three changes between the 109th and 110th versions of the bill:

  1. The title was changed to the "Employee Free Choice Act of 2007", rather than just the "Employee Free Choice Act".
  2. The word "valid" was added to Section 2 Paragraph 6.
  3. The word "authenticity" was changed to "validity" in Section 2, Paragraph 7B.

I can't believe that those four changed words alone made this bill "the most misnamed legislation" Kuhl's ever seen. That makes me conclude that another Orwellian principle is at work here: the big lie. Repeat it long enough, and loud enough, and people will forget that you were for this bill before you were against it.

Moving On from MoveOn: A Plan For Recovering Progressives

The more I see them in action, the more I'm convinced that the current presence in the 29th is pernicious. That's unfortunate, because I'm sure that most of the folks associated with MoveOn think they're doing the right thing, but their tactics are backfiring.

For those who are interested in changing the 29th, but might have some doubts about your current MoveOn affiliation, I offer you a 5-step program to wean yourselves from some of MoveOn's bad habits. Don't worry -- there's no higher power involved, and you can still drink heavily.

1. Concentrate on your local campaign.

You may feel that Randy Kuhl beat you unfairly. After all, he used negative campaign ads, had lots of corporate contributions, and used every bit of leverage available to an incumbent. Guess what? He's going to do it again in 2008. Complaining about it is as pointless as bitching about the weather: you can't change it, you can only prepare for it.

The first step in recovery is to focus on what you can do to beat the opponent you have in the district where you live. Kuhl will be well-financed and using every tool of incumbency. How do you beat someone with those advantages? By grassroots organization, canvassing, contributing to and fundraising for Kuhl's opponent. Unless you're at your legal limit for contributions to Massa, stop giving your money to MoveOn or any other national organization. Encourage your friends to do the same. If you live in the 29th, and you're passionate about change in Washington, a check to the Massa campaign is the most direct way your dollars can affect your government.

2. Figure out who you're trying to convince, and put yourself in their shoes.

The second step in MoveOn recovery is to figure out the audience you're trying to convince, and to tailor your message to that audience. In the 29th, your audience is 3,000 voters who voted for Kuhl, and the others who didn't come to the polls on election day. It isn't your fellow MoveOn supporters -- they're already convinced.

Your target is the much-maligned "centrists" or "moderates". They probably supported the Iraq war at the beginning and now are against it. They don't need to be lectured about how wrong it was to get in -- they simply want to hear your proposal for getting out. They're also leery about some of the other issues that fire you up. For example, single-payer health care is hard for most people to swallow, because the government's track record on providing health care is simply awful. Nevertheless, there are a lot of reforms that are needed by single-payer that moderates can view as smart changes to a broken system. Ron Wyden's plan is a good example.

As you work to convince moderates, remember the difference between moral beliefs and a political agenda. The former is your touchstone in life, and should never be abandoned. The latter is what's possible today. You need to separate the two. As long as your political agenda maps out a road leading to where your moral beliefs tell you to go, you are making progress. This is a case where baby steps are better than no steps at all.

3. Respect your opponent.

Perhaps Randy Kuhl is a creep, or a jerk, or something similar. If so, he's the creep that kicked your side's ass last election. That alone deserves some respect. Also, creep or not, he's pretty effective with small groups and he does work hard. Look next door at NY-25, where Jim Walsh is just starting to have a few town meetings. Kuhl has been having those meetings for over twenty years. You may disagree with the way he conducts the meetings, but don't forget that he's having them. His office is also very responsive to constituents.

So, easy on the haterade. It clouds your judgment and impedes your recovery. When you make your opponent a caricature, you're caught off-guard when Kuhl acts like what he is, which is a canny, experienced politician. Underestimating your opponent is the first step on the road to defeat. Acknowledging your opponent's good side also makes you more credible among moderates -- they tend to be people who see shades of grey, not black-and-white.

4. Get out of the echo chamber.

It's very comfortable to only read the work of those who agree with you, and the Internet makes it easy to do. But reading just netroots blogs isn't going to exercise you mind, or expose you to the kinds of thinking that you're going to encounter from residents of the 29th. So the next step in your recovery is to move outside the liberal blogs and read the writing of some intelligent conservatives.

You don't need to listen to Rush Limbaugh, but spending a little time reading the work of people like Andrew Sullivan, George Will and David Brooks will probably be rewarding. Locally, I think Bob Lonsberry's column is worth a read every so often. Try to figure out how you would respond to the arguments that these guys make. Look for points of agreement -- you might be surprised. In short, exercise your mind to avoid Kos- and MyDD-induced atrophy.

5. Tone down your tactics.

If you're going to attend one of Kuhl's public meetings, think about how you would feel about someone from "the other side" using MoveOn tactics at one of Louise Slaughter's meetings. If you're inclined to hold up signs, think about how you would feel about someone holding signs saying "Louise Votes to Kill Babies". What if a pro-lifer stood up and interrupted Louise while she was speaking, because that person couldn't wait to deliver the letters of 150 constituents who had written letters opposing Roe v. Wade? What if those pro-lifers began to grumble, grouse and make snide remarks while you were speaking in defense of the right to choose?

The final step in the recovery plan is to take a good, hard look at your tactics and see whether they're really effective. If you would find those tactics offensive from others, then they're offensive, period. You also need to put yourself in the shoes of Kuhl and his staff. For example, what's the good of handing Kuhl 150 letters at once? Perhaps those who wrote will get responses, but in the end those letters are easily identified as being from people who will never vote for Randy. Better to send those letters individually and keep him guessing.


That's it - a simple but effective program for self-betterment, world peace and free beer for everybody. Never forget that MoveOn addiction is a powerful force. If you follow this program carefully, you might be able to kick, though I can't guarantee that you won't be jonesing for long time afterwards.

A Raucous Town Meeting

If this morning's town meeting in Henrietta is an indicator, Randy Kuhl should lay in a supply of whatever over-the-counter medicine is indicated for immense pains in the ass. A lot of heat, and little light, was generated during the 80 or so minutes he spent on one of the first stops of his yearly 145-town listening tour.

The main topic on constituents' minds was Iraq. Of the twenty or so questions asked, well over half had to do with the war. One representative delivered 150 letters to Kuhl from other 29th residents. Others held up signs with slogans like "You Backed Bush's Lie, Our Children Die". Singing of "Give Peace a Chance" wasn't evident, though grumbling and the threat of spontaneous outbreak of chants were omnipresent.

Kuhl calls these meetings "opportunities to listen." He says he's there to hear what his constituents have to say, not to argue or debate. At times, the full house at Henrietta Town Hall chafed visibly under that stricture, demanding that Kuhl justify his vote on the Iraq resolution. Kuhl stuck to his guns, saying that constituents who wanted to hear his explanations could correspond with him or schedule one-on-one meetings with him.

In coming posts, I'll deal with some of the specific issues raised at the meeting, but for now I'd like to comment on tactics.

Kuhl's treatment of these meetings as "one way" communication is an interesting gambit. For some of the more inflammatory questions, he flatly refused to respond to the questioner. Though he sometimes sounded like an Adlerian therapist ("How does that make you feel?"), the technique was pretty effective. After the first question on Iraq, Kuhl asked the speaker what that person thought should be done. The response was much less impassioned or certain than that person's earlier condemnation of the war. Kuhl caught this person flat-footed, because it is easy to complain about the war but it's harder to articulate an exit strategy.

I haven't attended any of Kuhl's other town hall meetings, but I have attended those of other Members, and Kuhl's refusal to answer questions is overly restrictive and sometimes verged on downright silly. In his defense, town hall meetings like these can easily devolve into debates that go nowhere, so a lot of structure is needed to make them effective. Nevertheless, Kuhl's holding the reins way too too tight. There needs to be a little give-and-take, or these meetings will become a charade. It's telling that Kuhl didn't even follow his own rule, since he answered some questions on less controversial topics, such as whether he co-sponsored a bill or his opinion on supporting VA hospitals.

What's lacking from Kuhl's listen-only position is a good alternative for constituents who want a more in-depth explanation of his views. Kuhl's stated alternative -- write me or meet with me and I'll tell you -- doesn't scale very well. He needs to come up with a better alternative to explain his votes on key legislation. It could be something as simple as a few more press releases or a couple of position papers posted to his website. If he did that before the next set of meetings, he could at least point to those instead of stonewalling.

Though it was probably little appreciated by some in the audience, Kuhl kept his good humor. He wasn't flustered and he wasn't rude, in sharp contrast to those who used the occasion to indulge in a little hamfisted political theater. I don't know if the people holding up protest signs were MoveOn members (I suspect they were), but no matter: they were a rude distraction that subtracted from the quality of the event.

The question I have for any MoveOn members who might be reading this blog is simple: Are you out for self-gratification, or do you want to win over Kuhl/undecided voters? If it's the latter, which I often doubt, then your tactics aren't getting the job done. Delivering letters en masse and holding up hand-lettered signs for the TV camera (that's right, just one, and it was only RNews) have little or no impact on the 3,000 voters you need to swing, or the thousands of non-voters you need to get to the polls. Those people aren't at town hall meetings, and they probably aren't paying attention to the anemic media coverage of these meetings. But they are looking for a reasoned, calmly-stated position on Iraq that doesn't talk about killing our children or involve hand-lettered, asinine slogans. That's not because the death of young people in this war isn't a worthy topic, but rather that it's all too well-known, and dwelling on it doesn't advance the conversation.

Of the behavior and discourse I saw at that meeting, by far the most intelligent and reasonable was that provided by Randy Kuhl and some of the participants who weren't obviously part of the MoveOn delegation. Some of the least persuasive and poorly phrased was provided by the stirred-up and righteous MoveOn group. When Kuhl did engage the MoveOn group, their responses were weak. I'm going to devote a future post on just one of the balls that was dropped, but there were many.

Also, the grumbling and cheap shots from the audience were distracting and sometimes offensive. For example, when a young man from Henrietta stood up and announced that he's joining the service with plans to go to Iraq, one of the people near me muttered "yeah, to die". If your righteousness burns in your heart with the glow of a thousand suns, so strongly that you aren't able to shut up for the short moment it takes for a brave young man say his piece, then you are no different from the "wingnuts" that you choose to hate. You are a zealot, and zealots do nothing but damage the political discourse, no matter which side they're on.

The 29th has been damaged enough by the completely tone-deaf politics of MoveOn. Part of the reason that Eric Massa lost the last election was the lazy, sloppy and expensive MoveOn ad that allowed Kuhl to put him on the defensive. The sloppiness of that ad was symptomatic of the general feeling I got this morning from the MoveOn group: We're so fucking right that we don't need to do our homework.

Well, guess what? Kuhl does his and he outfoxed you today.

More VA Drama

It looks like the 8-bed acute psychiatric unit at the VA Hospital in Canandaigua is going to be closed. The Democrat and Chronicle reports that it's a done deal, while the Messenger-Post says the final decision is due this week.

The VA hospital, which has long been under the threat of complete closure, became a political issue in the 2006 campaign. The announcement that it would remain open was timed suspiciously close to the election, and it was quickly followed by the news that the acute unit would probably shut down.

In the Messenger-Post article, Kuhl spits and sputters, saying "I completely disagree with the closure of the acute psychiatric unit and everything about the process the VA has taken to get there." Eric Massa also fulminates over the expected closing in a post on his 29united site. I think both are missing the big picture on medical care for Veterans.

Since many psychiatric emergencies are also medical emergencies, an 8-bed acute care psychiatric unit has great difficulty existing without a nearby medical hospital. The closing of this unit was probably a foregone conclusion, considering that the nearest VA medical facilities are in Buffalo or Syracuse. Of course, using the nearby FF Thompson hospital for acute medical care (except in dire emergencies) is verboten, because VA care can only be delivered through the VA system.

The underlying question, which Kuhl ignores and Massa only partially addresses, is why Vets must receive their care in a separate and usually inferior medical system. Why must a Veteran travel to Canandaigua, Syracuse or God-only-knows-where to get care, instead being treated at a civilian hospital or clinic?

I understand that some care given by the VA is specialized. But most of it is the same medical treatment given to civilians. If we really want to honor the service of Veterans, let's give them an insurance card that gives them access to every hospital, clinic, doctor and pharmacy in the United States. Then let's pick a few really good VA hospitals to serve as specialist centers to serve the unique needs of veterans, and close the rest.

I submit that the reasons why this suggestion won't be adopted, or even considered, is that the VA system exists to ration care for Vets and to serve the needs of interest groups and politicians.

By making care for Vets hard to access, the VA system serves fewer Veterans, thus effectively rationing treatment. Those who have insurance use more convenient local facilities. Only those with special needs, or without insurance, use the hospitals. If VA care were universally available to vets, costs would skyrocket.

By creating large, government-run facilities, the VA also gives politicians plums for their districts. VA hospitals are like military bases in that regard -- they're often situated in out-of-the-way locales (e.g., Canandaigua instead of Rochester) in order to give small towns an economic boost. They're also full of union jobs, and satisfying a union is always a good thing for a politician.

If politicians really wanted to make life better for Veterans, they'd consider a complete overhaul of the way medical care is delivered to them. Instead, we get a series of mini-dramas whenever one of the sacred cow hospitals is threatened.

The Restless Base

Republicans who voted against the Iraq resolution were immediately targeted for primary challenges by commentators on the right. Randy Kuhl dodged that bullet by voting for the Iraq resolution, but the threat of a primary challenge or Conservative Party candidate in the general election is still real in the 29th.

Last month, Bob Lonsberry threatened Kuhl with a primary challenge over the immigration issue. Towards the end of the 2006 campaign, Kuhl moderated his immigration position after receiving complaints from area farmers. Lonsberry kept mum about this during the campaign, but he wasted no time in passing judgment after Kuhl was re-elected:

If [Kuhl] believes those things, then while he's got his head up there he might as well look around and see if he can find any polyps.


You've got it backwards, Randy.

And you need to turn it around.

Or we'll start campaigning for your primary opponent before the spring corn goes in.

Lonsberry's threat is real. In the 2004 general election, Conservative Mark Assini received 6% of the vote. If Assini had run in 2006, it's likely that Massa would have beaten Kuhl. A primary challenge that morphs into a general election run by a Conservative Party candidate in 2008 would probably spell the end of Randy Kuhl's legislative career.

Mark Assini retired from the Monroe County Legislature in 2005 and writes a weekly column. He's tanned, rested and ready if the base loses patience with Randy Kuhl.

Kuhl's Iraq Vote Looks Smarter Every Day

What a difference a week makes. Tonight, the AP reports that Speaker Pelosi has publicly distanced herself from Jack Murtha's plan to put strict conditions on war funding.  Yesterday, the Washington Post ran a front-page story in which a number of Democrats expressed queasiness at the thought of limiting funding for the troops.

After the supposedly momentous vote on Iraq, it looks like the position taken by Randy Kuhl and other House Republicans, which equates defunding the war with abandoning the troops, has taken some of the air out of the Democrat's sails. This shouldn't be surprising, because any move to end the war in Iraq is far more politically dangerous than simply expressing disapproval. Leaving Iraq will require making hard choices and taking some responsibility for those choices, two things that Democrats haven't had to do for a few years.

As I've watched the fallout from the Iraq resolution, I've heard a couple of myths that I think need to be busted.

The first is that Kuhl is not representing his constituents when he made the Iraq vote. James Swarts of SUNY Geneseo put it this way:

The majority of Americans are against the war. It is Kuhl’s job to represent the people not be a representative to the executive branch.

Perhaps the majority of Americans are against the war, but in the 29th, the majority of voters re-elected a man whose views on the war have been in lockstep with the executive. More importantly, those voters did so after being presented a clear choice on the issue, since Kuhl's opponent made Iraq a centerpiece issue. Kuhl can reasonably argue that his position represents that of his constituents.

The second myth is that Kuhl would somehow save his political hide by moving to the center on this issue. James Walsh in NY-25 is living this myth by being one of the few Republicans who voted for the Iraq resolution. I can't see that Walsh is doing himself much good. As analyst Stuart Rothenberg points out, there's really no good way for Republicans to run away from Bush. His presidency is inextricably linked with the Republican party. That's bad news for both Kuhl and Walsh, no matter how each of them votes on the war.

Some of Walsh's supporters will take him to task for abandoning his party, and most of Walsh's detractors wouldn't vote for him no matter what position he took on the Iraq war. I think Kuhl grasps this simple fact and has chosen to stay loyal to his party. I can't see much political downside in his decision.

Kuhl Explains His Vote

Randy Kuhl was one of four New York Representatives who chose not to participate in the debate over the resolution on Iraq. After the vote, Kuhl issued a statement explaining his vote. In the statement, he expresses strong support for the deployment of new troops in Baghdad, calling it "the best possible blueprint for victory".

In addition to endorsing the surge, Kuhl argues that a precipitous withdrawal from Iraq would lead to a disaster, and he also accuses the Democrats of using the Iraq resolution as a first step towards defunding the troops.

I don't think any deep analysis of Kuhl's position is necessary to see what's going on here. Kuhl has not changed his mind about Iraq, and he continues to cast his lot with that of his party and President. There is no shading or nuance that might indicate a reservation about his continued support of the Bush administration's Iraq policy.

Kuhl's hard line is apparent in his accusation that the "Democrat party" intends to "defund the troops, and deny them the best protection and back up available". That accusation is silly. No Member of Congress would propose or vote for such a measure, yet this is the main talking point of the Republican leadership of the House. As I noted earlier, the current Murtha proposal puts conditions on funding which would allow longer rest periods between deployments, and it also insists on proper equipment and training before troops are deployed. That's the polar opposite of denying protection and backup.

Kuhl's continued close alliance with the Bush administration -- including repetition of the rhetoric ("Democrat party") -- is interesting given that his 2006 race was a squeaker. Yet Kuhl isn't the only Republican in a tight district who's chosen to continue to toe the administration line. Of the 16 Republican Representatives who held their seats by 3 percent or less, only James Walsh (NY-25) voted against his party. This shows that the electoral calculus on the Iraq isn't as clear as some might think.

Though polls show that roughly two-thirds of Americans think the war was a mistake, that Bush has mishandled it, and that we shouldn't send more troops, the same two-thirds oppose funding cuts by Congress. This disconnect reflects something deep in the American character -- the thing we hate most about losing is the concrete acknowledgment of our failure. Our exit from Vietnam, which was a painful inching away instead of a clean break, reflects this tendency. Cutting funding for the Iraq war would be a clear, public and unmistakable acceptance of failure, and a large majority of the electorate is not yet ready to do that.

In the next few months, we'll see Democrats trying to grasp the nettle of our loss in Iraq. They'll do so in increments, introducing legislation like Murtha's that approach a withdrawal indirectly. During this time, Republicans will weigh each vote very carefully. They must appease a base that still wants a "victory", yet they can't appear to be out of touch with the majority of their constituents who disapprove of the war.

At some point in this intricate political dance, a few more Republicans will back away from supporting the Bush administration. Despite his unequivocal statement today, I wouldn't be surprised to see Kuhl change his mind before this legislative drama is over.

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