Monday, October 16, 2006

Even Esquire Magazine Calls for a Democratic Senate

I'm not sure how many of us pushing-50, liberal guys subscribe to both Mother Jones and Esquire magazines, but I suspect it would be more than people would think. And, for better or worse, I admit it: I've received Esquire in my mailbox for a long time and look forward to its arrival each month.

While I didn't care for the puff piece they did on John McCain in August and don’t think any woman under 30 should be deemed the "sexiest woman alive" -- as they just named the lovely, but callow, Scarlett Johansson -- I'll stick with any men's magazine that's as likely to include Sheryl Crow, Kim Cattrall and Sela Ward in their "women we love" section, as they are to laud Johansson and fellow 21-year-old, Keira Knightley.

So, what the hell does this have to do with the United States Senate?

Well, in addition to a nice cover photo of the fetching Ms. Johansson this month, Esquire boldly announces up front that they will make a voting recommendation in every House, Senate and Gubernatorial race contested this year. Most encouraging to me, is that their Senate voting recommendations would suggest a 52-48 Democratic majority when the 110th Congress convenes in January.

Hey, after watching the craven, do-nothing 109th Congress run by the Republican party, I'll take any sign of better things to come.

Most of the recommendations made by the urbane magazine's editors match my picks for who will win this year and some don't. They go way out on a limb and recommend Democrat Dale Groutage in the Wyoming Senate race, despite his standing no chance against Bush rubber-stamp Craig Thomas. (Of Thomas, Esquire says "It would appear that he considers government good for one thing: building weapons. Otherwise, he votes to slash and burn.")

They inexplicably recommend George W. Bush's Republican poodle, Mike DeWine, over Democrat Sherrod Brown in Ohio but, other than that momentary error in judgment, they make some sensible recommendations that we can only hope their middle-aged, erudite demographic takes to heart.

All told, for the 33 seats up for grabs in 2006, they recommend that readers vote for Democrats in 25 of those. In fact, the only Republicans getting the nod from the 73-year-old publication are DeWine, Richard Lugar (Indiana), Olympia Snowe (Maine), Trent Lott (Mississippi), John Ensign (Nevada), Lincoln Chafee (Rhode Island), Kay Hutchison (Texas) and Orrin Hatch (Utah).

Here's some very interesting comments made by the magazine's editors in specific races:
  • Connecticut: In their endorsement of Democrat Ned Lamont, they deal quite harshly with Joe Lieberman: "So the same Democratic primary voters who rewarded you with their votes for 18 years are now mistaken when they turn you out, giving you no choice but to run as an Independent? Senator Lieberman, it is you who are mistaken. And your repeated assertion that there should be no criticism of the president in a time of war is not merely mistaken, it is un-American."
  • Florida: Esquire recommends Democrat Bill Nelson and says of Katherine Harris that she is "a twofer: a) a poster child for the ingratitude of the Bush family (how quickly they forget) and b) a thorough nut."
  • Maryland: "Paul Sarbanes is retiring. Both candidates to replace him have decent bipartisan credentials, but [Michael] Steele's relatively thin record can't compare with [Ben] Cardin's 20 good years in the House."
  • Michigan: Esquire endorses Democrat Debbie Stabenow. "The GOP is targeting this seat, charging incumbent Democrat Debbie Stabenow with failing to pass legislation that would help the auto industry. Which isn’t actually true. But yeah, it's hard to protect your constituents when the Republican Congress cynically stymies your every effort. Expect more of the same if the Republican candidate, Mike Bouchard, gets elected."
  • Minnesota: In recommending Democrat Amy Klobuchar, Esquire says of her opponent, Mark Kennedy, that "Minnesota voters value independence and forthrightness in their elected officials, and Kennedy, a Congressman, has displayed neither, rubber-stamping most Bush policies until recently, and now forgetting to mention he's a Republican."
  • Missouri: The magazine recommends Claire McCaskill and lashes incumbent Jim Talent. "Jim Talent, elected on a pro-Bush platform and one of the administration's most faithful supporters, now takes great pains not to mention the president on his campaign web site. But the stench of weak-willed -- not to mention irresponsible -- obeisance still clings."
  • Montana: Of the GOP's Conrad Burns, who they urge their readers to vote against, Esquire says "Did Conrad Burns have any friends as a child? From calling Arabs 'ragheads' to reportedly suggesting a flight attendant become a stay-at-home mom to, in late August, branding all taxi drivers as terrorists, his dominant trait is loutish insensitivity. Oh, and he's closely tied to Jack Abramoff. Montanans have an opportunity to correct a bad mistake."
  • New Jersey: "Tom Kean Jr., son of the former New Jersey governor, is relying on his name and cheap attacks in his run to replace incumbent [Bob] Menendez. Unfortunately, his charge that Menendez was involved in a major kickback scandal in the state in the early 1980s has proven not just exaggerated, but blatantly untrue: Prosecutors from the case recall the then-28-year-old Menendez as being extraordinarily courageous in fingering both enemies and allies for their criminal activities."
In addition to strongly endorsing Democrat Jim Webb over Republican George Felix "Macaca" Allen in Virginia -- calling Webb "eminently more qualified than incumbent George Allen to comment on this year's hot topic, the Iraq war" -- Esquire lists the people they call the "pillars" and the "worst" in Congress right now.

Of those Senators running this year, they call Hillary Clinton "an excellent Senator" and, of Republican Rick Santorum, the magazine says "For the love of God, people, it's long past time that Rick Santorum did his man-on-dog, dog-on-man ruminations on his own time."

They also call Wisconsin's Russ Feingold who, while not up for reelection this year, may be running for president in 2008, "the kind of Democrat, every Democrat should aspire to be."

And, before anyone writes to me telling me how meaningless Esquire Magazine's political endorsements are, I already know that. But if a publication targeted primarily toward middle-aged men is recommending such a huge flip toward a Senate controlled by Democrats, I can't wait to read what Mother Jones has to say.