It's time to send the congressman home
Two years ago, we recommended Jim Sensenbrenner for another term representing Wisconsin's 5th Congressional District. Today, we simply cannot. Sensenbrenner has been wrong on too much, from an immigration policy that puts him at odds with much of his own party and the business community to failure to exert meaningful oversight over White House domestic spying policies.
We recommend his opponent, Democrat Bryan Kennedy. He will be a competent, thoughtful congressman who can restore a sense of dignity and balance to the 5th District. It's time for that after years of folly from Sensenbrenner.
Sensenbrenner has too often been an obstructionist to good policy. Given the reins of the powerful House Judiciary Committee, he had a chance to lead for the common good during a congressional session when few representatives had even a notion of what that meant. Too often, he didn't.
Sensenbrenner was wrong on immigration. His enforcement-only plan included making felons of undocumented immigrants and a useless 700-mile fence that will do nothing to solve this national problem. Worse for Republicans, his obstinacy split his own party and cost it a rare opportunity to significantly broaden its base.
Sensenbrenner was wrong on the USA Patriot Act. We need many of its provisions in this era of terrorism, but the version he championed strode upon the liberty of every American.
Sensenbrenner was wrong on Real ID, which will cost states millions of dollars to implement and which fixed something that wasn't broken.
Sensenbrenner was wrong not to dig deeper into the National Security Agency's domestic spying program. Sensenbrenner sent a letter to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales but didn't bother with the real spade work.
Sensenbrenner was wrong to waste taxpayers' money by taking more than $160,000 in junkets since 1994, not to mention the more than $200,000 in world travel paid for by lobbyists and think tanks over the past six years.
Sensenbrenner was wrong to push bills that would make it harder for police agencies to track illegal guns and to crack down on rogue gun dealers.
Sensenbrenner was wrong to indict Milwaukee as "fast becoming the murder capital of the U.S." and wrong to lash out at Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, calling him a "crybaby" for having the brass to criticize Congress. It's but one example of the congressman's increasingly belligerent and unproductive tone.
Give Sensenbrenner credit for pushing to renew the Voting Rights Act and for bucking the administration on ethics reform. He was right about the risk for fraud in relief money sent to the Gulf Coast for victims of Hurricane Katrina.
But those are meager accomplishments.
Like Sensenbrenner, Kennedy favors tough border security but, unlike Sensenbrenner, also a path to legalization for the millions of illegal immigrants now here. He favors incentives to promote the entry of whole families, which he says would force immigrants up the wage scale, and bigger fines for businesses that employ illegal immigrants.
Kennedy, a University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee professor, favors a flexible withdrawal from Iraq but wants the generals to make those decisions. He notes, correctly, that the real fight is against terrorism.
He favors targeted tax cuts for the middle class, arguing that the Bush tax cuts missed that mark.
Some voters may be put off by Kennedy's decision to pay himself, a campaign staffer and a baby sitter from campaign funds. But if middle-class candidates are going to run, accommodations must be made. The Federal Elections Commission allows what Kennedy did. And keep in mind: Sensenbrenner is paid by the taxpayers while he campaigns.
No doubt, the district loses something in experience and seniority if Sensenbrenner goes. But a return to more moderate positions and tone, especially on immigration and guns, is well worth that price.
Saturday, October 28, 2006
Sensenbrenner 'wrong on too much';
Journal Sentinel endorses Kennedy
Sunday's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel editorial:
Posted by xoff at 9:54 PM