A friend e-mailed me the other day wanting to know if we would endorse Charlie Brown for Congress. He said the Sacramento Bee had just given its endorsement to the Democrat who seeks to unseat John Doolittle and said it would be swell if we could do the same.
I told my friend that The Union generally has not endorsed candidates (although the newspaper was founded 142 years ago to help get Lincoln re-elected) and that it didn't surprise me that the Bee supports Brown, given the fact that the Bee only supports Republican candidates every 150 years or so. I also told my pal that a newspaper endorsement is usually the kiss of death for candidates, since most voters don't really care who the paper supports.
That said, I personally believe it's time for a change. I say "personally" because there is only one photo and name attached to this column and they both belong to me ... personally. I have no idea how the other 77 employees of The Union feel about either candidate.
Why not? Doolittle has had 16 years to deliver whatever he promised to do and it's time to give someone else a chance to at least make promises. I don't think political office was intended to be lifetime employment, but thanks to some clever redistricting (that's where they determine where the Republicans and Democrats eat and sleep and design the district boundaries to benefit whichever party has the majority at the time), Doolittle and others have been able to stay in office long enough for their children to grow beards and shave their legs.
I remember when Doolittle arrived on the California political scene in 1980. He was only 29 years old and he surprised everyone by defeating a Democrat for a seat on the state Senate. It wasn't long after that when he tried to get the state to designate square dancing as the official state dance. I swear on my mother's eyeballs (she and Doolittle were both born in Glendale). I think that was when I decided to write a column.
I hadn't realized until then how powerful the Mormons were in the Sacramento Valley. Doolittle is a Mormon (he did his missionary work in Argentina), and I suspect that was largely the reason he eventually was elected to Congress in 1990, when Norm Shumway (also a Mormon) retired. Shumway held that Congressional seat (there was some shuffling between Districts 4 and 14) for 12 years.
The district is also largely Republican, which means Brown will need to convince a lot of them that it's time to "Dump Doolittle," as the Brown battle cry proclaims.
One poll shows the two candidates neck and neck, which could only mean that many Republicans agree.
On the issues? Doolittle agrees with Bush almost all of the time, although I don't believe Bush likes square dancing. Doolittle reportedly disagrees with Bush's immigration policy (guest worker program), favors partial privatization of Social Security, opposes gun control and abortion and has been fighting for a dam in Auburn since there were glaciers in Roseville.
Many believe Doolittle is corrupt, a term I've generally avoided when it comes to politicians in Washington because ... well ... duh.
It could be Doolittle's association with lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who has pleaded guilty to fraud and corruption charges and will probably go to jail as soon as he rats out a few of his former friends. Or maybe it's the fact that Doolittle's wife was paid by Abramoff's firm for some public relations work that has his opponents in a tizzy.
I had lunch with John and Julie Doolittle over at Paulette's a couple of months ago, and, I must say, it was quite delightful. And before any of you start to scream, I paid. And I might point out that John drives a Toyota hybrid, which is more than I can say for most politicians, including Democrats.
As for Charlie Brown ... well ... I've never met him, but those who have say he's a good man. He served 26 years as an officer in the Air Force and retired as a lieutenant colonel in 1998. He was a rescue helicopter pilot in Vietnam and helped evacuate Saigon. He also coordinated surveillance flights over Iraq in the 1990s and opposed the invasion because, as he states on his Web site, "he knew there were no WMDs present."
He thinks we ought to get out of Iraq and focus instead on our borders. He supports additional funding for veteran services, supports universal health care, a woman's right to choose, stem cell research and good government. "Who doesn't feel discouraged and angry at the constant news of corruption and influence peddling in Washington?" he asks.
Maybe that last one sums it up for me. Brown's really got no political experience and will have difficulty getting anything done in that cesspool we call D.C., but perhaps he is exactly what we need today - something new and innocent.
Jeff Ackerman is the publisher of The Union. His column appears on Tuesdays. Contact him at 477-4299, firstname.lastname@example.org, or 464 Sutton Way, Grass Valley 95945.