Lamar! for re-electionI have not always seen eye to eye with Lamar Alexander. In my conservative, anti-establishmentarian universe, Senator Alexander is often too cozy with the forces of the moneyed moderate establishment to suit my taste. The man who beat out a hard core conservative in the 2002 Primary has long been an establishment darling.
I am reminded, however, that Alexander began his second run for Governor, the one where he replaced Ray Blanton, by walking across the State and logging 1,000 miles in a famous plaid shirt. By the time Lamar Alexander left office as Governor, nobody was selling pardons in the Governor's Mansion, and even though our State Government has a long way to go before we can say that it is truly bereft of corrupting influence, much of the progress that has been made in cleaning up government in Tennessee over the last quarter-century can be credited to Lamar Alexander's tenure as Governor.
Many people (myself included) have questioned Lamar Alexander's commitment to the conservative movement. A review of the record does reveal a stark reality: Tennessee and Tennesseans could do a whole lot worse than sending the teacher's son from Maryville to the federal Senate.
Lamar! voted for the federal Partial Birth Abortion ban. He voted that the Supreme Court should interpret the Constitution literally. NARAL gives Lamar Alexander a 0% rating. A big fat zero from NARAL. What the folks at NARAL don't realize, of course, is that when they give ratings like that to Republicans and conservatives, it is an advertisement that says "vote for me" in much of the South. He voted against federal contraception funding in so-called teen pregnancy prevention programs.
Senator Alexander is a three-out-of-four on immigration. He voted to allow "guest workers" a path to citizenship, but voted against the initial "Guest Worker" program, and no on allowing illegal aliens to participate in Social Security. He says he favors "enforcement against illegal immigrants, but appreciation of legal ones."
Being cozy with Howard Baker and having establishment support does not make someone a non-conservative, as some friends of mine have insinuated. Do Lamar's "family" ties make me uneasy? I'd be lying if I said they didn't, but it is important to remember that the Baker-ites are more interested in winning than in merely nominating moderates. Lamar Alexander is a winner if ever there was one. Yes, he is not as conservative as my favorite candidate (who he beat in 2002), but enough with the notion that Lamar Alexander is a closet liberal-he is most certainly not.
I would venture to say that Lamar's Junior Senator is more liberal than he ever thought about being. In no way do I think Lamar Alexander is perfect, and if you could meter conservative sentiments, I would be willing to wager that I am far more conservative than Lamar. I believe, however, that Lamar Alexander loves Tennessee and wants to do what is best for our fair State, right down to demanding that the recommendations of the Baker-Hamilton Commission be adopted as part of our Iraq policy.
Tennessee could do far worse indeed, and I am far less concerned with seeing eye-to-eye with Lamar Alexander than I am with this question: Has Tennessee been ill-served by Lamar Alexander's leadership? I do not believe that we have.
It is for this reason that I endorse Lamar! for re-election to the United States Senate.