Tuesday, February 12, 2008

In the Political Trenches

Tall, handsome Jim Himes looks a little like James Stewart in "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" and, at a meeting with supporters in a Westport living room, sounds like him as he talks earnestly about repairing the damage done to the world and America's place in it during the Bush years.

Behind the hoopla over Presidential primaries and caucuses, the struggle for America's political soul goes on in meeting halls and homes across the country to decide what kind of Congress will set priorities for families and communities next year with a new president in the White House.

Himes, a political newcomer, is trying to unseat Chris Shays who has been entrenched in the House seat of the 4th District in southwestern Connecticut since 1987, the only Republican in New England to survive, barely, the purge of Bush supporters in 2006.

It won't help his cause that, after weaseling about getting troops out of Iraq, Shays planted a kiss on George W. Bush's cheek as the President walked in to deliver his final State of the Union speech last month.

In his campaign, the 40-year-old Himes is being supported by the so-called 30-something Democrats in their tactful revolt against the party's ineffectual elders in the House. Two of them, one from Florida, were in the room last night to cheer him on.

After a year in the trenches, the novice challenger has outdone Shays in fund-raising and is ready to campaign against him, coupling the issue of impending recession with the trillion-plus dollars being wasted in Iraq that could have been providing jobs and repairing our infrastructure back home.

It shouldn't take a Frank Capra ending to get Himes, and others like him, to Washington this November.

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