Saturday, October 07, 2006

Loebsack Votes Smart

I earlier took a couple of Democrats to task for their unwillingness to participate in Project Vote Smart's effort to let those voters who care find out where the candidates stand on the issues. Congressman Leach, running for re-election, and Congressman Nussle, running for governor, did so. Their Democratic Party opponents, Dave Loebsack and Chet Culver, respectively, refused. See Nicholas Johnson, "It's Getting Harder to be a Democrat," September 1, 2006.

Congressional race:

For whatever reason, whether in response to that goading or not, Dave Loebsack has now responded and his "National Political Awareness Test" issues positions can be found at

Congressman Jim Leach's responses, which were posted earlier, are available at

It makes a difference who represents you in Congress. Whether you just want to scan the two candidates' responses to get a general sense of how their positions line up with yours, or whether there are two or three issues that are sufficiently important to you that they will determine how you vote, these links will give you what you need to enable you to "Vote Smart." If you compare them down the line you may be surprised at some of their positions -- where they agree, disagree, and the issues on which one or the other did not take positions.

Governor's race:

Chet Culver is still a "no show" when it comes to revealing his positions.

Congressman Jim Nussle has make his positions available at

Congressman Nussle and his staff have taken some hits on his seeming shift in positions on the abortion issues. But his Vote Smart answers today are the same as they were on September 1, before the flap, when I reported that he seemed to favor first trimester abortions. However, that may have been an inadvertent misrepresentation on my part.

Nussle doesn't answer, one way or the other, the statements that abortions should be always legal or always illegal. He says "yes," in effect, to the following statements:

"c) Abortions should be legal only within the first trimester of pregnancy.
"d) Abortions should be legal when the pregnancy resulted from incest or rape.
"e) Abortions should be legal when the life of the woman is endangered."

These three answers could be interpreted in a number of ways: (1) abortions should be legal, for any reason, within the first trimester. (I don't think it fairly could be interpreted to mean (a) legal for any reason within the first trimester, and (b) legal at any time thereafter for incest, rape, or when the life of the woman is endangered, because, although that would be a possible interpretation, I believe the more reasonable interpretation is that "c," as drafted, is an all-purpose limitation.) (2) Abortions should be legal only if (a) they are performed within the first trimester, and (b) the reason for them is incest, rape or that he life of the woman is endangered. If the interpretation is (1), above, then Nussle's answers to "d" and "e" become redundant; there would be no need or reason to check them if abortions for any reason are OK within the first trimester. Thus, even though very ambiguous, interpretation (2) may be the more reasonable.

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