McCloskey responds to Pombo/McNerney column

Former congressman Pete McCloskey, a defeated Republican candidate for Congressional District 11 in the June primary, has responded to my column of Sunday, Aug. 13, about the missteps of Democratic nominee Jerry McNerney as he seeks to unseat incumbent Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Tracy.

I thought readers would be interested in the letter, although the text probably doesn’t do justice to McCloskey’s subtle and clever use of sarcasm! And the posting of this letter should not imply that I concur with all of the esteemed retired congressman’s observations about Pombo. But here is it:

Title: The Unusual Race in California’s 11th Congressional District

Dear Ms. Political Editor:

I enjoyed your penetrating analysis of one of the two candidates for Congress in the 11th District.

You properly described Mr. McNerney as a bit of a novice office seeker, too dumb to decline to answer a detailed questionaire a year ago that no experienced politician would have dared answer. You were scrupulously fair in making it clear that Mr. McNerney was equally dumb in going back to change 55 of those answers, thereby indicating that he didn’t know what he was talking about a year ago or that he has suddenly become a typical politician, tailoring his positions to those the pollsters tell him his constituency wants to hear.

But why not ask Mr. Pombo what HIS answers would be to those same 55 questions? To my knowledge, Mr. Pombo has successfully evaded answering ANY tough questions on the numerous issues you cite. Can you remember, in all his years of representing Contra Costa County, when Mr. Pombo has held a public meeting to answer yes-or-no questions from the public? Or when he has debated an opponent, no matter how old or unworthy?

Why not ask Mr. Pombo to defend his positions on privatizing Social Security, reducing taxes on the wealthiest Americans, putting a development on the Farallone Islands, selling off 15 National Parks, turning millions of acres of lands over to mining companies for development, promoting his famous “road to nowhere” which would substantially increase the value of his family’s landholdings? Why not ask him why he lied to the Senate in 1994, testifying falsely that the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service had diminished the value of his farm by designating it as habitat for the endangered kit fox, only to admit a year later on public radio that this was untrue?

In fairness to the bumbling Mr. McNerney, wouldn’t it have been fair for you to inquire of Mr. Pombo why he too has reneged on a number of his promises of the famous Contract With America which brought Republicans to power in 1994, say, for example, his promise if in the majority, to work for balanced budgets, and that no congressman would serve over six terms?

In addition to your proper conclusion that Mr. McNerney’s missteps could lead to a long vacation, might it not have been fair to add that Mr. Pombo’s artful dodging might lead to another two years of enriching his wife from campaign funds, a few more votes to increase his own salary, getting another $250,000 from oil companies, $500,000 from Indian tribes, and another $40,000 from the likes of Jack Abramoff and his associates? Why not ask him why he has refused to hold investigative hearings into two matters that are in the jurisdiction of his Committee, Mr. Abramoff’s primary clients, those famous clothing manufacturers of the Marianas Islands and those Indian tribes seeking to preserve or prevent competing gambling casinos? Since the McNerney position on gas taxes is so bad, why not ask Mr. Pombo why, on the day that gas taxes neared $3.90 per gallon, Mr. Pombo found himself down in
Houston, Texas, raising money from Shell Oil Executives in a private meeting? Or maybe even asking him what he said and what the Shell people said at that meeting? Why not ask him why he gave $5,000 to the indicted Tom DeLay’s legal defense fund?

To his credit, might you not note that Mr. Pombo has been successful in earmarking more money for the Marianas Islands with its prostitution and forced abortions as noted in Ms. Magazine than he has for Contra Costa County.

Let’s be fair, Ms. Political Editor.

We have to face the fact that Contra Costa County voters have a unique choice: Should it be the bumbling but honest novice, or the evasive charlatan, master of the misuse of the frank and named as one of the 13 Most Corrupt Members of Congress by one non-partisan Washington watchdog organization?

This may not be an easy choice, but having served 15 years in the House, and observed it with interest for 24 more years, my wife and I, as voters in the 11th District, will accept a little inexperience and naivete and go for honesty and the chance to return the House to being an honored institution led by honest Members like George Miller and Ellen Tauscher, rather than by the Tom DeLays, Duke Cunninghams and Bob Neys we have seen so disgrace the House in the year just past.

Your Obedient Servant,
Pete McCloskey, defeated candidate for Congress in the 11th District

Lisa Vorderbrueggen