Differing views

Thursday, August 17, 2006

U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson's picnic and political rally featured U.S. Sen. John Thume (who defeated Tom Daschle in South Dakota) and Missouri's U.S. Sen. Jim Talent.

Good friends, the three also worked together in Congress when all three were representatives.

What a delight to hear Talent and Thume lay out the importance of this year's fall races with straightforward comments and little demagoguery, even though they were addressing a partisan crowd.

A current Senate colleague, Charles Schumer of New York, placed a $5.3 million television buy last week for Talent's re-election opponent,State Auditor Claire McCaskill. This is labeled as possibly the No. 1 U.S. Senate race in the country, and outside funding is pouring in to try to influence this basically conservative state's voters.

This crucial race is one of choices between candidates with two different philosophies on social, economic and defense issues.

Talent in a recent news release and in his rally remarks drew the following distinctions with McCaskill on key issues. I fully expect McCaskill to rebut or lay out differences that she feels benefit her candidacy between now and the Nov. 7 election.

Some key differences that Talent has addressed:

Health care: Talent's health-care plan would allow small-business owners to join together through their trade associations to purchase quality, affordable health insurance for themselves and their employees. McCaskill opposes Talent's plan.

Fighting methamphetamine: Talent worked with Missouri law enforcement and reached across party lines to work with California Democrat Dianne Feinstein to enact the toughest, most comprehensive anti-methamphetamine legislation ever passed. McCaskill opposed the new anti-meth law calling it a "photo-op."

Border security: Talent is against amnesty for unlawful immigrants. He has sponsored a bipartisan plan to secure America's borders with additional manpower, new barriers and high-tech surveillance equipment. Last week, Talent voted to provide $1.8 billion to fund 370 miles of triple-layered fencing and 500 miles of vehicle barriers along the nation's southwest border. McCaskill told the Columbia Daily Tribune that she supports amnesty proposals and opposes a border security fence while stressing punishment of employers who hire illegal immigrants.

Energy: Talent worked with South Dakota Democrat Tim Johnson to pass legislation requiring the oil companies to add ethanol and biodiesel to the nation's fuel supply. Talent's legislation was included in the energy bill that was supported by every farm state senator -- Republican and Democrat. McCaskill said she would have voted against the energy bill.

Medicare prescription drug plan: When Talent was elected to the U.S. Senate, he believed Congress needed to stop playing politics with Medicare and pass a sound, affordable prescription-drug plan for seniors. Such a bill passed Congress with his strong support. As a result, hundreds of thousands of Missouri seniors are getting drug coverage for the first time. In fact, nearly three-quarters of Missouri's seniors are enrolled in the new drug benefit. McCaskill said she would have voted against the Medicare prescription drug bill.

War on terror: Talent has worked hard on the Senate Armed Services Committee to help provide our men and women in uniform with the tools they need to win the War on Terror. He supports the president's terrorist surveillance plan to get the intelligence we need to protect the homeland and our troops in the field. Talent also believes the only deadline we should set for withdrawal from Iraq is when we win. McCaskill opposes the president's terrorist surveillance plan and supports Howard Dean's disengagement plan in Iraq.

Supreme Court justices: Talent voted for Sam Alito. McCaskill has said she would have voted against him.

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Good advice here:

* Your fences need to be horse-high, pig-tight and bull-strong.

* Life is simpler when you plow around the stump.

* A bumble bee is considerably faster than a John Deere tractor.

* Words that soak into your ears are whispered ... not yelled.

* Meanness don't jes' happen overnight.

* Forgive your enemies. It messes up their heads.

* Do not corner something that you know is meaner than you.

* It don't take a very big person to carry a grudge.

* You cannot unsay a cruel word.

* Every path has a few puddles.

* When you wallow with pigs, expect to get dirty.

* The best sermons are lived, not preached.

* Most of the stuff people worry about ain't never gonna happen anyway.

* Don't judge folks by their relatives.

* Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.

* Don't interfere with somethin' that ain't botherin' you none.

* Timing has a lot to do with the outcome of a rain dance.

* Sometimes you get, and sometimes you get got.

* Always drink upstream from the herd.

* Good judgment comes from experience, and a lotta that comes from bad judgment.

* Lettin' the cat outta the bag is a whole lot easier than puttin' it back in.

* If you get to thinkin' you're a person of some influence, try orderin' somebody else's dog around.

* Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly.

* Leave the rest to God. -- Anonymous e-mail

Gary Rust is chairman of Rust Communications.

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