Jewish World Review Oct. 3, 2002 / 27 Tishrei, 5763
Joel C. Rosenberg
http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com -- In a closed-door Democratic strategy meeting in 1999, New Jersey's then-senior Sen. Frank Lautenberg criticized Sen. Bob Torricelli, his junior colleague, for openly "dissing" him in a state newspaper and speaking well of Republican Gov. Christine Todd Whitman, who at the time seemed to be preparing to challenge Lautenberg's Senate seat in 2000.
Lautenberg wasn't happy. But never one to take correction well, Torricelli went ballistic. "You're a [expletive deleted] piece of [expletive deleted]!" he raged, "and I'm going to cut your [genitalia] off!"
Needless to say, Lautenberg wasn't the Torch's choice to replace him. He was Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle's.
A U.S. Supreme Court battle could still be ahead. But if the 78-year old multi-millionaire does get on the ballot legally, the Forrester team could have a field day with Lautenberg's radical liberal record.
With a war against Iraq looming, for example, Lautenberg is vulnerable to the charge that he's a wimp on national security.
In 1991, he voted against authorizing military force against Saddam Hussein during the Gulf War. He predicted "tens of thousands of American casualties," a new U.S. draft and warned the U.S. could end up destroying Kuwait in the process of trying to liberate it.
In 1984 -- at the height of the Cold War -- he voted for Ted Kennedy's "nuclear freeze" proposal.
He voted for the Intelligence Oversight Act of 1988 to restrict the conduct of foreign covert operations, and voted in 1992 to cut the U.S. intelligence budget by $1 billion.
He's consistently voted against building missile defenses to protect the homeland or U.S. troops and allies, and in 1991 supported an amendment that would have cut defense spending by a whopping $80 billion.
Lautenberg is also vulnerable to the charge he's soft on terrorism.
On October 26, 1989, for example, the Senate voted on a bill introduced by Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) to impose the death penalty for terrorists who kill U.S. citizens in foreign countries. The bill passed 79-20. But Lautenberg actually voted against it.
Then, on February 20, 1991, Lautenberg voted for an amendment to rescind the death penalty for terrorists who murder Americans in the U.S. or abroad and instead impose life in prison.
That amendment was defeated 25 to 72, but joining Lautenberg against the death penalty for terrorists was none other than Democrat Senators Ted Kennedy, Paul Wellstone, Tom Harkin, John Kerry and Al Gore.
Imagine for a moment that bill had passed with the help of Lautenberg, Wellstone and Gore. Imagine then that we catch Osama bin Laden alive. Imagine then that instead of electrocuting bin Laden to death -- or giving him a lethal injection -- for masterminding the death of thousands of innocent Americans, we instead were required to put him in a Holiday Inn-style prison where he could watch cable television, write a bestselling book, and be interviewed on "60 Minutes."
In 1988, Lautenberg voted against the death penalty for "drug kingpins" who commit murders or order the murder of others.
Lautenberg may also face resistance among middle class families for his pro-tax record. The Garden State is one of the most heavily taxed in the country. Economic growth is slowing. Unemployment in the state is on the rise.
Yet Lautenberg will have to defend voting 12 times against marriage tax relief, and 5 times against abolishing the death tax. He's also voted against capital gains tax relief, has resisted cutting federal gas taxes, voted for the Clinton-Gore tax increase in 1993, and publicly opposed the Bush tax cuts last year.
Lautenberg's radical liberal record isn't just dumb; it's dangerous. Let's
hope Forrester -- and the White House -- are ready to go on offense to
defeat him once and for all.
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