A Hasty Hanabusa Endorsement

Dan Boylan
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Wednesday - October 14, 2009
| Del.icio.us

Sen. Colleen Hanabusa

It sure didn’t take ‘em long. Less than a week after Colleen Hanabusa announced her candidacy for a congressional seat from Hawaii’s 1st District, Emily’s List, “the nation’s” self-advertised “largest financial resource for women candidates,” announced its endorsement of the veteran Hawaii state senator.

Said Ellen R. Malcolm, the List’s president: “Colleen Hanabusa is a strong and dynamic leader in the Hawaii state Legislature and a great choice to fill the seat of Congressman Neil Abercrombie. Her dedication to public service and experience as a labor attorney, community organizer and legislative leader is second to none. In office, Colleen has not hesitated to take strong stands to protect the rights of women, children and working families.”

Well, sure.

But an endorsement less than a week after Hanabusa announced? That seems a mite hasty to me. And some of that praise: “Her dedication to public service ... is second to none.” I think I could name a few whose “dedication to public service” would place Hanabusa back there around 10th or 11th in any Hawaii public-service pack.

Now don’t get me wrong: Hanabusa’s good. She’s smart as a whip, and she’s aggressive enough (and sufficiently ambitious) to make an impression a half hour after her arrival in any legislative chamber. I’ve written as much, several times over the years, in these pages.


But that’s not what’s required by Emily’s List. Its keepers asked that Hanabusa meet only three criteria: that she be female, a Democrat and pro-choice. She did, and with that she received an endorsement. A check, undoubtedly, is in the mail.

Money has certainly been hastily spent on far worse candidates.

But I still don’t like it. Long ago, a late, great Republican state senator named Mary George warned me that “single-issue politics will be the ruination of American politics.” She’s been right, and it doesn’t appear to me to matter whose single issue we’re talking about.

My liberal friends will talk of the fallen state of the modern Republican Party - and acknowledge that single-issue politics has been the cause of it. “Those pro-lifers,” sayeth the liberal-hearted, “those gun nuts, they’ll vote for any idiot as long as he backs them on their favorite issue.”

Never will they mention the Democratic ciphers who fill congressional seats because they’ve championed one liberal issue or another.

But what does Emily’s List ask the voter to do? Good, kind, progressive Emily’s List: If the candidate’s pro-choice, a Democrat and a she, then she’s the one.

Sorry. That’s not enough. It never was, and it certainly shouldn’t be now.

Seldom in America’s history has there been such a confluence of bad stuff: draining, seemingly endless wars; nuclear proliferation from Tehran to Pyongyang and several spots in between; continued, coast-to-coast-to-the-mid-Pacific joblessness; a most unsystematic and expensive healthcare system; political partisanship run amok, and an economy that’s been shaken to its core. The list goes on.

Congress needs intelligent, experienced, broad-based women - and men - who are capable of dealing with an extraordinary range of issues. Not one issue - dozens and dozens of them.

Colleen Hanabusa may well fit that job description, but former U.S. Rep. Ed Case also is running for the 1st District seat. So, too, City Council member and former state legislator Charles Djou. And before next summer’s filing deadline a half-dozen others, male and female, may decide to run.

In the democracy that the Founders envisioned, shouldn’t voters, male and female, listen to all the candidates on all the issues before voting?

Shouldn’t those who endorse and make their campaign contributions at least wait until the dawn of election year 2010? Given Hanabusa’s key role in the Hawaii State Senate, could-n’t we wait until the close of next year’s session?

I think so, Emily. Sorry you couldn’t wait.

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