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Atheism, politics and ads

In a recent column, I described Sen. Elizabeth Dole's 'godless' ad about her opponent, Kay Hagan. I wrote: "In the ad, Dole raised legitimate questions about Kay Hagan's attending a Boston fundraiser hosted by a couple known for promoting atheist causes." That prompted some questions from readers. One wrote: "Why do you consider these questions legitimate?" 

 The fundraiser was at the home of Woody Kaplan. He sits on the advisory board of the Godless Americans PAC, which supports separation of religion and government and is opposed to references to God in government. Hagan's attending the fundraiser raises questions about whether she supports the legislative agenda of the PAC. I'm not passing judgment on that PAC's agenda; I'm just saying it was fair for Dole to raise questions about whether Hagan supports the Godless Americans' agenda. It also would have been fair for Hagan to raise questions about the views of people who raised money for Dole. If a candidate is going to accept money from a fundraiser, she (or he) has to be willing to talk about whether she shares the views of the person raising the money. 

For more on the ad, see Rob Christensen's article about how it came about.  



Readers on female candidates, male editor

A few weeks ago, The N&O's Barbara Barrett reported on the rise of female candidates in North Carolina. She reported the comments of Marie Wilson, founder of a group seeking to elect a female president. Wilson said women have long been seen by voters as more ethical and fair than men. Barrett also noted a recent survey that rated women the same or better than men on seven of eight leadership traits.

I'm not buying that women politicians are better (or worse) than male politicians. In their recent campaigns, Elizabeth Dole, Kay Hagan and Beverly Perdue didn't strike me as substantially different than male politicians. My Saturday column on the subject prompted a variety of responses from readers.

"Can you really recall an article that sized up the election of white males based on their race or gender?" one woman wrote. "Is this not a blatant example of the subtle but persistent double standards that female candidates still face?" Another woman didn't disgree with my assessment but said I also should have discredited unfavorable stereotypes about female politicians (fair point). Another woman questioned why I write a column at all: "Boy, your column...really struck me the wrong way. OK -- you have an opinion but why are you writing a column on the front page of the local section? You must know someone at the paper." It's true -- I know a lot of people at the paper.

Others agreed with me. "Fair and balanced and right on the money," one male wrote. Another reader wrote: "Well said, with regard to both Hagan and Perdue. And thanks in general for a very good newspaper, one in which we have confidence for its balanced coverage, insightful analysis and integrity."

More comments welcomed.






Dole's gutter ball

Readers offer their verdicts on Sen. Elizabeth Dole's campaign ad that links Kay Hagan to the Godless Americans PAC: contemptible, disgraceful, sordid. Several aren't all that happy with Hagan's response, either.

Danger, fright and sin

Nearly 20 readers have their say on more election issues.

Dole v. Hagan: Hear them roar

Both U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole and State Sen. Kay Hagan have met with the editorial board now in anticipation of our coming endorsement. The N&O's multimedia team attended both meetings and has put together some snippets.

To hear Kay Hagan talk about how she would have worked harder to find an immigration compromise, how Dole was basically useless as a banking committee member and how the Iraq war has not made us safer, go here.


To see Elizabeth Dole talk about how her go-with-Bush rate is more like 55 percent, how the country missed an opportunity in 1986 to fix immigration and what she thinks should happen in Iraq, go here.

Dole comes to call

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole met with the editorial board today (cartoonist Dwane Powell's sketch above) and talked about what she sees as her main accomplishments in the Senate (the tobacco quota buyout, for one). She also addressed opponent Kay Hagan's main criticisms: that she never visits North Carolina (she does, too, it's just that the taxpayers don't pay for it so her visits don't show up on lists), that she isn't even from here (oh, please, she graduated from a North Carolina high school and went to Duke) and that she ever voted against the troops (her husband is a wounded war veteran). One of Hagan's biggest criticisms has been that Dole is basically George Bush. You can listen to Dole talk about how she differs from Bush in these two clips.


How Dole differs from Bush
How Dole differs from Hagan

Hagan comes to call


Kay Hagan spoke with the editorial board yesterday, offering her thoughts on the economy, on "Liddy" Dole, on Wachovia, on "Liddy" Dole, on tax cuts, on "Liddy" Dole, on health care, on "Liddy" Dole, on energy policy, on "Liddy" Dole, on the war and other issues. Cartoonist Dwane Powell was there. Catch the sketch here. On illegal immigration reform, Hagan said she would never support any measure that could be labeled "amnesty," though she agreed that it's unrealistic to deport 12 million people. When pressed on what policies might exist between blanket deportation and anything that could be called "amnesty," she had no answer, other than "I think we need to work together and figure that out."

You can listen to Hagan talk about how she differs from "Liddy" Dole here.



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