Perspective (WSJ) on Bill Sali

The link I had for the story on Bill Sali ‘failed’ for whatever reason, expiration, etc.  It’s below….

There was one particular paragraph that resounded as it totally demonstrates Sali’s idiocy.

After an abortion debate in 2006, then speaker Bruce Newcomb, a Republican, told a group of reporters in the statehouse hallway that Mr. Sali was “an absolute idiot” after Mr. Sali insisted on the statehouse floor that abortions cause breast cancer. “I’ve not withdrawn my statement,” said Mr. Newcomb, who now teaches at Boise State University. Mr. Sali’s spokesman, Wayne Hoffman, said Mr. Newcomb — who supported a Sali foe in the 2006 House primary — “was frustrated” when he made that comment.

It’s Sali’s insistence that what he said is true of the tie-in between abortion and breast cancer that’s so disturbing.  I’ve had two close friends with breast cancer.  One died, one is educating folks.  Both Catholics, and neither had an abortion.   One ‘had’ to adopt children; the other was an “unwed mother”, a single mom who raised her daughter.

Sali stuck to his position, however. “I’ve never claimed that I’m absolutely right,” he told The Spokesman-Review. “What I’ve said is I believe my position is true.”

An outspoken anti-abortion advocate, Sali said: “Obviously I would hope that women would be discouraged from having abortions if they know that there’s an increased risk, but clearly if we care about women we should want them to know about this elevated risk. What’s the damage of women being told some people think there’s a link between abortion and breast cancer? What does that hurt?”

Both the U.S. National Cancer Institute and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists reviewed the issue in 2003 and published their conclusions that there’s no link between abortion and breast cancer. The International Journal of Cancer published similar findings earlier this month, based on a study of women in nine countries.

My friend writes a column for the Cleveland Plain Dealer; she’s been there since 1999 or thereabouts. For the first year-and-a-half I knew her I don’t recall really having a clue as to what she did precisely for a living.  As it was, sometime within that first year I knew her she found a lump in her breast while showering.  She had gotten married a short time prior to the discovery to a great guy who loves gadgets; her daughter – who she had raised on her own – was away at college. Life was good.

Her story, like many other women, is just incredible. I have stories I could tell….like how she insisted on riding her bike from home, down Murray Hill thru Little Italy (then back UP to home), past Holy Rosary – with the statue of St. Lucy, the eyeless saint – to chemo at University Hospital, part of which was cobblestones, BTW.  [Murray Hill is akin to Protest Hill though not as smooth, but altogether just as scenic.]

Being here in Boise, I periodically check on her columns and other goings on. I stumbled on this yesterday; I was stunned all over again. Since our family stuff started in April, Regina & I have been playing phone tag and when we finally spoke last week, it was about my dad.

A year before I graduated from Ursuline College, everyone who was important to me was sworn to be at my graduation the following May. So, the day is approaching and Regina is vacillating. She’s having surgery early in the morning the day after my graduation, she says, and is pretty conflicted about how she promised to come, etc. She, however, wouldn’t tell me the type of surgery she was undergoing, which actually only increased my worry.  Most likely because I bullied her into it, she did tell me me, which she prefaced it with an angry, tight, “I don’t want any shit about this.” (Sometimes I even surprise myself.)  Upon learning what it was, I told her – I’m not the one with the terrible family history of breast cancer. I’m not the one who has had breast cancer. I’m not the one who has to make those decisions about her life. She is – and anything she decides is fine with me. She speaks about that surgery in the video and columns she wrote about her family legacy of breast cancer. It is powerful.

Knowing women like Regina, I know the Bill Salis of the world don’t know what the fuck they’re talking about.

SANDPOINT, Idaho — Bill Sali is defying the political odds by making Idaho’s first-district congressional race competitive. That isn’t good for Mr. Sali: He is the incumbent.

A 54-year-old Republican from Kuna, 18 miles from Boise, Mr. Sali represents one of the most heavily Republican electorates in the U.S. The district hasn’t elected a Democrat to the House since 1992; in the 2004 presidential race, 69% of its votes went to George W. Bush.

But through slow fund raising and a combative reputation, Mr. Sali has become vulnerable to his Democratic challenger, Walt Minnick, a businessman with little political experience.

This presents an unexpected problem for the national Republican Party, which is eager to maintain its 199 House seats in the November race. Republicans are depending on strongholds such as Idaho for easy victories so they can focus resources on districts with divided electorates.

A month ago, the nonpartisan Cook Political Report said Mr. Sali was safe; now, Cook analyst David Wasserman says the race for his seat is contested. Conservative pundit Robert Novak recently said Republicans “need to worry” about the seat.

Mr. Sali said national Republican leaders assumed his victory “would go on autopilot,” until he called attention to his situation. Now, he said, they are paying attention and offering fund-raising help. Federal reports in May showed Mr. Sali had raised about $200,000 less than Mr. Minnick. Data from Boise Republican pollster Greg Smith show 26% of likely Republican voters in the district’s two most-populous counties rate Mr. Sali “very unfavorable.”

Don Soltman, an executive at the Kootenai Medical Canter in Coeur d’Alene, is a Republican who supports Mr. Minnick. “Socially, I can support him much easier than I can support Bill Sali,” he said. Mr. Soltman said that while he typically votes Republican, he finds Mr. Sali’s focus on social issues off-putting.

Mr. Sali’s trouble with voters such as Mr. Soltman stems in part from a pugnaciousness that has brought him notoriety since 1990, when he became a state legislator. A rock musician and lawyer who home- schooled his six children and says he “gleaned potatoes” as a child when money was tight, Mr. Sali has staked far-right positions with a tenacity that draws criticism from other legislators, including some in his party.

When Mr. Sali was in the Idaho statehouse, he tried to amend a bill that would extend a law against domestic violence to minors because he wanted it to apply only to heterosexual couples. He backed efforts to make divorces more difficult to obtain. He upset some colleagues by insisting on legislation to require parental consent for minors to get abortions after courts frowned on such laws.

After an abortion debate in 2006, then speaker Bruce Newcomb, a Republican, told a group of reporters in the statehouse hallway that Mr. Sali was “an absolute idiot” after Mr. Sali insisted on the statehouse floor that abortions cause breast cancer. “I’ve not withdrawn my statement,” said Mr. Newcomb, who now teaches at Boise State University. Mr. Sali’s spokesman, Wayne Hoffman, said Mr. Newcomb — who supported a Sali foe in the 2006 House primary — “was frustrated” when he made that comment.

In a separate incident, a Republican Idaho House speaker said he threatened to defenestrate Mr. Sali during a procedural dispute over a bill.

Such imbroglios made Mr. Sali a long shot in his 2006 U.S. House bid. While Idaho is a conservative state, its voters historically mobilize around limiting government power, rather than social causes. Mr. Sali won only 26% of the vote in a crowded 2006 House primary. But that secured the nomination. With help from a visit from Vice President Dick Cheney and funding from the antitax Club for Growth, he beat Democrat Larry Grant in a close general election.

In his first U.S. House term, Mr. Sali continued to raise ire with moderate Republicans back home. He objected to putting a Mexican consulate in Boise. (He says it might encourage illegal immigration.) Last year, responding to a Hindu prayer recited in Congress, he said “multiculturalism is the antithesis” of the U.S. motto, E pluribus unum, Latin for “out of many, one.”

Mr. Hoffman, his spokesman, said Mr. Sali feels “we’ve divided the country by language.”

Mr. Sali also announced a draft bill to “propose that the force of gravity, by the force of Congress, be reduced by 10%” to combat obesity. Mr. Sali said it was meant to parody a bill to raise the minimum wage, which he felt ran counter to the laws of economics.

Mr. Sali says his social conservatism is what Idaho voters want. He says his Democratic opponent, Mr. Minnick, is out of step with voters’ desires. Mr. Minnick, 65, says Mr. Sali’s excessive focus on gay marriage, immigration and guns obfuscates problems such as statewide job losses.

Mr. Minnick, who grew up on a Washington state wheat farm, is working to tout his moderate rural credentials. He has posted YouTube videos of himself skeet shooting. He also has conservative, pro- business roots: The former chief executive of wood-products company TJ International Inc., Mr. Minnick was a White House staffer under Richard Nixon from 1971 through 1974. He became a Democrat before his failed run for the U.S. Senate in 1996.

Mr. Sali hasn’t tempered his image. At Idaho’s Republican state convention last month, he helped move a riven state party to the right by backing social conservatives and libertarians who ousted moderate party Chairman Kirk Sullivan. Other state Republicans say the shift galvanizes Mr. Sali among right wingers but alienates moderate voters. Since Barack Obama in February drew more than 14,000 supporters to a Boise rally, moderates have worried about rising Democratic turnout.

“It’s difficult for any Democrat to win in Idaho,” said Mr. Newcomb, the Republican former state speaker. But Mr. Minnick is “a formidable foe,” he said, who could capitalize on Mr. Sali’s reputation for “poking his finger in people’s eyes.”

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