Let's See Carnahan and Ashcroft Wrestle in a Cage Match

Editorial written by Christopher Morrill on Tuesday, September 26, 2000

from the and-in-the-left-corner-it's-tax-man-carnahan! dept.

SIKESTON, MO -- Rumor has it that Senator John Ashcroft and Governor Mel Carnahan really don't like each other.

You don't say?

The campaigns are both extremely vicious, particularly regarding crime. Fun, fun! If you were to take their ads at face value, you would be led to believe that both candidates cook crystal meth out of the trunk of their cars, sell it to kindergartners, then pardon themselves. Ashcroft and Carnahan's ads both accuse the meth problem of getting worse while the other was governor.

I like to pick on both sides. And I will.

But, as usual I will focus my scorn mainly upon the usual suspects: the Democrats.

Regarding Ashcroft vs. Carnahan: the whole nation is watching this. It's two well-known statewide officials going at it, and the balance of power in the Senate may be up for grabs this year. It's a fun campaign to watch, too.

As the old saying goes, you can use statistics to prove almost anything. Both sides are correct; meth production grew under both of their administrations. Neither Ashcroft or Carnahan can truly say they got a good handle on the meth problem.

I do find Scott County Sheriff Bill Ferrell's criticism of Ashcroft's drug enforcement record somewhat amusing. Ferrell has been the law enforcement chief here since I was four years old, so he's obviously not a fan of term limits. Despite his tenure, not everyone is tickled over the conduct of his office, particularly in regards to meth. He barely won re-election in the August primary. Yet, here he is in a new Carnahan ad blasting Ashcroft for being soft on meth.

The irony is...well, you get the idea.

But accusing Ashcroft of being soft on crime is laughable. He's a stereotypical bible-thumping hang-'em-high Republican. Republicans, by nature, are not soft on crime. If anything, they can get a little too enthusiastic about all the things they want to outlaw.

Besides the bizarre episode where Carnahan commuted a death sentence to placate the Pope, his record is relatively decent too.

What no one really ever asks, though, is: What role does a U.S. Senator play in fighting a regional drug issue? Not much. So this whole issue is really a non-issue.

I soon expect Mel Carnahan to put sugar in Ashcroft's gas tank, and for Ashcroft to egg the governor's mansion on Halloween. Maybe we'll see a prime-time wrestling cage match between the two.

It will get that childish before it's over.

On the bright side, I'm happy to say that both candidates for Missouri governor are wonks. Geeks. Bookworms.

No one will ever accuse either Jim Talent or Bob Holden of being slick, charismatic face-men. Both come across as extremely well-versed and genuinely smart guys. I like that.

Holden's campaign started off as the obligatory "I grew up on a farm and worked hard" routine. Since then, it has been almost exclusively negative. I love a good negative campaign. However, this negative campaign is entirely predictable. Holden's advertisements focus on all those good ol' fallback issues that Democrats love to harp on. "Talent is against public schools! Talent doesn't want senior citizens to get prescription drugs, so we're all going to eat dog food!" All of which are misleading.

Talent's support of school vouchers is a popular idea. Also, it's the first time in a long time that Republicans actually have an original issue that can appeal to blacks. Holden's characterization of vouchers as "taking money away from public schools" is a scare tactic, and nothing more. Let him go to the war zones of north St. Louis and explain to the parents why he wants to keep their kids in a decrepit ghetto school.

As far as Talent not having a prescription drug plan, there's no real harm in that. There's enough drug plans out there to fill the Grand Canyon already, I'm kind of glad he doesn't have one. All he has to say is that he's in favor of one, and that's that. It would be entirely refreshing to have a candidate that didn't want a prescription drug plan. But both major parties seem resigned to accept this huge expansion of government power as a foregone conclusion.

And, again, under what circumstance is the prescription drug benefit going to be a state issue, anyway? Most plans have that becoming a part of Medicare. A governor's role in that is negligible. So it's all smoke and mirrors.

Both are nice guys. It's a shame that one will have to lose. All the same, I hope that loser is Bob Holden.

What are the odds, though, of an Ashcroft/Carnahan wrestling match? In a cage? With steel chairs, chains, whips, metal trashcans, cookie sheets, a ladder and maybe some blood?

I'd pay to see that. But this campaign is probably the next best thing.