I had the opportunity to be interviewed by Barb Barrett from the McClatchy newspapers. She's a good interviewer and I'm not a good interviewee. There's a reason I'm a writer. I tend to ramble when I speak. I wrote a transcript of my comments and wanted to share them with you. I think you'll get the gist of Barb's questions as I go along. I'm afraid I didn't really give her what she was looking for, but she did honestly portray one sentiment I expressed. Unfortunately, the piece wasn't titled, "What Betsy Muse thinks of Kay Hagan's job so far," so much of what I said was left out.
Here's the rest of the story.
Kay Hagan's job so far
Obviously, it is something I've been thinking about. I admit I'm one of those people who is prone to knee-jerk reactions but I try to keep an open mind and understand that in North Carolina, progressive Democrats are a minority. .... I understand that Kay never sold herself as a progressive Democrat. I've been delighted - absolutely delighted with her votes. I have followed every time she stood on the Senate floor to speak. I'm a big fan. I don't mind that she's aligned herself with other moderate Democrats in the Senate. I would expect her to do that. Why stand alone?
I think she's got the skills and knowledge necessary to review the budget and make recommendations and I wouldn't expect her to all of a sudden turn into a leading progressive voice. That would be a little unrealistic. What prompted my post is I felt like I needed to nudge her and let her know that we are watching. I don't expect her to be anything more than what she is or who she is and I don't think she's broken any promises. I think we all have a sour taste in our mouths from the obstruction we've seen from the Blue Dog Democrats and it's like sending out a shot across the bow - a little warning. They've [the Senate group] sold themselves as just a loose coalition, just a working group and we hope it doesn't go beyond that.
As far as the job she's done so far - she's really done a stellar job. I think she has proven herself. She doesn't come across as a weak voice. I think she was the best person for the job, she's still the best person for the job and I have no regrets.
I know that doesn't really sound like what I wrote. What prompted the piece is that I was unhappy with some of the words coming out from Larry Kissell and I felt that if I said something about him, I needed to say something about any red flags I saw coming from Kay. The red flag was the deficit spending comment. Usually, I give her a chance to respond. Her press staff is phenomenal. They always respond. I didn't this time. I was kindof in a rush and I needed to get the piece up.
Her comments on Obama's budget
I'm happy with her votes, obviously. The great thing about the internet and about being able to track basically everything she does is maybe we can nudge her as soon as we see something we're not happy with instead of after things have already happened. She still hasn't said whether she would vote for the budget or not. I wouldn't say she's just making noise for making noise sake because I don't think she's like that.
She wrote North Carolina's budget and by law we have to balance our budget. That's her background. That's what she's bringing to the table. So, it's a little understandable that she would feel that way.(that deficit spending is bad) I don't know if in the economy we're facing right now we can take that red pencil approach.
Any other issues? Bankrupcty bill?
My fear is - I'm a big supporter of the bankruptcy bill - I would love to see her get out in front on that. My fear is that she opposes it completely, so I don't want her out in front if she opposes it. (laughing) I would like to see her support that.
If she's going to take on a big issue, I would love to see her join with Etheridge on education. Having been born, raised and educated in North Carolina, all I've ever heard is how far behind we are. I have two teen daughters and anything we do now would be too late for them, but I would love to see NC leading the way in education.
Burr and tobacco bill?
I don't really have a problem with her working with Burr on a bill, especially on something like tobacco. Anything to do with tobacco has such a huge impact on NC and both senators obviously.... hopefully would have NC's interest at the top of their list.
Anything surprised you?
I will say that initially, right at the outset, that I was pleasantly surprised with her votes. I was afraid that we might have some early disappointments because the Democratic leadership was going to try so early to push so much through. We didn't have any disappointments from Kay. She did stand up when she disagreed with the funding from SCHIP. I think she got some attention for that. I think she curried some favor with the leadership when she did vote for the bill even though she didn't agree with the funding. Hopefully that's something that she can use later on to get something for North Carolina.
We knew she wasn't the most progressive Democrat in the Senate when we voted for her. I knew that when I promoted her on BlueNC. When we can't get a perfect progressive elected - I look at the integrity issue - and I think she's far and away one of the most intelligent, most honest people I've ever spoken with and met. I believe that whatever she does, I know that she has a very strong moral center and she's going to do what she feels is right for NC and she's not going to ingore the conservatives - she's not going to ignore the marjority of voters in this state to do what BlueNC wants. I think that's why even when I disagree with her...I knew what I was getting. I knew what I was voting for.
When we want her to do something differently, we have to work hard to show her why it's the right way. We need to do our job. We need to reach out to her and try to educate her. We're citizen lobbyists. She'll listen. She's proven time and again that she'll listen. She might not do everything we want, she might not vote the way we want and we'll just keep communicating with her.
I didn't get the feeling that Barb was trying to dig dirt or create controversy, though I'm sure she wouldn't have minded if I had spiced things up a bit. heh
Is that pretty accurate or am I just totally off my rocker. Wait! Maybe I don't want y'all to answer that.