Portside: Why Shaheen deserves our support

Hillary Clinton inspired me. Yes, you read that right.

In the end, her solid endorsement of former rival Barack Obama set an example for all of us who want real change.

As is widely known, Jeanne Shaheen and I have not always seen eye-to-eye on every issue. On such issues as the death penalty and the income tax, and her 2002 support of the war in Iraq, she clearly has not been entirely in tune with what Paul Wellstone called the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party. 

But as New Hampshire House Finance Chair Marjorie Smith so wisely advised: Never let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

We all have our different takes on what works electorally in the Granite State. Some see bold as the way to win, others see caution. The main thing voters look for is authenticity. Voters easily see through the phonies.

Jeanne Shaheen is who she is. Her approach has always been to tack to the perceived middle. And though it is not identical to my style (which worked in seven straight elections), the fact is, with the exception of one election, it has worked well for her. Now, at the urging of many in the Democratic Party, she’s picked up the mantle and is running again. It’s a grind, raising all that money, putting one’s family through it all again. It is not about glory, it is about putting the common good first, making personal sacrifices to make a new agenda a reality.

Is Jeanne Shaheen the left-leaning Democrat’s ideal candidate? Obviously not. Is Barack Obama the Clintonites’ ideal? Same answer.

But the reality is if he is elected president, Obama can’t get his agenda into law by himself. He’ll need solid majorities in both the House and Senate. John E. Sununu stands in the way of the change we so desperately need.

Between now and the November election, former Clinton supporters will put their disappointment aside and recognize the importance of such issues as the war, the economy, health care, and who will sit on the next Supreme Court. They will not vote for McCain.

Jeanne Shaheen is ever sensitive to the Republicans. Sununu must figure he has them anyway. I wouldn’t be so sure this year.

A centrist Jeanne Shaheen is preferable to a Bush neocon devotee.

The next president may get to appoint three Supreme Court justices. On issues like reproductive rights, protection of traditional civil liberties, wiretapping of citizens, Jeanne Shaheen is certainly more in step with traditional New Hampshire values than neocon go-along John E Sununu.

Polls have Jeanne Shaheen ahead of Sununu. As they did for most of 2002, when she was defeated. Unity and effort are needed.

As Hillary genuinely endorsed Obama after hammering him, after my own criticisms of Shaheen, I wholeheartedly endorse Shaheen for U.S. Senate. As Clinton’s sometimes annoying attacks on Obama made him a stronger candidate, there is reason to believe critiques offered to Shaheen have been constructive.

I believe she’s fired up and ready to go.

State senator from 1990 to 2004, Burt Cohen of New Castle now hosts a radio talk show.

Categories: Opinion