WITH JON KYL, DULL DOESN'T MEAN HARMLESS
Here are some things you ought to know about Congressman Jon Kyl, that passionless and aloof candidate of the Republican ultraright, before you vote to send him to the United States Senate.
Kyl represents everything that is detestable about the current political state of affairs in Washington, D.C. Like his fellow congressman and pal Newt Gingrich, and Rush Limbaugh, the portly political commentator, Kyl is a sanctimonious hypocrite.
Here is a congressman who has spent every day of his time in Washington stretching out his hand for political donations, ever anxious to sell still another piece of himself.
And no member of Congress in modern times has ever positioned himself so firmly against issues vital to women. Kyl has spent most of his career voting against the funding of research for a cure for breast cancer.
If Kyl had his way, Congress would spend billions for war machinery and congressional salary increases, but not one red cent to help women afflicted by cancer.
This is the man who spent years as a lobbyist for shopping centers and then announced upon declaring for office that he felt a calling from God.
Men like Kyl have their priorities. His were funds for defense. To him, this was infinitely more important than breast cancer.
But, then again, defense contractors had plenty of money to donate to Kyl's campaign. Women's groups seeking help for cancer research did not have the money to line Kyl's pockets.
This seems obscene. It is exactly that. But he has gotten away with it nicely. Only when you closely examine Kyl's voting record do you see what an enemy of the people he really has been.
There is a reason Kyl has gotten away with this. The man is so bland and uninteresting on a personal level that few pay attention to him. Do you ever recall a single witty or arresting public statement attributed to Kyl?
Did you ever wonder what moral and ethical price Kyl was willing to pay to get elected? Allow me to relate this almost unbelievable, yet telling, anecdote.
Kyl spoke in February of this year at the annual Lincoln Day dinner in Yuma. It was a routine speech in which the candidate spoke about the values Abraham Lincoln had given the Republican party.
During the question-and-answer period, a woman stood up to ask:
"Isn't it true that before Lincoln was shot, he was planning on sending all them blacks back to Africa?" The remark was greeted by widespread applause in the hall.
Kyl answered meekly that he had never heard anything like that.
Later, after the meeting, Kyl explained why he hadn't taken a stand upon hearing the racist remark. "It was an ugly thing to say," Kyl admitted, "but what are you going to do? . . . We need her, and those like her, to win." There are some kinds of weak-kneed, sniveling sons of bitches that you don't have to be in order to win election to the Senate or anyplace else.
But what else should we expect from Kyl? Here is a man who has spent his entire adult life fighting against the formation of a single honest opinion in his brain.
From the start, Kyl sold himself in multiple pieces to the hundreds of political action committees and big corporate donors who supported his campaigns.
Kyl came into this race having raised one of the richest war chests of all. He collected $2.3 million from his "closest political friends." Huge chunks have come from defense contractors and the health industry, which has been fighting a death battle with the advocates of President Clinton's health-reform bill.
There are some truths that work themselves to the surface over the years.
Kyl spent four years as an undergrad at the University of Arizona and then went through law school there. He departed from that important period of his life with only a few acquaintances, but none who admits to being a close friend.
One of those who has maintained a friendship with Kyl over the years has been Thomas Kleinschmidt, now the chief judge of the Arizona Court of Appeals. They were young lawyers together at the Phoenix law firm of Jennings, Strouss & Salmon.
Here's the tale Judge Kleinschmidt related to New Times several months ago. Kyl and the judge were hiking in the Grand Canyon in 1966 and heading back up the Kaibab Trail to the South Rim in August heat. They were almost out of water.
"We were young and inexperienced," Judge Kleinschmidt recalled, "and we didn't realize how important fluids were in that kind of heat. I really began to feel dehydrated. I wasn't at all sure I was going to make it. "Suddenly, I looked up and saw that Jon was gone. He had charged ahead and left me there on the trail, with no water." Kleinschmidt has never been able to forget the incident.
"I nearly died that day. No exaggeration. I nearly died out there on that trail." Years later, Judge Kleinschmidt says he realizes Kyl meant him no harm:
"Jon probably believed that it was my responsibility to get myself out of the canyon without anyone's help. Besides, Jon likes to get to the top of the mountain first. No matter what the sacrifice." (Several weeks after New Times reported these events, Kleinschmidt wrote a letter claiming that although Kyl had hiked ahead, there were other people with the judge. The group got water from hikers headed to the bottom.)
Kyl began his career as a lawyer, but did not find litigation to his taste. He became a lobbyist for Salt River Project at the state legislature and subsequently went to work for the Phoenix Chamber of Commerce.
He is a man who talks a good game about spending less taxpayer money, but spends as much on himself as he can get his hands on.
In 1992, Kyl's office expenses alone were nearly $1 million. He also voted in the affirmative during the postmidnight vote for a huge congressional pay raise.
But, of course, Kyl does have other enthusiasms. He revels in fund raising. According to impeccable sources, he has spent at least three or four hours of every day in Congress fund raising.
There have even been times when Kyl flew out of Washington and missed important votes so he could travel around the country making speeches to raise funds for his Senate race.
Kyl's efforts have been rewarded. Very few Washington pols have been able to raise a war chest comparable to the one that Kyl has amassed for this race against Sam Coppersmith, the Democratic candidate.
And what has it all earned for Kyl? The other night, his performance in the debate against Coppersmith and Scott Grainger, the Libertarian candidate, was an exercise in boredom.
Some Republicans walked away from the debate saying they were ready to vote for the Libertarian. Some even said they would vote for Coppersmith.
I know only one thing for sure. After what he has done to them, any woman who casts her vote for Kyl should have her right to vote revoked.
This is really a terrible state of affairs. Obviously, Kyl does not deserve to be elected to a seat in the U.S. Senate.
But there seems to be nothing that can stop him. Kyl's enormous political war chest speaks with such deafening force that it even overpowers his multitudinous ethical lapses.
Once again, the bad guys win.
Get the Weekly Newsletter
Our weekly feature stories, movie reviews, calendar picks and more - minus the newsprint and sent directly to your inbox.