We'll soon know just how stupid we really are


Expanded from the 9-17-00 Sparks (Nev.) Tribune

Nevadans will truly owe a debt to Gov. Dudley Do-Right after the November election. He is allowing us the opportunity to see for ourselves just how stupid we really are.

Republican U.S. Senate Candidate John Ensign recently began airing TV commercials designed to make him seem pro-choice on abortion.

The reason became clear late last week when the Las Vegas Review-Journal published its latest poll showing Ensign's longshot rival, Ed Bernstein, closing fast. Bernstein is now within 11 points of a guy who has been campaigning for senate for three years.

As Vice-President Al Gore had to do in order to have any chance to win, Bernstein had to re-open the gender gap. Bernstein has now drawn even among women with the momentum going his way.

Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., traveled the state in 1998 repeating the gender gap mantra: "It's women and minorities who elect Democrats."

Reid went out of his way to be seen as the women's candidate. The best example was his Rosie the Riveter mailer, with the famous WWII poster on one side and a huge photo of Reid holding hands with the Democratic "estrogen ticket" on the other.

With the exception of already well-known Atty. Gen. Frankie Sue Del Papa, the entire estrogen ticket lost. Reid, in control of the party apparatus, was very stingy with support to any campaign but his own.

Ensign defeated Reid among women by one percentage point. The astounding reason had nothing to do with Ensign's famous Elvis haircut: Nevada women assumed both were pro-choice and split their vote accordingly.

Actually, Reid and Ensign are both staunchly anti-abortion and kept their mouths shut as a result.

By conceding the issue of most importance to women, Reid almost lost his senate seat, winning by only 428 votes statewide.

Bernstein will not make that mistake. He has been hammering Ensign for his anti-woman statements and retro positions. The accuracy of Bernstein's attack commercial was recently verified by KOLO TV-8 News. The results have shown in the Review-Journal poll.

Ensign's response has been to recruit blushing Nell Fenwick to lie for him. Alas, Mrs. Dudley Do-Right is now all over your television set lying just like that fiendish Snidely Whiplash on his worst day.

Dema Guinn, Nevada's first lady, appears on a spot which purports to reveal an astounding new position by John Ensign: he's opposed to breast cancer.

Do you know anyone in favor of breast cancer?

This is the same cynical gambit employed for years by my old adversary, former Rep. Barbara Vucanovich, R-Nev.

Vucanovich, a supporter of Newt Gingrich from the moment of swearing in, was as opposed to women's issues as any rockribbed, deep-south Senator Boss Hogg. She needed political cover from future opponents who could exploit that weakness.

Vucanovich, who survived breast cancer while concealing a relapse from the voters, decided to transmute her opposition to the disease into a way to create a phony veneer of seeming pro-woman.

It worked. Several of her opponents became very frustrated that many women would vote for Barbara just because her name was Barbara.

If she survived breast cancer, she must be a pro-woman congressman, right?


But the breast cancer strategy helped blunt attacks about her true character. She won seven straight elections.

Ensign is now pulling the same maneuver, with Dema Guinn misleading the public. On Ensign's recycling of the Vucanovich breast cancer campaign, Mrs. Guinn says "we're pro-choice."

Is she talking about John Ensign, or the breast cancer survivor sitting next to her on the commercial, or all of the above?

Hard to tell?


I respect people with the courage to take a stand and stay there, not wussies who hide behind women's skirts looking for protection from female voters.

In blatantly trying to mislead Nevada women, Mr. Ensign has not only sullied his own reputation, but that of the governor and first lady who have become his fellow travelers in perpetuating a big lie.

VAYA CON DIOS, COMPADRE. Miguel Sepulveda died last Friday at age 59. A sudden asthma attack got him and Nevada is lessened by his leaving.

Mike had his friends and enemies. You can't be in the news business all those years and not step on some toes.

But the measure of this jovial man should be the Bobby Kennedy test: "If not us, who?"

Nobody but Mike established a Latino newspaper and made it viable for almost two decades. A few upstarts came and went. Ahora remained, every week.

Mike branched out into hosting a bilingual talk radio show, something he also did very well. English- and Spanish-speakers could listen and feel equally at ease and informed with Mike controlling the flow.

Nevada stands enriched because Miguel Sepulveda passed this way.


Be well. Raise hell.

NevadaLabor.com | U-News | C.O.P. | Sen. Joe Neal
Guinn Watch | Deciding Factors


© Andrew Barbano

Andrew Barbano is a 31-year Nevadan, a member of Communications Workers of America Local 9413 and editor of U-News, where the past four years of columns may be accessed. Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Sparks Tribune since 1988. For more detailed research, use the search engine at the front page of this site. Sweep for proper names such as "Ensign," "Vucanovich" or "Guinn."

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