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Thursday, November 2, 2000

Al Gore would make
a better president

Bullet Our view: The Star-Bulletin announces its endorsements for president and Congress.

Al Gore's embrace of a balanced budget and reducing the size of the federal government -- two traditionally conservative positions -- helped swing the Star-Bulletin's endorsement in the presidential election to him over Republican George W. Bush.

So did Gore's superior command of the issues in his debates with Bush, whose responses were frequently off target.

Gore has the right positions on abortion rights, gun control and affirmative action. Unlike Bush, he would not appoint justices to the Supreme Court who might overturn Roe vs. Wade, the key abortion decision.

As vice president, Gore has been given more responsibilities than any of his predecessors, with the result that he should be well prepared to move into the White House. Before his election with Bill Clinton in 1992, he served 16 years in Congress.

By contrast, Bush never held public office before his election six years ago as governor of Texas, a position with little power compared with the governors of other states.

Gore's association with the Clinton administration has not been entirely positive. He was tarnished by some of the Democrats' 1996 campaign finance violations despite Attorney General Janet Reno's refusal to order an investigation by an independent counsel. Gore's uncritical defense of Clinton at the height of the Lewinsky scandal was shameful.

Like Clinton, he has an enthusiasm for seemingly unlimited new federal programs that is hard to reconcile with his professed determination to reduce the size of government.

However, Gore has a pragmatic streak that should restrain his impulses to spend too much, and a strong sense of America's needs. The nation would be in better hands with Gore than with Bush.

Akaka for Senate

DANIEL Akaka has been a member of Congress since 1976 but his most important act in Washington probably came this year when he sponsored the bill that would give Hawaiians a status comparable to American Indian tribes. The proposal became a matter of urgency when the Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional the Hawaiians-only voting restriction for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.

The measure's fate is still uncertain as the current session winds down. If Congress adjourns without acting on the bill, it will die and have to be introduced again next year. In that event, it would be important for Akaka, as the only Hawaiian in the state delegation, to win re-election in order to lead the effort to win passage. If the bill passes in this session, there may be related issues to be addressed by Congress.

Akaka had a tough fight when he first ran for the Senate in 1990 against Pat Saiki, but he should have no trouble winning re-election this year. His opponent, Republican John Carroll, served in the state Legislature for 10 years but has been out of politics since 1980.

Carroll opposes the Akaka bill and wants to dismantle OHA -- positions that his own party rejects. For the sake of meeting Hawaiian aspirations, it's important to return Akaka to the Senate.

House endorsements

IN congressional races, the Star-Bulletin endorses Republican Phil Meyers in Hawaii's 1st Congressional District and incumbent Democratic Rep. Patsy Mink in the 2nd District.

A 44-year-old pediatrician, Meyers arrived in the Big Island in 1992 and moved to Oahu three years ago, where he is associated with Kaiser Permanente. His bid for the House seat held by Democrat Neil Abercrombie is his first political campaign.

However, politics is a tradition in Meyers' family. His mother, Republican Jan Meyers, served six terms in the U.S. House from Kansas before her retirement in 1996. She was considered moderate on cultural issues, pro-choice on abortion and conservative on economics and foreign policy. Her son generally has taken similar positions on issues.

As a physician, Meyers would be able to contribute valuably on the issue of health care. He favors a "sustainable" plan for prescription drug coverage under Medicare. He also supports patients' rights under health-insurance plans, assuring that doctors' decisions not be overturned by "bureaucrats or accountants."

Health care, the economy and education are Meyers' top concerns. He proposes personal income tax cuts and applying part of the federal budget surplus to preserving Social Security. His support for federal assistance in education may be based significantly on personal experience; his 7-year-old daughter has special needs of the kind that Hawaii schools are under federal court order to address.

Abercrombie has tried to create a more moderate image, going so far as to cut off his signature pony tail and supporting abolition of the inheritance tax. However, he has maintained many of his traditional liberal positions, including trade protectionism, which we oppose.

Mink is opposed by former football star Russ Francis in her bid for a 12th term in the House. Although we sometimes disagree with her liberal views, Mink has been a capable representative of the neighbor islands and outlying areas of Oahu.

Francis has experienced personal and financial problems since leaving the National Football League that have damaged his credibility as a candidate for high office.

Published by Liberty Newspapers Limited Partnership

Rupert E. Phillips, CEO

John M. Flanagan, Editor & Publisher

David Shapiro, Managing Editor

Diane Yukihiro Chang, Senior Editor & Editorial Page Editor

Frank Bridgewater & Michael Rovner, Assistant Managing Editors

A.A. Smyser, Contributing Editor

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