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About The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current | View Entire Issue (Nov. 6, 2000)
Editor; Sarah Baker
Opinbn Page Editor Samuel McKewon
Managing Editor Bradby Davis
Bully for Ben
Nelson offers alternative
to Stenberg's icy persona
We knew it’d get messy.
And messy the Senatorial race between
Republican candidate Don Stenberg and
Democratic nominee Ben Nelson became. It has
been a war of television ads, accusatorial tactics
and innuendoes. At last call, Nelson still held a
fair lead in the Omaha World-Herald poll over
Stenberg, which confounded some political
experts who figured it was Stenberg’s race to lose.
That’s an accurate description of it: Nelson
certainly lacks the charisma to barnstorm the
state and roll over the icy Stenberg. It was Nelson
that dropped a lofty cushion to Chuck Hagel four
years ago. Though Hagel has proven a fast learn
er and capable leader of Nebraska, questions
about Nelson’s campaigning skills still linger:
And yet, Stenberg was never able to turn the
tide. He is no Hagel. He's other things, too, that
make Nebraskans a touch leery. We endorse
Nelson, partially because he’d be a more capable
leader for the state, as he has had eight years
gubernatorial experience and has proven skilled
at adopting workable, centrist policies both sides
of the aisle can deal with.
But we endorse Nelson also because he is not
Stenberg, who has remained a distant personal
figure on the political landscape in his term as
attorney general, a position he seemed to politi
cize for self-serving means. Agree or disagree
with Stenberg’s conservative-Christian platform
-which isn’t significantly different from Nelson -
but can you, or would you, like the man?
Is his perceived Republican integrity worth
the prospect of delivering a surly image to
Washington? Stenberg's modus operandi is root
ed in bulldog tactics - he sticks unwaveringly to
his guns, pointing a finger at immorality.
In the same breath, he attempts to align him
self with Hagel and presidential nominee George
W. Bush, who only totes the Christian party line
because he needs to get elected.
We also believe he utilized his conservative
leanings to politicize the attorney general’s
office, using it as a platform to sound off on the
ills of abortion and die virtues of the death penal
ty. His apparent approach to opposition - “I’m
right and you're unconstitutional” - became his
Nelson’s been around longer and has more
direct experience with his constituents, holding
the position we suspect Stenberg would’ve liked
to own. He has fiscally conservative leanings, yet
we agree with Nelson’s stance of keeping Social
Security away from privatization.
There is a fair argument that Nelson is no
longer a Democrat, but a centrist Republican
playing the other side for election purposes. The
same was sometimes said of Kerrey. Nelson, we
sense, is more liberal than his public persona lets
on. With Stenberg, it’s hard to gauge.
Another difficult gauge is how Nelson might
work with Hagel. Assuming the polls stay the
same, Nelson must find a way for the relation
ship to work. Bob Kerrey, the dignified Senator
stepping down to work at New School University
inNewYorkCity, managed that with Hagel, along
with a reputation that went far into Congress.
Kerrey served the state well by most counts.
His support has been for Nelson. Expect that to
carry some weight, as will Hagel's backing of
Stenberg. While the endorsements have broken
down party lines, the election is not a time to vote
down the line simply for partisanship.
We know that fewer Nebraskans would actu
ally side with the fierce doctrine of Stenberg’s
conservative-Christian stance in the privacy of a
voting booth. Our message to those still unsure:
Get out and vote Nelson. He’s the safer, more
experienced selection. And he is not Stenberg.
Sarah Baker, Bradley Davis, Josh Funk, Matthew Hansen,
Samuel McKewon, Dane Stickney, Kimberly Sweet
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Hemingway's triangular zone
Almost midnight and I
am in love.
I let the book dose with a
thud and listen to the sound
of the generator. The ending
of, “The Garden of Eden,”
brines me to tears each and
every time. “Mi bramare
Ernesto, mi bramare,” I whis- Yasmin
per, hoping to stir sleeping McEwen
I think back on my days as
an undergraduate when once I passed through a tri
angle of my own with a remorse and regret as heavy
as a sopping-wet comforter.
I am unable to clear my reflection from the mir
ror, and my soul not only smiles its wickedness, it
challenges me to come hither, and so I enter the fun
I remember sitting outside the doctor's office
and tap-tapping my foot in the air, up and down,
567,568,569, now triple time, smack some more of
my gum 571, smack, 573 smack smack, 575 smack,
577 smack smack smack and the nurse calls my
name and says, “Please step up on the scale,” some
thing inside of me smiles defiantly and I say, “No
thanks, you first”
Doctor says, “What’s wrong?” I say, “Oh, you
know, besides the fact that I wanted to see how far I
could fly off of the top of Oldfather, and besides the
fact that my mind won’t shut off, I'm just peachy.” He
looks worried. I smile and say I was just kidding. I tell
him I think I'm obsessive/compulsive. He says,
“Really? You don’t seem that way, do you ever find
yourself counting things, doing odd rituals?”
I decide not to tell him about the triangle or that
I tapped my foot in midair 632 times before getting
in to see him, and that when I lean down to take a
drink of water, I must count to nine before I can stop
drinking. Instead I say, “Well, what if I lose my car
keys a lot?”
“What if I can’t stop thinking?”
He looks worried. “Just kidding.” He looks into
my eyes and says he thinks I'll be OK. That’s the big
lie. None of us are ever OK. This is, of course, the state
I was in as I passed through the triangle. All I can tell
you is: Beware of die triangle.
“Don’t talk rot”
“Don’t talk rot”
“That’s not true. This story is full of meaning,” he
says to me. Billy and I are soaking up rays on the
steps of Andrews and he’s got “Hills Like White
Elephants,” between his thumb. He flaps it at me in
2/4 time. I think of the rhythm of his hips in 2/4 time
last night and my thighs begin to tremble. I try to
focus on the stone columns instead.
is the master of storytelling.”
“You’re telling me? You don't even know what rot
is.” I start to lay into Billy, start to rev up my engine.
Billy - who is telling me about his recent pinning to
Liz beth, and how their life is going to be so unbe
lievably awesome and how Liz beth’s parents were
both from the same houses that she and Billy are
from and just how cool is that, and I hear the train
coming down the track.
I hear the steam whistle blowing, can feel it
pulling me closer to the tracks, the circular motion
calling out to me, beckoning. Where’s my gin and
tonic when I need it?
“Do you even know what this story is about?”
Billy looks up to die blue sky for help.
“You won’t find it up there. This ain’t William
Blake; we’re talking sans inspiration. Hemingway
tells it like it is, only you apparently aren’t accus
tomed to seeing things as they really are.”
I get the scowl. “What does that mean? Are
you mad about last night?" What I love the most
auoui Duiy is ms ieigneu ignorance.
“It means this... the Eagle was never so fool
ish as when he submitted to learn from the
Billy shrugs his shoulders. “I don't have a
clue what you are saying, and I don’t have time
“No one ever has any time. You think I’ve got
time? The only way you will ever have any time
is if you take it You’ve got to grab it by the throat
and take it!”
“Now that's profound.”
i Professor Winter told me that”
“He is the man who came before most”
“Ah, look at the time.”
Later I am falling asleep in class dreaming of
Hemingway, my true fictional love, of all time.
I Then I hear something familiar. What is my pro
fessor reading? I look up to see the bright-yel
. low legal paper in his hand. It’s my journal
' entry. A smile starts to spread across my face
like a ripple makes its way across the lake on a
late June evening. Billy kicks my chair and slips
me a note.
“This class sucks. Can I come over tonight?”
I look into his deep-blue eyes and see a face I
: had fallen so hard for at the beginning of this
semester. The way I fell into the sexual chem
* istry is the way a scientist can’t avoid memoriz
ing the table of elements.
The triangle is beginning to close in on me,
choke me. I see Liz beth, truly a glowing vision,
trotting like a faithful Labrador retriever to his
I side at the end of class, flip flipping her hair.
She doesn’t have a clue how much the desire to
i be her is killing me.
Then it dawns on me, I cannot be the
I retriever. I am doomed to play the role of
l Catherine for the rest of my life, this is who I
’ am, ugly as it may be, I have to begin to
embrace it, or I’ll never get out of the triangle.
Hey, wnat s wrongr Billy says to me as i start to
“You don’t look fine.”
“This devil is fine.”
of freedom, they
can’t be given to
you. You have to
Initiative 416 -
campaign began JGreiTiy
months ago, the Patrick
queer community ™
sent out a cry of
alarm. Opposing groups formed, can
vassing started, rallies were held.
Yet I did not take part; I was certain
the measure would pass. Opposing it
would simply be a waste of time and
resources. My certainty in its success
has not changed, but I regret not having
done more to oppose it I have come to
understand that the process of resisting
is far more important than the out
come of tomorrow’s vote.
From our defeat here, we have laid
the groundwork for future victories.
Never before in Nebraska’s history has
there been such widespread public dis
cussion of GLBT issues. Every speech
was an opportunity to show we exist,
that we have families too, and that our
lives are worthy of respect and equality
before the law.
Simply reading the newspapers
should encourage us for the future.
From the sidelines, it’s clear that this
was an issue Nebraska really struggled
with. The letters pages were often filled
with heated debate, but usually letters
from 416-opponents outnumbered
those of its supporters. Nebraska’s two
largest newspapers, the Omaha World
Herald and the Lincoln Journal-Star,
even came out in opposition to the
We saw leaders in high places put
their jobs on the line to stick up for
equality; Regent Allen's attack on
Interim Chancellor Perlmap only testi
fied to the integrity of the latter, the
dangerousness of the former and the
real progress we have made.
We saw hundreds of students rally
for our cause. Guyla Mills, at a recent
hearing on campus, complained that
she was “ambushed." She wasn’t
“ambushed" - she knew opponents
and supporters of 416 would show up -
she was simply surprised and over
whelmed by die number and enthusi
asm of 416’s opponents.
This youth activism is an example
of what’s happening around the coun
try. Studies show that younger genera
tions are increasingly accepting and
supportive of GLBT equality. The
future, if nothing else, is on our side.
Perhaps most importantiy, dozens
of religious leaders proclaimed their
opposition to 416 and their belief in the
essential dignity and equality of all
Americans. No longer can anti-gay
groups claim that this is a battle
between the “religious” and the "god
less.” No longer can they claim the
Christian view to support their preju
Just as in the latter parts of the black
and women's civil rights movement,
the once-unified religious opposition
toward equality is crumbling from
within. Even the polls are a testament
to our progress - a solid third of
Nebraska supports us, inconceivable a
decade ago. The right wing’s haste to
abandon homophobic rhetoric and
cloak themselves solely as “Defenders
of Marriage” will undermine them in
As Dan Rather said recently: 1 ne
conundrum the Republicans are facing
now echoes the one with which segre
gationists of both parties were con
fronted as the black civil rights move
ment matured: Once bigotry falls out of
mainstream fashion, it's hand to talk the
accepted talk without walking the walk.
“When the prevailing political
winds force a party to abandon prejudi
cial rhetoric, how can it continue to
advocate prejudicial policy without
wrapping itself in the cloak of
Like all civil rights movements, ours
too will face setbacks. This is an issue,
however, that the entire world is facing,
and it is clear that the trend toward full
equality is picking up steam.
The supporters of 416 will see
tomorrow as a victory, but in reality,
they have already lost - they will never
again make us be silent, ashamed or
secretive. Their dream of a 1950s-style
patriarchy have already been shattered.
A conservative professor (and sup
porter of 416) at the University of
Nebraska-Lincoln likes to say that “as
long as there are traditional families,
there will be traditional family values.” I
know that as long as there are queer
people, there will be queer families
with just as much warmth, love and
Perhaps, someday, our families will
coexist peacefully with mutual respect
and full equality under the law.
Someday, when he and other
Nebraskans let them. Until then, how
ever, the struggle continues.
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