[OPE-L:7944] NYTimes.com Article: Senator Cleland Loses in an Upset to Republican Emphasizing Defense

From: Rakesh Bhandari (rakeshb@stanford.edu)
Date: Wed Nov 06 2002 - 21:36:33 EST

Post 9/11 American fallout: Election day headline of a cynically 
timed and successful strike against putative al Al Qaeda outpost in 
Yemen helps to rally country behind the Republican party of war which 
takes control of Congress;  Vietnam war handicapped incumbent from 
the minority party accused of disloyalty because he has voted against 
President Bush's cynical attempt to use the new Homeland Security 
Dept as a spearhead to bust federal labor unions and civil liberties.

This is longer the banal nationalism which Michael Billig analyzed in 
terms of the semantics of indexicals, as the Indo Canadian Booker 
Prize nominee Rohinton Mistry who has cancelled his American tour out 
of frustration with harrassment would tell you. The visas of the two 
Indian graduate students who were to accompany the mathematician who 
seems to have done ground breaking work with prime numbers were also 
recently denied, as reported in the WSJ.


Senator Cleland Loses in an Upset to Republican Emphasizing Defense

November 6, 2002

ATLANTA, Nov. 5 - Senator Max Cleland, a decorated Vietnam
veteran, was defeated tonight by Saxby Chambliss, a
Republican congressman from rural Georgia who made support
for the administration's defense policies a central issue
in the campaign.

The upset was as much of a shock for Democrats as the
venomous campaign that preceded it in which Mr. Chambliss
accused Mr. Cleland, a triple amputee, of not being
committed to national security.

As results streamed in from other races, it became clear
that Mr. Cleland's loss was part of a wider Democratic
bloodletting. Many incumbents lost their jobs. Even
Governor Roy Barnes, once very popular and mentioned as
possible presidential material, was handily defeated,
giving a Republican control of the Georgia statehouse for
the first time since Reconstruction.

Tonight, in a hall full of radiant supporters, Mr.
Chambliss cited high turnout as a big reason for his win.

"Our base was more fired up than any campaign I have ever
seen," Mr. Chambliss said. "Folks, y'all made this happen."

Minutes later, Mr. Cleland, who had been in the Senate for
one term, conceded. With a sparkle in his eye and maybe a
hiccup of emotion, he thanked his team for helping him
"live the life of my dreams."

"After my life was literally saved on the battlefield, I
would have never thought this life in public service would
be possible," Mr. Cleland said.

Mr. Chambliss won the race 53 to 46 percent, with 91
percent of precincts reporting.

The race had been getting tighter and tighter as the days
advanced. By the end, it was considered among the most
up-for-grabs Senate seats in the country.

Mr. Cleland offered the moving biography of a man who
rebounded from devastating personal injury, built a life in
public service and went on to become a United States
senator known for progressive views on women's and worker's

Mr. Chambliss, a lawyer turned conservative congressman,
had the superior debating skills and the help of President
Bush, who visited Georgia three times this year to campaign
for him.

"George Bush is extremely popular here and one of the
smartest things Chambliss did was align himself closely to
the president," said Merle Black, a political scientist at
Emory University in Atlanta.

Even before half the precincts had been counted, President
Bush called Mr. Chambliss to congratulate him.

"The president has become a close friend," Mr. Chambliss
said. "And I have never heard him so excited as he was

As in many other races, national security was a central
issue. Mr. Chambliss, 58, went straight for the jugular,
accusing his opponent - who lost two legs and his right arm
during a mission in Khe Sanh, Vietnam - as soft on defense.

One of the most provocative commercials flashed pictures of
Osama bin Laden and then blasted Mr. Cleland, 60, for
voting against the president 11 times on domestic security.

Democrats called the bin Laden advertisements shameless. A
Republican strategist, Ralph Reed, said the issue "was not
Max's war record but his voting record."

As election day approached, several groups who had
previously supported Mr. Cleland peeled off to back the
Republican challenger.

A co-founder of the Home Depot, Bernard Marcus, led an
effort to swing Georgia's Jewish vote behind Mr. Chambliss,
an unswerving ally of Israel in his four terms in Congress.

Even the Veterans of Foreign Wars endorsed Mr. Chambliss,
not a veteran, over Mr. Cleland, once head of the Veterans
Administration and winner of the Silver Star.

The race quickly shaped into a battle for the suburbs. Mr.
Cleland, who won his first Senate term in 1996 by a scant
30,000 votes, ran strongly in the cities, while Mr.
Chambliss, a friend to gun owners and an ardent foe of
abortion, won handily in rural Georgia.

"That's ag country," Mr. Chambliss said. "That's our base."

He also said in his acceptance speech that while he admired
Mr. Cleland's struggle to overcome his disabilities, the
senator did not represent "Georgia's conservative values."

Mr. Cleland, a former Georgia state senator and secretary
of state, seemed to have suffered from his close
relationship to Mr. Barnes, the Democratic governor who
lost in a monumental upset to the Republican underdog,
Sonny Perdue.

The governor, popular among black voters, pounded the
pavement of the inner city, scouring for votes these past
few weeks. Apparently that did not work. While turnout was
high across the state, Democrats did not get the bump they
needed in Atlanta. Some analysts blamed the driving rain
and unseasonably chilly weather today for the uninspired

"Just as Chambliss tied himself to President Bush to boost
his prospects, Cleland lined up with the governor to
increase his appeal," said William Boone, a political
science professor at Clark Atlanta University.

Both national parties soaked the campaign with money,
spending an estimated $20 million over a seat that, until
very recently, was considered safely Democratic.

As the final results rolled in, Mr. Chambliss hugged his
wife and children in a packed hotel ballroom in suburban
Atlanta. He was nearly too choked up to speak.

A few miles way in downtown Atlanta, Mr. Cleland's
supporters grazed on cold nachos as their candidate wheeled
out of a crowded ballroom and out of public life.


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