The Post Gets It Right

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Did I just say that? Oh dear, I think I did. Yes, actually, I did, and yes, they did – get it right, that is.

The Post editorial board has made itself a co-combatant in the ongoing and escalating war between Chris Van Hollen and Donna Edwards. Tonight brings news of a new artillery barrage from the Post’s new offices at 13th and K Streets.

THERE WAS a revealing moment last month in the first debate between Rep. Chris Van Hollen and Rep. Donna Edwards, the two main contenders in the high-stakes April 26 Democratic primary for U.S. Senate in Maryland, whose winner will be the heavy favorite to succeed retiring Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski. Mr. Van Hollen, respected on Capitol Hill for his legislative savvy, noted that Ms. Edwards had joined scores of conservative Republicans in Congress in opposing a 2011 budget accord that would have averted a catastrophic default on the federal debt, an event that would likely have sent the global economy into a tailspin.

Affecting incredulity, Ms. Edwards, one of the most liberal members of Congress, asked, “Does anybody really believe that I’m in the tea party?”

Well, no. But the question is more interesting than Ms. Edwards may have intended. For in opposing a tough deal that entailed deficit reduction, she did in fact join many ultra-conservative Republicans who believed the spending cuts weren’t adequate. Her politics may be the mirror image of the tea party’s, but Ms. Edwards has been equally hostile to pragmatic compromise.

Unlike Ms. Edwards, for whom bipartisan compromise on critical issues such as deficit reduction is apostasy, Mr. Van Hollen is one of a vanishing breed with the tactical sense and strategic acumen to know how to make Congress work. For voters rightly frustrated with paralysis on Capitol Hill, lawmakers like Mr. Van Hollen are the antidote.

God help me, but the Post is right. Simply staking out a position, folding your arms and refusing to even engage in conversation with your adversaries is not how a good legislator should behave. Given the urgent needs of so many in this country, trying to find solutions, however tentative and partial they may be, is critical if we’re ever going to make any progress at all in breaking the stalemate that has paralyzed this country for a decade or more now. Chris Van Hollen gets that in a way that Donna Edwards never will. Staying pure and yelling as loud as possible may be good theater, but it makes for bad policy. Chris Van Hollen also gets the unsexy work of constituent service and attention to detail in similar fashion. If Maryland is going to continue to have the representation we want and deserve in the US Senate, voting for Chris Van Hollen is the way to go. Period.

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