Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Koster Up Close and Personal, and a Lesson Learned

Chris Koster spoke to the CCP yesterday evening, and there was no way I was going to miss it. A rising star Republican speaking to a room full of opinionated progressive democrats months after purporting to switch parties.

Setting aside my partison Harris hat, I have to admit he did a good job. He comes across as hyper-coached - I suspect that if he dropped a word from his canned speech, he would need to go back and start from the beginning. It was, as one would expect from Mr. Koster, a very polished, even slick, presentation.

Naturally, I had a quibbles with it. First off, it was really a speech for a prosecutor's race. He gravely but with obvious relish intoned about the horrible cases he prosecuted - the spouse killers, the child rapists, and, yes, of course, John Robinson, the man who is still alive because Koster got tricked into a bad deal. He even bragged about how he got Robinson to confess to the crimes, and how he was there when they found bodies in steel drums, but he never got around to explaining why Robinson, a confessed, grisly murderer, was spared the death penalty in Missouri.

Chris' tagline was "if experience matters," which I found to be an odd choice for the candidate with the second best experience for the job. Jeff Harris has, literally, five times the experience that Chris does in the AG's office, but Koster knows that the average voter confused the role of the AG with the county prosecutor, so his stories of 12 yeaar-old rape victims and CSI-Harrisonville searches for murder weapons are good enough to fool most people. Even in the comparatively well-informed CCP crowd, I heard the woman behind me lapping it up like titillating honey, while I was rolling my eyes.

I was surprised that the crowd did not follow up with questions when Koster said that he supports "common sense restrictions on Roe v. Wade," as the CCP has a reputation for being more liberal than that.

In short, listening to Koster, I was impressed with his style, but not as much by his substance. He's running as a Democrat while distancing himself from some of the most widely held Democratic beliefs. He's running as a tough prosecutor while handing out a flier packed with murderers who avoided the death penalty under his tenure. Worse yet, he's running for Attorney General on the ground that he could be a good county prosecutor.

But he's good looking and smooth, and could pull it all off if people don't pay enough attention.

After his talk, I chatted a little bit and began walking down a corridor to the elevators. As I was about to escape, I heard Chris shout "Dan!", and motion me back. He guided me into an empty conference room.

It's funny how in the course of a few paces back to a conference room, you can call back to mind every immature statement, every over-stated criticism, and every political cheap-shot you've written about someone. As I walked back down the hall toward Chris "legislative roundheels, incompetent, pretty-boy" Koster "the Imposter", I had a few seconds of sincere regret for being such an ass. I disagree with him on several points, and I am confident that Jeff Harris will be a better Attorney General, but Chris waa walking down that hall on the high road, and I was walking it on the low road.

Fortunately, rather than wanting to kick my ass (I suspect he could take me), Chris just wanted to pass on a few comments to me and assure me that his conversion to the Democrat party is sincere. Indeed, I had to admit that we are a big tent party, and the distinction between a liberal Republican and a conservative Democrat is a fine one.

Let me be crystal clear - Jeff Harris is the best candidate for Missouri Attorney General. Jeff has the substance that Koster lacks - he has the experience with the AG's office and the experience of working as a Democrat supporting Democratic causes. But Koster put on a good show last night, and I hope that I hold to my present intention of treating him and others with a bit more dignity.

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30 Comments:

Anonymous Jessica Kerrigan said...

I listened to Koster last night with the sinking feeling of the inevitability of his victory. If the flier he handed out is any indication, he's going to climb to the AG's office on the backs of the victims of the criminals he prosecuted. I can just hear the ominous music and the dark t.v. screen as the mug shots of rapists and murderers are paraded on the screen, followed by the uplifting music accompanied by sunny pictures of the Golden Boy. It's going to appeal to a lot of voters. If Harris or Donnelly are going to have a shot, they will need to convince voters that what the AG's office does affects voters everyday lives, and that their experience is more relevant than Koster's. And voters should think about Koster's ambitions beyond the AG's office, because I can assure you, he has them.

1/15/2008 2:19 PM  
Anonymous travelingal said...

Just out of curiosity (I don't have a horse in this race) if someone has time, please explain how Koster got tricked out of getting the death penalty for Robinson.

1/15/2008 2:23 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Travelingal -

My understanding is that Robinson promised to locate other victims which were never found - though I just spent a few minutes surfing the net for proof of that understanding, and I couldn't find it.

Even if that's not the case, Robinson got Koster to plea bargain him under Missouri's law, which is Constitutional, on the understanding that he would be prosecuted under Kansas' law, which any law student could have told you was Constitutionally suspect. So he talked Koster into letting him off on the good law and took his chances with the bad law.

1/15/2008 2:56 PM  
Blogger les said...

Dan, you are of course free to play the "dignity" card. I trust Koster knows you don't speak for your commenters.

1/15/2008 3:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dan -- very thoughtful post. Anyone who says he should be Attorney General because he's tried a hundred murder trials as a county prosecutor just doesn't understand the job. Or, worse, he DOES know that being Attorney General actually has very little to do with what a good county prosecutor you were, and is counting on hoodwinking voters into thinking it does. Either way, I'm voting for Jeff Harris.

1/15/2008 4:09 PM  
Blogger craig said...

Dan,
Quick question.
Since you insist that Koster is incompetent for not seeking the Death Penalty for Robinson, do you feel the same way about Kanatzar who for not seeking the Death Penalty against Gilyard and Porter?
Your answer will say a lot about your character.

1/15/2008 5:34 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

I don't know the specifics of those cases. In the Porter case, it looks like the insanity defense might have stood a chance, so perhaps not. In the Gilyard case, it looks like it probably should have been sought, though, again, I don't know all that much about it.

Feel free to judge my character. You anonymity says something about yours.

1/15/2008 5:48 PM  
Blogger craig said...

Dan,
You seem to make it a habit of trashing people that disagree with you on your site. Almost everyone here is anonymous, and you would be too if you weren't "outed" last year. I seem to remember that you were a little ticked off about that. My point is, if you don't hold everyone to the same level of accountability you are a hypocrite, but you danced around the answer so I can't really call you that, yet.
You can also tell that I live by the number one rule of blogging, don't say anything on a blog that you wouldn't say to a persons face. I have never made an anonymous post that I would not be willing to say to someone to their face. I would never have an uncomfortable moment like you did with Koster.

1/15/2008 6:12 PM  
Anonymous Koster for Prosecutor, Harris for AG! said...

Dan -

The case against Gilyard lacked a confession, and it was totally circumstantial. I think Kanatzar's reputation as a great prosecutor managed to stick Gilyard away when he might have otherwise walked.

Regarding Koster, I can't believe you didn't mention that Koster claimed "the Republicans have owned the Law and Order issue for years." (You weren't the only one taking notes.) Umm, Chris, we've had a Democrat in the AG's office for 12 years, and, if you want to pass as a real Democrat, you'd better start giving him some respect.

1/15/2008 6:16 PM  
Anonymous Koster for Prosecutor, Harris for AG! said...

You've got some gall to come here anonymously and question Dan's character anonymously, while claiming you'd do it to his face. Somehow, I doubt you would . . .

Dan's never trashed me for disagreeing with him - but I tend to stick to good points, rather than questioning his character.

Why don't you just go away now that you've been spanked and are still hiding?

1/15/2008 6:21 PM  
Anonymous mainstream said...

Hey Koster for Prosecutor,

Craig is a conservative Republican and I disagree with him on many things, but he brings an element of class to the blogs, unlike you.

1/15/2008 7:05 PM  
Anonymous Koster for Prosecutor, Harris for AG! said...

Class as defined by Mainstream - anonymously attacking the the host's character. That comes straight from the guy who anonymously attacked our host.

Birds of a feather . . .

1/15/2008 7:30 PM  
Anonymous mainstream said...

Well, here I am, an anon commenter being attacked by another anon commenter, for being an anon commenter.

That really means....something I guess.

1/15/2008 7:46 PM  
Blogger craig said...

Mainstream,
Thanks, you do show an ability to have a civil discussion without resorting to verbal insults. Like you said, we don't agree on much, but can at least have a civil discussion.
And "koster for prosecutor", aren't you just as anonymous as me? I highly doubt that you sign your checks with your login name. And Dan still hasn't answered the question, he dodged it because he doesn't want to say anything bad about Kanatzar (which is reasonable, since Kanatzar is an excellent prosecutor), but won't budge from his position that Koster is incompetent for not going after the Death Penalty.

1/15/2008 7:51 PM  
Blogger craig said...

And, "koster for prosecutor", I never said anything bad about Dan's character. I simply stated that my opinion of his character would be partially defined by his answer to my question. Since he probably won't give me a direct answer, I guess I will have to base my opinion on that. But I will reserve judgement, just in case he does.

1/15/2008 7:54 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Mainstream - such is the absurdity of life as an anonymous commenter. I can't deny that I get a bit of a kick out of watching you get owned by an fellow anonymouse. You have to admit, with your history here and elsewhere, you're no judge of class.

Craig - I gave you as straight an answer as I could - as I said, draw what conclusions you like about my character. I've drawn some about yours.

1/15/2008 8:01 PM  
Anonymous mainstream said...

Owned? That's laughable, Dan.

You get a pass today because it's been a rough one for the Funk camp.

Suffice it to say I'll stop there.

1/15/2008 8:16 PM  
Blogger craig said...

OK Dan, you say that you don't know enough about the Porter or Gilyard cases to make a valid determination, I buy that. But what that says is that you intentionally researched the Robinson case for the sole purpose of useing it against Koster. That was, at best, a bad idea. What you did is make someone like me, a conservative leaning moderate, who often votes in the Democratic primary in order to have some say in local leadership, remember that Koster did not use the Robinson case, and taxpayer money, to play politics. He was fiscally responsible by taking a plea from a defendant who was already sentenced to death.

1/15/2008 9:48 PM  
Blogger craig said...

And,
"I've drawn some about yours."
Enlighten me, what conclusions have you drawn about me? Be honest, I am wearing my big boy underwear, I can take it.

1/15/2008 9:50 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

I've got no problem with that, Craig. You should feel free to vote for whomever you like, for whatever reason you like. Heck, I'm opposed to the Death Penalty, and want to see it abolished. But that doesn't make me want to vote for Koster.

1/15/2008 9:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Koster is sincere and he will win for no other reason than he will out work everyone else

The money, the look coupled with the effort and commitment = victory

1/15/2008 9:54 PM  
Anonymous Former Catholic Who Learned said...

Dan, you always hook up with a kook candidate for God knows what reason and then no matter what they do you support them.

What do you think of 80K mistakes Dan?

OH that is what makes them so charming!

You are a Moron

1/15/2008 11:12 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Craig -

On the Robinson case, I should clarify why I read up on it - it's because Koster is making it one of the centerpieces of his whole campaign. His flier has a bunch of other murderers that avoided the death penalty as well, but I haven't researched all of them yet.

Now, you want to know what kind of conclusions I'm drawing about your character. Why would you care? Why would I choose to share them with you, anyhow? What good will be accomplished if I respond with attacks on your intelligence and good will, or if I compliment those attributes?

You are the one who "raised the ante" in this otherwise reasonable conversation by claiming that my response to your question would speak to my character. I'm under no obligation to respond - just as I'm under no obligation to respond to your friend the former Catholic.

1/16/2008 7:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I too am faced with the sinking feeling that Koster will win the Dem primary. I've heard him give his "I'm a great prosecutor" speech twice now and every time there are individuals in the audience who fall for his smooth talking because they are ignorant as to what the AG's office actually does. Of course I have to wonder if Koster is too. I noted that when questioned as to his goals/new ideas for the AG's office Koster simply replied that Jay has done an excellent job and he will continue that. He had nothing further to discuss on that topic. This does give credence to the theory that Koster will simply hover in the AG's office while planning his next campaign.

1/16/2008 8:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am sure Koster will get the chance to prove he's a Democrat in the Missouri senate.

Koster led the charge to call the PQ (previous question) when Jolie Justus was filibustering the MOHEALA cluster. Check out Sen. Justus' blog called Freshmeat for a discussion of how rare - and nasty - calling the PQ is in the Missouri Senate. Koster didn't call the PQ on Matt Bartle when he was filibustering the appointment of Kit Bond's former chief of staff, Warren Erdman, to the Missouri Board of Curators. Bartle was filibustering because Erdman was pro-stem cell. Koster is pro-stem cell. Why not call the PQ on his office mate Matt Bartle? Maybe because Matt Bartle, Jeff Roe and Chris Koster were all best friends.

Koster wants to prove he's a Democrat, filibuster a Republican bill. A few other things include:

- Sign on the Justus' state earned income tax credit bill.

- Sponsor a bill to put 100,000 of our poorest back on the health care rolls (even Senator Rob Mayer (R - Dexter) didn't vote for that).

- How about telling Farm Bureau to stick it, he now thinks Clay & Platte Counties should be able to keep corporate pig farms out.

- Take some of his money and sponsor a few Democratic clubs. The Jackson County Democratic Committee needs some cash.

- Write a letter to Doug Harpool, the Democratic senate candidate in Springfield, saying "I'm sorry." Koster went down there and fundraised for Sen. Norma Champion in one of the the narrowist races in the state.

- Tell Gov. Mel Carnahan's wife he is sorry for endorsing John Ashcroft.

- Max out to some Democratic candidates for state rep in Cass County. If Koster isn't returning right wing Rex's $100,000, he should use it to help Democrats.

1/16/2008 12:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dan -

Some questions for you to answer internally or publicly.

Why do you have to be reminded to treat people with dignity and respect? I agree with you that you sometimes take cheap, petty shots at candidates, including Koster. My question is: Why?

Life is much too short (and important) to waste on pettiness. Wouldn't you agree?

1/16/2008 1:15 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Some questions for you to answer, anonymous, in private: why do you feel the need to be sanctimonious?

Why do you need to be reminded that nobody is asking for your spiritual guidance?

Life is to short to waste by listening to anonymous commenters who have no credibility or moral weight to go around acting superior.

Wouldn't you agree?

1/16/2008 5:51 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

PS: I assure you that I would happily say those things to anonymouse's face, and I would not feel an iota of shame about it.

1/16/2008 5:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dan -

We are very different from one another.

1/16/2008 6:04 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

On that point, yes, I would agree.

Do you understand how, by commenting in such a sanctimonious manner on a post that had acknowledged I had taken a low road and that expressed an intention to treat others with more dignity, you came across as offensively (and anonymously) smug and preachy?

Do you think that by getting in a couple anonymous digs, you were really going to awaken my inner saint?

1/16/2008 6:28 PM  

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