So, I caught Rep. Shelley Berkley on Face to Face with Jon Ralston tonight. And surprise, surprise, surprise, the main topic was the claims that Berkley’s husband, a high-profile kidney specialist, has benefited from actions the Congresswoman made to stop the closure of Nevada’s only kidney transplant center (at UMC). This move, along with a handful of bills related to kidney disease treatment and awareness, is the basis of attacks from GOP incumbent Sen. Dean Heller as well as a less-than-neutral piece from The New York Times last fall.
Okay, Dems, let’s face the music here. The jig is up! Shelley Berkley is a Nevadan who … did something to help Nevadans. The horror! The horror! How could she?!
Alright, alright. Perhaps it’s not as cut-and-dry as that. But honestly, does this “scandal” really compare to … say… the end of former Sen. John Ensign’s career? (Wait, and isn’t good-ol-boy party cronyism how Heller got appointed by our GOP governor to an exiting GOP senator’s seat in the first place? But that kind of back-scratching is totally cool, right?) Ensign’s scandal involved a massive cover-up, misappropriating funds, pay-offs, and conspiracies that traveled all the way to presidential hopeful Rick Santorum and K Street.
What do we have with Berkley’s situation? She stopped the closing of valuable medical services, the likes of which are unavailable anywhere else in the state. (Don’t you hate it when politicians use their considerable power to help others? So annoying!) Does that move benefit her husband? Maybe, maybe not. It’s also possible that Sheldon Adelson might need a kidney transplant someday. And just who would be benefiting from those facilities then?
Maybe I’ve been in Vegas too long, but I say let it ride. For one thing, if this move benefited Berkley’s husband at all, that should not out-weigh the considerable good it can do for countless people in our region. And whether or not it benefits Berkley’s husband is still a pretty big IF. But the bottom line is, even if Berkley did go one toe across the line in the sand on this one, it was still under-written by a greater good philosophy — not adultery or one of the other high-profile deadly sins.
Let me spell it out even more clearly: Saving a kidney transplant center (even if your spouse is a kidney specialist) is NOT the same as paying off your adulteress using a financial shell game that almost lands you in jail (ala Ensign).
Now, I will admit that Berkley did muff it a bit tonight on Face to Face when Jon was asking some of the questions. But having interviewed her myself many, many times over the years, I know that’s just how Berkley talks and sounds. She’s a very deliberate person. But that deliberate, careful way she speaks can come off like uncertainty and, well, like she has something to hide. But, let’s face it, it’s not like Sen. Harry Reid is the world’s most soothing orator either. That’s not what it’s about. It’s about results!
So, the Heller camps wants to reduce Berkley’s contributions down to just a handful of bills about kidney stuff. Just to avoid throwing in some oranges with our apples, I’ll keep this to just health care stuff. If you want a senator who will fight for women’s health care: Vote for Shelley Berkley. She has fought for insurance coverage for breast cancer treatments and argued against the Pence Amendment.
But who cares what I think? Let’s strike the match right here: What do you think?
And don’t stop now…