George Will

Regarding immigration, both candidates stress enforcement -- Talent at the border, McCaskill in workplaces. With characteristic tartness, she says that to get in trouble for hiring illegal immigrants, ``You have to have a flashing marquee sign outside your business that says 'I'm hiring a lot of illegal immigrants -- please arrest me.'''

Regarding Iraq, McCaskill says Talent's position is ``we've got to build a democracy at the barrel of a gun, no matter what.'' Talent says his position is ``we have to see it through and win it,'' and defines winning as helping to ``create a multiethnic democracy that can be reasonably successful, more or less on its own. Kind of like Vietnamization.'' McCaskill, speaking in Independence -- hometown of Harry Truman, another former occupant of the Senate seat she seeks -- called for creation of (and offered to chair) something like the Truman Committee that investigated the war effort during the Second World War, and made Truman a national figure.

Talent, a right-to-life evangelical Christian, removed himself as a sponsor of a Senate bill to ban cloning because he thought it might ban research he considers ethically acceptable. The Missouri Baptist Convention's newspaper expressed ``fire-spittin' disbelief'' that Talent has embraced ``pagan ideas'' at the behest of ``the clone-to-kill movement,'' and hence can no longer be considered pro-life. Such invective motivated Danforth, a right-to-life Episcopal priest, to write a book, ``Faith and Politics,'' due out in mid-September. It deplores the religious right's power to drive Republican behavior in matters such as stem cells and Congress' intervention in the Terri Schiavo case.

Danforth, one of whose brothers died of Lou Gehrig's disease, and who hopes that embryonic stem cell research might hasten discovery of cures for that and other diseases, is honorary co-chairman of a lavishly funded -- and, so far, popular -- campaign to amend Missouri's Constitution this November to protect the right to conduct such research. Such research is important to Washington University in St. Louis, and a private philanthropist is promising to fund substantial research in Kansas City, but only if the amendment passes. McCaskill supports it. Talent opposes it.

Democrats think this issue will drive up suburban turnout. Republicans think it will do so in Ashcroftland. Both are probably correct in the polarized politics of 2006.

George Will

George F. Will is a 1976 Pulitzer Prize winner whose columns are syndicated in more than 400 magazines and newspapers worldwide.
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