Topic: Local Issues
Cincinnati to the Moon
When events in Cincinnati are reported in the newspapers of Paris, then the world must be coming to an end. Those people can't even pronounce Ohio.
But such is the case. It seems the Paris-based International Herald Tribune (sort of the shorthand European edition of its parent publication, the New York Times) on 28 July ran the James Dao item from the Times - Iraq duty helps Democrat's election odds.
This is a review of the Jean Schmidt, Paul Hackett race for the open seat in the 2nd Congressional District of Ohio. That's Cincinnati. And the seat is open because the fellow who held it for twelve years, Rob Portman, resigned to become George Bush's new super-duper trade representative. So it's vacant now. The Republicans have held the seat for thirty years, all told.
Jean Schmidt, the Republican lady, should be a shoe-in. She's the daughter of a well-known local banker we're told, a guy who owned Indianapolis racecar teams on the side. She's married to an investment counselor. She has a twenty-seven-year-old daughter. She's a leader of Right to Life of Greater Cincinnati. So what's the problem?
The problem is that her opponent, Paul Hackett, the Democrat, was, until four month ago, serving as a marine, commanding a unit in Iraq - and he's been going around calling President Bush a "chicken hawk" for not serving in Vietnam and saying the decision to invade Iraq was a big mistake.
When Michael Moore does that, well, that's one thing. What does he know? But this guy has been there. And he's not a flake. He's forty-three, a lawyer, and has those populist credentials - he's the son of a traveling salesman, and he joined the Marine Corps in college. He was honorably discharged in 1999 but joined again in 2004, to command a civil affairs unit in Ramadi and Fallujah. And he's got the appropriate kids - three children, ages eight, four and one. And he says that if he loses he will probably return to Iraq next year.
Oh my - the guy could be trouble.
How did this happen? Hackett, we are told, entered the race the day he returned from Iraq in March when a friend told him about Portman's nomination to the trade post. Schmidt, who is a former state representative, said she formed an exploratory committee, studied a straw poll and thought about the race for a about a week before she ran in the Republican primary.
And it's turning into a referendum on Bush. Schmidt argues that people in the district, which voted sixty-four percent for Bush last year, "adore the president." It seems Hackett thinks Bush is kind of a jerk (not his term, but close enough), saying we should have focused on capturing Osama bin Laden instead of invading Iraq so quickly.
Cool. But there are other differences:
Schmidt supports making all those Bush's tax cuts for the rich folks permanent, and offers no plans for closing the federal deficit other than trimming "unnecessary pork" and bureaucratic inefficiency. Bush. Hackett opposes making those cuts permanent, and he harps on the idea that our troops in Iraq are not receiving adequate supplies or benefits.
Schmidt wants abortion outlawed. No exceptions. Hackett says he opposes abortion but says the government has no business dictating "a woman's healthcare decisions."
It's a classic match-up, with the twist being this guy's military background. And now it's news, and getting national.
Schmidt is getting tons of cash from national Republican committees, and, of course, Bush himself has agreed to record a telephone message that will be delivered the weekend before the special election. On the other side the Democrats are sending in the staffers, and their big-gun, odd, bald-as-a-cue-ball strategist, James Carville. He was the keynote speaker at an event in Cincinnati on the 26th that raised almost a hundred grand for Hackett. Last week, Max Cleland, the former Democratic senator from Georgia and mutilated Vietnam veteran - the one Karl Rove destroyed by saying he was on the side of the terrorists - campaigned with Hackett, calling his decision to volunteer for Iraq "an act of conscience." Still, Schmidt raises three dollars for every one Hackett brings in. And she threw in two hundred thousand of her own dollars. (Hey, her daddy was big time banker, and his daddy a traveling salesman - so you now who knows how things work in the real word.)
This is hot. Hackett would become the first member of Congress to have served in the Iraq war. And he's ticked at Bush. You have to love the irony.
But he won't win. Not there. At a rally is Blue Ash, Ohio, Cleland said, "Someone who has led on the battlefield, that's the kind of person you want to see in the United States Congress." No, you want the rich girl.
And she's no dummy. Her campaign advisor, Eric Minamyer, is going on local talk shows and saying things like this -
Yep, he's a faker, just like Kerry, and not like that real combat veteran-hero, George Bush. Trust the rich girl.
Tim Tagaris over at Swing State Project covers how this is continuing -
Yes, it does. A preview of 2006 and 2008, of course.
One wonders what readers in Paris make of all this.