Just Above Sunset
July 31, 2005 - Cincinnati to the Moon

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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 stuff.  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.)


Both have now been on television, on MSNBC's Hardball show – and a few others.

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 -


I understand that Hackett did not participate in combat at all. It is still dangerous over there as I can personally attest. Let's just not act as though we led marines in combat if we did not, okay…

I have asked the question time and again, what role did he actually play?

Given all the opportunities he has had to say "I served in combat" one fair conclusion is that he did not.


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 -


1.)A local conservative radio host started by questioning Paul Hackett's service to country. Scott Sloan of WLW 700 AM in Cincinnati went off on some insane rant about the real level Paul's patriotism regarding the war in Iraq and claimed Hackett was using his service for "political purposes." Over the past two days, Republicans have been calling into talk radio across the district saying things like, "Paul wasn't really a Marine Corps Major in Iraq." It's a coordinated effort, as I am hearing from people that similar lines are being repeated and repeated by radio callers in and out of the district.


2.) The "swift boating" is picking up steam, and we have to fight back. I sat no less than five feet away from a reporter from a cable news outlet that asked, "Some say that this was all a plan on your part. To go to Iraq and come back with this great story while running for congress." Less than 30 minutes ago, a reporter from CBS asked about Eric Minameyer's question, and yes, questioned Paul's service to his country.


3.) A few days ago, an Army Private First Class was buried in Fairfield, Ohio. Within 24 hours, a number of flags were burned and tossed into a pile in front of his mother and father-in law's home. As you can imagine, this incident has led to a lot of press and sadness for the family. The same host above, Scott Sloan, attempted to tie Paul Hackett to the flag burning incident. He said that it was people like Paul Hackett that allow things like this to happen.


4.) Last night, a number of people in the district began receiving robo-calls talking shit (for lack of a better word) about Paul Hackett. Of course, they hit on the standard themes, choice, equal rights, and yes, Iraq.


5.) Earlier today, the police had to be called at campaign HQ as a strange individual pulled up to the office, kept the car in park, and started plugging away at a lap-top. When people walked out of HQ to investigate, the car pulled off quickly. The police have been notified.

One local said, "This really reminds me of what was happening last October. It got real ugly down here before the election. Sounds familiar...


Yes, it does.  A preview of 2006 and 2008, of course.

One wonders what readers in Paris make of all this.


Copyright 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
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This issue updated and published on...

Paris readers add nine hours....