Dems dodge a bullet

Posted by lex, on February 14, 2006


(Insert obligatory Cheney quail hunting joke here)

Right then, back to work:

Paul Hackett, an Iraq war veteran and popular Democratic candidate in Ohio’s closely watched Senate contest, said yesterday that he was dropping out of the race and leaving politics altogether as a result of pressure from party leaders.

Hackett activated as a Marine reservist and served as a Civil Affairs officer in Ramadi and Fallujah – hot spots in 2004 to be sure – and my hat is off to him. According to his website bio,

Paul was honorably discharged from the Marine Corps in 1999. His absence from the Corps would be short-lived however. In the summer of 2004, with the war in Iraq spinning out of control, Paul again answered the call to serve.

Volunteered to serve even though the war was spinning out of control! Where do we find such men?

Following a serious discussion with his wife, Suzi, Paul volunteered to serve in Iraq as a Major with the 4th Civil Affairs Group, 1st Marine Division. Despite his strong opposition to the war from the very beginning, Paul’s sense of responsibility and commitment to his brothers and sisters in the Corps outweighed his personal political views. Paul was assigned to Ramadi and took part in the Fallujah campaign and subsequent reconstruction efforts. Leaving his politics at America’s shores, Paul fought alongside his fellow Marines seeking to restore order to a country in constant chaos.

Came back from the war with his political views essentially unchanged, and set about running against Ohio Republican Jean Schmidt in a special Congressional race, coming close to pulling off an upset win in a heavily Republican district. Along the way he became a kind of darling of the anti-war left because he was 1) a veteran of the Iraq war, 2) running on their ticket, who had 3)intemperate things to say about the Commander-in-Chief:

Mr. Hackett was widely criticized last year for using indecent language to describe President Bush. Last month, state Republicans attacked Mr. Hackett for saying their party had been hijacked by religious extremists who he said “aren’t a whole lot different than Osama Bin Laden.”

What’s to hate?

Unfortunately for Hackett his Senate bid was contested by Ohio Democratic veteran Sherrod Brown, and with his party opponent credited with over $2.75 million in the war chest and the support of the party machine, Hackett was overmatched and outfunded – by a ten to one margin.

According to the Washington Post, Hackett said that party leaders – inlcuding New York Senator Paul Schumer, head of the Democratic senate campaign committee – called Ohio donors and asked them to pull the plug on Hackett’s bid in order to avoid a bruising primary battle and instead focus on the prize: Winning hearts and minds congressional seats and the governor’s mansion in Ohio.

Hackett’s reaction to all this is illuminating:

“For me, this is a second betrayal,” Mr. Hackett said. “First, my government misused and mismanaged the military in Iraq, and now my own party is afraid to support candidates like me.”

And now he will run, no more, forever. Which we can all admit is a loss to the polis.

Hackett has the perfect right to say that volunteering to serve in a war he openly opposed was a kind of betrayal, or that the using the military to fight a war he disagrees with is somehow tantamount to a personal affront. He can say that. He has that right.

Just as he has the right to harsh language on his Commander-in-Chief while making political speech I suppose – although it does not recommend either his imagination or his vocabulary to do so and as a reservist he is sailing dangerously close to the wind in shoal waters.

And he has the perfect right to howl at the Democratic party for not giving him his just desserts – a Senate seat on a plate. With trimmings. Because he’s earned it.

But he also just might, taking nothing away from his brave service in what he evidently views as a lost and desperate cause, have forfeited the right to have his political views taken seriously. Like the boy who cries “wolf,” a one-note pol that brays about “betrayals” from the left, from the right, makes casual observers wonder if the source of the problem has been correctly identified.

“The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.”  W. Shakespeare.

And oh, yes: I do relish the “irony” of being on the same side as Kos on this. A bit.


Update: More irony here – Milblogfather Greyhawk has a different slant.

Maybe the “anti-Bush” rhetoric didn’t poll well in Ohio. For whatever reason, sacking Hackett was not a particularly savvy move by the Dems.  

Milbloggers often part company on issues of the day – we’re not nearly as monolithic as some would like to paint us. For my own part, I think that leftist partisans are so eager to get a voice that sounds like theirs (hoarse from shouting at the television) in front of a congressional microphone that they’re willing to overlook potential character flaws. Kind of goes back to the Kerry as a Vietnam war veteran being a presidential winner thirty years later. Only updated.


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Filed under by lex, Carroll "Lex" LeFon, Carroll LeFon, Lex, Politics and Culture

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