Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Bloggers Meet the Marine [UPDATED].

Again, I blog this cold. I'll look at the other sites when it's time to add links.

I went up to Cleveland for Meet the Bloggers; Paul Hackett. I nearly didn't meet him at all. An accident -- another one -- on 77 stacked up traffic so badly it took two hours to make the trip. I saw, maybe, the last twenty minutes or so and asked the very last question. He and his campaign coordinator stuck around afterward for a cup of coffee, so I stuck around to get a better measure of him.

I kind of hoped to see some reason not to support him. I like Sherrod Brown. He's my Congressman and has been a strong advocate for working people in NEO. People I respect respect Sherrod. I'd like to be able to make that call.

The bad news, is my decision in the primary will be very difficult. The good news is that we will have a strong candidate regardless of the outcome.

Paul Hackett may be a political neophyte but he is a born campaigner in that he has an inate ability to work a room. He speaks fluidly, looks you in the eye, engages the questions directly and argues his points well. His blunt, direct manner will draw comparisons to Howard Dean and John McCain, but the pol he reminds me of most is Joe Biden. He can voice his disgust at the excesses of the Bush administration without sounding shrill and can discuss the intricacies of the health case system without sounding wonkish. Add to this his military service biography and not-from-NEO geography and we have a formidable package. Pre-existing name recognition and money are the only things that make the contest interesting.

Notwithstanding his website uncontaminated by policy positions, he does have opinions -- strong ones -- about every issue that gets thrown at him. He's also not afraid to buck conventional Democratic wimpery wisdom. One of the first things I heard walking into a health care discussion is "Big government doesn't get everything wrong. The Democrats have made a mistake conceding that."

While I say he's a born campaigner, he doesn't come off as slick. He sounds like a well-informed neighbor talking politics over a beer at a block party. For anyone who agrees with me about the lingering effects of Clintonism, he's that no-nonsense guy you've been pining for.

Sherrod Brown is due to meet the bloggers next month. Hopefully I'll get a better sense of how the two stack up against each other. And hopefully I'll get there in time.

LINKS: The liveblog is up on Meet the Bloggers; podcast to follow. Adam wrote up his impressions -- and he was there from the beginning. Also attending were Jill, Bill and Brian, so watch their blogs. Tim and George have already mentioned without further comment.

Also today, Paul's wife Suzi spoke to bloggers on a conference call. Liberal Common Sense and Plunderbund have impressions.

UPDATE: The podcasts and transcript are up. Brian posted a must-read assessment of the qualities he observed. Tim noted one interesting exchange about funding for the Iraq war. Jill has teased a somewhat more contrarian post that will be up soon.


Lisa Renee said...

I've never had good luck driving around Cleveland...For me it's an easier decision as far as supporting Hackett vs Brown but I hope no matter the outcome DeWine is not re-elected. Ohio needs a change.

I look forward to seeing your impressions from the Sherrod Brown meet the bloggers.

Daniella said...


77 is the worst highway. I moved because I could not deal with the daily frustration, accidents and delays.

I heard your last question and I liked it. Thanks for writing such a quick post about your participation to MTB.

joebu said...

Glad to see you were impressed with Hackett.

I think it's imperative that we realize that issues are not the only thing to winning elections. There are other items such as money, looks, presentation, personality, etc. If issues were the sole criteria to winning elections, the Green Party would be in power and Dennis Kucinich or Ralph Nader would be president. By and large, the American people agree with their positions, but they come across as kooks.

If issues were the sole criteria, there would be little doubt as to whether Sherrod Brown deserves the nod to challenge DeWine. However, given the current dynamics of Ohio, I think Hackett offers the best package to not only beat DeWine, but stand for core progressive causes as a US Senator.

We have to be flexible and realize that while we can picture the "ideal candidate" in our head, no such candidate likely exists.

It's the same thing when people make mistakes in choosing a relationship partner. Experts always advise not to get so pent up in the "ideal person," but to be flexible. Know the dealbreakers, but weed out the criteria that are frivolous, or at least not of high priority.

When I see the Hackett/Brown race, it reminds me of a sports situation in 2001 when the New England Patriots had a quarterback controversy between proven veteran Drew Bledsoe and a young second year inexperienced newcomer Tom Brady. Head coach Bill Belichick (who learned how to coach after trashing the Browns) made a gutsy decision to go with Brady, a 6th round draft pick who had only played a few pro games when Bledsoe was hurt and didn't even start a full season when playing college at Michigan (where he competed with Drew Henson).

Even though Bledsoe had taken the Patriots to a Super Bowl in 1996, Belichick saw the potential in Brady to take the Patriots to a higher level. Brady is not the most athletically gifted quarterback (other than throwing an accurate and sharp spiral). He is not very big either. But he is very smart, has great leadership skills, is calm under pressure, and is a fierce competitor. A few years later, he has racked up three Super Bowl rings in four years. Bledsoe was casted off to Buffalo and is now a successful starting quarterback with Dallas.

Even though Bledsoe was good and could take the Patriots far into the playoffs, Tom Brady was able to take the team to the highest level - dynasty.

I see that with Hackett. I think he has the potential to not only beat DeWine, but to make Ohio vote solidly Democratic and assert Democratic dominance here for years to come.

This is our chance as Democrats to effect meaningful change in Ohio. We must not blow it. As painful as it may be to turn down Sherrod, we have to look at the bigger picture.

joebu said...

Another comment....

I think what most liberals here NE Ohio don't understand is the prominent German Catholic population in the western half of Ohio, especially in and around Cincinnati. These are people that predominantly vote Republican based on traditional values. Even though Democrats likely serve those values more, they are stubbornly locked into voting Republican. And they are really stubborn.

I know this from having a German Catholic grandmother who was extremely stubborn and a former girlfriend who was the same way. No amount of logical reasoning will convince these people to wake up and think differently. The only way that can be done is to hit them over the head with a frying pan. My mother came to this realization after years of trying to reason with her mother-in-law. Finally, she fought fire with fire and with some success.

I am not trying to paint with a broad brush, but western Ohio's German Catholic population is conservative in that they don't want to think for themselves. They want a nice big strong leader whom they can follow and who will do the thinking for them. They are very much into traditional values of family, hard work, church, etc.

Hackett understands this very well when it comes to convincing voters in southern and western Ohio. He knows that asserting himself as a big strong leader is what really attracts these people more than anything else. That is why he has people come up to him and say that while they don't agree with his politics, they will vote for him anyway.

We need to be more understanding of the various ethnicities and cultures all around the state. As Hackett pointed out in his MTB interview regarding the disconnect between northern and southern Ohio, that lack of understanding is killing Democrats.