Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Alas, A Hackett/Brown Post

It's supposed to be a favorite of political junkies, but I'm finding the Hackett/Brown tilt increasingly dispiriting. Here's the latest.

Time Magazine's Joe Klein is making a late bid to elbow out David Sirota as the Hackettphile's Least Favorite National Commentator with a column on the race this week. Bottom line: he likes Sherrod and finds Hackett's grasp of the issues thin.

More than Hackett's grasp of the issues, the Klein piece troubled me with it's passing reference to Hackett reprising the Bin Laden line at campaign stops. When I said he deftly spun his Bin Laden gaffe, I hoped that he realized it was a gaffe. If he is comparing Parsley to Bin Laden on the stump, nothing good will come out of it. Much of what I would say on that, High and Broad has already said, so read it there. One point to add: I can't help but wonder if Hackett will be spurred to more extreme heights of rhetorical excess by Harry Reid's recent capitulation to Republican criticism.

As to Hackett's substance, I've blogged on it before. Having reviewed once again the MTB transcript, I can see Klein's point. Hackett has obviously made a study of the health care crisis and his discussion on that topic sounded good at the time. Reading the transcript again, I'm at a loss to explain why. Hackett seems to have a ten-word-or-less answer for everything. Health Care? "Look at how Europe does it." Iraq? "Bring them home now." Education? "Equitable funding across the board." I confess that I was taken in by style over substance. It doesn't happen to me very often, but it did at MTB. (And this seems to be mea culpa day at the Akron Pages.)

On the other hand, style matters in a political campaign and Klein's piece reflects the problem with Brown's:

"Anyone who calls me a demagogue on trade knows about one-tenth as much about
trade as I do," [Brown] said as we wandered through southern Ohio. I joked that
he was more an "ambulatory anachronism" than a demagogue, which occasioned a
passionate blast against media elitists like me and a terrific argument about

Klein's headsnapping next line: "What can I say? We hit it off."

Klein's affection apparently arises while watching Brown engage in the kind of personal retail politics that has consistently kept him in Congress. Problem is, more people will hear him or read about him in the media than meet him. And reading, for example, the blockquote above, most folks will take him for an arrogant jerk.

Exhibit B in that case comes (via Plunderbund) from a recent stop in Athens. In responding to a question about Hackett, Brown couldn't resist whacking the blogger hornet nest again:
He added, though, that while he likes Hackett, he is upset at the actions of
some of the people commenting on blog Web sites about the campaign. These
bloggers, Brown said, are "basically trying to get my wife fired" from the
Cleveland newspaper.

Brown added that he has talked more about Hackett in
response to that question than he has throughout his campaign, and he intends to
focus his campaign on DeWine and the Republicans.
As someone who likes Sherrod Brown, ya just wanna grab him by the lapels and say "Geez Loueeze Sherrod, do not mention the word "blogger" again until this campaign is over. Ever."

Meanwhile, the second paragraph from that quote closely tracks the line of "party officials" who are talking to National Journal's William Beutler. In a post clarifying an earlier reference to ODP officials unhappy with Democratic bloggers (a clarification occassioned by Jill), he notes that
not a few OH Dems are less interested in agonizing over whether the eventual nominee is Rep. Sherrod Brown or Iraq vet Paul Hackett. They would rather focus on making plans for how to unseat Sen. Mike DeWine (R). We heard this concern from a Dem Party official, and from a neutral observer who happens to be a blogger as well. We also heard that the Dec. race for OH Dem chair was more acrimonious this time around. At the very least, blogs raised the volume.
At this late hour, it's hard to repond to all the ways in which this is wrong. Suffice it to say, this is not the only indication lately that the ODP would like the blogs to stay on the reservation. Um. Doubtful.

Finally, Hackett is scheduled for 90.3 at Nine tomorrow. I plan to be Meeting Subodh Chandra at that time, but hopefully some one else can liveblog it, or maybe even get some audio up. No doubt it will give Hackett Mancrush victims more to cheer about and Brown fans more to fret about.


Anonymous said...

Hackett might not be precisely what we need in a candidate, but he's striking chords that resonate for me. I'm absolutely sick and tired of Dems that can't walk b/c they're afraid of stepping on their tails.

It's so bad that for many of us, Hackett's OBL analogy is good fun. We stand and say thanks, finally, someone had the courage to say, "What are we doing?" and did so in a manner that wasn't wonkish.

That's another thing I'm tired of: policy positions and white papers. Please, spare me until AFTER you win. Until then, you might as well work for Brookings. Clinton got this aspect of being a politican. he could go completely wonkish when needed, but when he campaign, he was a real human, not a policy automaton.

Alright, alright...I've run my trap enough for one night.

Anonymous said...

Overall, what Hackett said was okay except for the passing OBL reference. If you read all of Hackett's comments lately he has NOT repeated the OBL reference. Read BSB for recent articles that have been written about Hackett.

Okay Hackett said something stupid in print but if he is asked about it on the radio or television he needs to say the following: "I do regret saying OBL in the same sentence with any American. OBL needs to be hunted down like the dog he is. However, I am concerned that the GOP has been pulling away from its Barry Goldwater roots, etc. Saying something on camera or on radio is very powerful and can be used against you. For example what sunk Dean wasn't the things he said in print but it was the "Dean Scream" on camera that was played over and over.

If Hackett would say something like this, I think people would forgive the gaffe. Let's see if he has the sense to do this. However, I do not think he needs to overall apologize because that actually puts him in a even weaker place.

Anonymous said...

I'm not concerned about the OBL reference. I am concerned about his reasons for his comments about illegal immigration - whether it's wise to return people to their native land or not.

Sounds kinda jingonistic (and a bit more than dangerous) to me, no matter how you "frame" it. Then again, deifying illegal immigrants isn't a good idea either.

That's what makes me reconsider whether I should even vote for the Senatorial ticket come November (or May for that matter).

Anonymous said...

Like it or not, people often vote for style over substance. It should not be that way, but it just is.

Right now, I just want to win dammit. Don't get me wrong - substance is extremely important to me - but we get all bent out of shape over nuances in positions when the bottom line is that we never get to see how those positions play out in elected office.

To use a football analogy, the Indianapolis Colts started 13-0 and appeared to be a Super Bowl favorite. Nobody doubted that they were the best team in the AFC and very worthy to participate in the Super Bowl. But when it came to clutch time on the road to the Super Bowl, Pittsburgh got the job done and the Colts didn't. Now, all that talk during the season about how great the Colts were is for naught.

Anonymous said...

joebu that's incredibly true and something I often forget.

Then again, Hackett's latest campaign email assuaged my concerns quite a bit.