Monday, February 20, 2006

The Good Soldier

If you thought the Hackett/Brown saga couldn’t possibly be more dispiriting, I give you today’s Toledo Blade. “Someone” from Camp Hackett leaked an opposition research paper recounting votes Brown has cast purportedly against intelligence spending.

In a normal world, this would reflect horribly on Hackett, but the politics of Hackett are far from normal. After all, his followers are nothing if not fanatically loyal. The prospect of someone leaking the information against his wishes seems a stretch. If it happened despite his wishes, it raises questions about his leadership of the campaign.

I’m hoping to do some research on the particulars of the “list.” It sounds an awful lot like similar lists that the Bush compiled about Kerry’s voting record. Recall that the Bush campaign took Kerry votes against bloated defense budgets and listed popular programs contained within as programs Kerry voted to kill. They counted in their lists peace dividend bills that Cheney voted for.

To the extent this “list” contains similar distortions, the leak is unforgivable. Hackett has made noises about wanting Brown to win and being a team player.

Meanwhile, reactions from the Hackettphile blog sector predictably range from minimization to jusification to frankly gloating.

I enjoy playing “what if” as a way of exposing right-wing hypocrisy, as in “what if Al Gore won in 2000 and spent seven minutes reading The Pet Goat? (A: Fox News puts the video on a continuous loop.) So ask yourself, if Sherrod Brown quit the race and complained about the circumstances, then oppo research mysteriously ends up in the hands of a newspaper. Hackett fans would Go. In. Sane.

In the phrase of the moment, I am now Blaming Hackett. Well in this case, it’s pretty easy to do since Hackett is quite clearly to Blame. I can’t help feeling that his followers are as well. By demonizing Brown and lionizing, nay canonizing, Hackett, they have done as much to pollute the political environment as the Brown campaign has. They talk about Brown needing to reach out to them, but they move further and further out of range. Somehow this apparently makes sense.


Anonymous said...

As a Hackett supporter, I am embarrassed to say the least. I understand the raw bitter feelings that led to this disclosure, but it still does not make it right.

I want to think that Hackett did not authorize the leaking of this document, but I don't want to fall in the same trap that many Brown supporters have in automatically thinking that he can do no wrong.

I have been stunned by those who feel that Brown can walk on water and was entitled to trumpets and red carpet. It's the same type of mindset many Republicans have for Bush. It's frightening.

One can certainly argue that many Hackett supporters are like that too, but I don't think any of us ever felt that he was entitled to trumpets and red carpet (even though many probably thought he could walk on water).

We just knew that given the work cut out for him, he likely could not afford to run against Brown. That is why Hackett made sure that Brown would not enter the race. He would have never entered the race had Brown gone in first. That's what made Brown's sudden reversal and entry into the race so maddening.

Suppose Eric Fingerhut entered the Senate race after Hackett's entry despite earlier statements to the contrary. I think that's a much different situation because Fingerhut does not have a war chest like Brown. Nobody would have cared what Fingerhut did in relation to Hackett.

Brown repeatedly refused requests to run. He often stated how he wanted to stay in Congress and become chair of the Health Subcommittee if the Dems were to retake Congress.

Hackett entered the race in good faith. The same people who recruited him told him to leave. It reminded me so much of when I spent my adolescence pulling knives out of my back in the HS school sports scene. I could not help but to sympathize with Hackett.

The point in all of this is whether the end justifies the means.

I see this Hackett/Brown fiasco much like the McCarthy/RFK fiasco in 1968. It didn't matter that RFK was liberal and stood for the right things. It didn't matter that he could have gone on to beat Nixon. It didn't matter if McCarthy could not have beaten Nixon.

All of those miss the point, which was that the way RFK jumped in the race did more to hurt the Democratic Party than to help because it seemed that he was serving his own ego first and foremost. The result was a major disenchantment for many idealistic young people who placed so much of their hopes in the Democratic Party.

The same goes for Brown. He stands for all the right things, but the way he entered the Senate race set in motion a series of events that foreseeably and inevitably led to blood being drawn by both sides. The tragic result will likely be that the people who were inspired by Hackett to get involved in politics will now leave.

I live in Brown's district and have enjoyed his service as a Congressman. I can't complain about his voting record at all. I may have found him to have a huge ego, but as they say, you don't have to like the man personally. You just need to like his politics.

Ultimately, I think once Hackett entered the race and caused so much excitement, Brown's ego somehow got rubbed the wrong way. He was not going to be the center of attention like Strickland and Hackett would be. Maybe he could not stand to see an upstart with no state or federal office experience surge ahead of him and quite possibly win a higher level seat.

Brown's supporters often make a big deal of how he truly cared about Iraq war because he always opposed it and that somehow made him better than Hackett.

Well, for the 2004 presidential race, Brown endorsed his buddy Gephardt, who was a staunch supporter of the war. It struck me at the time that here Brown was all against the Iraq war and for other progressive causes, yet he favored old stale Gephardt while much of the progressive grassroots that Brown purported to represent was supporting Dean, Clark, or Kucinich. (I was a Dean supporter myself; I read that Hackett was too).

Brown's endorsement sent me a clear signal that progressive causes were not his #1 priority. Instead, the endorsement signaled that he valued good-old-boy club friendship first.

54cermak said...

Joebu... While I disagreed with Brown on endorsing Gephardt, I wouldn't be so cynical to suggest that he was abandoning progressive causes. His endorsement made a lot of sense to me considering that Gephardt and Brown are two of the best allies that labor had in the House. For all his faults on the war, Gep was right with Brown on issues of trade and the economy and right or wrong, Brown felt that supporting someone who was with him on those issues trumped all else.

Anonymous said...

So you expect the party machinations to work smoothly with no blowback? This ousting of Hackett will go down as one of the dumbest things Dems have done, and there should be consequences for it.

Hell, you think this is bad? Wait until Rove gets ahold of this race. Brown and company need to tune up the liberal voting record talking points and this is the perfect impetus.

I don't like this kind of inter-party politics, but let's remember who started it and why...

Ohio 2nd said...

You are assuming facts not in evidence. The article does not indicate that anyone within the Hackett camp leaked the information. It says that a consultant conducted the research.

If someone within the Hackett campaign leaked the information, why wouldn't the article indicate that fact?

The timing of the article and its coordinated use to discredit Paul Hackett makes me question this entire exercise.

Unknown said...

I'm not trying to be obtuse here, but really I don't see what the huge deal is given a) it's public records and b) it states that Brown voted the party line the majority of the time and c) while the Republicans may be acting like this is "news" I'm sure they already had this information.

I really liked Paul Hackett and I've tried to stay out of most of the Brown V Hackett blog debates because I think both sides are responsible for some of the hard feelings. While I understand those who want to debate/discuss it, if it gets to the point where it seems like the only one benefiting from all of this strife is the GOP? It might be time to take a step back and look at what is the desired goal here.

I know I've written this other places and I'm sorry if it seems like I'm repeating myself but...Paul Hackett did say he would rather see Sherrod Brown win than Mike DeWine. Until I hear a statement otherwise from Paul Hackett? That is the impression I'm left with and while I don't know how much I will do get behind Sherrod (I'm being honest) I think the cold hard reality is Brown or DeWine.

Anonymous said...


Aren't you jumping to conclusions here. Even Kos who is the Brown camp said this is NOT FROM HACKETT.

Anonymous said...

DeWine's camp already has a thick file that included what Hackett "allegedly (ALLEDGEDLY -- THE greatest word ever invented in the English Language)leaked" out, and the fact that Hackett did DeWine's dirty work for him (and DeWine should have more where that came from, most of it given by Sherrod himself due to his own stupdity since Sherrod was caught "Brown-Handed" plagerizing a blogger when he wrote to DeWine opposing the Alito nomination, so most of the political wounds so far are self inflicted ever since he began:

1) "I am not going to run for US Senate."

2) Reversed course when he sided with the GOP to vote for a ban to make flag Burning illegal (the proper way to "retire" a worn American Flag is to cut out the Field, cut it in even strips and then can ceremonially burn it with Honors -- though I find it personally abhorant that protesters "Here In America" do burn the flag, it is a First Ammendment Contitutional Right to do so).

3)Plagerized a blogger which made me question whether Sherrod had any original thoughts after 13 years or so in the Senate.

4. lost Ohio SOS reelection to Bob Taft for Secretary of State.

5. Blackmailed Ohio GOP lawmakers into giving him a "safe 13 Congressional District" and in return he "promised not to run for statewide election", though US Senate is not a statewide level office and I realize that it is a Federal Level, and besides, in 2010 Ohio will be losing one if not two Congressional seats and with the GOP firmly in control, Sherrod would have been pit up against Dennis K or Marcy K. like they did to Tom Sawyer and Trafficant.

6. Wanted despirately to have the d's retain control the House of Representatives so that he could become chair of the Health committee that he is on and take care of the health care pet projects he has fought so long and hard for (can do the same in the Senate, but is taking a real risk not winning as polls are now showing a widening chasm and DeWine has not even laid a glove on him yet -- my 2 cents being wait for Voinovich's seat to open up, but Sherrrod ain't getting any younger and although the BROWN surname in Ohio politics is historically golden, Ohio has become more of a John Wayne state, not Jane Fonda and the only solidly Blue County is Cuyahoga -- and anything south of the Sprauge Road Border Line in Parma is DeWine Country).


Anonymous said...


Should Read

3)Plagerized a blogger which made me question whether Sherrod had any original thoughts after 13 years or so in the US HOUSE.

[My Sincerest Apologies To All]


Scott Piepho said...

O2 and Anon:

I believe Hackett has a moral responsibility for this mess. The report was compiled from he campaign and his campaign had control of the information. Either he authorized its release or he failed to prevent its release. The former is churlish behavior; the latter reflects a level of disarray in Camp Hackett consistent with the PD story.

Besides, Eric sure seems to think it came from Hackett.


The big deal is if the "report" contains the same distortions Bush used against Kerry. To have a Democrat mischaracterize votes makes it that much harder to correct the record. That was the central theme of the post.

Anonymous said...


If Brown can't defend his own votes than game over for him in the general.

To me it is not that big of a deal.

Anonymous said...

Aren't you being a little dramatic?

What is worst...someone whispering untrues about your war record or someone discussing your public knowledge voting record?

Scott Piepho said...

OK, one more time.

I am hypothesizing that at least some of the votes on Hackett's list represent the same sorts of distortions Bush used against Kerry. And if that is true, whoever leaked the list did a great disservice to the party as well as to Brown.

You are free to disagree with me, but please disagree with an argument I actually made.

Ohio 2nd said...

It's not "Hackett's" list. Some consultant wrote it. It was his list. Someone leaked it. Who? Why? I don't know. You don't know.