Saturday, August 06, 2005

Politics: Hackett Lost. There Is No "Bright Side"

Alright, the lefty blogs are all excited about the moral(e) victory in Ohio, because upstart Paul Hackett almost won the election against a sitting Republican. Claiming this is a harbinger of elections to come, Democrats have turned the corner and Republicans are quaking... Ain't it just grand, let's all pat each other on the back, we're taking back the House AND Senate next year...etc.

Bullshit. And here's why. In my opinion, the Democrats couldn't run a better candidate than Paul Hackett in that race -- an outsider, a self-made businessman, good-looking, straight-talking, take no crap man's man. And here is the key point -- A FUCKING RESERVE MARINE WHO RE-UPPED TO GO TO IRAQ. WENT, AND CAME BACK AND YELLED "THIS WAR IS BULLSHIT!" Unless the Democrats' minor leagues are filled with candidates like that, they are going to continue to get smoked.

And this "ultimate" candidate got a ton of free press and momentum and still lost to a damaged goods, old bat embroiled in a scandal rocking the corrupt Republican Party running the state. I don't care about what a red district this is, if we can't win that race, there is no way there should be any consolation prize.

Here's kos with some "donut" analysis:
DCCC post-mortem ignores Hackett war stance
by kos
Fri Aug 5th, 2005 at 18:08:48 EDT

David Sirota:
Hackett, an Iraq War veteran, made headlines in the campaign for taking a strong position against the original decision to go to war in Iraq, even calling the President of the United States an SOB.

And while it's true, Hackett didn't support full withdrawal from Iraq, few would deny that his position opposing the war was a key part of his campaign.

Ultimately, the anti-war position defined his candidacy, and was the clear reason he was able to do so well in such a Republican district. That should be no surprise: polls have been telling us for months that America agrees with Hackett in believing going to war in Iraq was a mistake. Meanwhile, Americans' view of President Bush's handling of Iraq is at its lowest level ever.

Incredibly, however, in a memo sent to all Democratic House Members about what Democrats should learn from the Hackett race, the DCCC makes not one mention of the Iraq War and its effect on the election. Not one. It is as if the party is going out of its way to deny the importance of Democrats taking a strong position against the war, or making the war a serious issue in their campaigns...

National Democrats have advised their candidates for two straight cycles to ignore the war and make the campaign about "health care and jobs". Yet the war issue didn't go away in 2002 or 2004, and it won't go away in 2006.

The fact that the DCCC ignores one of the most striking lessons of the Hackett race is mind-boggling. If there was such a thing as "political malpractice", they would be guilty of it.

I say "donut" analysis because kos is missing the giant freaking hole in his argument -- Paul Hackett can criticize the War and call Bush an SOB because HE WAS THERE! And that's it. Hackett's near-win on that platform does not give cover for the soft-hands local Democrat in East Wherever to run for higher office next year on an anti-war stance. Here was a uniquely qualified guy making the strongest case possible and he still lost. Next year when the Administration starts drawing down troops (whether they should or not) they'll be running on having already WON the war, what ground will that leave Dem opponents?

Look. I like Paul Hackett, I want my party to comb the country for more guys like him. He is exactly what we need. But when faced with the chance to actually support him, the Party blinked. He had to raise his money and support from the internet, and got little help from the Party. What's the lesson there? This fucking Party doesn't recognize a five-tool player when he comes knocking on the door asking to play. So, no, I'm not encouraged by this at all, it merely serves to underscore the weaknesses and blindspots of my Party top to bottom.

UPDATE [08.08]: Pinch-hitter Nick over at Ezra's place has an interesting analysis of the results and how they broke down. He concludes that Democrats would be wise to inundate local rural offices with candidates and resources (I agree) and that slowly turning those voters back to the Party is a more effective gambit than merely trying to drag urban voters to the polls (I also agree). I think his analysis discounts too much the appeal of Hackett himself as the candidate. The right guy (gal) running with a clear message and appeal is waaay more than half the battle.


Dude Quixote said...

Before you write off the meaning of Hackett's showing, please remember that Ohio's second congressional district (my hometown district) has never eleceted a democrat. In fact, the recently retired Rob Portman was just the second congressperson to serve the district in the past 30 years. And in the 15 elections during that span, no democrat has EVER gotten more than 40% of the vote. The second district is a combination of strong right-wing rural voters and ultra-rich right-wing conservatives. That Hackett made a race of it and got 48% of the vote is astounding....

Mr Furious said...

I'm not. All I am "writing off" is the fact that Hackett's strong showing has greater meaning for Democrats upsetting Republicans all over the country. Hackett's near-win DOES NOT (to me) indicate a trend or anything other than the fact that Hackett himself was a formidable candidate. He likely would have won easily in nearly any other district in the country.

Hackett's success is attributable solely to his strengths as a candidate—a lesson I fear will be lost on the Party. They are so fucking stupid, they probably think his aggressive stance hurt him...

BTW, I saw you on State Street mere moments after you penned your comment. My broken hand prevented my rolling down the window for the shout-out.

Dude Quixote said...

how does an outfielder break his hand while fielding?

Mr Furious said...

You know all that bullshit about "fundamentals," and "Use two hands!"—well, fuck that. It's strictly Ricky Henderson snatch-catches from now on.