Dumbing Down the Democrats

Friggin' Democrats. They managed to chase Paul Hackett out of politics this week. Maybe U.S. Rep. Sherrod Brown (D-Lorain) will now win the race to unseat U.S. Sen. Mike DeWine. Maybe not. But b

Feb 15, 2006 at 2:06 pm
Matt Borgerding

U.S. Rep. Ted Strickland (left) accepts Mayor Mark Mallory's endorsement. So far Mallory's office hasn't issued a correction.

Friggin' Democrats. They managed to chase Paul Hackett out of politics this week.

Maybe U.S. Rep. Sherrod Brown (D-Lorain) will now win the race to unseat U.S. Sen. Mike DeWine. Maybe not. But by muscling Hackett out of the primary contest after having first courted him to run for the Senate, party leaders displayed the kind of back-door manipulation that, by contrast, had made Hackett such an appealing candidate.

Brown will now ascend unchallenged to the nomination. But in the process the party managed to alienate the first of what could have been its next generation of new Democrats — someone credible on defense, a self-starter pissed off at the results of Republican leadership and able to connect with ordinary working people.

Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory was among the party leaders pressuring Hackett to drop out, but he badly bungled the job. Mallory's campaign staff issued a statement Feb. 13 congratulating Hackett for withdrawing.

"I applaud Paul Hackett for making the difficult decision to step out of the race for the U.S. Senate and to step into the race for the 2nd Congressional District," the statement said.

"Paul's passion and dedication will make him an excellent congressman for Ohio."

The first problem is Hackett hadn't withdrawn at all; that didn't happen until the next day. Mallory issued a correction an hour later. As for the 2nd District congressional race, Hackett is having nothing of it, telling The New York Times that he's through with politics.

Meanwhile, Mallory would do well to start reading the announcements and press releases bearing his name. Since taking office, his City Hall staff has developed a habit of sending press releases and soon afterward issuing corrections. His campaign staff seems to have picked up the same habit.

Last week Mallory endorsed U.S. Rep. Ted Strickland (D-Portsmouth) for governor of Ohio. As of press time, he hadn't issued a correction.

Prophetic Images and Bad Old Ideas
Will the Cincinnati Employee Art Show cause an international fury? If so, don't blame firefighter Peter Deane, who submitted a painting featuring three prophets. One is Abraham, one is Jesus and one goes unnamed, bearing the words, "I Can't Say."

"The name will be covered because, if I tell anyone, I may have to go into hiding," Deane says. "So I can't say who it is. I will fear for my life if I tell you who the third person in the painting is. Isn't that terrible, that I can't say who I am painting? I am not free to fully express myself in America without fearing for my life."

The violent protests against cartoons depicting the Muslim prophet Muhammad haven't, in fact, reached the United States. But Deane, an ardent voice for peace in both his poetry and his paintings, isn't taking any chances.

Proposing legislation without bothering to see if the desired results will be achieved is a weakness of many politicians. When then-Councilman David Pepper tried last year to make possession of small amounts of marijuana a jailable offense, the proposal never made it out of committee. Other council members were smart enough to see that it wasn't going to achieve the goal of reducing crime or getting addicts into treatment.

Now first-term Councilman Cecil Thomas seems ready to revive the idea. As chair of the Law and Public Safety Committee, he put on the committee's Feb. 14 agenda a request for a report from the city administration to "explore the possibility of creating a new ordinance" on marijuana. At present, state law imposes a small fine — about $150 — on possession of small amounts.

Activists are already organizing to oppose any move that would raise the penalty. In an e-mail sent to Thomas, Lynne Wilson rejected the argument that changing the law makes it easier for police to search suspects for pot.

"That is simply not true," Wilson wrote. "Police can search anyone with probable cause under the current law. ... Instead of going backwards in time, Cincinnati should follow what the rest of our country is doing by moving towards a more rational policy that includes making possession of marijuana a police officer's lowest priority."

Local activists aren't the only ones questioning Thomas' proposal. Karen Malovrh, national outreach coordinator for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, has issued a legislative alert asking people to contact city council members.

"For more than three decades, Ohio's state decriminalization law has served as an example for the rest of the nation," Malovrh says. "Let's not allow this unwarranted effort by a handful of members of the Cincinnati City Council to overturn this longstanding protection."

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