Thursday, February 16, 2006

Iraq Vet screwed by politics as by war

The Hackett tragedy in Ohio should be a lesson to all
those of us who want to see Iraq Vets once more used
as a bullet, this time against the Republican Right. I
deeply regret how he got screwed and sacrificed,
especially after he showed the way to others in his
Congressional bid. There's no reason why he couldn't
be a great Senator, except that some guy who stayed
home while Hackett was at the front and quiet while
Hackett took on Bush, named Brown is now muscleing in
with all the Political contacts he madfe while Hacket
was making "contact" with the enemy. I won't make any
further comment except to say that I hope you all read
the articles I appended bleow and discuss them on YOU
NMJVETCAUCUS site-- RIGHT HERE!

Copyright 2006 Bulletin News Network, Inc.
The Frontrunner

February 14, 2006 Tuesday

SECTION: US SENATE

LENGTH: 584 words

HEADLINE: OH: Citing Democrats' "Betrayal," Hackett
Withdraws From Senate Race, Politics

BODY:

The New York Times (2/14, Urbina, 1.19M) reports that
Paul Hackett (D), "an Iraq war veteran and popular
Democratic candidate in Ohio's closely watched Senate
contest, said yesterday that he was dropping out of
the race and leaving politics altogether as a result
of pressure from party leaders. Mr. Hackett said
Senators Charles E. Schumer of New York and Harry Reid
of Nevada, the same party leaders who he said
persuaded him last August to enter the Senate race,
had pushed him to step aside so that" OH13 Rep.
Sherrod Brown (D) could challenge Ohio Sen. Mike
DeWine (R). Hackett said, "This is an extremely
disappointing decision that I feel has been forced on
me." He "said he was outraged to learn that party
leaders were calling his donors and asking them to
stop giving and said he would not enter the" OH2 race.
Hackett said, "For me, this is a second betrayal.
First, my government misused and mismanaged the
military in Iraq, and now my own party is afraid to
support candidates like me."

The AP (2/14) relates that Hackett "declared his
candidacy for" DeWine's "seat after it
appeared...Brown would not run. Brown declared his
Senate candidacy shortly after that, however, and
national Democrats privately began urging Hackett to
step aside. On Sunday, some national Democrats made
those requests publicly."

Roll Call (2/14, Whittington) adds that Hackett
"garnered national attention for his
better-than-expected performance in an August special
election contest that" Jean Schmidt (R) "narrowly won.
... If Hackett does drop back to the House race, he is
not automatically guaranteed to face Schmidt again.
Schmidt faces a primary with former Rep. Bob McEwen
(R), who finished a close second to her in the special
election GOP primary."

Hackett Cancels Scheduled Appearance On MSNBC's
"Hardball."

A report on the blog at the site of the Cleveland
Plain Dealer (2/13, Auster, 375K) relates that MSNBC
has confirmed that Hackett "has canceled an appearance
later today on Chris Matthews' 'Hardball' program.
Emily Marx, who works in MSNBC's media relations
department, says the cable network got an apology for
the cancellation from Hackett, but not an
explanation."

Democrats Criticized Over Effort To Push Hackett From
Senate Contest.

Tim Dickinson wrote in a "National Affairs Daily"
column at the website of Rolling Stone (2/13) that
national Democrats have been urging Hackett to drop
his Senate bid and enter the OH2 race believing that
Hackett "is the only guy who has a chance of picking
off Schmidt in blood-red suburban Cincinnati, while"
Brown "also stands a strong chance of unseating"
DeWine. But "this is exactly the kind of tepid
politics that will relegate the Democrats to permanent
minority status in Congress. The party has in Hackett
the Barack Obama of 2006 -- an infinitely marketable
rising star. And Hackett's biggest upside is that his
unimpeachable patriotism helps inoculate the entire
party against charges of being pussies on national
security issues, and his leadership might even help
the party craft a coherent stance on the Iraq war."
Dickinson added, "The real issue, it seems to me, is
that Hackett is a loose canon. He swears. He says
impolitic, un-poll-tested things. He criticizes the
party leadership for steering the Democrats into an
electoral ditch. ... Committing to a candidate like
Hackett means committing to changing business as usual
-- and despite their mounting losses, the Democratic
establishment seems to have an unholy commitment to
the status quo."

***************************************************
Copyright 2006 Gannett Company, Inc.
All Rights Reserved
Gannett News Service

February 15, 2006 Wednesday

SECTION: Pg. ARC

LENGTH: 895 words

HEADLINE: Democrats mourn, cheer Hackett's exit from
race

BYLINE: MALIA RULON

DATELINE: WASHINGTON

BODY:

Less than a year after getting into politics, Indian
Hill lawyer and Iraq war veteran Paul Hackett called
it quits on Tuesday, exiting his race for the U.S.
Senate and declaring that he also won't seek election
to the U.S. House.

In an e-mail sent to supporters, Hackett said that his
decision to withdraw from the race was made
"reluctantly, only after repeated requests by party
leaders, as well as behind the scenes machinations,
that were intended to hurt" his campaign.

But Hackett stunned Democratic political leaders by
declaring that he also would not challenge Rep. Jean
Schmidt again in the 2nd Congressional District. The
filing deadline for Ohio candidates is Thursday.

Hackett had gained nationwide attention and almost
celebrity-like popularity among grass-roots Democrats
and Internet bloggers for his closer-than-expected
loss to Schmidt, R-Miami Township, in the nearly
2-to-1 Republican district during last year's special
election.

"It's really unfortunate, because he has a lot to
offer as a candidate," said Tim Burke, chairman of the
Hamilton County Democratic Party, who had hoped
Hackett would get out of the Senate race and into the
2nd District contest.

Hackett's exit essentially deprives the Democrats of a
well-known and potentially winnable candidate in the
2nd District. Democrats running for the seat include
Victoria Wulsin, Thor Jacobs, Jim Parker, Gabrielle
Downey and Jeff Sinnard.

It also allows Democratic Rep. Sherrod Brown of
northern Ohio to avoid a costly and potentially
bruising primary battle and instead focus on taking on
two-term GOP Sen. Mike DeWine of Cedarville this fall.
DeWine, who has been attacked by conservative
Republicans for his stance on judicial nominees,
already is considered vulnerable.

Some Republicans, however, suggested that Hackett's
exit is good news for DeWine because it's better to
run against a longtime congressman with a liberal
voting history than a political newcomer like Hackett,
who was considered more of a wild card.

"Brown is a known commodity," said National Republican
Senatorial Committee spokesman Dan Ronayne. "He's a
better draw for Senator DeWine because Sherrod Brown
has a record that demonstrates he's fundamentally out
of step with the state."

Outside the Senate chamber, Minority Leader Harry
Reid, D-Nev., said he was sorry to see Hackett go but
glad that Brown won't face a primary battle on May 2.
In the closely divided Senate, Democrats only need to
pick up a few seats to regain power in the
GOP-dominated chamber. Reid, however, downplayed the
party's attempts to get Hackett out of the Senate
race.

"I've talked to him in previous occasions about
whether he would be interested in going for the House
seat that he ran for before, but ... this had to be a
personal decision of his," Reid said, adding that he
found Hackett "a real genuine kind of guy."

But Hackett faced the political reality of having to
raise enough money to be a force against Brown's $2
million-plus campaign war chest and DeWine's $4
million-plus campaign account. As of the end of the
year, Hackett had about $230,000 to spend.

"He wasn't going to win; it just wasn't in the cards,"
Burke said. "Look at the money Sherrod has, the
experience as a statewide candidate. And he comes from
northeast Ohio, which is where the Democratic primary
votes are in Ohio. Somehow, Paul couldn't see that."

Cynthia S. Robertson, a Terrace Park Democrat who gave
$500 to Hackett last June and another $500 in
December, said she was sorry to see Hackett drop out.

"I'm very disappointed," Robertson said. "On the other
hand, the way politics has been played lately, it's
understandable that a person of integrity and faith
would have a problem."

Thomas M. Jenkins, a retired mathematics professor who
lives in Miami Township and had given $1,500 to
Hackett's campaigns agreed, saying it's too bad that
the Democratic Party lost a candidate with Hackett's
style.

"It's just sad because I thought he'd have been a
fresh face and he had some good things to say,"
Jenkins said.

Bloggers, meanwhile, weren't short of things to say
about Hackett's departure. Chris Baker, a computer
consultant from Dayton who writes the pro-Hackett Ohio
2nd blog lashed out at the party brass for pushing
Hackett out.

"I hope they know what they are doing, because I
don't," he wrote. "It's been a good run. For a while,
I was proud to be an Ohio Democrat."

Brown, a seven-term congressman from northern Ohio,
declined to speak to the Cincinnati Enquirer about
Hackett's departure and instead said in an e-mail,
"This was never about Paul Hackett or me. This is
about the hard working people of Ohio."

DeWine, meanwhile, seemed unfazed by Hackett's
departure, explaining that he expected a tough race
regardless of whether he went up against Brown or
Hackett.

"They're both strong candidates," DeWine said,
flashing a grin. "I'll be prepared in the fall against
whoever the nominee is."

Allen Freeman, Schmidt's campaign manager, said
Hackett's departure is "good news for us."

--

Contributing: Howard Wilkinson, Cincinnati Enquirer

*************************************************

Copyright 2006 Gannett Company, Inc.
All Rights Reserved
Gannett News Service

February 15, 2006 Wednesday

SECTION: Pg. ARC

LENGTH: 895 words

HEADLINE: Democrats mourn, cheer Hackett's exit from
race

BYLINE: MALIA RULON

DATELINE: WASHINGTON

BODY:

Less than a year after getting into politics, Indian
Hill lawyer and Iraq war veteran Paul Hackett called
it quits on Tuesday, exiting his race for the U.S.
Senate and declaring that he also won't seek election
to the U.S. House.

In an e-mail sent to supporters, Hackett said that his
decision to withdraw from the race was made
"reluctantly, only after repeated requests by party
leaders, as well as behind the scenes machinations,
that were intended to hurt" his campaign.

But Hackett stunned Democratic political leaders by
declaring that he also would not challenge Rep. Jean
Schmidt again in the 2nd Congressional District. The
filing deadline for Ohio candidates is Thursday.

Hackett had gained nationwide attention and almost
celebrity-like popularity among grass-roots Democrats
and Internet bloggers for his closer-than-expected
loss to Schmidt, R-Miami Township, in the nearly
2-to-1 Republican district during last year's special
election.

"It's really unfortunate, because he has a lot to
offer as a candidate," said Tim Burke, chairman of the
Hamilton County Democratic Party, who had hoped
Hackett would get out of the Senate race and into the
2nd District contest.

Hackett's exit essentially deprives the Democrats of a
well-known and potentially winnable candidate in the
2nd District. Democrats running for the seat include
Victoria Wulsin, Thor Jacobs, Jim Parker, Gabrielle
Downey and Jeff Sinnard.

It also allows Democratic Rep. Sherrod Brown of
northern Ohio to avoid a costly and potentially
bruising primary battle and instead focus on taking on
two-term GOP Sen. Mike DeWine of Cedarville this fall.
DeWine, who has been attacked by conservative
Republicans for his stance on judicial nominees,
already is considered vulnerable.

Some Republicans, however, suggested that Hackett's
exit is good news for DeWine because it's better to
run against a longtime congressman with a liberal
voting history than a political newcomer like Hackett,
who was considered more of a wild card.

"Brown is a known commodity," said National Republican
Senatorial Committee spokesman Dan Ronayne. "He's a
better draw for Senator DeWine because Sherrod Brown
has a record that demonstrates he's fundamentally out
of step with the state."

Outside the Senate chamber, Minority Leader Harry
Reid, D-Nev., said he was sorry to see Hackett go but
glad that Brown won't face a primary battle on May 2.
In the closely divided Senate, Democrats only need to
pick up a few seats to regain power in the
GOP-dominated chamber. Reid, however, downplayed the
party's attempts to get Hackett out of the Senate
race.

"I've talked to him in previous occasions about
whether he would be interested in going for the House
seat that he ran for before, but ... this had to be a
personal decision of his," Reid said, adding that he
found Hackett "a real genuine kind of guy."

But Hackett faced the political reality of having to
raise enough money to be a force against Brown's $2
million-plus campaign war chest and DeWine's $4
million-plus campaign account. As of the end of the
year, Hackett had about $230,000 to spend.

"He wasn't going to win; it just wasn't in the cards,"
Burke said. "Look at the money Sherrod has, the
experience as a statewide candidate. And he comes from
northeast Ohio, which is where the Democratic primary
votes are in Ohio. Somehow, Paul couldn't see that."

Cynthia S. Robertson, a Terrace Park Democrat who gave
$500 to Hackett last June and another $500 in
December, said she was sorry to see Hackett drop out.

"I'm very disappointed," Robertson said. "On the other
hand, the way politics has been played lately, it's
understandable that a person of integrity and faith
would have a problem."

Thomas M. Jenkins, a retired mathematics professor who
lives in Miami Township and had given $1,500 to
Hackett's campaigns agreed, saying it's too bad that
the Democratic Party lost a candidate with Hackett's
style.

"It's just sad because I thought he'd have been a
fresh face and he had some good things to say,"
Jenkins said.

Bloggers, meanwhile, weren't short of things to say
about Hackett's departure. Chris Baker, a computer
consultant from Dayton who writes the pro-Hackett Ohio
2nd blog lashed out at the party brass for pushing
Hackett out.

"I hope they know what they are doing, because I
don't," he wrote. "It's been a good run. For a while,
I was proud to be an Ohio Democrat."

Brown, a seven-term congressman from northern Ohio,
declined to speak to the Cincinnati Enquirer about
Hackett's departure and instead said in an e-mail,
"This was never about Paul Hackett or me. This is
about the hard working people of Ohio."

DeWine, meanwhile, seemed unfazed by Hackett's
departure, explaining that he expected a tough race
regardless of whether he went up against Brown or
Hackett.

"They're both strong candidates," DeWine said,
flashing a grin. "I'll be prepared in the fall against
whoever the nominee is."

Allen Freeman, Schmidt's campaign manager, said
Hackett's departure is "good news for us."

--

Contributing: Howard Wilkinson, Cincinnati Enquirer

--

*************************************************
Copyright 2006 U.P.I.
All Rights Reserved

UPI

February 15, 2006 Wednesday 7:37 PM EST

LENGTH: 971 words

HEADLINE: Analysis: Hackett Ohio fiasco rocks Dems

BYLINE: MARTIN SIEFF

DATELINE: WASHINGTON, Feb. 15

BODY:

Paul Hackett's angry decision to withdraw from the
Senate race in Ohio is a devastating blow for the
Democratic Party and may even have profound long-term
repercussions on American politics.

It opens the door to the very real possibility that
opposition to the war, and to any possible conflict
with Iran, will focus on a new Third Party populist
movement that could reach the scale of the H. Ross
Perot movement in the 1990s but be far more
passionate. And that could cripple the Democrats'
hopes, and even expectations of regaining the White
House in 2008.

It must have seemed like business as usual for the
liberal national political establishment of the
Democratic Party when they relentlessly built up the
pressure for Hackett to withdraw from the race to
clear the way for their own favorite, Rep. Sherrold
Brown of Ohio in the contest to choose a candidate to
run against incumbent Sen. Mike DeWine, R-Ohio.

Brown has been the subject of an increasing number of
fawning profiles in the national U.S. press penned by
liberal democratic loyalists. And party heavyweights
like Sen. Charles Schumer of New York, a close ally of
his fellow New York Democratic senator Hillary
Clinton, and Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., chairman of
the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, on
Sunday turned on the direct pressure urging Hackett, a
political neophyte and a lieutenant colonel in the
Marine Reserves, to withdraw for the supposedly
"stronger" candidate.

And in the time-honored tradition of politics as usual
Hackett was offered all the usual carrots and
sweeteners for falling on his sword. Emmanuel urged
him to run again for Schmidt's House seat in the
Second District instead.

But Hackett was no politics as usual kind of guy. He
pulled out of the race all right -- but in an angry
statement -- that blasted his many opponents within
the Democratic national establishment for undermining
his candidacy. "At the end of the day, my word is my
bond and I will take it to my grave," he said.

The impact of Hackett's withdrawal is obvious. He may
have been a newcomer to the political scene, but he
had enormous popularity and potential: He came from
nowhere to run Republican Rep. Jean Schmidt a very
close second entirely unexpectedly in the race for her
House seat. His strong showing confirmed the strength
and potential in Democratic National Committee
Chairman Howard Dean's strategy of trying to harness
popular anger and frustration about the continuing war
in Iraq for the Democratic Party by running Iraq War
vets like Hackett in House races around the country.

But far beyond that, Hackett's remarkable strong
showing against Schmidt and his evident charisma and
popularity in the campaign trail gave the Democratic
Party the prospect of getting back on the political
map in Ohio, the crucial swing state in the most
crucial swing political region in the nation.

Hackett was clearly the most popular and strongest
candidate the Dems had for taking the open Ohio Senate
seat in the November 2006 midterm election. Ohio was
the vital swing state that decided the 2004
presidential election and remains essential win
territory for a Democratic Party now almost totally
shut out of the Republican Solid South.

But Hackett was too successful in breaking the
traditional mold of Democratic campaign politics.
Despite two humiliating defeats in national
presidential elections they had every opportunity to
win, and despite six sweeping national defeats in
contests for the House of Representatives, the old
Democratic liberal establishment showed in its
treatment of Hackett that, like the Bourbon kings of
France 200 years ago, it had learned nothing and
forgotten nothing.

It appears also that the party's ruling elders once
again completely failed to appreciate the strength of
popular feeling in Ohio and around the country about
the Iraq war and the hunger for them to run fresh
blood with new things to say and do.

Political blogs across the nation are red hot with
debate over Hackett's withdrawal.

"Democrats are shooting their own," Dave Lindorff
wrote in International Labor Communications
Association Online Tuesday. "... The Democratic
Party's killing off of progressive congressional
candidate sis something worse than treacherous:
suicide."

Lindorff also noted, "Party leaders, including Sen.
Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., recently pressured Cindy
Sheehan (the anti Iraq War activist whose son was
killed serving in the conflict) not to mount a primary
campaign against California Sen. Diane Feinstein."

Lindorff alleged, "For months, the Democratic National
Committee and the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee
chair Sen. Schumer, have been working behind the
scenes to undermine Hackett's campaign in favor of
Rep. ... Brown."

And Phil Ewing wrote in the Post Online student
newspaper in Athens, Ohio Wednesday, "Not only have
Democrats guaranteed another term for incumbent Sen.
... De Wine ... they've extinguished one of the
brightest new stars in their party's constellation."

Hackett came from the traditionally Republican
southwest region of Ohio and Ewing concluded that his
departure from the race in such contentious
circumstances "probably will mean a fatally poor
showing in the powerful new suburban metroplex along
I-75 between Cincinnati and Dayton "

The Hackett fiasco may well doom the Democrats to
losing the Senate race in Ohio this November. But it
also highlights the broader pattern of the party's
liberal Old Guard refusing to open its doors to the
new generation of angry patriots like Hackett and
Sheehan who had offered their services to it. Far from
benefiting from anger against the Iraq war and other
policies of the Bush administration, the national
Democrats may be fated to become targets for it. If
that happens, their many critics will certainly say
they have no one to blame but themselves.

****************************************************
Copyright 2006 Roll Call, Inc.
Roll Call

February 15, 2006 Wednesday

LENGTH: 1606 words

HEADLINE: Vets Miffed by Hackett's Decision

BYLINE: Lauren W. Whittington, and Josh Kurtz ROLL
CALL STAFF

BODY:

Iraq war veteran Paul Hackett's (D) abrupt withdrawal
from the Ohio Senate race late Monday sparked an
outcry from some liberal activists and at least one
group supporting candidates who are military veterans
- even though some Democratic leaders are privately
relieved because they think it avoids a bloody
primary.

Hackett had faced growing public and private pressure
in recent days to drop his statewide bid in favor of
another run against Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Ohio), whom
he narrowly lost to in a special election where he
garnered national attention last August.

But in exiting the race, Hackett said he was done
seeking elected office and he chastised Democratic
leaders, whom he charged with exerting undue pressure
on him to abandon the Senate race.

"I made this decision reluctantly, only after repeated
requests by party leaders, as well as
behind-the-scenes machinations, that were intended to
hurt my campaign," Hackett said in a statement.

Hackett's departure from the Senate race comes as
military veterans in a handful of lower-profile races
around the country have been subtly or not-so-subtly
pushed aside in favor of candidates who are viewed as
stronger general election nominees.

Democratic leaders, however, denied any political
sabotage in the Ohio race and praised Hackett's
decision, which leaves Rep. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) as
the likely nominee against Sen. Mike DeWine (R-Ohio)
in November.

Brown, who formally entered the race after Hackett had
been recruited to run, has the strong backing of the
state Democratic establishment and organized labor as
well as a campaign war chest of close to $2.4 million.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said
Tuesday he was surprised to hear that Hackett had
lashed out at party leaders and that the one-time
candidate had not made his concerns known to him
directly. Noting that he had helped recruit Hackett
into the Senate race, Reid did express regret that the
situation had unfolded as it did, telling reporters
that he "is very sorry" if Hackett believes national
leaders pushed him out.

"I certainly never said 'You should get out of the
race,'" Reid said.

The Democratic leader did, however, sidestep questions
about whether Brown is a better candidate, saying
simply "He's the only candidate in the race so I
assume he's the best candidate."

On Tuesday, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign
Committee released the head-to-head results of a
survey taken earlier this month that showed Brown with
a 44 percent to 41 percent lead over DeWine, who is
seeking a third term this fall.

DSCC spokesman Phil Singer called Hackett's decision
"statesman-like" and reiterated that "neither the DSCC
nor [Chairman Charles] Schumer [(N.Y.)] reached out to
donors to ask them to take sides in this race," a
charge that Hackett had leveled in press reports
Tuesday.

At the same time Republicans wasted little time in
pouncing on Brown now that it is clear he will face
DeWine in November.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee released
a statement painting the seven-term Congressman and
former Ohio secretary of state as too liberal to be
elected statewide.

"The [Democratic] party bosses dumped a candidate with
mainstream vote-getting potential for one of their
most liberal members," said NRSC spokesman Dan
Ronayne.

But Hackett is not the only Iraq war veteran to get
out of a Congressional race this week.

Just last weekend Iraq war veteran and attorney David
Ashe (D) dropped his campaign for a rematch with
freshman Rep. Thelma Drake (R) in Virginia's 2nd
district. Ashe garnered 45 percent of the vote against
Drake in 2004, in a late-developing open-seat race
sparked by the last-minute retirement of then-Rep. Ed
Schrock (R-Va.).

According to a local newspaper report, Ashe's decision
was based primarily on the fact that he has been
offered a position in the new administration of Gov.
Tim Kaine (D). He did not specify what the position
was but his move clears the field for Virginia Beach
Commissioner of Revenue Phillip Kellam (D), who had
been viewed as party insiders' preferred nominee.
Kellam is a political legacy whose family is well
known in the Tidewater area.

Meanwhile, in New York's 29th district, it briefly
appeared this week as if retired Navy commander Eric
Massa (D) might be getting pushed aside within the
Democratic establishment in favor of a self-funding
candidate in the race against freshman Rep. Randy Kuhl
(R-N.Y.).

On Monday, Democratic officials released a news
release from businessman David Nachbar in which he
announced that he would challenge Massa for the
nomination.

Privately, Democratic Congressional leaders had high
hopes for Nachbar, an executive at the Bausch & Lomb
eye products company who was expected to pour at least
$100,000 of his own money into the race. But problems
with his candidacy became immediately apparent Tuesday
morning.

Nachbar is an unaffiliated voter, not a registered
Democrat, meaning he would have to go through
extraordinary measures to get on the Sept. 12 primary
ballot - an effort that would have been complicated by
the fact that seven of the eight county Democratic
chairmen in the expansive 29th district had already
endorsed Massa.

A high-ranking New York Democratic official who did
not want to be named said state party leaders were
huddling with lawyers Tuesday afternoon to determine
whether the county chairmen had the ability to put
Nachbar on the ballot - a scenario that would have
worked to Massa's advantage - or whether the full
Democratic committees in each county had the
responsibility to determine whether he could compete.

But the fact-finding would prove to be moot. Nachbar
said Tuesday night that he would not run because he
did not want to be "a divisive force."

"The thought that I had in mind was to defeat Randy
Kuhl in November," he said.

Massa, who served in the Persian Gulf war and also was
the top aide to Ret. Gen. Wesley Clark when Clark was
Supreme Allied Commander, has been campaigning against
Kuhl for more than a year, impressing party leaders
with his passion and hard work. But while he had
received the endorsement of his former boss and other
military veterans like ex-Sen. Max Cleland (D-Ga.),
some Congressional Democrats had worried about Massa's
fundraising ability. Through Dec. 31, he had just
$88,000 on hand, compared to Kuhl's $421,000.

But Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee
officials are prepared to rally around Massa now.

"Massa has a strong organization, the overwhelming
support of county leaders and the national security
credentials to take on Randy Kuhl," said DCCC
spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki.

Meanwhile, in Pennsylvania, Democratic leaders had to
intervene when they had one too many military veterans
seeking to take on Rep. Curt Weldon (R-Pa.).

Last week Iraq war veteran and attorney Bryan Lentz
(D) announced he was getting out of Pennsylvania's 7th
district race after conversations with local party
leaders and Gov. Ed Rendell (D). Instead, the
41-year-old Army Reserve major will run for state
House this year.

Lentz's departure leaves retired three-star Vice Adm.
Joseph Sestak, 54, as the likely nominee against
Weldon in a district that voted for Sen. John Kerry
(D-Mass.) in the 2004 presidential contest. Sestak,
who served in Afghanistan, announced two weeks ago
that he was running.

Democratic consultant Bob Doyle, whose clients include
Massa and Kellam, said that the fact that the party
has too many interested candidates in some races is a
welcome sign after two cycles where the party lost
House and Senate seats. He also sees it as a signal
that the current national political environment will
produce Democratic gains this November.

"It's indicative of the cycle that we're in," he said.
"Democrats are clearly energized and are on the
offense... and our recruiting has really shown that."

Democratic party strategists say they remain
supportive of veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan
conflicts running for office and point to a number of
races where they are touting veteran candidates.

Iraq war veteran Tammy Duckworth, who is running in
the open seat contest in Illinois' 6th district, is
perhaps their highest-profile recruit.

The party is also touting veterans running against
Republican Reps. Robin Hayes (N.C.), Michael
Fitzpatrick (Pa.) and Anne Northup (Ky.), although
those races have yet to develop into first or even
second-tier contests.

Still, there was audible disappointment stemming from
Hackett's decision from at least one group seeking to
elect veterans this cycle. In a statement, Jon Soltz,
executive director of the Iraq and Afghanistan
Veterans of America Political Action Committee
described the circumstances surrounding Hackett's
departure as "an outrage."

"The good news is that there are still a number of
Iraq and Afghanistan veterans running for office
around the nation," Soltz said. "We are committed to
getting these patriots the early institutional support
they need, because it is becoming abundantly clear
that the party leadership has no interest in them."

Ohio-based Democratic strategist Dale Butland, who had
signed onto Hackett's campaign last month, said he was
more concerned about his party's leadership's
unwillingness to let the primary process play itself
out.

He warned that the handling of the Hackett situation
could keep some of the Democratic base home from the
polls and thus hinder the party's ability to win in
November.

"From a political point of view this sort of bossism
is really kind of dumb," he said.

He added: "We've taken a guy who was a rising star and
we've turned him into a fallen star. It doesn't make
any sense to me."

John Stanton contributed to this report.

**************************************************
WHY DEMOCRATS LOVE THE MILITARY.
Magic Bullet
by Jason Zengerle
Post date: 01.30.06
Issue date: 02.06.06
[ Editor's Note: This article has been corrected. ]

t was a cold night in December, and Patrick Murphy was
standing in the back room of a downtown Philadelphia
bar. As usual, he was telling war stories. It had been
nearly two years since Murphy returned from Iraq,
where he served as a JAG officer in the 82nd Airborne,
but the memories of his time there were still fresh,
and, as he mingled about the room, he shared them with
many of those he met. He told of leading convoys
through a section of Baghdad called "Ambush Alley" and
of prosecuting cases before Iraq's Central Criminal
Court. "When I was in Iraq," Murphy would almost
invariably say at the outset of each new
conversation--and then he would launch into another
tale.

But, even though his stories grew repetitious, no one
seemed to mind. Far from perceiving Murphy as a bore,
his interlocutors listened to him with rapt attention.
They were mostly young professionals, just off work
from nearby law firms and corporate offices, and, in
their world, Murphy was a unique figure and someone of
considerable interest. "I don't think I know anybody
who's fought in Iraq, except maybe my friend's
brother," a twentysomething named Brian Gralnick, who
works for the Pennsylvania Department of Aging, told
me not long after Murphy had bent his ear. "Just to
hear the perspective of someone who's actually been
there and has that kind of credibility is extremely
valuable."

So valuable, in fact, that he and the other people in
the bar's back room were willing to pay for the
privilege--with a suggested $50 contribution to
Murphy's congressional campaign. Murphy is running in
Pennsylvania's eighth district, which is made up
almost entirely of Bucks County, home to some of
Philadelphia's most affluent suburbs. Although Murphy
is only 32 years old and has no prior political
experience (save a brief stint as a volunteer for John
Kerry in 2004), he is considered by many to be the
front-runner in the three-candidate Democratic
primary; and, if he wins the primary in May, political
handicappers believe Murphy would pose a legitimate
challenge in November to the one-term Republican
incumbent, Mike Fitzpatrick. With more than $260,000
in contributions--the event at the bar, which was
hosted by Philadelphia's Young Democratic Networking
Corps, netted about $5,000--Murphy is off to an
impressive start for a challenger in that district.

Murphy is stumping on a familiar litany of Democratic
campaign issues, from raising the minimum wage to
supporting a woman's right to choose. But the
centerpiece of his campaign is Iraq. "To win the war
on terror," Murphy likes to say, "we need to get the
hell out of Iraq." Specifically, he has called for the
removal of all National Guard and Reserve units by the
summer and the withdrawal of 50,000 additional troops
by the year's end. And, for those who may disagree
with his plan--including the Republican representative
he hopes to unseat--Murphy's response is simple. He
touts his personal experience. "Mike Fitzpatrick, no
matter how many briefings he can sit in on in
Washington, D.C., will never know what I know, and I
know the truth," Murphy told me. "I've seen it with my
own eyes. I walked it in my own combat boots."

Murphy isn't the only Democratic congressional
candidate telling war stories these days. Eight other
veterans of the Iraq war are running for the U.S.
House of Representatives as Democrats (so far, only
one Iraq war vet, Van Taylor, a challenger for Texas's
17th congressional district, is running as a
Republican). And, while there are differences among
these Democratic veteran candidates, like Murphy, they
have all made their military service a central facet
of their campaigns--and have relied on it to bolster
their criticisms, which vary in intensity, of the war
and the Bush administration in general.

This development has sparked considerable excitement
among the Democratic faithful, who believe that the
vet candidates are uniquely equipped to solve the
perception that their party is not only weak on
national security, but also that it is weak when it
comes to battling Republicans on other issues. Dubbed
the "Fighting Dems" or "Macho Democrats," the Iraq war
vets--and more than 40 other Democratic candidates who
are veterans of the Armed Forces--are routinely hailed
on popular liberal blogs; they are featured on Air
America radio shows; and, last month, the Band of
Brothers 2006 PAC was formed with a goal of raising $3
million to support Democratic veterans running for
office this year. "A macho Democrat," John Lapp, the
executive director of the Democratic Congressional
Campaign Committee, recently told Newsweek, "is
someone who isn't afraid to stand up for what they
believe in, to tell their story, to fight back when
they're unfairly attacked."

The Fighting Dem phenomenon would seem to be a welcome
development for a party that, for many years, was
indifferent--or even hostile--to the military. But
it's not the panacea some Democrats think it is. Just
as Democrats were once wrong to demonize veterans,
unfairly casting them as villains, today Democrats are
making the mistake of fetishizing vets--unthinkingly
treating them as superheroes. And, just as the former
view harmed Democrats on national security issues, the
latter may as well. Because new national security
messengers--no matter how many miles they may have
walked in combat boots--are no substitute for a strong
national security message, which the party, alas,
still lacks.

he Democrats' problems with the military go back, of
course, to Vietnam, when the party became identified
with the antiwar movement, which often took the form
of being anti-GI. But the problems did not end with
the war. Although Jimmy Carter himself had served in
the Navy, his presidency only deepened Democrats'
estrangement from the military. In 1977, Carter's
inaugural address notably failed to mention the Armed
Forces, which upset some veterans. Even more were
upset when, the day after his inaugural, the new
president offered an amnesty to all those Americans
who had avoided service in Vietnam by failing to
register for the draft or by fleeing to Canada.
"Carter cut the military budget, he canceled the B-1
bomber," says Richard Kohn, a military historian at
the University of North Carolina. "In many ways, great
and small, he did things that were perceived as being
hostile to the military."

At the same time that Democrats were alienating the
military and veterans, Republicans were reaching out.
In 1980, Ronald Reagan proclaimed that the U.S. effort
in Vietnam "was, in truth, a noble cause"--a
proclamation that was much appreciated by many
veterans. In contrast to Carter, Reagan's inaugural
address was a paean to the American soldier. And, a
few months later, in a speech to sailors, he said, "I
know there've been times when the military has been
taken for granted. It won't happen under this
administration." He boosted defense spending and gave
soldiers a pay raise. "Under Reagan, the Republican
Party made itself the pro-military, and, synonymously,
the pro-soldier, party," says Andrew Bacevich, a
professor of international relations at Boston
University.

And, even when Democrats later tried to combat the
perception that they were anti-veteran and
anti-military--such as when Michael Dukakis, in 1988,
took his infamous tank ride--they failed miserably.
Similarly, Bill Clinton's hawkish pronouncements in
the 1992 presidential campaign were undercut by the
revelation that, in 1969, he had proclaimed himself to
be among the "many fine people [who] have come to find
themselves still loving their country but loathing the
military." And, when Clinton, upon being elected, said
he intended to repeal the ban on gays in the military,
many veterans interpreted it as a hostile act. The
widely circulated story that a female White House
staffer had refused to exchange pleasantries with
then-Lieutenant General Barry McCaffrey because she
didn't "speak to people in uniform"--combined with the
fact that so few people in Clinton's inner circle had
themselves served--only deepened the notion that the
Democratic Party was inherently hostile to the
military.

Ironically, though, it was also under Clinton that the
Democratic Party began to fetishize the military.
Recognizing the political liabilities stemming from
his efforts to avoid service in Vietnam, in his 1992
presidential campaign, Clinton took the unprecedented
step of seeking--and receiving--the endorsement of
some 20 retired military officers, including former
Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral William Crowe. The scale
of the endorsements violated the long-standing norm
that military leaders stay out of partisan politics.
And, after his initial missteps with the military
early in his first term, Clinton sought to make
amends, caving on his demand for the military to admit
gays, appointing McCaffrey drug czar, hailing the
military for its affirmative action policies, and
generally taking a more respectful--even a sometimes
deferential--attitude toward the military. "I think he
was so badly bruised by the gays in the military
issue," says Kohn, "that he decided then and there
that he wasn't going to fool with the military and
even exercise his authority over it in many ways."

But the Democratic Party's fetishization of the
military did not begin, in earnest, until the Iraq
war. Much of it stemmed from a basic political
calculation--that the party would have more
credibility on the war if its leaders themselves had
military experience. This sentiment was what led many
Democrats to encourage the retired General Wesley
Clark to run for president and, after Clark flamed
out, to embrace John Kerry--primarily because of his
own record of service in Vietnam. And Kerry, of
course, carried the fetish to its extreme when he
turned the 2004 Democratic National Convention into a
militaristic extravaganza--cramming the stage with
admirals and generals who had endorsed him, not to
mention the men who had served with him on a swift
boat in Vietnam. And, when Kerry gave his acceptance
speech, he began it with a salute and the words, "I'm
John Kerry, and I'm reporting for duty."

This fetishization of the military has influenced the
Democrats' narrative of the Iraq war. "I think there
was a segment of the Democratic Party and the
Democratic constituency who really blamed military
leaders for what happened in Vietnam, for lying about
the body count and the Pentagon papers and things like
that," says Chris Gelpi, a Duke University political
scientist who studies civilmilitary relations. But,
when it comes to criticizing the Iraq war, instead of
blaming the military, Democrats have placed the blame
squarely on the Bush administration. In fact, in the
Democratic narrative of the war, the military is the
hero. It was a military man, General Eric Shinseki,
who told the truth when he said the United States
would need several hundred thousand troops to provide
security in postwar Iraq; it was a Pentagon civilian,
Paul Wolfowitz, who lied and said the military was off
the mark. That Wolfowitz and so many of the war's
other intellectual architects had never served in the
military themselves--that they were, as Democrats
never tire of pointing out, "chicken hawks"--made this
narrative particularly powerful.

As Republicans once did during the Reagan years,
Democrats began to cast themselves as protectors of
the military. In 2003, congressional Democrats accused
the Bush administration of favoring tax cuts for the
wealthy over a pay raise for the military; and,
recently, Democrats have been attacking the Bush
administration for not providing soldiers in Iraq with
adequate body armor. "It is not only wrong, but it is
inexcusable, as we near the third anniversary of the
war in Iraq, that our troops still do not have all the
body armor they need to keep them safer," House
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said. But, where
Republicans like Reagan always cast their defense of
the military in terms of profound gratitude and
respect, Democrats' calls for increased support for
the military--while no doubt
well-intentioned--sometimes leave the impression that
they almost view the military as pitiable. As Kathy
Roth-Douquet, a former Clinton aide and Marine wife
who is the author of a forthcoming book about the
upper-class absence from the military, puts it, "There
is a contingent of Democrats whose version of being
pro-military is, 'I appreciate what you do. I'd never
do it myself. I'd never want my kids to do it. But
thanks for your service, because you're probably being
exploited, and you're a victim, and we really want to
help you.'"

This notion that those in the military have been
victimized is very much of a piece with the increasing
tendency among some Democrats to view national
security issues through the lens of identity politics.
Just as some Democrats argue that oppressed minorities
like blacks or Latinos have unimpeachable credibility
about certain issues due to their identities, some
Democrats now seem to think that veterans have
similarly unimpeachable views about national security
merely because of who they are. Indeed, many of the
Fighting Dems' biggest boosters seem to believe that a
politician's military service, or lack thereof, is the
sine qua non of national security issues. "Too few
Republicans have ever sacrificed for their nation, and
their utter contempt for it shows," Markos Moulitsas
recently wrote on his blog, Daily Kos. "Democrats are
already the party of veterans. The Fighting Dems are
going to help make this point to a whole new
generation of voters."

iven the public mood on Iraq, criticizing the war may
turn out to be a winning midterm election strategy--at
least in some districts. And it probably can't hurt a
candidate who has served in the military to bolster
that criticism with references to his or her service.
But the Fighting Dem strategy, and the Democratic
fetishization of the military in general, does pose
some potential problems.

First, despite all the swaggering rhetoric about
Fighting Dems, there's no evidence that fighting in a
war means someone will be a fighter in the political
arena. Recent history is littered with a number of war
heroes-turned-politicians whose fierceness in military
combat did not carry over onto the political
battlefield. John McCain did not have the stomach to
get down and dirty with George W. Bush in the 2000
South Carolina Republican primary. John Kerry
similarly failed to fight back against the Swift Boat
Veterans for Truth. Indeed, in three out of the last
four presidential elections, the candidate who saw
combat in war (George H.W. Bush, Bob Dole, and Kerry)
lost to an opponent (Clinton and George W. Bush) who
had avoided it.

But the biggest danger posed by the Fighting Dems is
the notion that their personal experience alone is a
substitute for a strong national security agenda.
Democrats seem to believe that, if they put Pelosi's
words in a veteran's mouth, they will have formulated
a winning national security message. As Dan Walter
wrote on Democratic strategist Joe Trippi's blog in
December, shortly after Howard Dean declared that the
Iraq war was unwinnable, "Perhaps Dems should let
Murtha and 'Iraq Vet' candidates like Paul Hackett and
Patrick Murphy use their considerable credibility to
make the anti-war case, while Howard Dean and others
come up with some appealing vision for the future."
But, if the message remains the same, it won't matter
who's saying it.

Or it won't matter to people who, unlike most of the
Fighting Dems' biggest boosters, know enough to view
the military as the province not of superheroes but of
mere mortals. Which is something Murphy found out
when, the day after enthralling the young Democrats in
downtown Philadelphia, he stopped by a steelworkers'
union hall in Fairless Hills, Pennsylvania, a
blue-collar town in lower Bucks County.

The son of a cop who grew up in a working-class
Philadelphia neighborhood, Murphy is hardly
uncomfortable in such environments. "None of my
friends growing up went to college," he told me before
he went into the union hall. "They're Teamsters now."
And, when a steelworker offered Murphy his choice of a
bottle of Yuengling or a can of Miller, he correctly
chose the latter. As he sat drinking his beer, the
steelworkers voiced their concerns about cafta and
told stories of the Molly McGuires, the secret
organization of Irish American coal miners who fought
discrimination through violence. Finally, one of them
asked Murphy how he planned to beat Fitzpatrick.

For Murphy, almost every issue he confronts in his
campaign leads him back to Iraq. "People say to me,
'You're so young. You're just 32 years old,' and I
say, 'Well, I think I'll actually bring a whole other
set of experiences [to Congress],'" he told me earlier
that day. "I'll be one of the leading experts on the
war on terror, because I did deploy to help a Muslim
population in Bosnia and also in Baghdad, Iraq." He
and his campaign even try to connect issues that have
nothing to do with national security to his military
experience. As Daren Berringer, a Democratic
consultant who has been serving as an unpaid adviser
to Murphy's campaign, puts it, "If Patrick can go over
to Iraq and perform his job as well as he did in that
environment, then I'm pretty sure he can deal with
issues of education and health care and making sure
seniors have a real prescription-drug plan. That stuff
is on paper."

And so, when a steelworker asked Murphy an open-ended
question about how he planned to get to Congress,
Murphy's answer wasn't surprising. "I know how to
fight," he replied immediately. "I was in the 82nd
Airborne. I was in Baghdad. I'm a fighter." He started
to go on, perhaps to tell the story of running convoys
or maybe to talk about the roadside bombs he had
survived to see, but one of the steelworkers cut him
off.

"This isn't Baghdad," the man told Murphy in an
impatient tone. "This is a different thing. It doesn't
matter if you know how to fight. What matters is you
know how to be smart."

Corrections: This article originally attributed a
quote from joetrippi.com to Joe Trippi. It should have
been attributed to Trippi's colleague Dan Walter.
Also, the article stated that the quote was from last
week. In fact, it was from December. We regret the
errors.

Jason Zengerle is a senior editor at TNR.

__________________________________________________
Do You Yahoo!?
Tired of spam? Yahoo! Mail has the best spam protection around
http://mail.yahoo.com

0 Comments:

Post a Comment

<< Home