Monday, January 16, 2006

HOPE !!!!!!

Candid candidate: Hackett calls ’em like he sees ’em
Sunday, January 15, 2006
JOE HALLETT



The tip-off that a politician is about to speak gobbledygook is when he or she says, "I’ll be candid with you."

Except for Paul Hackett, and he says, "I’ll be candid with you" a lot. But rather than spewing mindnumbing nothingness, this politician and lawyer actually is candid to a fault.

For four of us from The Dispatch public-affairs team who met him for the first time last week, Hackett’s candor was extra sugar in our coffee. It was easy to see why the 43-year-old Democratic upstart from Cincinnati almost won election to Congress against impossible odds last November in southern Ohio’s overwhelmingly Republican 2 nd District.

And it was easy to see why Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., had recruited the strappingly handsome, 6-foot-4 Marine who had spent seven months in 2004 fighting insurgents in Ramadi and Fallujah to run against Republican Sen. Mike DeWine this year. Then, unexpectedly, Rep. Sherrod Brown of Lorain changed his mind and figured 2006 is his year to beat DeWine. Everyone expected Hackett to be a good soldier and run for a second-string office. But there was no putting the genie back into the bottle. Hackett’s congressional run had made him a folk hero among Democratic bloggers and the money was pouring in. Brown would get a fight in the May 2 primary. "We’re at the point where we’ve raised enough money that we’ve got overhead covered through the primary," Hackett said. "So, anybody who thinks we’re going away before the primary is delusional. It’s not going to happen. It’s not my style." Nor is gobbledygook his style. An hour spent with Hackett foretells that candor will be his friend and enemy before the campaign is finished, captivating voters with his simple eloquence and repelling them with unthinking insults.

Hackett said he and Brown probably agree on nine out of 10 issues, except the extent of 2 nd Amendment rights. Hackett grew up hunting, he relied on guns in Iraq and he has a concealed-carry permit (he wasn’t packing at our coffee klatch). Rather than restricting gun access for lawabiding citizens, Hackett wants the laws enforced and the cops fully funded "to make sure that the men and women who break the laws with guns are prosecuted so they quit screwing up our right to enjoy them."

Hackett said he opposes capital punishment – too much risk of executing an innocent person – for everybody except the fool who violates his family and home.

"Break into my house, we won’t have to worry about the application of the death penalty. It’s going to be a simple 911 call: Come pick up the body."

With succinct coherence, Hackett said: "I’m pro-choice, I’m pro-gayrights, I’m pro-gun-rights. Call me nuts, but I think they’re all based on the same principle and that is we don’t need government dictating to us how we live our private lives."

Asked to define being pro-gayrights, Hackett said anybody who tries to deny homosexuals the same rights, including marriage, as every other citizen is un-American. Are you saying, he was asked, that the 62 percent of Ohioans who voted in November 2004 to constitutionally deny same-sex marriages are un-American?

"If what they believe is that we’re going to have a scale on judging which Americans have equal rights, yeah, that’s un-American. They’ve got to accept that. It’s absolutely un-American."

Hackett called DeWine a "professional politician" who "is all over the map on issues," and who’s afraid to stand up to the "radical religious fundamentalists" controlling the GOP. At that point, Hackett’s candor went on steroids.

"The Republican Party has been hijacked by the religious fanatics that, in my opinion, aren’t a whole lot different than Osama bin Laden and a lot of the other religious nuts around the world," he said. "The challenge is for the rest of us moderate Americans and citizens of the world to put down the fork and spoon, turn off the TV, and participate in the process and try to push back on these radical nuts – and they are nuts." So much for gobbledygook. Joe Hallett is senior editor at The Dispatch.

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