18 February, 2006

Blogs Go Overboard in Laying Blame for end of Ohio Democratic Maverick's Senate Campaign; Schumer Painted as Heavy

One of my aims in starting this site was to collect solid information from across the Internet and put it all in one place to keep New Yorkers up on events of interest locally and nationally. Another was to debunk the seemingly endless reems of pure crap that is passed off on the Internet as truth by all ends of the political spectrum.

When Ohioan Paul Hackett stepped out of the race for a very in-play Senate seat held by Republican Mike DeWine earlier this week, the lefty blogs went wild. They blamed the entrenched leadership of the Democratic Party for shoving out a new voice in favor of a long-time Ohio pol Rep. Sherrod Brown, who represents a Congressional district that includes Akron and a ring of suburbs mostly south and west of Cleveland.

The bloggers villified Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid and New York Sen. Charles Schumer, who heads the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. The two, it was said, pressured Hackett to get out and donors to withhold funds to make the way smoother for Brown in the race for the Democratic nomination.

It's easy to see why the liberal bloggers were unhappy. Hackett, an outspoken Iraq-war veteran, became a celebrity last summer when he nearly won a special congressional race in a staunchly Republican district near Cincinnati after lambasting President Bush as a "chicken hawk." His opponent in that tightly contested race was current freshman Republican, Rep. Jean Schmidt, who's claim to fame so far has been to call 37-year Marine Corps. veteran and long-time congressman John Murtha a coward on the floor of the House a few months ago.

The bloggers, outraged that Hackett had been "forced out" by the Democrat "establishment," went so far as to call for a third party that would take up the cause of party's left wing.

After a week of furor and blog fog Elizabeth Auster of The Plain Dealer, Cleveland's daily paper, did a throrough and thoughtful piece Saturday on Hackett's exit from the race. From the piece it appears there was some pressure from the party, and maybe some dirty tricks of an unknown origin. But Auster reports Hackett's decision may have also come about as a result of his disdain for the very game he was hoping to conquer, big-time politics.

The Plain Dealer story brings two unfortunate trends into focus. Too many people with an axe to grind use the Web as a tool to go off half-cocked without either looking for or caring about the truth. The second, more unfortunate reality is a lot of good people with new ideas don't have the stomach to wade into the cesspool that politics has become. And that is more frightening for our future than any code-orange terror alert the Department of Homeland Security can scare up.

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