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Fragging Paul Hackett By: Lowell Ponte
FrontPageMagazine.com | Friday, February 17, 2006

“For me, this is a second betrayal,” said Iraq War veteran Paul Hackett on Monday, announcing his withdrawal from Ohio’s Democratic primary for the seat of Republican incumbent Senator Mike DeWine. “First, my government misused and mismanaged the military in Iraq, and now my own party is afraid to support candidates like me.”

How and why this happened reveals much about the puppet masters and special interests who from behind the scenes control today’s Democratic Party.


Only months ago Hackett was seen as a rising Democratic star, a popular military veteran of seven months’ duty in Iraq who polls said could win a special election in the open 2nd Congressional District of Ohio in Cincinnati. The “mainstream” media touted the race as a harbinger of Republican decline and Democratic resurrection to power – even after Hackett lost 48-52, claiming his strong showing in the race doomed the GOP.


Hackett had come close in a longtime Republican district and had become a national media darling by criticizing the war. Soon national Democratic leaders such as Senators Charles Schumer of New York and Harry Reid of Nevada were calling to urge Hackett to run for Senate against DeWine.


“The original promise to me from Schumer [chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee] was that I would have no financial concerns,” Hackett told Associated Press on Tuesday. “It went from that to Senator Schumer actually working against my ability to raise money.”


According to Hackett, “My donor base and host base on both coasts was contacted by elected officials and asked to stop giving.”


Democratic bosses had decided to place their Senate race bets on another horse, seven-term Congressman Sherrod Brown of the unlucky 13th District who represents heavily unionized northeast Ohio rustbelt area from Akron to the industrial outskirts of Cleveland.


Brown is a member of the far-Left Progressive Caucus in the House. He took the same side as Fidel Castro in working to undermine the pro-U.S. government in Colombia, and he was a leading opponent of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). He advocates “National Health Care” (socialized medicine). He voted against America’s incursion in Iraq, and voted against reducing America’s dependence on foreign oil by drilling on a scant 20 acres in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). Brown has chalked up a 95 percent voting record from the left-wing Americans for Democratic Action (ADA).


But more than anything else, Congressman Sherrod Brown is not so much a leftwing ideologue as he is “a sock puppet and rubber stamp for organized labor.” A former Ohio Secretary of State, Brown was first elected to congress in 1992 with massive amounts of organized labor money and muscle. He has done Big Labor’s bidding ever since, particularly voting against NAFTA and CAFTA.


Union money coerced from compulsory dues remains, along with gerrymandering, one of the two biggest factors in electing and re-electing Democrats to congress. Union support for this labor stalwart undoubtedly helped sway the party apparatus.


Hackett had announced his run for Senate after Sherrod Brown declined to oppose DeWine.  But after a Wall Street Journal/Zogby Poll last September showed Hackett beating DeWine, Brown changed his mind, prompting the Capitol Hill newspaper The Hotline to mock him as a waffle.


Hackett’s failed congressional race briefly became a rallying point for antiwar leftist activists and journalists, turning him into a “progressive” star. Although he has spouted barn-burning antiwar rhetoric, the Marine Reserves Major and “personal injury lawyer” has masqueraded as a centrist. Hackett, depicted as a “progressive” war critic in national media, had run his local congressional race posing almost as a conservative.  He aired TV ads wrapping himself around pictures of President George W. Bush and the American flag. One of Hackett’s loudest campaign issues was his support of “Second Amendment rights” in a blatant appeal to blue collar hunters and gun owners, an issue he used to distance himself from more blatantly leftist Democrats.


Occasionally, of course, Hackett's moderate disguise slipped. In one Howard Dean-like moment of candor he declared that the Republican Party had been taken over by religious extremists who, he said, "aren't a whole lot different than Osama bin Laden."


And last October, amid Democratic Party arm twisting to make him drop out of the race against Brown, Hackett told reporter Jim Provance of the Toledo Blade that Sherrod Brown was “too liberal” to beat DeWine.


“A Democrat in Ohio can get all of the Democratic votes in the northeastern and central parts of the state and still not get elected,” Hackett told Provance. “It’s got to be somebody who believes in the values of all Ohioans, and that takes winning over independents and conservatives.”


“I’m in this [primary],” Hackett told reporters last October. “The water’s good. Come on in, Sherrod. It’s going to be fun.”


But the last thing that Sherrod Brown and the Democratic and union bosses wanted was a contested primary that would burn part of Brown’s $2.37 million campaign war chest and risk painting Brown as much of a left-winger as he actually is. Fellow Progressive Caucus member Dennis Kucinich rushed to endorse Brown, undercutting Hackett’s support and helping to drive him out of the race.


Sherrod Brown’s advantage statewide in Ohio, according to the Left’s “Swing State Project,” is that he has high name recognition but low identification; that is, Brown’s name is widely known but his ideology is not.


Republican incumbent Senator Mike DeWine, by contrast, has served 12 years in the Senate, eight in the House, and four years as Ohio's Lieutenant Governor. The recent liberal drift of his voting record, however, makes DeWine seem to many critics to be so "moderate" or "centrist" as to be a RINO, a "Republican In Name Only," but too conservative to win liberal Democrat votes. 


DeWine joined Arizona maverick Senator John McCain's "Gang of 14" to shield Democratic filibuster threats against President Bush's judicial and other nominees. DeWine was the only other Republican Senator to join ultra-liberal Senator Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island and 44 Democrats in holding up the Bush defense budget until its provision permitting oil drilling in ANWR was removed.  He voted against the Republican budget because, said DeWine, it included cuts in social spending that would "hurt poor children." DeWine was one of only two Republican Senators to oppose a bill to protect firearms manufacturers from politicized lawsuits seeking liability damages. The National Journal calculated that in 2004 DeWine voted "more liberal" on social policy than 49 other Senators, "more liberal" on economic policy than 46 of his fellow Senators and "more liberal" on foreign policy than 47 percent of Senators.


His “moderate” posturing has left DeWine isolated and vulnerable. Evidence of this can be seen in the defeat of his son Patrick DeWine, beaten months ago in a primary race for the House seat being vacated by Republican Rep. Rob Portman. The young DeWine spent more than $1 million on the losing race and outspent all his opponents by a margin of three to one. A factor in Patrick DeWine's humiliating defeat, according to at least one analyst, was "his Father's lack of principle."  If Ohio Republicans would vote against DeWine's son, they might also be unenthusiastic about re-electing Senator DeWine.


The 2006 Democratic plan in Ohio, as elsewhere, is to mount a massive negative smear campaign against Republicans while Democratic candidates run stealth campaigns as “moderates” advocating a vague, undefined “better way.” A contested primary might unmask Brown before the general election.


Brown is accustomed to the back room politics of fixers and secret deals. As Michael Barone reported in the 2004 Almanac of American Politics, after the 2000 Census when the Congressional district Ohio would lose was likely to be Brown’s, he kept his gerrymandered district by privately threatening to run against Ohio’s Republican Governor Robert Taft. That Brown would cynically use high Democratic Party insiders to bankrupt and eliminate his chief primary opponent is unsurprising.


Part of the pressure against Hackett came from supposedly independent left-wing websites such as DailyKos. But as the far-Left magazine Mother Jones’ reporter David Goodman (brother of radical broadcaster Amy Goodman of Democracy Now!) noted, well-paid ads from Rep. Brown are already “ubiquitous on liberal blogs such as DailyKos and MyDD (whose founder, Jerome Armstrong, is a paid consultant to the Brown campaign).” Some of Brown’s left-wing supporters, wrote Goodman, have been accused of “looking for a payday” by boosting Sherrod Brown. So much for the idealism of the Left.


Another irony is that Democrats have been frantically trying to recruit military veterans to run as candidates. This has become necessary to dispel the widespread public perception that the Democratic Party is anti-military and eager to gut national defense in favor of massive social welfare spending.


“Alienating Hackett is not just a bad idea for the party,” said Mike Lyon, executive director for the Band of Brothers, a group dedicated to electing Democratic veterans to national office. “It also sends a chill through the rest of the 56 or so veterans that we’ve worked to run for Congress,” Lyon told New York Times reporter Ian Urbina. “Now is a time for Democrats to be courting, not blocking, veterans who want to run.”


“Fragging” is military slang for enlisted men shooting or hand-grenading one of their own officers. Rush Limbaugh noted Tuesday that Hackett had been “fragged,” shot in the back by Democratic Party bosses who recruited him to run in this Senate race in the first place.


I felt I got f----d by the Democratic Party,” Hackett told Goodman, because they enticed me in and then pulled the rug out from beneath me.” 


Those bosses then told Hackett to drop out of the Senate race and run again for Congress. But Hackett had promised three other Democrats he would not run against them. “I couldn’t sleep with myself if I did to them what was done to me,” Hackett told Associated Press. “At the end of the day, my word is my bond and I will take it to my grave. Thus ends my 11-month political career.”


“The party keeps saying for me not to worry about those promises because in politics they are broken all the time,” Hackett told the New York Times. “I don’t work that way.” But the Democratic Party apparently does.


Even more shocking, last Thursday Goodman reported in Mother Jones that Hackett was the target of a rumor that he had committed war crimes in Iraq, and that photographs of this existed. Hackett visited Senator Reid to deny that the photo was of him, but Hackett later told Goodman: That was a photo of a Marine doing his job. If you don't like what they're doing, don't send Marines into war.”


Hackett suspects that Brown or Democratic operatives are behind this rumor. Even if Republicans had such ammunition, they logically would either have used it in Hackett's congressional race or be holding it back to use after Hackett won the senatorial primary.


Democrats, as Goodman observed, would be concerned at a rumor that made Hackett vulnerable “a la the Swift Boating of John Kerry.” But Democratic leaders had no trouble making the Massachusetts Senator their presidential standard bearer in 2004, despite Kerry's own videotaped confession during an appearance on NBC's “Meet the Press” that he had committed war crimes as a Naval officer in Vietnam. Who can blame the Swift Boat Veterans for reminding voters of Kerry's own confession?


Democratic Party leaders have chosen against a veteran and in favor of a liberal career politician and pawn of Big Labor.


Once again, the Left supports the fragging of the military.


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Mr. Ponte co-hosts a national radio talk show Monday through Friday 6-8 PM Eastern Time (3-5 PM Pacific Time) on the Genesis Communications Network. Internet Audio worldwide is at GCNlive .com. The show's live call-in number is 1-800-259-9231. A professional speaker, he is a former Roving Editor for Reader's Digest.

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