"Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please." (Mark Twain)
Thursday, February 09, 2006
Paul Hackett is out for one last day of pressing the flesh.
It’s August 2, Election Day, and the lanky, blond, 43-year-old Marine has taken up position outside the polling place in Loveland, a burg on the outskirts of Cincinnati, flashing his toothy smile for the early risers. Hackett is dressed smartly in a blue shirt and striped pastel tie. His khaki pants hang loosely from his wiry, 180-pound frame.
“That’s low politics, punk!” a heavy-set man sneers as he marches toward the poll. Hackett wheels around. “Pardon me?” “You know, that radio ad that says, ‘You don’t know Schmidt.’” He’s talking about one of Hackett’s attack ads against Republican Jean Schmidt. The man spews a stream of epithets, and Hackett lets out a crybaby whimper: “Waaaaaaa!” “What’s that, punk?” the big man growls.
A TV crew is setting up nearby, but Hackett doesn’t seem to care. “What’s your fuckin’ problem?” the candidate snaps. “You got something to say to me? Bring it on!” Hackett, all 6 feet 2 inches of him, is nose to nose with the heckler. “Problem?” he taunts. The man turns around and storms away.
“These guys in the Republican Party adopted this tough-guy language,” Hackett tells me, still steamed, an hour later. “They’re bullies. They’re offended when somebody takes a swing back at them.”
Sign up a few more guys like Paul Hackett, and I might even become a Democrat. I don't expect every candidate to physically mix it up with a heckler - although, were Maria Cantwell to bitchslap John Carlson, I would gain a whole new respect for her - but there are other, more subtle ways to demonstrate spine that could be employed by even the meekest Democrats. For instance, I seem to recall a rather bookish-looking gentleman getting a lot of mileage out of asking "at long last, sir, have you no sense of decency?" If only....