Friday, May 16, 2008

Red-Faced Bexley

Buzz started flying around yesterday that a Columbus-based group was planning on making a public campaign based on Pro-Clinton Dems (particularly women) actively working against Obama should he become (when he becomes) the Democratic nominee for President of the United States. Two Central Ohio women were named as organizers of the press conference, and two women were scheduled to appear on the O'Reilly Factor to discuss the effort. The woman common to both pairs was named Cynthia Ruccia. Bloggers had in their collective knowledge base that she was an unsuccessful congressional candidate in 1996 (losing to John Kasich in the 12th district), and on the Franklin County Democratic Party Executive Committee. The one detail I added to the conversation was that she was a resident of Bexley. See, she's on the FCDP executive committee due to her position as a neighborhood/ward leader.

My ward.

Oddly enough, I've either met or had multiple email exchanges with every other ward leader in Bexley, but not Ms. Ruccia. I tried to get in touch with some Bexley Dems and hoped to watch the interview before posting. I missed the 8:00 show, so I tried to watch the 11:30 presentation of "The Factor." It's the first time I've watched more than two straight minutes of FNC in years, and as grating as it was, there was no payoff. The half hour I saw didn't contain the Ruccia interview. I had some email by that time, but nobody had much to say (or at least nothing they wanted to say to a blogger looking for on the record comments). I was surprised to find that a number of bloggers in the Ohiosphere had already posted on the interview, and BI even had the video already up.

The comments on Russo's site are coming in at better than 2-1 in agreement with Ruccia's position.

My first reaction is like that of many others: If you're willing to work for McCain, then either you never really supported Clinton for her positions on issues, or you're just a lunatic. But you know me, I never really like to argue a side until I feel like I've tried to see things from the other side. In that sense, think for a second about what would happen if, beyond all reason at this point, all of the remaining superdelegates coalesced around the HRC candidacy, and Hillary won the nomination in a floor fight at the convention. The conventional wisdom is that young people and minorities would not just lose motivation, but abandon the Democratic Party. Would I be shocked to see a group of young black men make a very public campaign to defeat Hillary and the Dems who had caved in to the race-baiting cynics? Nope. So, even though I'm surprised that the movement is centered six blocks from my house, I'm not surprised that there is a small vocal movement that is willing to make common cause with conservatives (Bill O looked like a cat who had loaded up on six plates at the Old Country Canary Buffet) over what they see as the defeat of the best candidate, a defeat they believe is based on the fact that she has characteristics that they themselves share.

Has Hillary's campaign suffered because of her gender? Absolutely. One could make the argument that her gender was a net positive, or perhaps a net neutral factor, but that doesn't dismiss the fact that Hillary has endured treatment a man wouldn't have had to endure. And worse, she's been forced into self-consciousness as to how her behavior would be interpreted in relation to her gender. In part because gender stereotyping is more accepted than, say, racial stereotyping. That leads to a degree of acting that can come across as being less than genuine, which has stereotype baggage of its own attached.

So any woman who lived through Bobby Riggs and the ERA, who has grown frustrated trying to explain that they call it the "glass ceiling" because it's so hard to actually see, not because it's easy to break, who has struggled and come up short, and invested in HRC their hopes and dreams, might well invest in her their frustration and anger. I'm coming dangerously close to saying that some women bitterly cling to the HRC candidacy, but even if that's not the actual story, there's a story I can sympathize with.

To a point. Last night, Cynthia Ruccia went on Bill O'Reilly's TV show to proclaim to the world that she'll work to get John McCain elected if Hillary doesn't get the Dem nomination. Bill O'Reilly settled a lawsuit in a sexual harassment case that makes the public disclosures of our AG scandal look almost tame. He is perhaps the most patronizing patriarch among major media figures, and she helped him in his agenda to get an old white guy who dumped his wife for a younger blonder version get into the White House. The message that she's sending? If the most qualified woman can't get the job, we should just go with the white male hegemony we're familiar with.

I voted for Hillary Clinton. I thought she was more qualified than Obama, and I thought I knew what I could expect from her. I also thought that her negatives had been unduly amplified in the media. Obama had said that he would be a completely different type of political figure, and bring change. The funny thing about change is that at least half the time, change is for the worse. Progress is good, but progress is only one type of change, and Barack was being distressingly ambiguous about his view toward Progressives. I knew his upside, but not his downside. As time went on, and the candidates were given tougher political choices to make and situations to deal with... Hillary continued to make the easy choices, and Barack made tougher choices. I still think Hillary would have made a good POTUS, but I'm more than comfortable with Obama as the nominee. In fact, after the last two months of campaigning, I'm much more comfortable with supporting Obama this summer and fall than I would have been trying to make excuses for the things HRC has done in an effort to regain the upper hand in the race.

Hillary had a tougher time of it as a woman. but that's not why she lost. She lost because her campaign was run spectacularly badly by people whose current political thinking was state-of-the-art twenty years ago. She was presented as the inevitable nominee, because she had institutional support, all of the big donors, and had cultivated a base in large states. Her campaign ignored caucus states and small states as being somehow irrelevant to the nomination process. The very first contest was a small caucus state, and she lost. Obama used direct internet contact to raise funds from small donors across the country, netting millions more than HRC. So, inevitability went out the window in early January, and every one of her campaign premises (if we do a, b, and c we'll win) was wrong. She won big states, but lost the pledged delegate race. She got more big donors, and lost the fundraising race. She held her own in primaries, but got hammered in caucuses. She was eventually reduced to campaigning on the platform of 'America won't elect a liberal black man, so you'd better nominate the other candidate, even if you don't like me either.' With every other prediction turning out wrong, this one didn't gain much traction either.

My guess is that very few of the folks who are now so upset with Clinton's (impending) loss that they're now thinking of bolting were Dean supporters in '03/'04. Those who weren't probably weren't sensitive to the distortions and bias coming from cable news and the punditocracy regarding his candidacy. It happens. The media and party establishment interests aligned to produce a candidate whose campaign lost to the worst, and most unpopular, president in history. That was certainly frustrating.

But no matter how angry I may have been, when I was faced with the prospect of a second term of W, I sat my white boy butt down, shut my white boy mouth up, and got with the program. I realize that I don't have to worry about whether or not such a request of me is based on my demographics, as Cynthia Ruccia might. So if she jumps to the wrong conclusion, I guess I'll understand. But I want a country that is run by someone whose guiding philosophy is more like Hillary Clinton's, and less like George W. Bush's. I thought Ms. Ruccia did, too. If so, she might want to consider that it doesn't matter how much she has grown to dislike the people asking her, no matter how offensive the connotations, and no matter that she may have gone along in many instances she now regrets, at the end of the day, it might be in the best interest of the folks who have passionately supported HRC, regardless of age, race, or gender, to sit down, shut up, and get with the program anyway. The only reason for them not to do so is a belief that HRC can beat McCain or his Veep in '12, and won't get another chance until 2016 if Obama wins it all this year. If that's the plan, they'd better think hard about the trade-off they're making. If they need help, they can ask any Nader voter from 2000 whether they would like their vote back. As a matter of fact, she can walk over to Cassingham and ask me. I'll be happy to talk.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Love a Parade?

Nancy Garland, running for the 20th District State House Seat, will be walking in the New Albany Founders Day Parade on Saturday (May 17), and she's inviting supporters to walk the route with her.

So have some fun and do your part in making a Dem majority in the State House a reality. If you're planning to participate, you'll need to be at the staging point by 10:30am. Interested parties should RSVP to, who can also answer any other questions.


Today should be wonderful. Dann finally did what he should have done two weeks ago, and as importantly, the Senate passed the House's payday lending bill. The weather is nicer than predicted, and my family got to celebrate last night.

Of course, Johnson and Nash have the most offensive possible lede for their Dispatch piece on the resignation:

In the end, the "culture of corruption" in state government that Marc Dann battled so fiercely to become attorney general consumed him, too.

See, the problem with the GOP circa 2006 was that they were passing laws that favored their fundraisers, and their fundraisers were engaging in illegal activity, and each time one got caught, all of the others would downplay or even mock the charges. Not even indictments gave them pause, only convictions. Bob Taft, convicted. Bob Ney, convicted. Tom Noe, Convicted. Jack Abramoff, convicted. Congressional ethics committee, eviscerated. This wasn't a problem with one guy, it was a cultural problem in GOP politics.

Dann was one guy, with some Mahoning Valley buddies. In the end, it was the culture of zero-tolerance for corruption that consumed him.

The ODP culture, if it is at all culpable, is to blame for putting this guy on the ballot against Montgomery, endorsing him in a contested primary. That smacks of the sort of back-room politicking that leads to cynicism toward politicians generally. In the end, though, if Dann himself thought he couldn't win the seat, is it credible to believe that the ODP had any faith in his ability to win? The seemingly bizarre theory that Dann was run in 2006 to get him out of the party's hair and knock him out of contention in '10 doesn't seem as bizarre under those circumstances (I've had comments regarding linking to Tim Russo. I don't know Tim. I started reading Ohio blogs in earnest almost exactly as he was leaving the 'sphere in '06. Tim's an asshole. Tim has some pretty serious personal issues. Tim wants people to simultaneously believe that he lied to himself for years and that he has figured out how to stop. That's a tough sell. Tim's a traffic whore. But Tim certainly knows more about Ohio politics than most of us blogging, and Tim is obviously an intelligent guy. So I read his blog. And when he expresses doubt even though the major print media are reporting an imminent resignation, a doubt that I couldn't help but feeling some of myself, I link to it. He was right. Dann didn't resign. My linking to a unique opinion I thought should be available to my readers was right. And now, when I attempt to understand how the same people who did everything right these last two weeks got it so wrong two years ago, I find myself hypothesizing something similar to another unique statement I happened to read elsewhere. BTW, I agreed with the majority of Dann's legal arguments made as AG. I still do, even if I wouldn't want my wife or daughter working for him.)

Bleh. Even all of the above hadn't brought me down. So I was going to title this post "Zippity Doo Dah" i.e. "My oh my what a wonderful day." As I typed it, red flags started going off in my head - was this one of those racist cultural elements that had survived unexamined, buried in my memory beneath the sediment of consciousness? It turns out that this is not an uncommon bit of introspection.

So now, zip, zippity, zip. I'll leave the Doo-Dah to parades and racetracks.

Repeat to myself: Payday lending bill passes Senate, including yes vote from David Goodman. The print media, which got just about every element of this story wrong at some point, cannot be expected to get the aftermath right without help. To their credit, without their salacious appetite for tawdry but insignificant details, the major stories would never have come to light. They do serve a role of some sort. The good and the evil that a person does are not independent of each other, but the good does not excuse the evil, nor does the evil negate the good. And finally, it is a warm spring day, on which the sun shines down on the moist earth, and everything has the opportunity for growth.

Back to your regularly scheduled Thursday.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Surreal Dann Resignation Story

My wife was getting an award this afternoon in a ceremony held in a basement gym at the RPAC (student rec bldg.) at OSU. Gordon Gee cracked a joke about all of the researchers in the gym surrounded by hulking workout people visible through glass walls. So anyway, I found out that Marc and Ted were going to have their presser via googlereader for cellphones. When the ceremony ended there was a traffic jam of people trying to go up the single staircase leading to the main floor, so after milling for a bit, my wife went to find a ladies room and I gravitated to a TV mounted above a bench and watched the breathless breaking news that Marc Dann had resigned. There were two guys sitting on the bench, one supremely bored, and one transfixed. When Sarah got back I told her that Dann had finally stepped down. The transfixed guy turns around and says:

"So, do you know what he did wrong?"

It was a sincerely asked question, and I was a bit taken aback. I said something like "there was sexual harrassment going on in his office, the harrassment was being done by his buddy, who happened to also be his roommate, and some of the bad stuff was going on at his house..."

"Oh. Wow. I used to babysit his kids, so I was just wondering. It's kind of weird, huh?"

I had no idea what to say. I shrugged and headed for the stairs.

Stories don't move that fast in Ohio...

Many of you reading this will already know more about this than I will summarize here. For the rest of you...

Yesterday, media reported Dann would resign in afternoon.
Then, maybe not.
Then, working on a deal to trade resignation for reprieve from investigation.
Then, no deal, no resignation, no further announcements...

media report Dann spokesman says Dann will have big announcement at 12pm, no leaks, attendance mandatory.
Then, Dann in meetings with Lee Fisher and Ben Espy.
Then, Noon comes, and no press conference.
Then, state troopers working for inspector general engage in raid of Dann's office, lock down 17th floor, search employees bags, sieze computers and video equipment, all in front of confused media assembled for apparently fictitious press conference.
Dann is said to be out having lunch.
Dann spokesman denies ever saying that there would be a press conference.
Bloggers, who have been a step behind this story for the last few days, start collecting and relaying hints that Dann has been arrested.
If you don't already have a reader full of blogs, you might want to keep checking here and here.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Bexley CC to Vote on Jeffrey Mansion Master Plan

Locally -
From Ben Kessler's Blog:

Tonight City Council will vote on a resolution to support the Jeffrey Mansion Master Plan as proposed by the Jeffrey Mansion Committee. I wanted to post some of my thoughts here, and to explain my rationale for my vote.

Tonight I will vote in favor of the resolution, with strong reservations...

Read the rest at 'Ben Kessler's Council Minutes'

FWIW, Ben presents a very reasonable case for his point of view. The meeting should be an interesting one.


Upperdate - Those of us who had the same cynical thought as Russo (BI, 1st update) have some vindication - Dann apparently wants the GA and the party to play ball first, but for now he has decided to take his ball and go home. No more updates to this post. New posting as events warrant.

Update- the PD is reporting that Dann will resign this afternoon. Plunderbund apparently noticed first (Joseph was kind enough to stop by here as well, see comment below), BSB is teasing gossip, and Blogger Interrupted says what y'all may be thinking.

I can get some nifty info when it's a weekend and I have some alone time with the ODP. During a busy workweek, not so much. News has broken that Dems in the Ohio House have filed articles of impeachment against Marc Dann. Pick any major Ohio Lefty Blog (BSB, ODB, WLST, etc. etc.) and they will have more links and details. My initial lunchtime thoughts:

1) The tone of the meeting on Saturday turned out to be more predictive of the course the Dems were planning than the statements from officeholders in last weeks' papers.

2) Individual Republicans who called for Dann's resignation are going to have an awfully hard time lining up with the GOP position that impeachment at this time wouldn't be fair to Dann, as there isn't "enough information."

3) Once this gets to the Senate, there is almost no good outcome for the GOP, who seem determined to play this politically. They have an overwhelming majority, so it is pretty much a GOP decision to convict quickly (validating the ODP), convict slowly (allowing Strickland to appoint a successor), acquit quickly (losing any moral high ground) or acquit slowly (that could get ugly all around).

4) Which is why the GOP wants to delay the House vote as long as possible. That, and a possible strategy of planning to "find" some more dirt and imply that Dems haste had more to do with avoiding further dirt than seeing justice served and washing their hands.

In case it's unclear, I applaud the House Dems. The timing was swift, the articles well drafted, the course of action correct. Thank you.