July 24, 2005

Democrat Congressional Candidate and Bush Critic Uses Presidential Video Footage, Pretends to Support the Iraq War

Filed under: OH-02 US House,Scams — Tom @ 11:16 pm

NOTE: After the June 14 primary, I told OH02 that I didn’t intend to blog on this race unless it got close.

Well, as best I can tell, it still isn’t close.

But, because I overestimated Paul Hackett as a person, I neglected to add another qualifier that I didn’t anticipate the need for–“or unless one of the candidates does something so dumb or unethical that I can’t let it go by.”

This is one such instance. There may be others between now and August 2. I didn’t expect what I’ve seen from Hackett and his campaign coming from a soldier–a bitter disappointment indeed.

Barring further lapses by the candidates, I won’t be commenting on the race until I do a post next weekend that will refer back to other posts relevant to Election Day.
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Republican Jean Schmidt is running against Democrat Paul Hackett in the August 2 special congressional election in the Second District in Southwest Ohio. The seat opened up when President Bush appointed then-congressman Rob Portman as Trade Representative.

At least we think Ms. Schmidt is running against a Democrat. After this Hackett campaign ad, we’re not so sure:
(Windows Media format–Click on bottom left to view; may only work if you are looking at this post and are not on the main page)
(if it doesn’t work, go here to download the video in QuickTime-compatible MP4 format, or here for QT-compatible MOV format; use of the video is for fair use and discussion purposes only)

TEXT OF AD:President Bush (pictured): There is no higher calling than service in our armed forces.

Hackett: I agreed with that, and that’s what led me to serve and fight with my Marines in Iraq. Those words are a part of me. These young men and women, they get it! We’re going to help these people. We’re all over there because we think America is worth fighting for, and take responsibility for your actions. I think Washington, DC needs more of that type of leadership. I’m Paul Hackett, I approve this message, and I respectfully ask for your vote on August 2.

After viewing the ad, you would think that Paul Hackett is the District’s Republican candidate, and that he’s a strong supporter of the war.

But the fact is, the Paul Hackett you see in the ad is not the Paul Hackett you get in real life. Here are four instances where Paul Hackett has placed himself squarely in opposition to the President whose speech he hijacked in the opening segment of his ad:

1. At a forum in early June, Hackett, in response to a question, called George Bush the biggest threat to America (near the end of the document; bold is mine):

Hackett, a 43-year-old lawyer from Indian Hill, is a Marine Corps reservist who recently returned from Iraq. Asked at one forum what he sees as the biggest threat to America, he replied: “The man living in the White House.”

(Note: The link is a BizzyBlog copy, made for fair use and discussion purposes only, of a Proquest database record of The Cincinnati Post as published in print on June 10. The relevant quote is not available online without membership in a public library or other facility that has access to the Proquest database. It may not display properly in all browsers.)

On June 15, the day after he won the Democratic primary, Hackett acknowledged that he made this statement in an interview with talk-radio host Bill Cunningham (scroll halfway down to Hackett interview), and unconvincingly (to me) tried to pass off his characterization of President Bush as only relating to civil liberties.

A fellow serviceman, former 2nd District Republican candidate Eric Minamyer, has criticized Hackett’s remark, saying that it is especially irresponsible for a serviceman, even off-duty, to make a statement that could be construed as providing aid and comfort to our enemy:

He should realize these inflammatory statements are used by the terrorist to recruit and encourage their troops. Some Marine somewhere could die because of what Hackett said and he should be ashamed.

Hackett has not further distanced himself from his remark or acknowledged its potentially damaging effect.

2. In a statement distributed via e-mail to his supporters and other interested persons after the London bombings on July 7, The Hackett campaign strongly criticized the Bush Administration, disputed what it alleges is the administration’s contention that “Al Qaeda is on its last legs,” and criticized the administration’s Iraq efforts:

HACKETT DEMANDS POLICY REFLECT REALITY

“Today’s tragic events in London show us that contrary (to) what the American people have been told, Al Queda is not on its last legs,” stated Hackett.

“… I am hard on an administration that has not had the courage to put forth an Iraq and terrorism policy that reflects reality.”

One problem: That is NOT what “the administration,” specifically Vice President Dick Cheney, said. The opener for the CNN story actually said this (bold is mine):

The insurgency in Iraq is “in the last throes,” Vice President Dick Cheney says, and he predicts that the fighting will end before the Bush administration leaves office.

After all these months of hearing that Al Qaeda has nothing to do with the Iraq insurgency (more appropriately referred to as “the terrorist campaign to disrupt Iraq and give squeamish Americans reasons to continue whining”), it’s pretty brazen for Hackett and his cohorts to now state that it does.

It’s also important to note the last half of the Cheney sentence, which the war’s opponents conveniently ignore, namely that he thinks we’re nearly three years from the end of the fighting. I’d prefer that Cheney not have used the word’s “last throes,” but it’s obvious what he means in context, and it’s not, as opponents would have you believe, “next week” or “next month.”

Several bloggers following the race have criticized Hackett’s press release for the reasons just noted and for its political opportunism: Parker at Viking Spirit, Weapons of Mass Discussion, Mario at Porkopolis, Mr. Minamyer, and Eric at Project Logic.

3. The July 24 Cincinnati Enquirer describes Hackett’s thought process on the war thusly:

It was not an easy decision. As Hackett watched the run-up to the war unfold, he thought it was a bad idea – a misuse of the U.S. military and an unwarranted diversion from what he considered to be the real “war on terrorism,” the battle to root out and kill the Taliban in the rugged hills of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

But he said he could not sit by and watch as his fellow Marines – some of whom he knew and had served with – went off to fight.

Fine. Hackett is more than entitled to his opinion. I also want to be very clear: It’s extremely honorable that he would go to Iraq and serve his country despite his opposition to going in, and despite his belief that we should have concentrated only on Afghanistan. But then why not say that to the voters of the 2nd District, instead of treating us to diversionary scenes of troop cameraderie and “help(ing) these people”? Either Hackett is afraid that we can’t handle the truth as he sees it, or he is afraid that we won’t vote for him if we know what he truly believes. Either position should automatically disqualify him from consideration for public office.

4. The July 19 Cincinnati Enquirer (15th paragraph) quoted Hackett’s dislike for the President as follows:

“To tell you the truth, I don’t like this president very much,” said Hackett, who has served in the Marines on active duty and reserves for more than 20 years. “But, as a Marine, I would take a bullet for him.”

An admirable quote, to a point. But then why does Hackett wrap himself tighter than cellophane around George Bush in the ad? Simple: He wants us to believe that he’s behind George Bush when he’s not. This pushes Clintonian misdirection to previously unseen levels.

With all due respect for your service, Mr. Hackett, it looks like you, besides taking a bullet, would also “TAKE” video of a President you have criticized heavily and clearly don’t support, and shamelessly use it without his authorization, just to further your political ambitions. And again, with all due respect for your service, we could use as a congressman the “type of leader” that will at least have the integrity to tell the voters what he really believes, and what party he is a member of. That’s obviously NOT you.
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A FURTHER NOTE: I anticipate a Hackett defender might claim that by saying “I agreed with that” (past tense), instead of “I agree” (present tense) that he is somehow communicating his opposition to the Iraq war and the overall conduct of the War on Terror. Nice try, guys–no sale. What Hackett is or was agreeing with is Bush’s statement about there being “no higher calling than service in our armed forces,” which by itself, positioned at the beginning of the ad, has nothing to do with the current War on Terror at all.
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FINAL NOTE: I’ll accept appropriate trackbacks at this post but no comments.
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UPDATE: Several bloggers wanted me to note that Hackett has a political career marked by support for tax increases, and has stated his intentions to continue in that vein, especially a certain tax which, if elected, he would not have to pay.

UPDATE 2: The Whistleblower has been consistently skewering Hackett for about a week now. His latest two offerings (warning: content is definitely R-rated) are here and here.

UPDATE 3: Outside the Beltway Traffic Jammer.

Go to Pre-Election Collection.

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