October 10, 2006

Ted Strickland’s 1999 ‘Present’ Vote on H CON RES 107 — Part 3: The Reason Why He Said He Opposed It

Filed under: Taxes & Government — Tom @ 9:07 am

Other posts in the series:
Index — What It Means, Why It Matters, and Overview
Part 1 — Why It’s Being Brought Up
Part 2 — The Resolution, and Strickland’s Floor Speech
Part 4 — What It Reveals about How He Might Govern

______________________________________

Part 3: The Reason Why He Said He Opposed It

In response to anonymous letters that were being distributed in Southeastern Ohio about Ted Strickland’s 1999 “Present” vote on H CON RES 107 in the fall of 2005, an Athens Journal article in December purported to reiterate Strickland’s 1999 objection to the resolution (bolds are mine):

Strickland, who has publicly defended his HCR 107 vote in the past, reaffirmed Wednesday that he considers that his vote was cast “in support of the victims of abuse.”

Strickland said at the time of the vote that he could not in good conscience support the resolution, because it declared that anyone who has had a childhood sexual relationship with an adult can never have a healthy and loving sexual relationship in later life, and is likely to become a sexual abuser him- or herself.

The congressman has argued that this is unfair to victims, and rules out the possibility of healing. He has also questioned, as a trained psychologist, whether most of his House colleagues even understood the specialized study they voted to condemn.

He added Wednesday that while he could have skipped the vote, he chose to vote “present” so that “my constituents would know that I wasn’t just playing hooky.”

If “no possibility of recovery or healing” really was Ted Strickland’s objection at the time of the vote, why wasn’t that objection raised in his one-minute floor speech 15 days later? Maybe it was raised elsewhere at some other time, but I have seen nothing in the official record to indicate that; so color me skeptical. If anyone can show me Strickland raised this objection at the time of or before the vote, e-mail me the proof. I believe that Ted Strickland may have formulated this objection much later, but am open to the idea that I am wrong on this.

Nevertheless, here are the 33 words in the roughly 700 words of the full Resolution language (saved to host hard drive) that the Athens Journal reports Strickland objected to:

Whereas the Supreme Court has recognized that “sexually exploited children are unable to develop healthy affectionate relationships in later life, have sexual dysfunctions, and have a tendency to become sexual abusers as adults” (New York v. Ferber, 458 U.S. 747, 758, n.9 (1982));

The complaint about “no possibility of recovery or healing” is the same justification for his “Present” vote that Ted Strickland used when he called me in 2001.

His call came in response to my call to his office objecting to the congressman’s initiation of legal action against Mike Azinger, the Republican he had defeated the previous November, and whose campaign I had worked on for no more than 6 hours. I saw Strickland’s legal action, which turns out to have been an Ohio Elections Commission (OEC) complaint, as a vindictive hounding of a defeated opponent with no apparent purpose other than to financially harm him.

As was the norm at the time in most congressional offices, I had left my full contact information, including address, when I called. And as the norm was at the time for people living in a congressperson’s district, I expected to see some kind of written response a few weeks later.

I did not ask Strickland’s office to have the Congressman call me back, but he did. As I recall it, from the sound quality of the call, I believe he was in a car on a speaker phone, and that there was at least one other person in the car. I believe that one of the other person(s) in the car dialed the call and started the conversation before putting me on the phone with the Congressman. (These details are provided so that skeptical readers will understand that this phone conversation did indeed take place.)

I felt that I had to be guarded in my conversation, because I assumed Strickland knew that Azinger had spoken to me about the legal action, which had received no press coverage that I was aware of, and that anything I said might be relevant to that matter (at the time, I thought the action involved was a civil suit, not an OEC complaint). It was obvious that Strickland was interested in setting the record straight with me, and it didn’t take too long before he went to the “no possibility of recovery or healing” argument.

I believe that I had obtained the text of the resolution by that point. In response to the “no possibility of recovery or healing” argument, I told Ted Strickland that:

  • The language he objected to was in a Supreme Court ruling that the Resolution cited.
  • A person could disagree with what the Supreme Court said and still support the Resolution condemning the publication of the APA study.
  • 355 other congresspersons, at least some of whom would agree with Strickland that healing and recovery are indeed possible after childhood sexual abuse, didn’t see the citation of the Supreme Court decision as an impediment to their “Yes” vote. Yet, somehow, he did.

I essentially told him that if he objected so strongly to any language implying permanent damage to all sexually exploited children, that he should have voted “No” on the Resolution instead of “Present.” My recollection is that at the end of the conversation we agreed to disagree.

I’ll add this now to my response at the time:

  • The “whereases” in a Resolution can often be statements of opinion, but in the case of the citation of the Supreme Court decision, it’s an historical statement of fact. It’s not disputable; there’s nothing to object to; it is what it is.
  • Because the “whereas” Strickland had a problem with is really an historical statement of fact, you didn’t have to agree with all the “whereases,” including the reference to the Supreme Court decision, to agree with what was “resolved,” namely (text saved at blog host):

That Congress–

      (1) condemns and denounces all suggestions in the article ‘A Meta-Analytic Examination of Assumed Properties of Child Sexual Abuse Using College Samples’ that indicate that sexual relationships between adults and ‘willing’ children are less harmful than believed and might be positive for ‘willing’ children (Psychological Bulletin, vol. 124, No. 1, July 1998);
      (2) vigorously opposes any public policy or legislative attempts to normalize adult-child sex or to lower the age of consent;
      (3) urges the President likewise to reject and condemn, in the strongest possible terms, any suggestion that sexual relations between children and adults–regardless of the child’s frame of mind–are anything but abusive, destructive, exploitive, reprehensible, and punishable by law; and
      (4) encourages competent investigations to continue to research the effects of child sexual abuse using the best methodology, so that the public, and public policymakers, may act upon accurate information.

What was “resolved” did NOT, as Strickland claimed to the Athens Journal, declare “that anyone who has had a childhood sexual relationship with an adult can never have a healthy and loving sexual relationship in later life.” What was “resolved” also did NOT, as Strickland also claimed, “rule out the possibility of healing.” Only the Supreme Court decision cited in the “Whereases” leading up to what was “resolved” did.

Have we not gotten to the point where it’s perfectly obvious that Ted Strickland may have voted “Present” on HR CON 107, but that, for the reasons stated in his one-minute speech (the speech where he in essence called 355 of his colleagues a technically unqualified pack of liars with no right to criticize his professional colleagues), he was obviously and passionately against it?

* * * * * *

One of the reasons that I originally felt that bringing up Strickland’s vote on H CON RES 107 would not be a good idea was that Mike Azinger did bring it up during the 2000 campaign, and still lost by 18 points. This occurred partially because Azinger didn’t bring up enough other issues consistently, but in hindsight, a bigger part of the problem was that Strickland’s “Present” vote would arguably have little effect on his future conduct as a congressman.

Ah, but we’re not talking about Ted Strickland the congressman any more, are we? We’re considering Ted Strickland as a possible governor of an entire state of 11 million people, an annual budget of many billions of dollars, and responsibility over a workforce of over 45,000 (excluding all state university employees and certain others).

As such, the potential mindset of Ted Strickland the possible governor needs to be given much more scrutiny than that of Ted Strickland the 6th District congressman. Since, as was mentioned in Part 1 of this series, his gubernatorial campaign’s lack of issues specificity provides no meaningful guidance, we need to look wherever we can for clues.

There are plenty of potential clues in Ted Strickland’s 1999 “Present” vote, his reaction to the Resolution in question, and his stated reason for opposing it, that have potential implications on how a Governor Ted Strickland would carry out his executive and administrative duties. These will be discussed in the final part of this series.

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2 Comments

  1. [...] To who? You? Please. Much evidence to the contrary, but even so why is his vote, his rant on the floor and his current explanation “off limits”? Shouldn’t his persuasive explanation be reported in the context of the vote? It is clear that members of the House confronted with the resolution were intimidated into voting for it because not to do so would have brought wild accusations of their being soft on pedophiles. [...]

    Pingback by NixGuy.com » Backlash! Oh no! — October 21, 2006 @ 9:58 am

  2. [...] Stand by your convictions, even the politically unpopular ones. [...]

    Pingback by NixGuy.com » Civility vs. Integrity — October 29, 2006 @ 9:17 am

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