In the race tomorrow for a Congressional seat in Ohio’s conservative 2nd district, tough-talking Democrat Paul Hackett is not backing down from his harsh rhetoric toward George Bush regarding the Iraq war. Now the GOP has released a statement purporting to want to “bury” the Democratic Iraq War veteran. Certainly this must be making Republicans cringe behind the scenes.
Paul Hackett doesn’t fit conventional political profiles. He is a Marine Reservist and an Iraq war veteran who opposed the war before the U.S. invasion and remains a harsh critic of President Bush’s policy there. He is also a Democrat battling to win a special House election in Ohio in a district that has been in Republican hands for more than three decades.
On Tuesday, voters in Ohio’s 2nd Congressional District will elect a successor to former representative Rob Portman, who quit Congress to become U.S. trade representative. Hackett hopes to beat the long odds by defeating Republican nominee Jean Schmidt, a former state representative, by stressing his military service and independence
Hackett told USA Today that Bush’s taunting line, “Bring em on!” was “the most incredibly stupid comment I’ve ever heard a President of the United States make.” He also told the newspaper that, while he was willing to put his life on the line for the President, “I’ve said that I don’t like the son-of-a-[expletive] that lives in the White House.”
Both the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the National Republican Congressional Committee have bought TV time for commercials over the weekend. “He called the commander in chief a son-of-a-[expletive],” said NRCC spokesman Carl Forti. “We decided to bury him.”
Hackett, hoping to capitalize on the widespread disarray in the scandal-plagued Ohio GOP, remains unapologetic about his characterization of the President. “I said it. I meant it. I stand by it,” he said in a phone interview. “In this district, we need more straight-talking, straight-shooting politicians.”
The Republican party, however, chose an entirely inappropriate term to throw at its opponent. At a time of war when the troops, both liberal and conservative, are laying down their lives, couldn’t the Republican party think of a more appropriate adjective than “bury” to reference a man vying to become the only Iraq war veteran in Congress.
For the troops to hear that one of their own is going to be “buried” by the Republican Party sends a message that not only are the troops unimportant to the GOP in the midst of a political campaign, but also that they will be attacked and smeared in the name of politics if their beliefs do not happen to conform to Republican talking points. How can this behavior be made to conform to the mission we have given to the troops, which is to promote a democracy that can tolerate the viewpoints of diverse and different peoples? The troops, Paul Hackett, and the whole country deserve an apology for the irresponsible rhetoric.