Dems Shocked to Learn Marines Kill People, or, Why the Right Side of the Ruling Party Keeps Winning

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Mother Jones provides gory details on the Democratic party leadership's successful effort to derail Paul Hackett's Senate campaign in Ohio. The choicest bit: Hackett's own party may have been trying to Swift Boat the hotheaded rising star.

"The first rumor that I heard was probably a month and a half ago," Dave Lane, chair of the Clermont County Democratic Party, told me the day after Hackett pulled out of the race. "I heard it more than once that someone was distributing photos of Paul in Iraq with Iraqi war casualties with captions or suggestions that Paul had committed some sort of atrocities. Who did it? I have no idea. It sounds like a Republican M.O. to me, but I have no proof of that. But if it was someone on my side of the fence, I have a real problem with that. I have a hard time believing that a Democrat would do that to another Democrat."

In late November, Hackett got a call from Sen. Harry Reid. "I hear there's a photo of you mistreating bodies in Iraq. Is it true?" demanded the Senate minority leader. "No sir," replied Hackett. To drive home his point, Hackett traveled to Washington to show Reid's staff the photo in question. Hackett declined to send me the photo, but he insists that it shows another Marine—not Hackett—unloading a sealed body bag from a truck. "There was nothing disrespectful or unprofessional," he insists. "That was a photo of a Marine doing his job. If you don't like what they're doing, don't send Marines into war."

A staffer in Reid's office confirmed that Hackett had showed them several photos.

Whole story. Special bonus: Hackett was apparently doing oppo research of his own.

Meanwhile, the Republicans appear to have settled their own radioactive-candidate problem with a minimum of bloodshed. You may recall that last year the Bush family was getting set to stab Katherine Harris in the back when it looked like the widely hated George W. loyalist would be a weak contender for Bill Nelson's Senate seat in the Sunshine State. The GOP leadership was supposed to be backing State House speaker Allan Bense instead. They have apparently rethought that position and are on the verge of supporting the dogged Harris, who in polling has closed to within nine points of Nelson. Which is not a prediction about the upcoming elections in Ohio or Florida, but a pretty striking difference in how the two parties handle questions of internal organization.

NEXT: Guess There Hasn't Seemed to Be Much Call For It 'Round These Parts

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  1. One of the best things the Dems had going for them in the upcoming election was the number of “fighting Democrats”– Iraq veterans coming home to run for office– in various races around the country. The fact that they are intentionally sinking some of these novice (but genuine) candidates in favor of establishment business-as-usual candidates surprises me not in the least. Why wouldn’t the Democrats stick with the winning formula that has gotten us the one-party rule we are all enjoying so very much? Yet another reason that this country should really look into getting a two-party political system.

  2. Way to go Democrats. Run off the honest to god war heros and spend your money trying to get NASCAR Dads to vote for Hillary. Let me know how the ROI on that works out.

    At this rate the Republicans could run the meth addicted, Klansman, son of a Haliburton executive with downs syndrom and the Democrats would still find a way to lose.

  3. Well, wait a minute: “Hackett declined to send me the photo, but he insists that it shows another Marine–not Hackett–unloading a sealed body bag from a truck.” How did this even become an issue? Is it purely a smear campaign that got him off the ballot? Why did Hackett care about a photograph of someone else unloading a body bag on “a scorching day”?
    The whole thing smells fishy from all corners, really.

  4. Would a candidate who calls the President a “son of a bitch” really be effective? And the short, happy senatorial campaign of Jeanine Pirro in New York demonstrates that Republicans also know how to pull off a circular firing squad. (Try http://newyorkmetro.com/news/politics/16050/index.html for more info.)

  5. Special bonus: Hackett was apparently doing oppo research of his own

    I heard that everything that was released, was released by disgruntled Hackett staffers who were pissed about being not having a job until Nov. and that it was without Hackett’s consent. (although I dunno how much I buy that)

    This story in general has a lot of weird points.

    1. If you are going to posteur yourself as a “fighting Dem”, then by definition you can’t bow out because of pressure from the establsishment party.

    2. The Democratic party is stupid. Their actions, if true (that they were calling potential donors and trying to dissuade them from supporting hackett), are reprehensible. Why are they afraid of a primary if this Brown person is such a great candidate?

    3. I think this reinforces the whole notion that the current Democratic party leadership is completely full of shit, and are just trying to keep “company guys” in office. They talk about wanting “progressives” or “grassroots” candidates and then undermine them and do everything they can to support establishment candidates.

    Being from Illinois, I dont have a dog in the race, and maybe Brown is a better candidate. It’s too bad both sides didn’t let the primary voters decide that though.

    Oh Democracy, where have you gone?

  6. Looks like Kos and Atrios’ political consulting careers are safe for the forseeable future. Just because the candidates you endorse never win is no reason for the party hacks to stop listening to you, is it? Want to bet that Bob Shrum won’t be working on a presidential primary campaign soon?

    And Pirro’s flameout wasn’t entirely a party-orchestrated hit. She was an excruciatingly bad candidate with big-time hubby liability and apparently said hubby was trash talking her to the party…when stuff like that gets out there’s not much anyone can do to save you.

  7. Actually, my impression is that Kos is toeing the company line on Hackett and throwing him under the bus somewhat.

    And personally, I think a straight-talking Marine who calls our 39-43% approval President a “son of a bitch” makes for a pretty compelling candidate. But then I think the President is a son of a bitch. But I don’t think I am alone. I keep pulling for the Dems to get off the mat and actually be an effective opposition party, and then I keep being unamazed when they don’t.

  8. I think a straight-talking Marine who calls our 39-43% approval President a “son of a bitch” makes for a pretty compelling candidate.

    That’s setting the bar pretty low.

    What does this Marine think about affirmative action? Tax reform? Second Amendment rights? The drug war? Freedom of (campaign) speech?

    If he gets it wrong on all those, will he still be a compelling candidate just because he calls Bush names?

  9. Would a candidate who calls the President a “son of a bitch” really be effective?

    Only if he did it during a live, prime time, nationally televised debate.

  10. RC Dean–
    The comment I was responding to used calling Bush an SOB as the sole criterion for disqualifying a candidate. I was simply pointing out that, on that single basis of supporting or not supporting him, calling Bush an SOB actually spoke in his favor.

    More broadly, I don’t know what he thinks on those issues, and it hardly matters now. My immediate concern is a return to divided government. We have seen what one party rule gets us, and it ain’t pretty.

  11. “I think a straight-talking Marine who calls our 39-43% approval President a “son of a bitch” makes for a pretty compelling candidate.”

    Theory: If libertarians find a candidate rationally compelling, he may win, but if libertarians are emotionally moved by a candidate, he has not a chance in hell.

    Corollary: Libertarians are moved by outbursts that strike others as ‘kooky’.

  12. “internal organization”
    In 25 words or less, can you explain the organization of internal organs?
    We’re talking life and death here.
    There must be a precise organization…

  13. So, uh, is there anything in the way of evidence, circumstantial or otherwise, to suggest that Democrats were behind the attacks on Hackett’s service?

  14. What does this Marine think about affirmative action? Tax reform? Second Amendment rights? The drug war? Freedom of (campaign) speech?

    Well since we’re not going to get a viable candidate who we’d find agreeable on any of these issues, Dem or GOP, I guess name-calling is about the only thing to go with.

    Me? All the more reason I’m staying home in November.

  15. Corollary: Libertarians are moved by outbursts that strike others as ‘kooky’.

    Ya think? This is the party that ran Michael “Blow up UN Headquarters!” Badnarik.

  16. And personally, I think a straight-talking Marine who calls our 39-43% approval President a “son of a bitch” makes for a pretty compelling candidate.

    Hate to break the bad news, but Bush isn’t going to be running for any more elections. Don’t tell the DNC that, though — it would be kind of like telling a 4 year old there isn’t really a Santa Claus.

    I was simply pointing out that, on that single basis of supporting or not supporting him, calling Bush an SOB actually spoke in his favor.

    As would my calling you a supercilious ass-wipe would actually speak in my favor, I suppose.

  17. So, uh, is there anything in the way of evidence, circumstantial or otherwise, to suggest that Democrats were behind the attacks on Hackett’s service?

    About the same amount of evidence there was to suggest that Cheney was drunk a couple of weekends ago.

  18. Doug,

    Let’s see, Cheney said he had drunk “one beer.”

    Do you have anyone saying that they’d released “one photo” or told “one story” about Hackett?

    Survey says: bzzzt.

  19. He’s a Marine. Marines can’t lie.

    Why do you hate the United States Marine Corps joe?

  20. I’m disappointed that Katherine Harris hasn’t done any more shitfaced television appearances since that Hannity & Colmes campaign announcement.

  21. So, uh, is there anything in the way of evidence, circumstantial or otherwise, to suggest that Democrats were behind the attacks on Hackett’s service?

    Well, the fact that the influential insider Dems wanted him out of the race, and mounted a campaign against him to give their guy a clear field, certainly provides a suggestive context, no?

  22. No more suggestive than the fact that the Republicans considered him a stronger candidate, RC.

    But still “suggestive contexts” are a far sight from “established patterns,” nevermind “evidence.”

  23. Douglas–

    Supercilious, or “having or showing arrogant superiority to and disdain of those one views as unworthy,” and asswipe. Yes, sounds like the President, actually.

    But really, are you related to Bush or something? This can’t be the first time you’ve heard tell of someone not liking W, right? And is there anything about Bush’s not running again that makes him less of an SOB? If I asked you your opinion of Bush, other than confirming that you want to perform fellatio on him, would you respond “he’s not running again” and leave it at that? His not running again really has nothing to do with one’s overall opinion about him, does it?

    But you raise an interesting point– are you sure Bush will no longer be President in 3 years? What if Bush decides, in his capacity as commander in chief, that it is in the best interests of the nation’s security that he remain in the Oval Office and elections be delayed as long as required? Is there anything in this administration’s legal reasoning on the subject of executive power that would prevent that? Does that bother you at all? Or does it just give you wood?

  24. As much as I enjoy seeing the Democrats crash and burn, I have to admit that they did the smart thing by getting rid of Hackett. He was a disaster waiting to happen. His short campaign for congress last year provided the GOP with more campaign material than they ever could have used in a single campaign.

    Hackett is a narcissistic, arrogant, loudmouth. While being a arrogant narcissist is normal for Congressmen, being reckless with your statements is the kiss of death. The Dems were right to kneecap him. The man would have saved Ohio Republicans from themselves.

    But wait, maybe he was a Rovian plant. Which means the Dems have cracked the Secret Code. Or else they’re using better tinfoil in their hats.

  25. Clearly, his 48% showing in the second most conservative district in the country demonstates that he couldn’t possibly have won.

  26. Clearly, his 48% showing in the second most conservative district in the country demonstates that he couldn’t possibly have won.

    Which was largely due to voter disgust with the Republican candidate (forget her name) who voted for a massive tax increase.

  27. Poor Jeff, you can dish it out but you can’t take it, eh? Don’t drink so much whiskey before breakfast, that’s my advice.

  28. Captain Holly,

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but there is quite a bit of disgust among rank and file Ohio Republicans towards their party throughout the state, is there not?

    National issues like the war and the deficit, local issues like Coingate – I believe Bush is in the negative double digits in his positive/negative ratings there.

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