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.
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.