Hackett Interview: Part II

Here is the second part of my interview with Paul Hackett. Part I was posted a couple of days ago.

George W. Bush. Bad President or worst President ever? I suppose the answer is obvious to all sane people, but I asked Paul anyway. "Certainly the worst President in my lifetime and in the last 100 years," says Paul. "People find him decisive, which is really humorous. He is indecisive, stupid, but not ignorant. Ignorant means you've not been afforded an education. He was and it didn't take traction with him. He is a stupid man, an intellectually lazy man, and has done much damage. He is an absolute disgrace to the country." Paul says he was baffled by Bush's reelection, "What does it say about us that we re-elected him?" The blame rests, Paul adds, with the Democratic party and its lack of leadership.

(Update 04/22/06: The fine folks at Santorum Blog linked to this interview because Paul had harsh words for Casey. It doesn't change the fact that Santorum is a douche-bag and, interestingly enough, the word santorum has acquired new meaning in recent years. Also, I'd like to remind all Santorum fans that one of his senior aides, Robert Traynham, is an out gay man. You have to wonder why Rick Santorum, who believes man-on-man sex and man-on-dog sex are the same, doesn't mind associating with a gay man. You know what they say about men who are extemely homophobic.)

Paul believes that Democrats will not win in November unless they offer a significantly better alternative to Republicans. In fact, he predicts Bob Casey will be narrowly defeated by Rick Santorum in Pennsylvania and that Mike DeWine will trounce Sherrod Brown in Ohio because "they (Casey and Brown) don't stand for anything except, 'I'm a Democrat.'" "Big fucking deal," says Paul. "How does that put food on the table? How does that deal with the war in Iraq?" He predicts Casey and Brown will be unable to attract cross-over votes and moderate votes because they represent more of the same. He singles out Casey as someone who is a Democrat by name, but opposes a woman's right to choose, is against gay marriage and "is pissing down the back of his base." What's worse, Casey is "as inspiring as moss growing on a log."

Despite his harsh words, Paul is rooting for like-minded individuals running for office and doing his part to help them win, particularly through the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) PAC. His role, Paul says, is to help them raise money, especially in areas like New York, Washington DC, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Miami. According to Paul, Andrew Horne, who is running in KY 3rd district, has a tremendous shot at winning. Others veterans on his radar include, Chris Carney in Pennsylvania, Eric Massa in New York, Charlie Brown in California.

Paul is also supporting James Webb, a decorated Marine and Vietnam vet, who was the Secretary of Navy in the Reagan administration. He moved to the Democratic party out of what Paul considers his "disgust at the religious fanatics" who have hijacked the Republican party and have "no interest in helping working class Americans." Paul is convinced that the current crop of veterans seeking office will become a "legitimate honest voice" in politics, and help the country deal with the Iraq situation and "get it back on track." The Democratic party, Paul contends, must shed its fears and embrace veterans and Reagan Democrats, and encourage them to return to the party. "Democrats don't understand the military," Paul feels. "The party doesn't have an institutional understanding" of how to deal with the many vets who are running as Democrats. To win in '06, Paul suggests that the party embrace them, and return to its moderate, working class-focused populist agenda.

In addition to helping vets, Paul is helping the local Democrats in southern Ohio. Close on the heels of the Democratic Forum's Victory 2006 event, Paul is participating in the Warren County Democrats' neighbor-to-neighbor canvas event coming up later this month. "Happy to do whatever I can to help them," Paul says.

What about his own political career? That, of course, is the million dollar question on the minds of those who have followed his rise to prominence. "What political career? I have no political career!" Paul protests. "I don't want a political career. I got drawn into this because I wanted to see democracy take place in the 2nd congressional district," says Paul. Same reason, he says, why he got into the Senate race. He received calls from Sen. Reid and Sen. Schumer after Ted Strickland, Tim Ryan and Sherrod Brown had all declined to run because "they thought it was too tough, too hard and undoable." But will he run again, I asked him. "Nothing I see on the horizon that would make me wanna run again," Paul says without second thought. It's very clear that he means every word of it.

Paul also realizes that sometimes it's not just about the election or the office. Sometimes it's about shaking things up, about saying things that career politicians don't have the guts to say. "I've had a more important impact on this country in the year that I've gotten back (from Iraq) and I've not been elected to anything!" he says. And then almost as if he considers his political career over, "My footnote in history will be that in part due to my blunt direct tough talk about this administration ... because there was no one else publicly with the microphone or with access to the public microphone who'd stepped up and taken that tough a swing at George W. Bush. Wasn't John Kerry, wasn't Jack Murtha ... until November. None of these elected officials, despite having access to the microphone, had the courage to call him what he is: chicken-hawk son of a bitch." Classic Paul. He is happy that more politicians are speaking out openly against Bush. "Don't apologize for being harsh," he warns Democrats. "He's on the run and you gotta keep kicking him." (Ed note: Reid, please read.)

Though he's mounted two campaigns in a year, Paul is no fan of running for office. In order to run for office, Paul says, you have to keep begging for money and it takes away from your voice. What's worse, you have "these young political types who have a thimble full of courage all put together" who constantly tell you what you can and can't say. "Why is John Kerry a milk-toast namby-pamby boring guy" despite being a decorated Vietnam veteran, Paul asks rhetorically. Because of the cabal of young people telling him to be "careful what he says." Paul adds, "There are times in history when you can't be careful what you say, and this is one of those times. That's what leadership is about. If you're wrong that's okay. But at least demonstrate to the people that you have the courage to stand up for what you believe in and let them decide whether they believe in what you believe in."

One can only hope that the Democratic party will take his advice to heart.

Some other highlights from the interview:

On people who cover their minivans with yellow ribbon magnets and W stickers:
"Ask them if they have sons and daughters over there. Or husbands and wives. They bought off on the Hollywood sense of, "I'm serving my country and supporting my troops with the yellow ribbon magnet and W sticker on the back of my minivan." I say to them, "Fuck you!" Give up your job, your wife, your kids and fight over there if it's so goddamn good."

On Chuck Schumer's understanding of Ohio:
"You can give Chuck Schumer a map, a compass and a GPS and he couldn't find Columbus from Cincinnati. I've forgotten more about this state than he can learn from reading 24/7 for the next two years. He doesn't have a fucking clue about the state of Ohio, and to a lesser extent Sherrod (Brown) doesn't understand southern Ohio. You can't win without southern Ohio. It's Appalachian, it's a different breed."

On Ted Strickland's chances in the gubernatorial race:
"Strickland has a real good chance. He is a son of southern Ohio and understands rural districts. His greatest challenge will be overriding his political handlers and organizers who are products of DC, Northeast Ohio, and override their faulty strategic understanding of southern Ohio."

On Jean Schmidt and her "second diploma":
"She's a pathological liar and we all know it (the diploma) never existed. We saw it again with the John Murtha comments, when she claimed she didn't know Murtha was a marine. Why then say marines don't cut and run? She knew he was a marine. Absolute disgrace!"

On Bob McEwen:
"Bob McEwen is the same (as Jean Schmidt). He bounced over a hundred checks on the house bank, back when he was a congressman, illegally used congressional computers to campaign and was then finally defeated by Ted Strickland. He has been a lobbyist for the last several years. He's a founding member of the club of culture of corruption. He can't even balance his own goddamn checkbook! When he finally gets thrown out, he goes and hones his art of cronyism and corruption as a lobbyist."

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