Friday, October 07, 2005

Hackett v Brown

In response to Neil’s questions on Hackett in the post below, I’ve been reading about the Hackett-Brown match-up. I feel bad for Hackett, because I’m pretty sure he really didn’t want to get in a primary battle and had a preference ordering: Run against DeWine > Don’t Run > Run Against Brown. So because of that, there are lots of posts about who would be better to run in Ohio, the respected liberal Congressman Brown, or the Iraq veteran. The most in-depth piece is at Prospect, by David Sirota.

Unfortunately, most of these posts seem to deal only with who will be better-equipped to win the primary. State organization, and factors relevant to it (money, union councils, etc) and liberal-ness certainly favor Brown in a primary. But that’s not the question. The questions are who would be a better a) Senator and b) match up against DeWine.

And I think in both cases it’s pretty clear it would be Hackett (especially if he had Brown’s machinery supporting him like he did in August 05). More moderate, more support from the DLC, more charismatic, and a more attractive message and unifying theme. The biggest thing Sirota mentions about Brown being better on liberal issues is that he’s led the fight against free-trade… which sorry, does not appeal to me, nor to the suburban voters of Ohio. (Ohio is heavily rust-belt and has as much reason to be upset at free-trade as any other state, but it continues to be an oddly unsuccessful issue for Democrats here as it is anywhere else in the nation; just ask Kerry, Edwards, or the West Virginia Democratic Party).

See, this isn’t handicapping about who will win the primary and telling the probable loser to clear out. This is about advising who should win the primary, and trying to tell the other to clear out.

There’s also a couple interesting ontological questions. Hackett did well in his organization because he had Brown’s organization backing him up. Does this mean without Brown he can’t do anything? Or does it mean Brown was the person at the time, and if it weren’t Brown, it’d be someone else? I feel it’s probably inaccurate to say against Brown he would have no other sources of support.

Oh, one last thing. Sirota’s explanation for why a 14-term liberal Congressmen won’t be attacked as an insider by the GOP:
Then again, it would be laughably ineffective for Republicans to try to label Brown an "insider." This is a guy who, for instance, has gone to battle against his own party by leading the opposition to bipartisan free-trade deals.

The only laughable thing about that is the idea that Republicans would withhold from labeling a Democrat an insider.


At 10:13 AM, Blogger dadahead said...

The questions are who would be a better a) Senator and b) match up against DeWine.

Agreed, but you only address (b), and ignore (a) entirely.

Hackett's more moderate stances may help him beat DeWine, but they certainly won't make him a better Senator - the last thing we need is another DLC/Blue Dog Dem in the Senate.

At 1:37 PM, Blogger Rousseau said...

Perhaps I don't address it directly enough.

I (and many of the pundit class involved) like free trade (and I fear the drift to xenophobia that some anti-free-traders supported by unions can drift to). I also like moderates not just as a matter of electability, but as a matter of correctly representing the views of the populace (small-d hat). And I think Hackett is a good voice on military matters for the Democratic party, both charismatic and a good narrative backed up by dedicated service. Having him in the Senate as we move towards discussing how to end the Iraq debacle (an argument Democrats may actually be able to input) will be important.

None of this isn't to say Brown wouldn't be a wondreful Senator, but these attributes are ones that make me favor Hackett slightly. In the view of things, the difference here is small enough that electability probably overwhelms.


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