The day after Super Tuesday, Dr. Jason Johnson discusses the fall of Dennis Kucinich in Cleveland, Sarah Palin’s moves for 2012 and the lack of enthusiasm in the state of Ohio.
Even though I was not born in Cleveland, Ohio, I consider myself a pseudo-expert on the city due to my years as a college professor at Hiram College (about 40 minutes from the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame). And if there’s one thing that stands out about the Cleveland area, it’s the amazingly dire and depressing way that people speak about the city. Any city that promotes itself by saying “We’re Not Detroit!” has some serious self-esteem issues. All you have to do is watch “Parma State of Mind” (a cover of New York State of Mind about the Cleveland suburbs) and you have to wonder how anybody can govern a region that’s so depressed.
So you have to give credit to Marcy Kaptur, the Congresswoman who beat Dennis Kucinich in the intra-party primary on Super Tuesday for figuring out a way to tap into the Cleveland zeitgeist. She took all of that rust-belt, scratch-off-ticket-buying, chain-link-fence-using, skoal-chewing angst of Northeast Ohio and hit the former “Boy Mayor” with a radio ad he couldn’t counter.
The big knock against Kucinich was that he was a national Congressman rather than a local one. He spent a lot of time running for president twice, speaking all over the world and most recently flirting with the idea that he would run for an open Congressional seat in Washington State if things didn’t work out in Ohio.
Kaptur pounced on that faster than you can say King James, running this killer radio ad entitled “Moving Truck” where she compared Dennis to some of the most notorious folks in the history of Cleveland. Art Modell, who stole the Cleveland Browns from the city, turned them into the Baltimore Ravens and then won a Super Bowl. And, of course, everyone’s favorite whipping-boy LeBron James who gave Clevelanders seven years of great basketball, but had the nerve to leave for Miami once his contract was completed! Down to Dennis: with his eye on Seattle he fit the bill as yet another Clevelander who was about to jump ship the moment he didn’t get what he wanted.
Marcy hit the “Boy Mayor” where it hurt, and right where Clevelanders could feel it.
To be fair, this won’t stop locals from whining, complaining or bemoaning the city like God has personally abandoned them. However, unlike former Congressman Dennis Kucinich, Marcy Kaptur realizes just how self-effacing and depressed her new district is and worked that to her advantage. More importantly, she managed to elevate LeBron to ‘reverse’-Kingmaker. That’s quite an accomplishment for a rust-belt Congresswoman from Toledo.
This article originally appeared online at Politic365.com.
Two of the fiercest liberals in Congress, Dennis Kucinich and Marcy Kaptur, are about to engage in one of the biggest political oophagies in recent memory.
What’s an oophagy? That’s the process wherein embryos within a mother’s uterus – let’s say a shark – all fight and eventually consume one another in a battle to see who will actually be born and who will die a horrible death never escaping the womb. Oophagies are pretty rare in nature, occurring mostly in vicious predators like sharks, some small larvae … and, yes, politicians.
Right now the state of Ohio is witness to one of the most disturbing examples of political cannibalism that we have seen in years and it’s disappointing because while both political embryos deserve to live, only one of them is going to survive.
Thanks to the highly controversial, likely unconstitutional and even politically short-sighted actions of the state Republican House and Senate all of the voting districts in the state of Ohio have been re-written in a way to all but guarantee Republicans stay in safe seats.
This is actually pretty poor form for the newly Republican state legislature because the usual political process is to use re-districting to protect long standing incumbents of either party and let the young kids and newly elected fight it out in the arena. However, in John Kasich’s Ohio the GOP district planners decided to combine two key districts, forcing two long serving Democratic liberals, Marcy Kaptur of Toledo and nationally known liberal gadfly Dennis Kucinich of Cleveland’s West Side into a political oophagy where only one will survive.
Kaptur has been representing the stretch of land between Cleveland and Detroit since 1983 and her liberal credentials and work ethic are pretty much without reproach. Along the same lines Kucinich has a long and successful career in Northeast Ohio that has liberals across the nation clamoring for his re-election.
Kucinich was once dubbed the “Boy Mayor” for ousting a Republican incumbent in 1977 to become mayor of Cleveland at only 31 years of age. Later in life he entered Congress in 1996 and has run for president in both 2004 and 2008. Now both of these candidates and their constituents face an uncertain future as these two left wing predators tear each other apart to see who gets to represent an incredibly safe democratic District for the next few decades. Kaptur has already accused Kucinich of coordinating his campaign with a Super PAC out of Texas that has run ads on his behalf, while he has accused her of not paying taxes and supporting Bush’s wars. Neither of these charges really hold much water, but the fact that they are being lobbed says a lot about how serious these contenders are.
No party is strong enough to stop two competitors from devouring each other if that’s what it takes to win.
On next Tuesday’s primary we’ll see who eventually survives this battle. As of right now, polls suggest the race is pretty close. Unlike Kaptur however, Kucinich has another plan if he loses. There has been a drive to get him to run for Congress out of liberal Washington State and his campaign has not entirely squelched rumors that he would enter that race if things don’t go well for him in Ohio. Can an Ohio Congressman be born again in Washington State? Unlike oophagies in nature, our political cannibalism has been known to give people second chances, so we’ll wait and see after next Tuesday.
This article originally appeared online at Politic365.com.
Hiram College professor Jason Johnson discussed the impact of an Ohio Congressional Resdistricting proposal recently proposed by Buckeye State Republicans on a recent edition of The Sound of Ideas on Cleveland NPR affiliate WCPN.
There’s been a change of heart by 10th District Congressional Representative Dennis Kucinich, who now says he may stay in Ohio after all. The 15 year congressman says he was surprised by the GOP-proposed congressional map which was released yesterday… and did not eliminate his Cleveland-based district. The still unapproved proposal would instead create a new district along Lake Erie, forcing a likely face-off between Kucinich and current 9th District Representative Marcy Kaptur, of Toledo. The newly drawn map of Ohio’s congressional districts, with 16 seats instead of 18…. is designed to give the best advantage to Republicans, who dominate every branch of Ohio government. Overall, each party winds up losing one of the two seats the state lost after the 2010 census showed big population shifts to southern states. Jason Johnson is a Political Science Professor at Hiram College. He spoke with ideastream’s Bill Rice about what Republicans hope to accomplish with the new district boundaries. The newly drawn map of Ohio’s congressional districts, with 16 seats instead of 18…. is designed to give the best advantage to Republicans, who dominate every branch of Ohio government. Overall, each party winds up losing one of the two seats the state lost after the 2010 census showed big population shifts to southern states. Jason Johnson is a Political Science Professor at Hiram College. He spoke with ideastream’s Bill Rice about what Republicans hope to accomplish with the new district boundaries.
Click here to listen to Jason Johnson on WCPN segement “Implications of New Congressional Map for Northeast Ohio.”
Men and women love to play dress up. From a very early age we’re taught that whatever it is you want to be when you grow up, you should dress like it, and if you dress like it long enough other people will expect you to be it, too. That’s why parents buy plastic stethoscopes and white lab coats for their kids, why you aren’t going to see as many Brett Favre jersey’s at Pop Warner football games this fall, and why dads get a little nervous if they catch their sons parading around the house in mom’s old shoes and church hats. Of course Rich Iott would like us to believe that what we were taught growing up wasn’t true at all. That dressing like something doesn’t mean you want to be like those people or their beliefs. Otherwise how else could a man running for Congress justify dressing up as a Nazi soldier on the weekend for years of his adult life.
About a week ago the Atlantic Magazine and “Real Time with Bill Maher” did stories that have brought the little known race of Ohio’s 9th Congressional District into national spotlight. The district, which runs along Lake Erie and includes Toledo, Ohio, is pretty solidly in the hand of Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) who has represented the 9th since 1983. Her opponent, Tea Party favorite Rich Iott, would’ve just been a Republican sacrificial lamb had it not been for photos surfacing of him dressed as a Nazi grinning, drinking beer and palling it up with his son and friends. Now he’s a national story although not for the reasons that he should be.
I don’t necessarily believe Rich Iott is a Nazi, he claims that the photos of him and friends cheesing for the camera dressed as the Panzer Wiking division of the SS were part of a reenactment group that he used to be a part of. He’s even released photos of other reenactments he’s done from World War I, and the Civil War. Iott claims that he and his fellow re-enactors studied the actions and history of the division and shared their research with local schools and clubs. I wonder if that included how the Wiking division ran Jewish prisoners through a gauntlet, shot them at close range and threw them in a pit. Or that the Wiking division was home to Joseph Mengele, the Nazi “Angel of Death” who performed bizarre and inhuman experiments on men, women and children at Auschwitz. In all of those father-son bonding weekends out in the woods it never occurred to Rich Iott how disgusting, anti-patriotic and offensive such activities were? Anybody that tone deaf to American history shouldn’t be serving in the federal government. Of course the issue isn’t just the whole “Nazi thing” but war reenactors in general.
There are thousands of men and even some women who engage in war Reenactments all over the country, even some minorities have been known to dress up as Union and Confederate soldiers. Some reenactment groups, like the 37th Calvary in Texas make a point to show that they have Black members who participate in their mock battles as well. As far as I’m concerned, anyone who wants to dress up as enemies of the United States as an excuse to tailgate and live out some war fantasy doesn’t deserve to serve their nation in Congress. Someone dressing up as a Confederate soldier, White or Black, let alone a Nazi whom we were fighting just 60 years ago, is showing a lack of historical empathy that I think would make them less than qualified for the job.
This is not the “who had it worse” game. It’s foolish to compare the Holocaust with slavery or the genocides in Rwanda or any of a slew of man-on-man abuses in world history. However, I think that anyone who chooses to bask in the reenactment glow, whether it’s former slave owners or Nazis has every right to do it, but I sure as heck don’t want them representing me.
I would hate to think that in the congressional elections of 2070 that there would be candidates out there who spent their weekends in the mountains reenacting the planning and execution of 9/11. I doubt voters would tolerate that, just like today’s voters shouldn’t tolerate Confederate or Nazi reenactors without good reason. Either way, Rich Iott has re-learned a lesson about dressing up that he should’ve learned when he was a kid. Let’s just hope his son’s Nazi photos don’t show up on Facebook when he’s applying for college.