Sunday, November 05, 2006


No crying for Bennett

The Dispatch's Joe Hallett can at times be a terrific writer and at times trip his way into hackerdom. Today, in his column about Bob Bennett, Joe has unfortunately again fallen into the latter way of working.
You’ve got to respect a pro like Bob Bennett. He gets it off his chest and moves on, no hard feelings. And when he thinks you’ve done something right, he says so.

I could have parried Bennett’s complaints about the media, but when the most successful state party chairman in Ohio history wants to rant, he deserves his day. Besides, it is easy to understand why Bennett’s blood is boiling. If the polls are correct, his party is going down in a big way Tuesday and good public servants including Sen. Mike DeWine and U.S. Rep. Deborah Pryce could be swept away in the onslaught.

Bennett, who became state chairman in 1988, considered retiring in 2004, but White House political director Karl Rove and others talked him into staying through President Bush’s re-election. Now, Bennett probably is feeling that he stayed two years too long.
It is always puzzling to us that the press corps feels some obligation stage the kabuki theatre of patting the losers on the back and recapping campaigns with a sophistication usually reserved for ESPN Game Day.

To imply that one has to give Bennett respect for being "a pro" in the political game is a tasteless show of disrespect of Ohioans and the enormous problems the state now faces. Bennett is not simply a college football coach who has lost his touch and hung on for one season too long.

He is more like the coach whose incompetence and tolerance for misdeeds threatens to destroy an entire university.

Joe - shouldn't we find the real measure of Bob Bennett legacy by asking and answering these three questions?
  1. Are Ohioans on average better off or worse off now than when Bennett took the helm of the Ohio GOP?

  2. Do corporations and wealthy special interest have much more influence over government decisions now than when Bennett took the helm of the Ohio GOP?

  3. Do Ohioans have a better opinion of the political process now than when Bennett took the helm of the Ohio GOP?
Bennett and his party had nearly every bit of political power in their hands for over a decade and they blew it. They could have reined in the corruption and conservative drift, but they decided it was easier to play that game.

More importantly, Bennett & Co. have presided over the decline of Ohio's economy, schools, and government services. These are not clocks and scores that get reset on Monday mornings.

Joe - you may be willing to let Bennett respectfullly drift quietly into your memories, but we aren't. If Bennett shouldn't be held accountable in the books of Ohio's history for much of the mess we now have to clean up, who should?


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