Brown -vs- DeWine: A Race to Watch

I don't normally post an entire article. Usually there's a lead in paragraph or two, a little bit o' my take, then some more quotes I found especially relevant or meaningful. Alas, as my Ohio neighbor (and blogger extraordinaire!) Blue Girl once blecched about, I tend to enjoy and find agreement with many of the opinions of Conservative commentator, George Will.

Well, here's a column which I think even my redoubtably Democratic buddy, BG, will find some enthusiasm for.

Who knows, maybe I'll leave more commentary at the end.

Harbinger In Ohio?

By George F. Will
Sunday, March 26, 2006; Page B07

CLEVELAND -- In the central Ohio town of London, an independent pharmacy was absorbed by a national chain because, says Rep. Sherrod Brown, the pharmacy could not afford the staff needed to decipher for customers the new prescription drug entitlement that Brown voted against because the Bush administration 'let the drug companies write it.' Brown, whose district is in the western portion of the Cleveland-Akron-Canton metropolitan area, where nearly one-third of Ohio voters live, voted against authorizing the use of force in Iraq, against the Bush tax cuts, against drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and against school choice for 2,700 District of Columbia children. If Democrats are to recapture the Senate this year, Brown probably must defeat Sen. Mike DeWine in the state that secured President Bush's reelection when, late on election night, it turned red.

Brown, a political lifer, was elected to the state legislature a year after graduating from Yale University. He ran statewide at age 29, becoming secretary of state, and has been elected to the U.S. House seven times. DeWine, after four terms in the House, won a Senate seat in a Republican's dream year, 1994. But now fate has dealt him a ghastly hand."

Senators seeking a third term have 12 years of Senate votes to justify to voters. DeWine is seeking a third term in an inhospitable environment -- the middle of the second term of an incumbent president of his own party. That is when the electorate often experiences "the six-year itch," the desire to reshuffle the political deck. A recent national generic poll -- do voters generally prefer to vote for a Democrat or Republican for Congress? -- found a staggering 16-point advantage for the Democrats. The redistricting done for incumbent-protection after the 2000 Census may have made the House almost impervious to the itch -- nationally, at most 35 of 435 House races are currently considered competitive -- so voters may vent their restlessness in Senate elections. And "restless" hardly describes Ohio's dyspeptic mood regarding its Republicans, who hold all statewide offices. Scandals and tax increases drove Gov. Bob Taft's approval rating in one poll to six . He has bounced all the way back to 16. Richard Nixon's job approval rating was 24 on the eve of his resignation.

Republicans, who revere markets, should fear that the political market is working in some states, that Democrats are adapting to market signals. In Pennsylvania, the Democrats' likely Senate candidate, Bob Casey, is pro-life, and has a 10-point lead over Sen. Rick Santorum, who is seeking a third term.

Brown, whose career voting record is, according to the American Conservative Union, more liberal than another Cleveland area congressman, Dennis Kucinich, makes scant concession to conservatism, cultural or economic. He opposes bans on same-sex marriage (DeWine also opposed the ban that Ohio voters overwhelmingly passed in 2004), human cloning and partial-birth abortion. But he does favor a line-item veto and a constitutional amendment to require a balanced federal budget. That amendment, which would constitutionalize fiscal policy, is a terrible idea but a convenient gesture by Brown, who knows it is going nowhere. Besides, in 1992 his district was one of the nation's strongest for Ross Perot, giving him 27 percent.

Brown is a harbinger of a momentous, and ominous, aspect of the 2008 presidential election: For the first time in living memory, one of the major parties -- Brown's -- will be essentially hostile to free trade, the foundation of today's prosperity. The Democratic Party's protectionism operates under the dissimulating label of "fair trade.

A serious student of trade policy, Brown notes that the trade deficit for all of 1992 was $39 billion, but was $724 billion last year and $68 billion just for January 2006. He wants U.S. trade policy to force "stronger labor and environmental standards" in less-developed nations. He says the point is to "bring up their living standards." Oh, please. The primary point is to reduce the competitive advantages of nations with lower labor costs and lighter environmental regulations -- nations that many Ohioans believe have caused their state to lose 222,800 manufacturing jobs in the past 10 years.

DeWine, one of only four senators who supported John McCain in 2000, is a moderate conservative with an independent streak -- for example, he has repeatedly voted against drilling in the Alaskan refuge. This may be enough to annoy some conservatives without being sufficient to distance him from the state Republican shambles. We shall find out late on election night, when, as usual, the nation will be watching Ohio.
Just a wee piece o' that aforementioned commentary: DeWine's petite independent streak has endeared him to me at times in the past. Both of Ohio's Republican Senators have spoken out against legalizing descrimination against homosexuals in the past, but their anti-choice rhetoric is simply indicative of an emotionally derived decision. It is not a moral one since it takes control of a femal person's entire life away from her; the only one who has to live it.

DeWine's stallwart support of the freakin' Chimperor has simply chilled me to his worthiness for residence on The Hill as of late. Yes, he tried to modify Bush's stand on warrantless spying by specifying that such could
only be done against non US citizens, but supporting the War and the President's final say are both issues I can't understand outside of flawed ideological principles.

Despite the political hyperbole rampant in Sherrod Brown's email updates, I still think he has a more rational awareness of the needs of our country heading into this new century. I just wish he would find some more rational compromise between the two men's opposing views on Free Trade, an issue where Will's ideological myopia could use some refocusing as well. Free AND Fair Trade ain't easy, but it definitely has to evolve and grow. Isolationism isn't a viable option no matter how hard a country the size of the US may try to achieve it.



  1. As a very liberal woman from NYC, I like your comments on DeWine. He's done some interesting work over the years on behalf of low-income kids. Still, I'd be glad if a pro-choice (the real pro-life, as you seemed to suggest) Democrat would take his seat.

  2. "the real pro-life" indeed! Thanks Suzanne.

    The thing I hate the most about politics is not just how ignorant the electorat is, it's how the Pol's don't really try to educate them. Instead they pander to a "base" in an inevitably duplicitous Marketing Campaign.

    I would still vote DeWine (for the first time) if it weren't for his refusal to acknowledge how Bush (and the Alitoans) really are attempting to subvert the Constitutional proscription for Checks and Balances.

    The Legislature abdicating it's own power to the Executive branch is simply not what the spirit, nor the letter, of that principal document recommends or proscribes.


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