Tag Archives: Mourdock

Ballard Catches Mourdock-itis

The generally-held impression of Mayor Greg Ballard has been that he’s a nice guy who’s just in over his head–way over in many respects. Lately, however, he’s been doing things to change that impression–he’s evidently learning fast how not to be a nice guy. Some of this newly-found petulance and partisanship has emerged since Ryan Vaughn–he of the parking meter fiasco–became Chief of Staff, but the buck–as Harry Truman used to say–stops at the Mayor’s own desk.

When the Democrats won control of the Council, new Council President Maggie Lewis was quick to reach out and invite co-operation. When Councilor Brian Mahern held up the Mayor’s TIF proposal, Democrats Vop Osili and Joe Simpson worked to end the impasse. Given the parties’ inevitable differences in priorities, these early signs of conciliation pointed to emergence of an occasionally tense but generally workable accommodation.

Then came the budget. As the Indianapolis Star reported

Facing a deadline to approve or veto the nearly $1.1 billion city/county budget for 2013, Ballard signed it. But his changes, without further negotiations and a quick agreement with the council, would withhold nearly $32 million in income-tax money from Marion County offices and agencies.

That money helps pay to run the courts, keep the jails open, run elections, prosecute or defend criminals, process crime scenes, investigate deaths and provide other public services such as surveying land and collecting property taxes.

The common denominator of the cuts: they affected only the agencies held by Democrats. The Mayor’s own operation, the city offices that he controls, weren’t cut.

The Mayor justified his use of the line-item veto to cripple Democratic offices with language about fiscal responsibility. But genuine fiscal responsibility would involve shared sacrifices across public agencies. (Sort of reminds me of a husband who tells his wife “we can’t afford that new coat you need because my cable TV bill has to be paid.”) He also voiced disagreement with a proposed assessment of the CIB. If he had a genuine problem with that assessment, however, he could have negotiated an equitable resolution with the Council.

Instead, Ballard presented the Council with a fait accompli. He waited until the last minute to deliver a budget that will cripple a number of critical services–for no reason other than those services are being delivered by the opposing party. In Ballard’s cynical budget, public safety takes a back seat to partisanship. It’s his way or the highway.

Shades of Richard Mourdock.



Mourdock’s Akin Moment

Richard Mourdock has a problem. Unlike his ideological clone, Mike Pence, he has a tendency to tell the truth. About 45 minutes into the Senate debate, he was asked about his pro-life beliefs, and whether those beliefs included an exception for rape and/or incest.

In the course of the explanation Mourdock suggested that rape should not be an exception to a ban on abortion, since rape pregnancies are themselves the will of God.

“You know, this is that issue for that every candidates for federal, or even state office, faces. And I, too, certainly stand for life,” said Mourdock, after both Democrat Joe Donnelly and Libertarian Andrew Horning had identified as pro-life, though Donnelly also stated his support for an exception in cases of rape. “I know there are some who disagree, and I respect their point of view. But I believe that life begins at conception. The only exception I have, to have an abortion, is in that case of the life of the mother.”

Mourdock then seemed to choke back tears, and continued: “I’ve struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize that life is that gift from god. And even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.(Emphasis added.)

Talking Points Memo, among others, has the video.

I hope some enterprising reporter–assuming we still have a few of those left–asks the Republican gubernatorial candidate whether he agrees. On the record.


Selling Cars and Candidates

When I was in college, I worked one summer for a friend of my father; he owned a Cadillac-Rambler agency (no kidding!), and I was billed as the first female used-car salesman (not “salesperson” back then) in Anderson, Indiana. I soon learned that if I wanted to sell a car, I needed to find out what the buyer wanted and emphasize those features–if someone came in wanting a red car, I talked about what a great shade of red this one had; if they wanted a V-8 engine, I talked about that.

A pretty elementary lesson in marketing.

Unfortunately, that’s the one lesson political candidates at all levels have really learned well.

We like to think of the democratic system as one where candidates and parties offer us competing visions and philosophies, and we choose between them. But all too often, that isn’t what happens. Instead, candidates hide or minimize agendas that they think (usually correctly) voters won’t “buy.” They become stealth candidates of a sort. So we have a Richard Mourdock, a man who won his primary promising to be intransigent, suddenly talking about co-operation and bipartisanship. You have Mike Pence, who has spent his entire time in Congress fighting for far-right culture issues, suddenly voicing concern about  jobs and economic development, and another culture-warrior, Scott Schneider, running ads touting his bona fides as a “family man, and small businessman” who serves the public in the Indiana legislature.

It’s enough to make me sympathize with the folks on the far right who are always complaining that their Republican candidates won’t run a full-throated conservative campaign. That complaint assumes that a campaign run forthrightly on Right issues–defunding Planned Parenthood, passing a “personhood” amendment to outlaw not just abortion but also most birth control, anti-GLBT measures and of course starving government until it’s small enough to drown in Grover Norquist’s bathtub–would be a winner.

Candidates who aren’t entirely delusional recognize that these positions do not reflect the will of the larger electorate, no matter how fervently they are embraced by the True Believers. So they lie. They try to re-invent themselves. They tell us what they think we want to hear. And if they have enough money and good advertising consultants, they often win.

Because selling that car is more important than admitting that it’s maroon, not red. Being elected–achieving some measure of power–trumps running a campaign based upon telling voters the truth.

It’s interesting that so many of these profoundly dishonest campaigns are run by candidates who talk incessantly about the importance of religion, and who want us to know how godly and pious they are. I guess they missed that part about “bearing false witness.”

They’d make great car salesmen.

A Couple of Gloomy Observations

Yesterday, I got a phone call from an old friend. Unlike most of my other Republican friends, who have been appalled by the Lugar-Mourdock results, he was euphoric. Why? Because Mourdock “is a bomb thrower! He’ll go to Washington and he won’t play the game!”

Also yesterday, a commenter to one of my recent blogs on the subject questioned the idea that Lugar had moved to the right during his long career. Why, he had voted for the President’s Supreme Court Justices and the bailouts, and supported the Dream Act! How could he be conservative?

If there is any lesson to be learned from the expression of these sentiments, it is that political advertising is effective, especially when coupled with an audience’s lack of understanding of basic democratic (note small d) governance. The examples cited by the commenter as evidence that Lugar is really a “moderate” who (in the opinion of my Republican friend) “played with the liberals” amount to little more than a regurgitation of Mourdock’s ads. Three or four examples were plucked from a 36-year career and relentlessly pounded on; voila! the man’s a  squishy bipartisan compromiser. And compromise is bad, bomb-throwing and intransigence are what we need!

The people expressing these opinions aren’t uneducated. But they  were clearly swayed by an unrelenting ad campaign fueled by lots of Super Pac money.

I don’t worry about two people with uninformed opinions.  Nor do I fault these folks for not doing the research necessary to counter the 30-second sound-bites.

But I am deeply worried about the extent to which billionaires and Super Pacs will influence the millions of equally uninformed voters in November.

Indiana’s Hangover

Well, we’ve had our “party”–yesterday was Primary Election day.

Today, we have to live with the hangover.

The most troubling result, of course, was the defeat of Dick Lugar by an embarrassing know-nothing unworthy to polish his shoes. I have posted several times about the pathetic campaign run by a once-towering statesman. Truth be told, Lugar has moved steadily to the right as the party’s base has migrated to the fringes, and a dignified retirement might have rescued his legacy. That said, to see a man of genuine stature defeated by a cartoon was hard to take.

Add to that ignominious defeat the victories of equally noxious GOP congressional candidates in safe districts–districts where the Primary is for all intents and purposes THE election–and Indianapolis and Indiana can kiss all of the good PR we generated from the SuperBowl good-by. By our dingbats we shall be known….

The open question is: what will Hoosiers do in November? Will we confirm our status as a buckle on the Bible Belt, electing Mike Pence (who, in his years in Congress, never managed to pass a single bill, but spent LOTS of time talking about what God wanted) and Tea Partier Richard Mourdock? Or will we come to our senses?

The Democrats running for Governor and Senator are, by national standards, conservative. (As my youngest son says about the Gregg-Pence matchup, we have a choice: we can go back to the 1950s or the 1590s.) Joe Donnelly is a “blue dog.” Neither will satisfy true progressives. But both are good people, savvy and compassionate and vastly preferable to Pence and Mourdock.

To all my Republican friends who voted for Dick Lugar, and all my Democratic friends who swallowed hard, took a GOP Primary ballot and did likewise, let me echo the Facebook message posted this morning by a friend from Lafayette: Our job is to ensure that there is NEVER a Senator Mourdock. To which I’ll add: or a Governor Pence.

The last thing we need is “hair of the dog.”