Monday, May 23, 2005

More on Ohio and legacy politics

In response to my post on the present state of affairs in Ohio politics, Adam Graham writes:

Also, lets not forget your junior Senator. Voinovich came out against Bolton and tax relief.

When I mentioned George Voinovich last Friday, I was speaking exclusively of his record as Governor (I don't know if Adam caught that or not). His record managed to be mediocre and not terrible primarily because of his strong pro-life commitment. It was George Voinovich, after all, that signed into law Ohio's 24 hour waiting period before an abortion, and virtually every state restriction we have on abortion was created by George Voinovich. When Voinovich ran for Governor in 1990, he made the life issue his primary issue, and on that one score he remained true. On just about every other issue, however, he sold out. In 1994, when the GOP gained total control over state government (control is now so tight that Ohio is essentially a one-party state), Voinovich simply failed to capitalize on the bonanza. He was more interested in his personal advancement than what was good for either the Party or Ohio. That shouldn't be too surprizing, however, from the former Democrat mayor of Cleveland, a city known for an unusual number of intellectual deficiencies.

What has been more unnerving, however, is the performance of the people you would expect better from. Bob Taft is our "legacy" Governor. One might expect that this is the reason for his poor performance (he is often booed by Republican crowds), but the Taft family has produced some of this state's greatest leaders, including a conservative President, William Howard, who was also a great Supreme Court justice, and two very conservative U.S. Senators, (one of which, the father of the current Governor, was robbed at the last minute of the 1952 GOP Presidential nomination). With such a proud history and a family filled with such sane Southern Ohio minds, I felt safe in casting a vote for Taft the first time he ran in 1998. I believed that this Taft would do as his forebears had done and not only govern our state well, but represent us well to America.

It bears noting that when Robert A. Taft II entered public life, he faced some of the harshest criticism from inside the Republican caucus of the General Assembly. Many within the legislative caucus believed that Taft had not "paid his dues" as his Father, Grandfather, and Great Grandfather had done in Ohio politics. Some of these critics argued that the very reason the Tafts had such a solid political name was because they started from scratch...they all became involved in the community, and served Cincinnati well, and often at their own expense, before they ever ran for state or federal office. The main public theatre in this town is not called the Taft Theatre, nor the museum called the Taft Museum, for no reason. The Tafts have invested in this community as a family, and one would think that Bob would do the same. Instead of serving the community as his ancestors had done, Bob Taft ran off to the Peace Corps(the Peace Corps???), and then came home and expected to thrust himself into politics. Many Republicans were offended by his brashness...but the State Party establishment wanted Bob Taft because, as one person put it "we cannot afford to stop a Taft from entering Ohio politics."

A conservative Democrat friend of mine (one of the last of his kind) once said to me "in this state, you could run a dog, and if its name were Taft or DeWine, it would win."

It is a shame that Bob Taft has tarnished his family's once-proud political legacy.


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