Not that it’s the first time I’ve ever disagreed with Brian Rothenberg, but it’s time to do so again. Brian and I are famous for our squaring off over a dinner with Barack Obama. We even had a few roundabouts in the office when I worked at ProgressOhio.

So here we go again.

Brian’s latest Shadows on High column reads like a defense of Marc Dann. The argument? It’s just SEX (and the media are obsessing over it).

Well, it’s not just about sex. The lurid details about pajamas or no pajamas aside, this story is about inept leadership and replacing a Culture of Corruption with a Culture of Caligula. Marc Dann and his cronies seemed to have set up shop in such a way as to create a hostile work environment for women – something no progressive in their right mind would ignore or accept. That’s the real story. We were promised professionalism and ethical behavior. We got neither. The reason the media and the public has such a hair trigger is that we just suffered through 16 years of corruption and unethical behavior at the hands of the Republicans. Pardon us if we don’t immediately begin to hand out benefits of doubt to the very person who was to be cleaning up the place!

The individual sex acts are the icing on the media cake. The substance of the matter is that Dann was elected to rid us of poor statewide office cultures. He pounded on it time and time and time again. The media was there for just about every morsel Dann fed us. Brian now thinks it’s silly that they want to cover this story now that the white knight of culture cleanse has embroiled himself in scandal? You almost have to laugh knowing he thinks nothing of the sort. Which is why his post is so surprising.

Can you argue that all of this media claptrap is distracting us from the real issues Ohioans need to be facing? You sure can. Who should one blame for this distraction?

Marc Dann.

Can you argue that there are other “zipper scandals in a post-Eliot Spitzer world”? You sure can. But who is the Attorney General of the STATE OF OHIO?

Marc Dann.

Shining the light on the misdeeds of others is not an acceptable form of argument for those who have erred. Ask my daughters. They don’t get away with. Why should Marc Dann? I’m surprised this argument is even made. It’s laughable in it’s inability to explain away the problems in Marc Dann’s AG’s Office. It’s also laughable as a form of argument against too much media coverage. Is anyone REALLY shocked that the Ohio press corps is paying more attention to Marc Dann than Kwame Kilpatrick or Jim Gibbons? Come on!

Has Marc and his office done some good things for Ohio? Sure thing. I believe many bloggers have made this point over and over again. The problem is that there is a list of political blunders, bad decisions, mismanagement, and poor leadership to go along with all the good. It’s a real shame that those successes are overshadowed and future ones are at risk due to what has transpired. Who do we blame for all of that?

Marc Dann.

Are there things that we should be hearing more about over the noise of DannGate? Uh huh. It might be good for blog traffic, readership of newspapers, and ratings of TV shows, but ask any progressive minded person and they’ll tell you they’d rather be talking about something else. Most especially with a presidential election coming up in a state we know we’ll have to deliver. Nobody likes this.

So we can wax poetic about the media’s desire for salacious news coverage and the inability to break through to talk about things that really matter to the lives of Ohioans. You can argue that these distractions are what is damaging. What you can’t argue is whose fault it is. The answer to that question is quite simple:

Dann, Dann, Dann!

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  • Great job, Eric. It is real news when a political party excommunicates one of its top officeholders — and tries to dislodge him — for betraying the public’s trust. It is important news, too. Years ago, I covered a trial. And part of the defense was that the guy who was facing time had done several good deeds in his life. He had even helped little old ladies cross the street. But the little old lady defense did not work. He was convicted and sent away for his miscreant behavior. In other words, he did something he should not have done.

  • Thanks, Bill!

  • Before I saw Bill’s comment I’d already formed mine in my head: it’s the betrayal of trust. If anyone has every personally experienced what that’s like with a friend, a significant other or in any other close setting that RELIES on trust, you know how nearly impossible it is to ever have it again.

    Abuse and betrayal of trust isn’t a crime because politicians do it all the time – they’d never criminalize it.

    But given all the hubbub over making so many other moral values illicit, maybe we need to re-think this.

  • I agree with your post as well as the comments already posted.

  • Michael Berger

    To me, it’s not the betrayal of trust or moral issues.

    It’s not so much about fostering a hostile work environment, but it is part and parcel with THE PROBLEM.

    It’s certainly not about cheating on his wife. That’s their business to sort out.

    It’s also not exclusively what he may have done to obstruct the process when Espy got involved (the operative word being “may”).

    It’s about the way Dann went about running the AG’s Office regardless of what effect his buddies were having on the staff, which seems to be reflected in the way he’s going about staying on.

    He acts like he’s above it all – above enforcing the laws he’s charged with overseeing when it comes to himself or his friends.

    He’s not, they’re not, nor should they be. If he’s allowed to stay on that sends a bad signal to not only we who live in this state, but to whomever comes after him in the AG’s Office.

    Which would likely be a Republican in 2010.

  • By the way, my comment gave me an idea: so what if the GA doesn’t want to impeach because he hasn’t done anything impeachable?

    Why not draft legislation that makes actions which demonstrate a betrayal of the public trust vested in an elected official an impeachable offense? Or just an offense?

    How draconian is that? Brought on only by the hubris of Dann’s refusal to resign.

  • @5: politicians draft legislation that would remove them from office if they betray the public trust? LOL.

    I agree with you, but LOL!

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