When I am trying to absorb a monotonal speech by Ohio Atty. Gen. Mike DeWine why do I feel I should be sitting in a pew? As I’ve noted in the past, DeWine comes across as bottled goodness. He’s the people’s lawyer, the righteous guy to defend the law, the go-to family man to protect all that is wholesome in American life. Still, Biblical scholars will tell you that there is nothing specific in the Book about modern pay-to-play.
There is nothing in his words to lead you to believe that this 67-year-old social conservative is the same wheeler-dealer who handed out a lucrative contract for debt collection to a close friend and contributor of the Summit County Republican Party chairman who once worked for him. The contrast in his public profile is stunning.
So there he was at the podium as a Akron Press Club/Bliss speaker explaining why he is sworn to uphold the sanctity of traditional marriage, his refusal to debate his opponent, Democrat David Pepper, and his objection to Federal court rulings that declared Ohio’s newly minted voter restrictions unconstitutional.
About the debt collection contract: He’s asking prospective clients to sign a written form. Problem solved.
About the voting system placed in abeyance by the U.S. Supreme Court: He doesn’t think the law is unconstiutional. Problem solved.
About same-sex marriage: Ohio law bans it, regardless of the court decisions, and he dutifully must support it. That says nothing about the taxpayers’ money his office has spent skipping around the country filing amicus briefs to uphold of such bans inn their states. Look, his opposition to gay marriage is in his genes, not the law.
About his refusal to debate: “My opponent is not qualified to be attorney general.” The cheapest of shots. Pepper is a Yale law school graduate with a string of student honors – Phi Beta Kappa, Summa Cum Laude, managing editor of Yale Daily News, etc. etc. etc. (Should I also mention that while he was in the Senate, DeWine could not practice law for nearly 10 years because his license was inactive? )
More on the non-debates: DeWine argued that he’s already crossed paths in an unofficial “debate” with Pepper in a room interacting with Gannett Ohio editors. In contrast, Sen. Sherrod Brown, then a congressman, debated then Sen.DeWine four times and creamed him by winning a 56 pct. majority vote as a liberal Democrat.
As a personal note, if I may: I once interviewed DeWine for a half-hour TV program. It was painful. People who watched it said he froze on me. And I didn’t even try to debate him!