In 1948 when the top 50 elite reporters were asked about the outcome of the presidential election between Thomas Dewey, the popular Republican Governor of New York, and Harry Truman, the tailor turned senator from Missouri who suddenly found himself president when Franklin Delano Roosevelt died in office early in his fourth term, all of them said Dewey would win.
In maybe the most famous political reversal of fortune ever, Dewey lost. The iconic picture from the day shows a smiling Harry Truman holding up an early copy of the Chicago Daily Tribune’s front page headline declaring “Dewey Defeats Truman.”
In the race for U.S. Senator in Ohio this year, Ted Strickland is being counted out now like Harry Truman was then. All the pundits, Ohio and Beltway types, have thrown the last shovel full of dirt on Strickland’s grave as polls show him trailing incumbent Republican Senator Rob Portman by double digits in some cases.
George W. Bush’s budget director and chief trade representative surfed into office on the 2010 Tea Party wave of anger against President Obama. That same year, by a thin margin of just 77,127 votes statewide, Lehman Brothers banker and Fox TV talk show host John Kasich squeaked by then Gov. Strickland, whose 2-1 resounding victory over Ken Blackwell in 2006 disrupted 12 straight years of Republican domination of the gears of government.
Kasich was returned to Washington nine times by his reliably Republican district. Seizing on the economic misfortune that Kasich’s party visited on the nation from borrow and spend, unnecessary tax cuts and trillions in war costs, the petulant politico claimed then what Sen. Portman is claiming now, that Ted Strickland was both responsible for the Great Recession and couldn’t handle it when it got here.
Rob Portman’s major attack line this year, fueled by $60 million or more in attack ads by the likes of the Koch Brothers and other like-minded plutocrats, mirrors Kasich’s campaign strategy in 2010 that pilloried Strickland for jobs that either vanished or relocated as companies opted to change their business address.
The former Democratic Congressman, whose banana-shaped working-class district curved from Youngstown to Cincinnati along the Ohio River, inherited a state already in decline from years of Republicans who ruled the political roost in the Buckeye State from 1994 until Ted Strickland and four other Democrats broke the spell in 2006. The GOP captured the Ohio House in 1994 just like Republicans led by Newt Gingrich and lieutenants like Kasich captured the House in Washington at the same time with promises embodied in their “Contract With America.” That manifesto was rich with rhetoric devoted to standard, ages old GOP boilerplate dogma of lower taxes and less government, but it conveniently left out any mention of a cure for what really ailed America, a dysfunctional and expensive health care system that left out tens of millions of people even as health care increased each year by multiples.
Meanwhile, fiscal conservatives like Portman and Kasich, who still dream the impossible dream of a federal balanced budget amendment, reliably complained about the nation’s rising debt levels. But then as now can offer nothing other than so-called free market remedies as they both say Obamacare [The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act] has got to go.
Shifting the tax burden from corporations to the backs of Ohioans delivered on the GOP’s long-held, promised agenda to hobble government from serving the public interest in order to better serve private interests.
For the likely small audience of viewers who watched the first two debates between Strickland and Portman, the former governor has put the wood on all issues to a very wooden Rob Portman. From women to Social Security to minimum wage to job creation and more, Ted Strickland has showed the fire his lackluster bank account can’t deliver, and media doesn’t want to deliver even though it could. It’s been hard to do, but Strickland has made a good case that Portman should really be assigned blame for the Great Recession that devastated Ohio and nearly every other state.
Portman has claimed in all three debates that he’s an “independent voice” for Ohioans. Sadly, that’s as preposterous as Plunderbund being confused with the alt-right website Breitbart, whose leader is Donald Trump’s chief strategist.
If Rob Portman is such an independent voice, why is he running on the Republican ticket? Why does he tow the GOP line on virtually every issue, except when it turns out to be a fact that hits home, like marriage equality, now that his son has come out of the gay closet? Portman pretending to be an independent voice is all out malarkey, as Vice President Joe Biden would label such outright lying.
With less than three weeks to go until votes are tallied, can Ted Strickland pull off a Harry Truman? Everyone except Strickland campers say that’s not possible. If voter turnout for Hillary Clinton is as high as HRC workers think it can be, maybe, just maybe those voters can vote the line and pull the lever for Ted.
Harry Truman can’t root Strickland on, but someone else who only won a senate seat by 312 votes in 2008 is: Minnesota Senator Al “landslide” Franken. “I simply wouldn’t have won if we hadn’t all come together to get progressive voters to the polls,” he told supporters Tuesday via email. “Our progressive candidates need that same support today.”
Sen. Franken knows that most polls show Hillary Clinton advancing over Donald Trump. The danger for him, though, is progressives stay home this election because Clinton seems a cinch to beat the Donald. If that happens, he says, “we’ll definitely lose the Senate.”
With endorsements by the same major Ohio newspapers who endorsed Strickland in 2006, returning Portman to a Senate controlled by Democrats, as polls show is more than possible, leaves him to continue his obstructionist ways in the GOP’s Minority Caucus. Let’s see how many bills he passes then, and whether he’ll be independent enough as he claims he is now to break with his party then, when his Minority Caucus joins House Republicans to obstruct President Hillary Clinton as forcefully as they did President Barack Obama.
In their third and final debate, Ted Strickland needs to double down on Portman’s time in office setting up the Great Recession as Bush’s budget director. Voters should be reminded that Portman, as Bush’s budget director, exploded the nation’s debt with $2.3 trillion in unpaid for income tax cuts and standing with his boss when he lied the nation into a war of political convenience that has now cost four-plus trillions and counting.
Strickland is right to shove then state auditor Mary Taylor’s political driven estimate of a budget out of whack by $8 billion back in Portman face. George W. Bush and Rob Portman took a surplus President Bill Clinton delivered and turned it into more than $10 trillion debt they then put on the nation’s credit card. If Portman wants Strickland to apologize for the Hillary Clinton’s minor shortcomings, he needs to apologize and atone for the egregious years under Bush, who after eight years in office had the worst job creation record in modern history, losing a net negative half-million jobs.
Portman’s endorsement of Donald Trump is embarrassing. His claim that Trump’s serial sexual abuse of women was the “last straw” for him. Really? What were the other straws that gave him pause, that apparently were beyond the pale for his buddy John Kasich, who’s reaped kudos for saying he’s a never Trump guy? How many straws does it take, Sen. Portman, until you disavow and un-endorse a belligerent, erratic, racist teenager like Trump? If Rob Portman you can’t stand by Trump’s side, why are you on his side with your name next to his on the official Republican slate card?
So-called independent thinkers need to use their powers of independent thinking about Rob Portman’s bogus claim of being an independent voice for Ohioans. If they do that, not only will Sen. Sherrod Brown advance to Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee when Democrats take control again, but Ted Strickland will be another reliable vote that President Clinton can count on when Republicans try to obstruct her agenda, which is clearly the American agenda.
If Democrats will just vote the progressive slate, and foaming Trump supporters turnout to champion their abysmal leader then dump on career establishment politicos like Rob Portman as some say will happen this election cycle, Ted Strickland could tailor an election that would befitting even to Harry Truman.