Oxymorons are standard rhetorical fare in American politics today. Jumbo shrimp, deafening silence, found missing, and now Trumpcare, are common examples of putting opposites together to make odd sense.
In the classic dystopian work “1984,” author George Orwell coined some of histories best oxymorons: “War is peace,” “Freedom is slavery,” Ignorance is strength.”
If a picture of State Treasurer Josh Mandel was posted next to “transparently opaque,” it would be a suitable visual for someone who talks transparency for purposes of political expediency, because he thinks it’s good politics his base of Trumpian voters will go for, but who tries every day to remain as opaque as he can.
The most recent example of Mandel’s willful opaqueness comes in the ongoing story about evading transparency on spending $1.84 million in taxpayer funded TV ads that were more self-promotional than educational. At issue is a television ad featuring Mandel, Ohio State University football coach Urban Meyer and a young woman with Down syndrome that aired statewide from June to December last year. The ads featuring these three were paid for in increments of less than $50,000, which kept them from overview by a legislative panel that oversees special spending.
Ohio’s Republican-controlled House took notice of Mandel’s chicanery, inserting in the House’s version of Gov. Kasich’s executive budget an amendment that would require future public-service ad campaigns to receive approval from that panel, the Ohio Controlling Board.
For anyone who has followed the course of Josh Mandel’s public service trail—from his days as a Lyndhurst councilman to the Ohio House, then to state treasurer—knows well that the transparency of his ambition seems limitless. Almost immediately after he won his first term as state treasurer in 2010, he embarked on his campaign to unseat Ohio’s senior senator in Washington, Sherrod Brown, in 2012. Mandel’s rocket fizzled out like it was a North Korean missile, as Sen. Brown won a second term even though $40 million was spent by pro-Mandel forces.
Now that Mandel is term-limited from running for a third term, like Gov. Kasich and the balance of statewide officeholders, he’s forging a new political tact that is at odds with his promise made in 2010 that he would serve out his term. Josh Mandel’s latest attempt to smear Brown is to cast the senator as a career politician who has served too long in Congress. Sen. Brown has a record of public service that dates back decades, but the same can be said for John Kasich or Mike DeWine or any number of other officeholders voters have elected again and again.
Mandel is now saying he will honor a term limits pledge if elected to the Senate. Transparently opaque, Mandel has conveniently forgotten that back in 2010 he pledged to serve a full term as Treasurer. Until, that is, he had hungry eyes for Brown’s seat in the U.S. Senate. When The Columbus Dispatch asked him about that transparent pledge from seven years ago, Mandel wrapped himself in his Harry Potter cloak of opaqueness, saying “I don’t recall.”
In the new era of Donald Trump, where lies are uttered daily even though video from yesterday shows the president saying the opposite, Josh Mandel’s transparent opaqueness is more of the same push to substitute fake news for the real deal.
Ohio Voters will have another chance next year to weigh-in on whether they want consistency from a career politician who has his pulse on Ohio communities and is truly transparent, as Sen. Brown has been, or whether they want to change direction and hire a very ambitious politician who has already been caught in a web of his own lies.