After Ohio Gov. Strickland's Unhinged Rant, Columbus Dispatch's Hallett Begs, Fails to Get Help Watering It Down

StricklandAndHallett0910Though its true nature was largely ignored by the local media at the event (noted on Tuesday at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), Ted Strickland's unhinged Labor Day speech at the AFL-CIO's annual picnic at Cincinnat's Coney Island has, with the help of the Republican Governors Association (RGA), garnered quite a bit of statewide attention.

During his rant, Democrat Strickland denounced the Republican Party as "overtaken by the zealots, by the extremists, by the radicals"; claimed that "they don’t seem to like Ohio very much, and quite frankly, they act as if they don’t like America very much," in essence questioning their patriotism; and asked the audience to help him fight "the Tea Party radicals."

The fallout has apparently been so severe that ever-helpful veteran Columbus Dispatch reporter, senior editor, and columnist Joe Hallett felt compelled on Thursday to try to help the Governor walk it all back. In an exchange that can only be seen as Hallett begging for Strickland to give him something, anything to work with, Strickland wasn't very helpful, bogusly played the "out of context" card, and in a very real sense doubled down on his disrespect for those who oppose him. He even went into a riff on how opponents (in context, "Republicans," not just "some Republicans") want to repeal the 14th amendment (huh?).

The full 11:36 video of Strickland's discussion with reporters is here (originally posted at the Ohio Capital Blog); the RGA's 2:04 excerpt featuring Hallett is here (HT RightOhio). What follows is a transcript of the excerpt:

Hallett: The Republicans are making much of the speech you gave in Cincinnati, basically saying you had a heartbeat moment, when in your speech you said that "Republicans don't like Ohio very much, and they don't like America very much." Do you mean that?

Strickland: Uh, yes, but you need to, you need to get the full context of what I said, Joe.

I wasn't talking about their patriotism. I went on to talk about why I was saying that. Um, um, they want to ch-, they want to change the country. They want to change Ohio. It has nothing to do with their love for the country or their love of Ohio. It has a lot to do with whether or not they like Ohio the way it is, or they like America the way it is. For someone to repeal the 14th Amendment, that's a pretty basic thing, that's a part of our country's history, tradition, and, and, Constitution, um, processes.

Uh, uh, Mary Taylor, uh, says that she has urged people to leave Ohio and move to Florida, uh uh, or Nevada, or to some other state. (Taylor is the GOP's Lieutenant Governor candidate -- Ed.)

So, uh if, if you understand what I said within the context of, of what I was saying and how I was saying it, uh, it's not what they're trying to make it. So --

Hallett: Well, you've got, you've got a lot of Republicans _____ in ____, they're going to present this as, "Governor Strickland says, 'You Republicans don't like this country.'"

Strickland: Here a-, here again Joe, I talked about the fact that moderate Republicans are being pushed out of their party, that the, that the leadership of the Republican Party now was comprised of people that I think are on the extreme right wing of that party. I was not talking about all Republicans. Th-They know that, and I-I hope you can, can just watch the, the total, uh, speech that I made rather than, uh, the particular snippet of it.

Other items found in the longer video:
  • Strickland considers GOP candidate John Kasich's idea to gradually eliminate the state's income tax to be "radical." Well, how have Florida and Texas (both much larger states), as well as Tennessee, New Hampshire, and several other states without income taxes survived all these years?
  • A Hallett softball -- "You've seen the polls. They're not looking good for you. Are you fearful of becoming a victim of a climate over which you have no control?" Oh, the humanity! Hallet apparently already has his Election Night column theme drafted. Try to imagine Hallett asking a similar question of a Republican trailing in the polls. I know; you can't.

Besides being justifiably outraged at the characterization of Tea Partiers, sensible conservatives in the Buckeye State are surely chuckling at Strickland's description of Ohio's Republican Party, which during May's primary campaign spent large sums of money and put a great deal of effort into ensuring the defeat of Tea Party-backed statewide and Central Committee candidates in favor of its preferred go-along, get-along candidates and Central Committee incumbents.

As to liking and loving Ohio and America -- to specifically describe just one problem, "Ohio the way it is" has 10.3% unemployment. "America the way it is" is at 9.6%. Unless I'm missing something, nobody "likes" that (Ted, if you do, which could fairly be inferred from what you said -- and would be if a Republican or conservative had said it -- please let us know). One can love their state and their country and still not like high unemployment, out of control debt, a bloated public sector, high taxes, and a lousy business climate.

Strickland campaigned in 2006 as the guy who would "Turnaround Ohio." Obviously, he has done no such thing. The clear majority of loyal, loving Buckeye Staters don't like that, and at this point appear to want something different.

The pathetically pleading Joe Hallett, who infamously wrote in May that Ted Strickland couldn't possibly bear any responsibility for Ohio's lost jobs (just as, Hallett noted, GOP gubernatorial candidate John Kasich can't be blamed for the collapse of the economy, which happens to be true), had to come away from his rescue attempt disappointed. Sorry, Joe. This is who Ted Strickland is. You and the rest of Ohio's establishment press mostly provided cover for him in 2006. Now that he has a record trying to actually run something bigger than his former congressional staff (which, by the way, he didn't do vey well either), your job has become a lot tougher. Too bad, so sad.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.