By Maggie Thurber | Special to Ohio Watchdog
Politicians constantly try to portray their opponents in the most unfavorable light — and what could be more unfavorable than calling someone un-American?
In a Columbus Dispatch news story, which Ohio Watchdog reporter Jon Cassidy rightly exposed as a phony auto bailout narrative, Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel, who is running to unseat Democratic U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, said:
“I don’t toss around the word un-American very often — it’s a dangerous word to use. But stripping … Delphi employees of their pensions with that vote — that is un-American.”
I’m not one to toss around the “un-American” label, and I’m not sure I’d have used that term, especially when Mandel could have changed the narrative to one of Brown sacrificing Delphi workers to help his union supporters. That could have played better.
But did he actually say Brown was un-American? Or was he just describing the action of stripping Delphi employees of their pension?
I think it’s pretty clear he meant the latter — but, the story reports, one of Brown’s campaign aides said it was “disrespectful.” To whom, it doesn’t say.
It should come as no surprise then, that the Brown campaign responded by trotting out one of the co-chairmen of the Veterans and Military Families for Sherrod Brown group, retired Brig. Gen. Sam Kindred, who called the comment insulting, saying, “It reflects poor judgment and a lack of maturity.”
Let me get this straight: It reflects “poor judgment” to call stripping Delphi employees of their pensions “un-American” — but voting for a massive government bailout that is costing taxpayers $25 billion doesn’t?
Brown has taken to calling the bailout a rescue package, but since General Motors ended up going bankrupt anyway, wouldn’t that be considering poor judgment?
And since GM is headed for bankruptcy — again — wouldn’t it be logical to say the bailout vote reflected poor judgment since it didn’t do what it was advertised to do, which is save GM?
And then there is the Chevy Volt, a GM product, which is costing taxpayers about $250,000 per vehicle and, isn’t selling. GM halted production of the vehicle for five weeks in March and has scheduled another four-week stoppage in September. Talk about poor judgment.
But Kindred wasn’t finished. ”Having spent 35 years in the military, I have a sense of what un-American looks like in terms of words and deeds, and I can tell you that the vote that Sen. Brown took in no way represents an un-American act,” he said.
Dictionary.com defines un-American as “opposed to the characters, values, standards, goals, etc., of the U.S.”
Now, you may believe the auto bailout was necessary, but are bailouts really a standard of the U.S.? Is government stepping in with taxpayer money to save a company from its own bad decisions really a value that Americans cherish?
What about the character trait of individual responsibility? I realize that too many think that’s gone by the wayside, but if a company’s executives fail to take responsibility for the decisions they made that force their company into a fiscal mess, isn’t it contrary to the character and goals of our country to spend other people’s money to save them?
Even in the terms of the bailout, normal bankruptcy rules and laws were circumvented and “appear to have (punished) investors while rewarding favored constituencies.”
Ignoring the rule of law, a founding principle that is supposed to protect us against an arbitrary government, is clearly un-American.
Given this information and the definition, it’s easy to see how many may view the bailout, the rewarding of the unions and the stripping of the Delphi pensions as un-American.
You may disagree, but it’s wrong to characterize the proper use of the term as exhibiting poor judgment, when Brown is defending what is clearly his poor judgment.