It's not often that you will see the same endorsement on Townhall.com as on the Huffington Post, so let's savor this in the newfound era of post-partisanship.
J. Kenneth Blackwell, the former Secretary of State of Ohio whose administration of the 2004 election made Katherine Harris look like Mary Tyler Moore, is aggressively pushing to become the next chair of the Republican National Committee when its 168 members convene in 2009 to figure out how to pull their party out of the deep, dank hole they have dug themselves into. And I for one support his selection wholeheartedly.
I have spent a tremendous amount of time studying Ken Blackwell. I made a feature length documentary, FREE FOR ALL!, which examines his corrupt stewardship of Ohio elections. Just a few of Ken's greatest hits:
-Purging a quarter of Cleveland's register voters, one of the most Democratic counties in the country.
-Rewarding no-bid contracts to Diebold for its voting machines, while owning stock in the company, your basic illegal conflict of interest.
-Going to court numerous times to make voting even more difficult.
-And when questioned about such anti-democratic maneuvers, the belicose Blackwell emerges, disrespecting the late, beloved U.S. Rep Stephanie Tubbs Jones.
But I'm not here to focus on Ken Blackwell's tireless war against democracy.
You see, in covering Ken Blackwell during his hapless bid for Ohio governor in 2006, I eventually realized that he requires another documentary to do justice to what a poor politician he is the rest of the time when he is not trying to subvert the electorate. (Coming in 2009!)
Here are some qualities the new RNC Chair should have, and how Ken Blackwell measures up to them.
The RNC Chair should be able to navigate past the party's previous losses and expand the brand appeal.
Since the election, many Republicans have stressed that the divisive platform of extreme conservatism not only drives away the expanding electorate, it limits the party's ability to talk about far more relevant issues. (Like the economy, stupid.)
Cut to Blackwell, stressing himself as a "full-portfolio conservative." His very word choice belies how he has amassed conservative credits like a starving actor on IMDB. His titles from the Family Research Council, the NRA, and more help to bury his opportunistic ascension through Cincinnati politics, starting as an African-American activist in college, on to the city council as a Democrat, to Independent, to fiscal conservative, to far right today.
His greatest conservative achievement is championing the amendment that banned same sex marriage in Ohio, even though two other laws previously existed against gay marriage. Blackwell has closely tied himself to the evangelical right wing base, and ratcheted up the heretic talk like he's the Spanish Inquisition.
The RNC Chair should have the respect of his party's leaders.
On page 347 of his book, State of Denial, Bob Woodward describes W.'s apparent fondness for Blackwell during election night, 2004, as he sat in the White House waiting for the election forecasts to swing his way:
At 2:43 a.m., someone noted that Bush was ahead in the popular vote nationwide, prompting the President to sneer, "If the popular vote made it, I wouldn't be here."
The campaign was left to anxiously wait for a statement from Kenneth Blackwell, a former black power student leader who had morphed into Ohio's gadfly Republican secretary of state.
"I'm the President of the United States," Bush fumed, "waiting on a secretary of state who is a nut."
And that was when Blackwell was delivering Ohio at all costs. Does Ken still think he's in the club?
The RNC Chair should know how to get votes.
Ken Blackwell lost his bid for governor by 24 points. His unpopularity dragged down the rest of the Republican ticket in 2006, sealing a takeover by the Democrats and ending the GOP's one party rule that had lasted 16 years. There arguably isn't a Democrat who could affect such a swing.
The RNC Chair should know how to wage an effective campaign.
Blackwell's strategy was simple: All negative, all the time. In the Republican primary for governor, Blackwell savaged his fellow cabinet member Jim Petro with ads that linked him with the Tom Noe pay-to-play scandal Coingate that had ruined the Ohio GOP. Lost in these ads were that Blackwell is also in the Ohio GOP, having also received money from the same Tom Noe, now serving 18 years in prison.
Bob Bennett, the Ohio GOP Chairman not normally known for prescience, had this to sayw about Blackwell: "A man who models himself after Ronald Reagan should have a little more respect for winning on ideas and vision. He knows the accusations in these ads are politically motivated, and this kind of gutteral politics doesn't win votes. If we can't win with substantive ideas for leading Ohio, we don't belong in the race."
In the general gubernatorial race against the Democrat, U.S. Rep. Ted Strickland, Blackwell lagged in the polls the entire race. His strategy for a turnaround? In the final debate, Blackwell dramatically--however illogically--sought to tie his opponent to NAMBLA. The lowest of the low in scare tactics, it appalled Ohioans, and only cemented Blackwell's defeat.
The RNC Chair should know how to speak.
I am no Peggy Noonan (cough!) but I suspect that in debating an Obama administration, there will be a priority on eloquence.
Blackwell's call to arms in 2006 for civic involvement: "Whether or not we will choose to be thermometers that just take the temperature of our culture, or whether or not we will be thermostats to turn up the heat and define and shape and influence the morays of our culture."
Besides being uninspiring rhetoric (not to mention an incomplete sentence), this oft-repeated meme really just reminded Ohioans how expensive home heating had become. One camera crew I worked with in Ohio had just put in a wood-burning stove to fight their heating bills.
The RNC Chair should have a clue about using New Media to further the party.
Ken Blackwell is proud that he has a Facebook page, and that it even got coverage. What a techie! You'd think with such cutting edge technology such as "spell check," (like on my pirated Microsoft Word 97) he'd be able to spell his own name correctly as he lamely tries to tie Obama to Blago, which even most of the anonymous hotheads at Free Republic could do with more conviction.
Look at this cutting edge video from 2006 to see how he pre-dates Obama's Internet youth army. Just make a mock up of the MTV logo circa 1981, and those whippersnappers will be dying to go door to door for you!
In conclusion, I think that most readers of Huffington Post will join me in supporting Ken Blackwell to lead the Republican Party to a dismal future. Indeed, his penchant for election fraud may be their only chance left.