Friday, July 29, 2005

Hackett Straight Talks On 'Hardball'

Democrat Paul Hackett, an Iraq war veteran who is running for Congress in Ohio's second district – the election is Tuesday – appeared on "Hardball" with Chris Matthews last night. Hackett appears to be following some of DNC Chairman Howard Dean's lead, giving straight answers and refusing to back down from his criticism of President Bush and calling Bush a "chickenhawk."

Here's excerpts:

MATTHEWS: If you had been in Congress back in 2002, right before that election that year, would you have voted to authorize the war in Iraq or voted against it?

HACKETT: I would have voted against it.


HACKETT: Well, I thought it was a misuse of the military. And I think time has demonstrated that.

I mean, what we‘re doing in Iraq right now is nation-building. And, if you remember, back in 2000, President Bush ran his campaign in part on the premise that he would not use the military to nation-build. And that‘s exactly what the military is doing in Iraq. We‘re asking the military to paint schools. I frankly think that‘s an inappropriate use or misuse of our great fighting forces in Iraq. We shouldn‘t be painting schools over there and just simply shouldn‘t be nation-building. That‘s what we‘re doing over there.

MATTHEWS: What is a chicken hawk?

HACKETT: Chicken hawk is somebody who is not willing to fight the fight of their age, their generation, and speaks brashly and with unnecessary bravado when they‘re sending other kids and other sons and daughters, other folks‘ sons and daughters, off to war.

It is—encompasses language like, bring it on. It encompasses language like, you‘re with us or you‘re against us and we‘re going to take it to you. And I think that‘s dangerous. And I‘ve got to tell you, you know, when we‘re over there fighting in Iraq, Marines and soldiers, and we hear language like, bring it on coming from the Oval Office, that‘s a danger. We don‘t need that. That‘s encouraging an...

MATTHEWS: Paul, why did you call the president—why did you call the president of the United States, whose office you respect, a chicken hawk?

HACKETT: I respect the office of the president of the United States. I said those words. I meant them. I stand by them. I would say them again.

And I‘m—look, I‘m not a career politician. I‘m a tough-talking, straight-shooting, forward guy. What you see is what you get. And one of my heroes, Harry Truman, said, if you can‘t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. I‘m taking some heat for it. I‘m OK with it. The hits are easy compared to some of things that I‘ve seen in the last year or so.


HACKETT: And I stand by it.

Man, I hope this guy wins on Tuesday, both because we pick up a Republican Congressional seat and because we need more vocal critics of this president in Washington.