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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Reader: Kucinich Was No Spin Doctor

Posted By on Tue, Dec 11, 2007 at 4:08 PM

Are you serious? Calling Dennis Kucinich the "King of Spin?" The title does not even agree with the substance of the article. [“The King of Spin,” December 5] You portray him -- based on various news reports published during his time as Mayor of Cleveland -- as a disaster, a man incapable of playing the political games required to get things done. So how exactly how did the King of Spin spin these news stories to make himself look good in the press? I was a teenager when Kucinich was mayor, and I remember how he was vilified in the press day-in and day-out. The press hated him. He was not able to "spin" those stories. I agree that his political comeback was astounding. But is a political comeback spin? And today he continues to be vilified in the press and ignored by his own party. Yet you write he acts this way to produce "headlines" and that he uses the "issues of the day to get himself on TV." Even if that were true, it ignores the fact that when he is on TV, he continues to be portrayed as a wacko by the press. In fact, after decades in the public eye, rather than being a King of Spin, Kucinich appears to care less about how he is ridiculed then he does about speaking what he believes. (Click "More" to read on) Have his beliefs changed over time? I would hope so. I hope that Dennis Kucinich has learned from his life and that he has changed his mind on important social issues during his long public career. So should we assume, as is written in the article, that these changes, whatever they have been, are self-serving? That's kind of harsh. As a politician, there is no doubt that Mr. Kucinich, as pretty much every politician I can think of -- has changed his mind on some issues because it was politically expedient to do so. I am certain that he has voted for some laws while in Congress, just like everyone else, that he did not support 100 percent. Yet as a 20-year vegetarian and vegan myself, I can attest that it is not the politically expedient thing to do to give up meat, fish, milk and eggs. In fact, remaining a meat eater is the politically expedient course of action. As a life-long pacifist, I can attest to the fact that standing up against war is not the politically expedient course of action. As a person who has read about the history of energy in Ohio and the battles which raged against municipally-owned power, I am certain that refusing to sell Muni Light to the Illuminating Company was not the politically expedient stance to take. So where is this King of Spin? Kucinich does not appear to be taking politically expedient stands on important issues and neither does he seem to be trying to improve his image in the press. As a politician, he seems to be doing just the opposite, if he truly wants political success. In fact, is that not the point of what you wrote about him as Mayor of Cleveland -- that he did not do what he should have done if he wanted to be a political success? I worked as a rental-car delivery person in the late 1970s. We went out as a two-man team, one driving the car. which was to be left with the customer and the other following to bring the delivery driver back to the office. I am white, and for the most part through all the years I worked this job the second member of this team was black. There were certain neighborhoods of Cleveland we were scared to enter. In some neighborhoods, I would be the one who went up to the door, while my partner remained in the car and tried not to draw attention to himself. In other neighborhoods, I would be the one remaining in the car while he ventured forth. And in some neighborhoods we would go alone -- bringing our tow car -- because it was just too risky to be a mixed-race team working together. Cleveland at the time seemed like it was always on the brink of a race riot. And it was not just race -- there were class divisions (which sometimes followed racial lines but not always) and issues of organized crime. So, how could one expect Dennis Kucinich, in the racially and class-charged atmosphere of the 1970s in Cleveland, not to have been a part of this? Simply identifying the neighborhood you lived in spoke volumes about who you were in those days. It was well known what distinguished a person who lived in Little Italy from a person who lived on Coventry from a person who lived on Hough from a person who lived in Tremont. To merely identify yourself as an East Sider versus a West Sider or a South Sider would in many ways speak volumes about the person you were and the life you lived. So did Dennis Kucinich play racial politics? I am sure he did. Just as I am certain that everyone else in Cleveland politics at the time played racial politics. But I am also certain that race, class, and gender politicking continues today and that most, if not all, of the candidates for President in 2008 have been involved. This is America after all, a country that denies that race, gender, or class matters. The Bush family may like their barbecues, but their kids eat it with silver spoons on well-manicured lawns and their neighborhood -- Kennebunkport, Maine -- defines who they are as a family, just as surely as the Cleveland neighborhoods once defined politics in our city. So don't malign Dennis Kucinich. Don't waste four-and-a-half pages on the crap you wrote when his past could have been summarized in a column or two and you could have devoted the rest of your space to real coverage of his current campaign. John Storhm Cleveland Heights

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