Ohio2006 Blog

News, analysis, and comments on Ohio elections.

Monday, August 14

Sen: Brown (D) Meets the Bloggers

It was a great pleasure and something of a relief to finally join a crowd of Ohio bloggers at noon on Saturday for a Meet the Bloggers interview with U.S. Senate candidate Rep. Sherrod Brown (D-Avon). The interview took place in the new MTB space in the Tower Press Building at 18th Street and Superior Avenue in Cleveland. The number of bloggers and others in attendance was large and everyone was excited as the event got underway. An exceptionally articulate and knowledgable candidate, Brown is a natural for Meet the Bloggers and he did not disappoint. The questions were pointed and probing, covering a wide range of specific policies and issues, and Brown's answers were impressively substantive and comprehensive.

Bloggers Tim Ferris and Jerid Kurtz talk before the interview begins.

I thought it was truly extraordinary that Brown was able to address just about every policy question in a detailed way without notes and without knowing the questions in advance. (The only issue that seemed to catch him off balance was Jim Eastman's query about importation of wine into Ohio.) When Jill of Writes Like She Talks asked him about the Israel/Hezbollah conflict in Lebanon, Brown argued that a that a cease-fire should have been called for sooner. When I asked him about Iraq and terrorism, Brown defended his record on national security by describing initiatives he has supported in detail, then assailed Sen. Mike DeWine for being "asleep" when the issues of whether Iraq really had weapons of mass destruction and Bush's incompetent conduct of the war on terrorism came before him as a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee. Brown also argued convincingly that the Iraq conflict has made America less safe by tying down our military and wasting two billion dollars a week that could be used for genuine national security measures.

Brown's answers were exceptionally detailed and thorough.

Jerid Kurtz asked Brown about getting more young people to stay in Ohio, and Brown tied it to improving economic opportunity. During an extended discussion of the Medicare Part D prescription coverage fiasco, Brown commented that "anyone could see the disaster coming if they were paying attention" to how the law was written by corporations and passed in a held-open, middle-of-the-night vote. When Daniella asked him about his plan to make Ohioans see that he has a plan and vision, he talked about making specific comparisons of DeWine's positions and his own on every major issue facing Ohioans, where time after time DeWine supports the interests of big corporations and wealthy people over ordinary citizens who work hard and play by the rules. Referring to DeWine's record of voting for every single Bush judicial appointee, and supporting Bush's programs almost without exception, Brown quoted Mark Twain as saying that "if two people think alike all the time, one of them isn't doing very much thinking."

Blogger Redhorse of Psychobilly Democrat.

Asked about the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation, Brown agreed that it urgently needs to be addressed. He said that his vote against the pension bill was a hard one for him, but he felt the bill would accelerate the deterioration of the defined-benefit type of pension. Discussing the No Child Left Behind law, which he noted has been underfunded by 40 billion by the Bush administration, Brown said that supporting the law is one of a handful of votes that he now views as a mistake. He voted for it because he believed the assurances that it would be properly funded. Brown, who has a masters degree in education, called school vouchers a "false choice" because the whole system is underfunded, so it isn't fair either to public school students or to voucher students.

Sherrod Brown ponders a tough question before answering.

I asked Brown to describe the source of his "moral compass," meaning what undergirds his sense of right and wrong and his drive to help others. He talked about growing up in the Lutheran Church and his parent's attitude toward social justice. He also mentioned that the Sermon on the Mount has been described as a great political speech as well as a theological speech. Brown says that he gets up every day hoping to fight for social justice.

Bloggers Daniella of American Pink Collar, Jim Eastman of Wine & Politics (doing the sound), and Jerid Kurtz, formerly of Live From Dayton.

Asked near the end of the interview about voter apathy, Brown talked about the need to give voters hope. "It's all about word of mouth," he said, and pointed out that bloggers can play an important role in reaching out to individual voters. Even apart from our activities in the blogosphere, he pointed out that our political activities give us "standing" to reach out to people in our real-world communities.

Among the non-bloggers in attendance were Brown's campaign manager John Ryan (only a bit of his knee is visible); Ryan's daughter Megan, a senior in high school; and Brown's spouse, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Connie Schultz. In the foreground is a young blogger whose name I did not get.

Although I have now seen Brown speak on a number of occasions, I was impressed anew by his performance in the Meet the Bloggers setting. His wide-ranging interests and knowledge, his passion for social justice, and his dedication to public service were palpable.


At 12:46 PM, Blogger Jill said...

Yup. I love letting everyone else do the dirty work of writing these things up, especially since I'm STILL trying to finish up Lance Mason. Thanks for a great recap, Jeff.

At 5:58 PM, Blogger Daniella said...


ALl that Jill said about the great recap. Good job!

At 12:46 PM, Blogger scott bakalar said...

I'm linking you up right now, guy - thanks for a great review....Thanks for not putting up any pics of me too - I have to keep that mysterious persona thing going...


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