Thursday, January 19, 2006

58. Is Petro replaying Bush?

We recently, no less than one week ago, traded in our traditional cable box for a digital video recorder. The luxury is two-fold, easy digital recording and the ability to pause and replay live television. No more running around the house at the last moment looking for a clean video tape to record evening events. And no more phone calls interrupting the most important part of a movie, or the news segment we have waited an hour to view.

My first use of the replaying of live television came Sunday morning when during breakfast I thought I was listening to a church commercial promoting marriage between a man and a woman and a stance on pro-life. I thought it was perhaps a bit bold on behalf of the church, but did not find it to be a big deal. Then Jim Petro, Republican candidate for Ohio governor, appeared and said that his faith and worship guide his decision-making. I turned around, replayed the political commercial and watched it from the beginning. In the commercial, the camera pans over a pair of wedding rings and The Bible, before Petro appears with his message.

The political message captures only three ideas: Jim Petro supports marriage between a man and a woman, he is pro-life and that God guides his decision-making. What he is also doing, of course, and unoriginally, is playing the religion card. I do not have a problem with his beliefs, he is entitled to them like anyone else; I do, however, have a problem with the quality of his message.

Petro's stance on gay marriage is completely irrelevant. Last year Ohio passed the discrimination amendment that prohibits marriage between homosexuals. He is a year late; the amendment is now in the Ohio Constitution, so who really cares? Republicans used the amendment last year to both solidify a law that already existed and to bring out the religious voters.

That Petro is pro-life is also completely irrelevant since the decisions surrounding abortion are made at the judicial level, most notably the Supreme Court. I realize that the attempt is to show Ohio voters his religious character, but even if he believed differently, he could do little about. And in fact, he did believe differently, he was a pro-choice candidate for about 25 years.

Finally, Petro tells voters that faith and worship guide his decision-making. I really wonder if this is the best stance to take. President Bush also makes his decisions on the inspiration of God, and currently God is not doing so well with the American voters as the President's 36% approval rating would indicate.

It seems that Petro took Bush's campaign literature from last year, erased his name and penciled in his. The President, however, was a bit more tactful and, more importantly, he could actually push a national marriage amendment or nominate pro-life judges. The only thing left for Petro to do in rerunning Bush's campaign is to get a little help at the ballot box, but considering his opponent, the chance of that is a bit unlikely.

I would rather have heard about the things Petro wants to do for Ohio, such as his plan for economic development and education. I want to hear about those things that he can actually do something about. I do not care if his decision-making inspiration is drawn from Swedish green fire ants, as long as the decisions are in the best interest of Ohioans. The entire content of his commercial is about religion and things he has no control over.

Petro's website acknowledges that he is down about 10-12 percentage points to Kenneth Blackwell for the Republican nomination. It also notes that his campaign has just engaged in a one million dollar advertising promotion to build name recognition. It is obvious that the name recognition he is looking for is synonymous with the conservative movement. He is not wearing his religion on his sleeve; he has a whole suit made out of it.

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