We’ve got a hot U.S. Senate race in Ohio this year: incumbent Sherrod Brown, a Democrat, is looking to fend off the challenge of Republican Josh Mandel.
I’ll write more about the race as we get closer to the election. For now, I’ll just say that I’m mystified by the tactics of the Brown campaign. I get their e-mails constantly, and they all are about money. How much money Mandel is raising, how much money “special interests” are contributing to support Mandel’s candidacy, how many TV ads have been purchased as a result of the money contributed to the Mandel campaign, and how much money the Brown campaign needs to make up for the cash landslide that is tumbling into Ohio.
Money, money, money! Obviously, the Brown campaign believes that the constant drumbeat of news about what donors have contributed to Mandel’s campaign will spur me to open my checkbook, again and again, to give money to Sherrod Brown. My question is: why do they think that is what will happen? Isn’t it equally plausible that I’ll just get sick to death of being hit up for money and immediately delete their e-mails, unread? (After all, we’re still six months away from the election — how many more money-grubbing e-mails do they think I can bear?) Or that I’ll just give up because the money lead for the Mandel campaign apparently is insurmountable? Or that I’ll conclude that the Brown campaign doesn’t care about anything except cold, hard cash?
Political campaigns used to be about candidates, issues, speeches and rallies, now they are about money, money, and more money. We are all the poorer for this.
Does anyone really think, however, that the wording of regulations is what caused this scandal? Does the Secret Service really believe that the agents who got drunk in a strip club and took Colombian streetwalkers back to their hotel rooms consulted the employee guidelines before they guzzled their first shot of vodka?
The problem is not with regulations, but with people. If the Secret Service has hired agents who thought their behavior in Colombia was acceptable, then the problem runs a lot deeper than tweaking the terms of Regulation 12.3(b)(iii). The processes that led to the hiring of the agents failed, and the training that helped to shape their behavior also failed. The Secret Service needs to take a comprehensive look at how it selects and schools the people who protect our President. It needs to figure out how to identify, hire, and promote individuals with qualities like responsibility, dedication, and judgment — because the agents involved in the Colombia scandal sorely lacked those crucial qualities.
It’s time our government understood that we must put our faith in people, not regulations. You can’t regulate reckless people into responsible people.