(I would just add that the Washington Post’s fierce opposition to Ken Kookinelli is one of the ONLY redeeming qualities of that “newspaper.” – promoted by lowkell)
by Paul Goldman
We write 200-proof; to quote the great baseball movie with Kevin Costner, “for the love of the game.” If you love the game, then you have to comment if someone just stands there at the plate and takes three straight strikes without taking a swing. There is no bigger “sin” in baseball…or in politics.
Case in point: Ken Cuccinelli’s refusal to investigate the for-profit education industry, including one of its heavyweight entities, Kaplan University. The industry has been a subject of discussions between Lowell and myself, reflected in our writings on this page.
200-proof politics lives by this basic rule: when someone is trying to kill you politically, you have a right, if not a need, to kill them off first, metaphorically that is. Or at least, make it so you have a very plausible narrative to tell voters why such a person/entity/party/special interest has you on their hit list.
This is, as they say, a messy business, not for the squeamish. War is hell, said General Sherman.
The Washington Post is trying to destroy Ken Cuccinelli’s campaign for Govenror. Let’s be honest: When you demand a guy resign because you say he will use his power to destroy the transportation deal, and then, after he saves it with his legal opinion, you then say he needs to resign because his opinion shows how difficult it is to wear two hats, there is no place to hide from the truth.
Yes, they were right – we wrote this yesterday – in saying Cuccinelli tried to have it both ways on transportation. So they whacked him. Fair enough. But it is also true the Post tried to have it both ways. This is the sign they have gone from journalism to flatout political war.
I have been there several times. This is not in doubt: The Post is into 200-proof attack on Cuccinelli. Like Caesar, there is no turning back for them. It is either him or us. Or, as they use to say in the cowboy movies, this town ain’t big enough for the both of us. The state either.
But what really amazes me is this: Cuccinelli could have mortally wounded the Post with the eager help – they were begging him to do it – from the liberal base of the Democratic Party! It is a 200-proof bafflement. The guy has sued just about everyone else on the planet, so why not the “Kaplan Post?”
Democratic Senator Jim Webb, liberal icon Senator Tom Harkin, the NAACP, respected educators from across the country, the historically black colleges, UVA and others practically begged him to sue the Post, or more actually their affiliate Kaplan University, and he wouldn’t do it.
I don’t write to pick on Kaplan University. But 200-proof tells it like it is: We don’t choose sides in a fight, we examine the fight from each side. So let me say: Cuccinelli, for all his image, is a wuss. A big wuss. Kaplan University, the private college living off government funds, whose profits are keeping the Post from having to go 100% internet (or 100% belly up) is part of an industry that has been universally decried from the Democratic side, with the Obama Administration leading the way.
To repeat: All the colleges, all the education groups, all the minority groups, all the women’s groups, would have backed him 100% in going after these folks who the NAACP – not your usual Cuccinelli group – says are destroying black youth. I didn’t make that up. Actually, they said destroying black communities too. This group has super-low graduation rates, but super high average student debt. It is about 10% of the total post-secondary college enrollment but 50% of the defaulted loans.
These loans are killing these minority kids and veterans, a big thing with Webb. They get a degree which doesn’t get them a job and they have crushing debt they can’t pay. So who gets stuck with the bill? The middle class of America who can barely afford to pay their own kids tuition.
IF THERE EVER WAS A SURE-FIRE WINNING POLITICAL ISSUE, THIS IS IT.
If Cuccinelli had gone after Kaplan, the for-profit industry, the Post would not be able to attack him with any credibility. Indeed, they would have helped him with any attack. Webb, Harkin, et. al saw it; they wanted a Democrat to get the credit!
Unfortunately, political consultants think a campaign is about their TV ads and their polling and maybe some get out of the vote. The actual campaign is sort of a legal requirement, not a political one. They don’t love the part of the game that has fascinated guys like me since Plato: the campaign give and take, the boxing match, the matching of the wits on the stump.
Clinton loved the game, he is among the best ever at. So did Reagan. President Obama loves the game, but I think he is the exception now. None of the Republicans have, starting with Bush the elder. Romney hated the 47%. Cuccinelli vs The Post, that’s the ole game, you have to do it slickly, but it has to be done.
Now these for-profit schools give a lot of money directly and indirectly. We are in a pay-for-play system, so they have a lot of pull. And a lot of Wall Street has made a lot of money on them. They even stared down the Obama Administration, who watered down the rules especially in terms of how you score whether a student graduates on time, when you have to count a loan in default.
For example: Last I checked, a loan was in default after 9 months of non-payment. However, if the school took the old loan, and rolled into a new loan at the 8-month mark, the 9-month timeline started anew. Why is this important? Because if a school has too many defaulting loans, the students at the school can’t get federal loans. Which means the school shuts down. Have you ever heard of a private enterprise living on 95% government money except a military contractor? Plus: they don’t have to count their veterans money as government at least that was the rule. It is a scam of scams.
The point being: Dr. Harvey, the renowned educator who led Hampton University, exposed them, and the harm they were doing to minority kids, a while back. Lowell and I tried to get the VA Democrats to fight for these minority kids. We couldn’t do it; heck, Democrats put the industry’s top lobbyist as its party head. But even then, Cuccinelli’s posse was politically brain dead.
This is not a hard play for a real 200-proof player. A conservative AG goes out, hires the most liberal law firm he can hire willing to take on the Post. He tells them not to worry about the bill, just find him the goods to “nail the coonskin on the wall” as Davy Crockett might have said. You pay a lawyer enough, an investigator enough, you get your information. Especially when Democrats in the Senate have already compiled most of it along with other education groups! All you need are some people to put in a 30-second ad.
If you got to hire Harvey Keitel to be the “cleaner” ala his super role in “Pulp Fiction”, then do it – don’t worry about how much blood as to be spilled. Yes, there are no rabbis, priests, ministers, whatever working at 200-proof. We call it like is.
The Post editors are in 200-proof war mode. At some point, they might go too far, people have a basic sense of fairness. But by then, the damage will be done. If Cuccinelli doesn’t have the stomach for the game, then he is going to lose, and 200-proof politics says he deserves to lose.
Terry MAC is a player. He has proven that many times. Like Wilder and Warner and Kaine, he is prepared, if need be, to win ugly. I love the underdog by nature, having had to help so many of them over the years. The overdogs never figure they need us underdog types.
Bottom line: Give me a player any day. At least the Mighty Casey went down swinging.