Published February 11, 2006
Mahoning County Recorder Ronald V. Gerberry's tortured explanation for his decision to pull out of the Democratic primary for the 33rd Ohio Senate District seat makes it clear that this veteran politico is no Harry Truman. Indeed, the day Gerberry made his announcement the word that came to mind is one that can't be printed in a respecable blog. Suffice it to say he isn't a profile in courage.
With regard to the Harry Truman reference, readers of a certain age will remember his successful 1948 presidential campaign and his now famous campaign speech in Seattle when a supporter yelled to Truman, Give xc3xa2xe2x82xacxcbx9cem hell, Harry! Truman responded, I don't give them hell, I just tell the truth and they think it's hell.
Now, compare that to Gerberry's statement: "It would have been a bloody primary and extremely divisive. Sometimes in public life, you have to put aside your personal ambition." He contended that his presence in the race would divide the Democratic Party, both locally and statewide.
If you don't buy that verbal shuffle, here's a more credible explanation for the Austintown resident's decision: He realized that going up against state Rep. John Boccieri of New Middletown, D-61st, an Air Force Reserve officer who has served in Iraq, would have highlighted his paper pushing service. A county recorder is really a glorified filing clerk who gets paid a lot of money.
It's easy to imagine Boccieri and Gerberry on the campaign trail talking about their abilities to operate unde pressure. The Air Force reserve pilot could have talked about how he flew she C-130H transport plane into Baghdad, making steep, fast approaches to the runway to avoid sniper fire. And he could have talked about all the very important people he flew to hot spot, including U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-New York. Voters love an American hero story.
By contrast, Gerberry would have been forced to talk about his tenure as recorder and how he refused to let a paper cut stop him from doing his job. That's facetious, of course, but the fact remains that Gerberry could not have overcome Boccieri's rxc3x83xc2xa9sumxc3x83xc2xa9. That's why he decided to withdraw. And, the fact that the state representative had double the campaign funds meant that the recorder would have been forced to spend a lot of valuable campaign time seeking contributions.
"Give 'em hell, Ron!" just doesn't have the kind of oomph that "Give 'em hell, Harry!" continues to have all these many years later.