BY DR. MICHAEL UECHI – On June 9, 1954, in one of the most famous congressional hearings of the cold war, Boston lawyer Joseph Welch questioned Senator Joseph McCarthy, the most notorious “red baiter” in America. Welch was responding to McCarthy’s charge that one of Welch’s young attorneys had ties to a Communist organization. As a spellbound national television audience watched, Welch, in a fit of anger posed the question of McCarthy that no doubt many Americans were waiting to hear:
“Have you no sense of decency?”
This very same query should be asked of John White of Pacific Resource Partnership, whose union organization has aired a non-stop advertising campaign falsely accusing former governor and mayoral candidate Ben Cayetano of running a “pay to play” scheme when he was governor.
The radio, print and TV ads, the well-paid canvassers going house-to-house and, the phony “push polls” falsely imply that Governor Cayetano accepted illegal campaign contributions and rewarded the donors millions of dollars in no-bid contracts from the state. No parties are named in the ads but the smear tactics and innuendo, perfected by Senator McCarthy, are the same game.
Have you no sense of decency?
I am not the only one angered by Mr. White’s incriminations.
The accusations so outraged Bob Watada, former Executive Director at the Hawaii Campaign Spending Commission, he flew in from the mainland to condemn the ads and assure the public that Ben never violated any campaign spending laws and does not deserve to have his long record of public service maligned by the PRP.
Although this organization says its mission is “ to build a stronger more vibrant Hawaii…while taking into account the values that make Hawaii such a special place”, I am not so sure.
Speaking as a local boy, the values that make our place special are fair play, looking out for the other guy, and never talking stink and dirty about other people.
Mr. White’s tactics directly contradict the values found in PRP’s mission statement.
I believe that PRP and John White have crossed the lines of fair play and civility.
Respected columnists such as Dave Shapiro, Dan Boylan and Richard Borreca have also registered their distaste for PRP’s campaign. Mr. Borreca, in his Oct. 21 Star Advertiser column (Misleading attack ads bear real risk of backfiring) said “Lawmakers are telling me constituents are complaining about PRP cards, saying they are an insult and should be stopped.”
What’s equally disturbing is that Mayoral candidate Kirk Caldwell, who talks a great deal about his integrity, chooses to stand by and not denounce PRP’s attacks on his opponent. He shrugs off the ads by PRP as the “rough and tumble” of a political campaign, knowing very well he will benefit politically from PRP’s attacks. His inaction speaks louder than words.
Compare this to Governor Ben Cayetano, who came out of retirement at age 72, to run for mayor. He answered the call to stop the most expensive public works project in our history, a project that he knew would have devastating effects on the people of Honolulu for generations.
Ben exercised his right to run for office not for personal gain or aspirations for higher public office.
He ran because…he has a sense of decency.
Mike Uechi is a retired physician who lives in Aiea.