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November 4, 2006
Pot, Meet Kettle

When a lawyer attacks a reporter as a "whore", one has to wonder for whom to root in the conflict, or whether to just grab a bowl of popcorn and enjoy the show. However, when the lawyer is running for Governor and the insult comes in response to a political gaffe made by his running mate, it becomes more concerning to the state's voters, who might at some time need to criticize the candidate if he wins office:

Hatch’s anger overflowed during a Thursday morning telephone interview.

A Forum Communications reporter asked Hatch about Dutcher’s knowledge of ethanol and why she wasn’t available to discuss the issue. Hatch abruptly ended the interview with: “You’re nothing more than a Republican whore. Goodbye.” He then hung up.

Television crews following the Duluth native Thursday reported other sharp comments when reporters pressed him for response to Dutcher’s comments.

Mike Hatch has a reputation in Minnesota as a nasty, unlikeable man who has a fixation on becoming Governor. This is, I believe, his third official run at the office, although it's the first time he's convinced Democrats (DFL here) to actually nominate him. He has routinely run the Attorney General's office as a partisan attack platform during Tim Pawlenty's first term as Governor, which makes this slur even more humorous than it otherwise would be.

Hatch let the mask slip this week, and Minnesotans got a reminder of his brittle personality. Calling a reporter a "whore" for asking about a major gaffe -- ethanol and E85 are a big deal here, regardless of how one views them -- demonstrates Hatch's inability to handle criticism in a mature and professional manner. Rather than answer the question, or avoid it by saying that it didn't have any probative value for voters, Hatch called the reporter an ugly word and hung up on him. (Hatch is lucky that the reporter is a man -- he would never live the insult down if the reporter had been a woman.)

Hatch claims that he called the reporter a "hack", but either way, the incident demonstrates that a Hatch administration would return us to the Jesse Ventura days of open warfare with the press. Minnesotans still recall the circus in Saint Paul during Ventura's strange reign as Governor, where media passes actually got labeled "media jackals" and openly mocking them at official events. While his attacks on journalists at first found some sympathy -- after all, we often criticize the local media, especially the Star Tribune -- it became apparent very quickly that he used the attacks to keep criticism of his incompetent bungling to a minimum.

It looks like Hatch will be cut from Ventura's cloth in that regard. If our elected officials cannot abide probing questions about issues of policy without throwing temper tantrums, then they do not belong in office. Minnesotans understood that after Ventura managed to get himself elected in 1998, and by the time his term was up, we had had enough of his antics. This incident should warn Minnesotans that the DFL wants to re-establish the imperial Governorship four years after Pawlenty restored openness and professionalism to the capital.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at November 4, 2006 8:46 AM

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