We don't really know much about Ron Shapiro, besides the fact he is one of four Democratic candidates for Congress in Mississippi's First Congressional District, hopeful of opposing Republican incumbent Roger Wicker in this year's general election.. And, since we don't usually cover Mississippi politics as such, we haven't done much tracking of the situation down there, other than to assume that Wicker will be heavily favored.
We have to say, however, that we were intrigued to receive a note this week from Shapiro, asking our help in disseminating his message, which he summarized as follows: "I want TRUTH. As a veteran I am against this war, torture and illegally spying on Americans. I am against reckless deficit spending. I am for helping the needy, keeping the air and water clean, working with all nations, spending more on peace than on war and rebuilding the Mississippi and Louisiana Coast before Iraq."
Whoa! This man is a Democrat? A member of the same party that contains, in our own home-state bailiwick, Governor Phil Bredesen, a competent-enough executive who is known, however, for catuiously neutral governmental policies, and a senatorial candidate, Congressman Harold Ford Jr., who'd sooner say anything - including professing "personal" love for President Bush - than admit to anything identifiably disputatious or Democratic? A member of the same party whose presidential ticket is likely to be headed in 2008 by New York Senator Hillary Clinton, another candidate who is studiously avoiding uttering anything that might be taken ill by Bush or by Newt Gingrich, the former radical-right House Speaker whom she's taken up with as a stump partner?
Here is more Shapiro, as reported by the Itawamba County Times: '"I want to wipe out illiteracy in the district," Shapiro said. A 62-year-old Army veteran, he opposes plans to reduce military benefits and bases. Shapiro said he's against everything the Bush administration has done except for going after terrorist Osama Bin Laden."
Hallelujah! Now, mind you, we aren't taking sides in that Mississippi Democratic primary. For all we know, the other three aspirants for their party's nomination are equally forthright. But we just aren't used to hearing candidates up thisaway - Democrats or Republicans, for that matter - talk turkey in this manner. Most of them, to stay within the turkey metaphor, may try to do some honest gobbling, but more often than not it comes out gobbledegook.
There's this, for example, from a recent report of ours on the aforementioned senatorial candidate: '"I'm not a Democrat," he said at one point, 'running up to Washington yelling 'Democrat, Democrat, Democrat, Democrat.' In fairness, that "I'm not a Democrat" line probably translates "I'm not the kind of Democrat who would run up to Washington, etc., etc."
But Ron Shapiro - win, lose, or draw - obviously is that kind of Democrat. And just as the political world admires directness and candor whenever it hears it (like the kind Republican John McCain used to deal out on his 2000 campaign bus, dubbed, appropriately enough, "Straight Talk Express) we find Shapiro's approach refreshing. No offense to any other candidate down thataway, but we wish him well.
Ophelia Ford may or may not be correct when she says (as she repeated again Tuesday) that God has chosen her - or, more properly, the endless litigation about her on-again/off-again District 29 state Senate seat -- to be a political object lesson. Presumably, U.S. District Judge Bernice Donald ruled Tuesday on the basis of mortal (and legal) considerations alone that the Shelby County Commission may not appoint a successor, as scheduled, next Monday, and that the recent state Senate action voiding Ford's election must receive a full and expedited review in her court. All we can say is (no pun intended): Godspeed! Let's get this matter over with once and for all.