Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Some Reservations About Richard Behney

In politics, there are some things I have learned over the years that just come with the territory. One of those things is criticism. It's part of the game.

If one wants to play it, they must have thick skin. As constructive as it can be, there are times when criticism can be (and is) perceived as negative. People can (and do) take it personally, when it involves a candidate that a given individual may support. But I assure my readers this is not my intention in this post.

Those who support Richard Behney (for the GOP nomination in Indiana's U.S. Senate race) may see this as negative and some may even view it as insulting. But nevertheless, I am bound by a conscience and personal commitment to speak and write the truth.... as I see it. While not everyone will see it from my perspective, these things I am writing today are what I believe to be true. They are based on what I have seen, heard, and learned from Mr. Behney himself.

During my own vetting process, I have analyzed speech, facial expressions, and body language. I have also been attentive to candidate backgrounds, as well their stances on the issues and specific plans to implement the things we need to happen to save the nation... from its current destructive path. All of these things I have found useful and not uncommon as a part of any reasonable hiring process.

If this is the case, why shouldn't it be used in this forum?

Earlier in the week, I said this about Mr. Behney in my endorsement post of John Hostettler:

Mr. Behney has a lot of energy, I have seen it in person. He is a good speaker, has a great story behind him, and seems to get the big picture. He has an energetic following that responds well to his sense of humor and purpose. But it is my fear that he will get eaten alive in Washington with no prior political experience.

And I still stand by the statement, but with some additional thoughts I'd like to express.

While Mr. Behney was responding to a question about abortion at the debate I attended last weekend, he made this statement:

“One of the things I’m most disappointed about in running for the United States Senate – I’ve met many people here – I’ve met many of these leaders – pro-life leaders – here in our state. And I’m convinced as sure as I’m standing here that they are more concerned with their egos and with their jobs than with saving lives.”

First, let me clarify something before we get too far along.

The issue I am trying to present here has nothing to do with his specific stand on abortion, nor does it have to do with his view of the leadership of the right to life movement. I have some marked differences with both Behney and the leadership in the movement, but my criticism goes much deeper than this.

At issue here is whether or not, Mr. Behney's lack of experience in the political arena lends itself to a tendency to be overly driven by the emotion of the moment. I think it does and I will tell you why.

In this particular instance, many of his followers whooped it up and clapped when he said this. Without seeing the potential repercussions of saying such a thing-- about those who had previously endorsed him-- they were his personal amen corner and may have clapped to just about anything he said.

Very soon after he made this remark, the Indiana Right To Life PAC released this statement:

“Mr. Behney’s comment reveals an uninformed and cynical view of what drives Indiana’s pro-life leaders to invest their lives in the most selfless of causes by speaking on behalf of unborn children."

"Indiana’s pro-life leaders are mostly volunteers who give sacrificially of their time and money so that children they will never meet might be given a chance at life. This is the heartbeat of Indiana’s pro-life movement.”

"An error of perception and judgment of this magnitude, and concerning allies in the fight for the unborn, has caused us to lose confidence in him and his reliability, so much so that we cannot recommend him to voters."

It's this kind of impetuousness that often causes embarrassment and in this case can sink a candidacy. How many pro-life voters will now look for Mr. Behney's name on the list of endorsed candidates, not see it, and then vote for another?

The answer is not so important as the next question.

What other unmeasured emotionally driven statements will he make, if he is the GOP nominee? Will they be disastrous enough to hand the election to another Democrat? Will we be saddled with another Senator who will line up behind the progressives... like Bayh did when he voted for Obamacare, the Stimulus Package, and the bailouts? I know the likely Democratic nominee will do just that, because he did so as Congressman from the 8th District.

If this isn't enough, there's another area that I have to wonder about.... his judgment.

Behney (in his own words) told us about how he lost a company that he built from scratch -- one that made him lots of money and employed hundreds. He didn't say what that company was, but okay, I will play along for now.

He further stated that he lost it in a hostile takeover by the Chinese. I don't know all of the details, beyond that. I do know that hostile takeovers are part of the game, sometimes. And those who take capital and business risks, sometimes can get burnt.

But in my rational thinking, I have to wonder how someone who is asking me to send them to Washington can expect me to trust their judgment, when I know they put a company of the size he claims at such a risk. What kind of other risks will he willing to take with the people's tax dollars, if he does not adequately guard his won?

For this reason, I hope some who were thinking about voting for Mr. Behney will reconsider. Instead, I hope they will give a second look at John Hostettler, who is far less given over to emotional rhetoric and impulsiveness.

As for Mr. Behney, this is not the end of the road for him -- should he choose to continue in politics. Sarah Palin was not politically mature enough for the national scene, when she was tapped to be McCain's running mate either. But she has made the best of a bad situation, by better educating herself and learning to conduct her speaking in a more measured manner.

There is no reason that Mr. Behney cannot do the same.


Jonathan Moore said...

I hope Hoosiers will give John Hostettler a second look.

LASunsett said...

So do I, Jonathan. If Indiana wants to send a message to Washington, Hostettler is the best choice.

Anonymous said...

Well done LA. And you made your points with the kindness and common sense we must all exercise with one another, in order to get our country back and pick the candidates that are best equipped to help us attain that goal.

Many times a candidate can make themselves look like the answer to everyone's prayers on paper or speaking to a small group, but when they address a large crowd, they are nervous enough to show their true assets and deficits. And as you said, it doesn't mean they can't be a great politician at some point, it just means they need to mature and learn more.

I appreciate you sharing your observations and gut reactions.


LASunsett said...

Thank you for the kind words HAM.

Anonymous said...

This was a very good read, the first blog that does not have hate written all over it.
My first question is, do we want another politician in office? Sure, they know their way around the Capitol. However, that does not make them a better canididate. When Behney debates he has more focus and energy than any other candidate. In addition, he is able to stand behind his belief without fear of what others think of him.
In non verbal communication, blinking excessively shows stress and lying. In the final big debate, if you watch the candidates eyes, all but Behney over-blink. This shows that Behney is able to maintain composure in a stressful situation, i.e. the Capitol.

Also, the company was called ProTek, if I remember correctly. It helped other companies and it grew. However, the companies ProTek helped decided to choose a cheaper company, thus the end of ProTek. Not Behney's fault. However, he didn't quit, he created AttaBoy. Determination, not a "woe is me" attitude.

Even though, he may be politically young does not mean that he is not capable of doing a fantastic job in office. However, I do not speak for all Hoosiers, so we will we will see what happens tonight. Best of luck to all candidates! They all have campaigned hard and their families have stayed strong.

Anonymous said...

I worked for Mr. Behney when he owned Protek. He cut my pay with no forewarning at all. My paycheck was short, and he claimed it was necessary to grow his business. He is a liar and a cheat, and I pray that people learn the truth about him before it is too late.