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On duty for Schuette

In his Oct. 21 Politics and Prejudices column, Jack Lessenberry offered a critique of Michigan's Attorney General Bill Schuette, pointing out that he "has never been poor," and that his mother married "in turn, not one, but two top Dow Chemical executives."

Carla Hills of East Lansing wrote:

Mothers? In the most reprehensible of journalistic blunders, Lessenberry disregarded all objectivity and implied that Schuette's mother's tactical skill was marrying up to improve family standing. How insulting. How unfair. How unprofessional.

In 2015 we have achieved some measure of progress when we define men and women separate from their spouses or familial ties. Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush are running for president, each asking to be measured within the context of their own accomplishments and political views. Some journalists and constituents are respectful of those boundaries. Some are not.

There is a common experience among politicians and elected officials: These men and women endure millions of conversations with lots of different people. Some are positive and rewarding. Many are not. However, a conversation where ideas are exchanged is always better than a one-sided presentation of words that skew and skewer, while smugly assessing a situation that disregards reality, understanding, or kindness.

By all indications, the now deceased Mrs. Schuette raised a decent, honorable son who represents the family name and his lifelong hometown with dignity, good intentions, and hard work. There is honor in public service, although you'd never know it from Mr. Lessenberry's comments.

I never met Bill Schuette's mother, but I bet that she would dispense advice similar to what mothers everywhere have said to their children for generations: Don't let negative people define your self-worth; carry yourself with dignity, be kind, help others, fight injustice, give back to your community, protect your family. And, in this case she might add, don't believe every venomous, deleterious thing you read.

Lessenberry requested we print his response:

Ms. Hills is missing or deliberately ignoring something. I repeated a fact about his heritage to explain his millions, a fact — his mother's marriages — that has already been published many times. I did not mention her name or attack her personally in any way. Schuette's reaction was far more interesting. He addressed it is as if, after the smoking gun tapes had been found, he addressed Watergate by saying "Woodward and Bernstein wear really crummy suits." He did not address anything that I said about his career, or dispute its accuracy. However, I disagree sharply with her characterization of Schuette as decent and honorable. His career shows him to be anything but.

Dave Hornstein of Birmingham wrote:

While Jack Lessenberry did an excellent job of letting us know just how dangerous state Attorney General Bill Schuette is, his column needs a correction and some elaboration.

To begin with, Lessenberry erred when he said that "Schuette knocked off a GOP congressman." Schuette began his political career in 1984 by narrowly defeating Donald Albosta, a Democratic congressman who had held the then-10th District seat for three terms. Albosta almost made Schuette a one-term congressman in a tight 1986 rematch.

Secondly, in mentioning that Schuette's mother married "two top Dow Chemical executives," Lessenberry understated their importance to the company. Schuette's father, William Schuette, Sr., was in line to become CEO when he died of a heart attack in 1959. His widow Esther subsequently married Carl Gerstacker, who did become Dow CEO.

This Dow connection may explain Schuette's obsessive opposition to medical and other uses of marijuana, for industrial uses of the hemp plant in such areas as plastics, water purification and weed control could compete with some Dow products. Schuette is also a hypocrite on this issue, having admitted to smoking marijuana while a college student.

Finally, a spoonerism occurs when the sounds of words are switched. A spoonerism for Bill Schuette is Bull Shitty. How appropriate.


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