Case apology to Inouye pays off

Former U.S. Rep. Ed Case’s apology to Hawai‘i senior Sen. Daniel Inouye for the bad blood between them didn’t win him an endorsement in his new campaign to succeed the retiring Sen. Daniel Akaka, but it did apparently persuade Inouye not to actively oppose him.

In an interview with Politico, Inouye said he won’t take sides in the Democratic primary and will support whichever candidate the party’s voters select to run against the likely Republican nominee, former Gov. Linda Lingle.

“I’m a good Democrat, and I want to see a Democrat win that seat,” Inouye was quoted as saying. “Although some may characterize me as a political boss, I am not a political boss. I will not force anyone to run for this or that, and I will not take sides in the primary.

“This is for the voters to decide,” he said. “If the people of Hawaii decide Ed Case is going to be the nominee, I’ll vote for him. But most importantly, we need a Democrat to replace Dan Akaka.”

Case is the first Democrat to announce for the seat, but he’s likely to end up with a lot of company in the primary; also looking at the race are former U.S. Reps. Colleen Hanabusa and Mazie Hirono, former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann and Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz.

Inouye has held a serious grudge against Case since he ran against Akaka in 2006 against the wishes of the party’s establishment.

In last year’s special election to replace Neil Abercrombie in Congress, Case was the early Democratic frontrunner, but Inouye propped up Hanabusa to run against him and ultimately knocked Case out of the race.

Case returned the favor by campaigning against Inouye’s favored candidates for governor and Honolulu mayor, Hannemann and Kirk Caldwell.

Before he announced for the Senate over the weekend, Case visited Inouye in his Honolulu office to apologize and attempt to bury the hatchet.

“I came to ask whether we can put the past behind us and have a fresh start,” Case told Politico. “I think he accepted my [apology] graciously.”

I look further into Case’s Senate run in my column in today’s Star-Advertiser, “Tea leaves no easier to read after Case makes early entry.”

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12 Comments on “Case apology to Inouye pays off”

  1. Richard Gozinya Says:

    I was surprised to learn that Senator Inouye is not a political boss.

    Learn something new every day.

  2. zzzzzz Says:

    In your SA column, you write of Case characterizing himself as moderate, but I’m not sure that’s a really accurate characterization.

    My recollection of his track record in the state house is that he tends to be fiscally moderate, but socially he can be pretty far to the left. E.g., he was not only a lot further left than many, if not most, Dems on the same-sex marriage amendment, but he was a lot more vocal about it than many of his fellow Dems.

    IOW, he seems to lean libertarian.

  3. For some reason, the opening scene in a certain Academy Award winning Francis Ford Coppola movie with Marlon Brando comes to mind.

  4. Kolea Says:

    I think “moderate” is a fair characterization of Ed’s overall voting record. I would not call his social views “far left.” Ending discrimination against gays and lesbians is the emerging “common sense.” Those on the left recognize this, just as they did during the struggle against racial discrimination. Nowadays, few folks would say opposition to racial discrimination is a “far left position.”

    To his credit, Ed has also supported strong environmental and conservation legislation. Because the GOP is currently in the thrall of a whole series of irrational conspiracy theories forced upon it by sectors its run amuck base, few Republicans will support environmental policies embraced by most of their elected officials in the notso distant past. But if we can set aside the GOP’s temporary(?) fit of madness, I do not see Ed’s environmental record as being incompatible with the past history of Republican moderates. (The broader question is whether there is future for GOP moderates in that party.)

    Wheer I gave Ed so much grief in the past was for what i considered his uncritical support for Bush’s war policies. He went out of his way to portray himself as supportive of both the Afghan and Iraq wars. He borrowed rightwing language when he accused many of his Democratic colleagues, including Senator Akaka, of wanting to “cut and run” as they argued against remaining in Iraq.

    Obama’s election has shifted to political, and especially the “partisan,” lay of the land. Obama’s war policies have, in broad terms, been a continuation of the Bush policiesin both Iraq and Afghanistan. I would suggest the “arc” of the US occupation of Iraq is following the same trajectory it would have under Bush. Obama’s ownership simply buys greater cooptation from the congressional Democrats and resolves SOME of the misgivings of our “international partners.”

    Having been elected by the American people with our HOPE he would disengage from at least ONE war, he has, instead, broadened the Afghan war into Pakistan and launched a new war in Libya. (He said our military actions there would last “not months, not weeks, but days.” Good luck with that.)

    In this context, Ed’s earlier eagerness to use military force is unlikely to be stumbling block to him in 2012 the way it was in 2006. His own language will likely be more careful. But Obama’s embrace of armed intervention –without congressional approval– has blurred the partisan lines on the question. To Ed’s advantage.

    I’d like to elect another Senator who is SLOW to commit US forces to warfare. Akaka and Inouye had that important skepticism, born of wisdom and experience, both in politics and in their personal lives. Ed has been too eager to “prove his manhood” with the lives of others, in my view. But nobody is likely to notice in the current climate.

  5. zzzzzz Says:

    Kolea, I agree about Case and his support of Bush wars. That’s the main concern I have with him as well.

    Going back when the same-sex amendment was being considered, remember it was a much different political climate then. Most Democrats in the state leg either flat-out supported the amendment, or were afraid to voice opposition. IIRC, Case was one of the few not afraid to be vocal in his opposition. IMO, this clearly put him to left of many Dems.

    Remember also that the subject then was same-sex marriage, not civil unions. If Case still supports same-sex marriage, I’m guessing that still puts him to the left of many Dems on that issue. His logic in support of same-sex marriage suggests to me that he will also be to the left of many Dems on other social issues as well.

    To her credit, Hirono split from Ben and opposed it, and has been one of the more steadfast supporters of equal rights for same-sex couples.

  6. Michael Says:

    Proves Senator Inouye is an Island Democrat.
    Of all names mentioned, I think I will ask Ben Cayetano to run as a Democrat Senator. I am sure he may take my suggestion. I feel he is the only Democrat who can prevent lingle or Djou from winning. If I suggest and If Ben Cayetano runs. If he doesn’t run, I think lingle or Djou may win and it won’t matter to me. I would rather see Charles Djou in office. Case is not going to win since he is not an Island Democrat.

    Ask Governor Abecrombie about his Civil Union Vote. He voted yes for Civil Union to include Civil Rights but he is against same sex marriage. Still being repealed. DOMA. Hirano is for Civil Rights and Civil Unions also but not same sex marriage. Ask them and they will say what I comment.
    Same Sex Marriage is still going thru a repeal.

    If votes for Senate is based on who agrees to Civil Unions, same sex marriage. Let the Rainbow shine and pot of gold be at the end. Which end, the beginning or the end, end? If this is the case.

  7. Kolea Says:


    I am glad you were able to decipher my comments, given how many typos they contained. I respect Ed’s unflinching support for gay equality. You are correct he supported equal marriage at a time when most others, including Ben and Neil, were waffling and seeking cover.

    Back to Dave’s main point about Case’s Apology:

    I think Ed’s apology was effective in a couple of ways. He “showed respect” through a PUBLIC ritual “act of contrition.” That puts Senator Inouye on the spot. And it frees up a lot of Democrats to support him.

    It is difficult to talk about this in a way which does not reinforce a stereotyped MIS-understanding of this process, portraying Senator Inouye as a “daimyo” or as a Mafia don. I think Ed’s behavior shows he views it in those terms. Not to get all “Catch-22” about this, but that framing is also disrespectful and suggests Ed does not get it.

    I dispute Ed’s version of events surrounding his decision to run for the US Senate against Akaka. Here is the timeline as I remember it. If I am wrong, someone should show me how. Ed may have not made an explicit pledge to NOT run against Akaka, as he remembers things. But a LOT of Democrats at the time were wondering. Ed held a fundraiser for the HOUSE race and a lot of people bought tickets and made contributions based upon the understanding this was an unambiguous sign he was running for re-election.

    But even as the fundraiser was held, Ed’s Senate campaign literature and signs were in the process of being printed. So when it became obvious he had deceived them, a lot of people became upset. It was NOT just Senator Inouye, though Inouye has, in a way, served as the representative of this wider group when he has spoken of the sense of betrayal.

    I have had Case supporters ask me what other option Ed had, given his need to keep his plans secret. His congressional fundraiser had already been planned, presumably before he knew for certain he would be running for the Senate instead. And, they point out, to Ed’s credit, that he offered to return any money to those who did not want their contributions to be used against for Ed’s campaign against Akaka.

    What was the “honorable thing” for Ed to have done under the circumstances? Either to have postponed the fundraiser or to have come clean in advance of the event. If either of those options were not exercised, Ed would live with the consequences of his unfortunate timing.

    Which he has. And appropriately so. But people like to portray this as Inouye being some sort of Japanese overlord or “political boss” whose EGO requires Ed’s submission. That is unfair to Inouye and to other Democrats who shared the sense of betrayal. In the past, Ed has helped frame the issue in this unflattering way. As if Inouye was demanding Ed kiss his, er, “ring.”

    It is actually to Ed’s advantage to have people develop a better understanding of the source of the conflict. When put in a difficult spot, Ed had made an unfortunate choice to mislead a lot of Democrats. He can be forgiven that, due to the passage of time. And the price he has paid for his choice.

    We needn’t adopted stereotyped notions of Japanese “political sociology” to understand Ed’s mistake. Nor his steps to apologize for that mistake.

  8. zzzzzz Says:

    Michael, I remember Hirono publicly opposing the same-sex marriage amendment, in contrast to Ben’s support.

    When she was running for governer, I asked her about that, to her face, and she reiterated her opposition to the amendment and her support for same-sex marriage, based on the principle of equal rights.

    If she has changed her position, that’s news to me.

    I guess what I like about Case and Hirono is that their ‘unflinching’ support of same-sex marriage (to plagiarize Kolea a bit), despite being sometimes a very unpopular position, suggests to me that they each have a moral compass, which don’t point in the direct opposite direction than mine.

    Case’s issues with tact and protocol aren’t of much concern to me other than the extent to which they will limit his effectiveness in office.

  9. Michael Says:

    When she was running for Governor in 2002? So can her comments on such matters change over the years, since this is 2011. I assume you did not ask her recently on her views. I don’t need to ask her. She is only give me her opinion on this matter. SB232 has passed but not same sex marriage. If she agrees to it now then let her make a Bill repealing DOMA. This issue is closed but the repeal goes on.
    What, she thinks now does not matter.

  10. Michael Says:

    If Princess Victoria Kaʻiulani Kalaninuiahilapalapa Kawēkiu i Lunalilo married a Japanese Royal instead of Cleghorn. Hawaii would be run by Japanese and America would attack Pearl Harbor instead.

    If ran by Japanese then CEOs who fail must commit Harakiri. Leaders who fail resign without compensation. Senator Inouye knows of such a life, since he is Nisei or Second Generation Japanese.

  11. Kolea Says:

    I admit to having a weak grasp of Hawaiian history. But wasn’t Princess Kaiulani the DAUGHTER of Mr. Cleghorn, rather than his wife? And I am unaware she had been married to anyone.

  12. Michael Says:

    I will never admit I am wrong. Since I comment opinions and not facts. So it does not matter, what I say. She was engaged to be married.

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