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Thursday, September 18, 2014
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Published: Wednesday, 7/11/2007

What was Irish thinking?

LEADERS of the Lucas County Democratic Party must have been lapping up the booze in advance when they came up with the adolescent idea of using strippers to serve drinks at the recent Spuyten Duyval golf fund-raiser. Talk about clouded judgment.

Chairman John Irish obviously didn't consider how the episode would damage the local party's image. But it already has, with headlines of ridicule from around the globe, and Chris Redfern, the state chairman, canceling a regional party meeting after Democratic women threatened to put up a picket line of protest.

The least anybody should expect from Mr. Irish is an apology, and he has apologized - after a fashion. But his hubris - in trying to get away with what he could get away with - suggests he may not be right for the political job anymore.

In this day and age, it's pathetic that a man his age, especially one so experienced in politics and the public eye, would think the inclusion of strippers in a party function was cute. The lapse in judgment indicates that he has an exaggerated sense of entitlement to the party chairman's job, which apparently has outgrown him.

The incident is a regrettable reminder that "old boyism" - with the emphasis on "boy" - is alive inside the local Democratic Party, whose leaders apparently ignored the reality that many of its most active members are women. Allowing the strippers gave the event a not so subtle Animal House overtone.

Indeed, Toledo does not need or deserve any more public ridicule, but the event made international headlines, including in the International Herald Tribune in Paris.

It's hard to tell if Mr. Irish and his leadership cabal were trying to curry favor with the club owners, or vice versa. If the club owners believed they were ingratiating themselves with Democratic pooh-bahs, then they must be told that those days of incipient corruption are gone, too.

Adults can do whatever they wish on their own time, but strippers don't belong at a political party function. It was an affront to the dignity of women, especially in a party that regards itself as especially sensitive to women's issues.

That's why more than a few Democrats are demanding Mr. Irish's resignation. They recognize that he is hurting the party's image and chances for election success.

If the Democrats want to continue to be Lucas County's leading political organization, they must take a good long look at their party boss. As long as Mr. Irish is chairman, Democrats will be associated with this scandal.



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