OAK HARBOR, Ohio – After the Apple Festival parade broke up Saturday, Republican Rich Iott stood on a Main Street front lawn and downplayed photographs of him dressed in a Nazi uniform with the insignia of a deadly Waffen SS unit.
I worked at the Democratic headquarters where I live yesterday and it was mentioned several times by people who were out wandering the town square on a beautiful evening, and stopped in. Iott isn’t even on the ballot here.
Honestly, reading the Toledo Blade’s coverage today and yesterday, Iott’s hobby is looking stranger and stranger. I may have to revise my initial reaction.
I think I’m with this guy:
William Leons, 75, a retired University of Toledo professor who taught cultural anthropology, said it is an unhealthy hobby.
“I think the whole thing, the Nazi re-enactment thing, wearing the uniforms, is a little bit sick. But I’m a big fan of free speech and free expression,” he said. “They have the right to do it, but I would wonder a bit what their motives are.”
Or maybe this guy:
Al Burrow, 79, of Toledo served in the Marines during the Korean War. Seated at the legion bar, he said Mr. Iott has the right to express himself, but added that his Nazi role-playing makes him unfit for public office. “I don’t care what it is, even if it’s garbage collector,” Mr. Burrow said.
Iott is running against Marcy Kaptur. I don’t live in Kaptur’s district, although I did at one time, and I have attended many town hall-type events where she’s been a featured speaker.
We discussed Kaptur here at length during the health care debate, because she’s an anti-choice Democrat who made abortion a huge issue during that debate, which was infuriating, but is part of the package deal that is Marcy Kaptur.
She’s a Catholic in the liberal tradition, where “pro life” means much more than opposition to abortion. I defended her here during the health care debate, and I’d happily do it again.
She was a populist way before it was fashionable, is a huge union supporter, opposed all the 1990’s trade agreements, is anti-war, and generally great on every issue except abortion.
Iott’s unfortunate hobby may turn out to be very good for Marcy Kaptur, judging by the attention it’s getting, and that’s good news.