Honolulu Lite


Dods should give thumbs
down to run for governor

I can see the "smear" commercials already, newspaper headlines flashing across the TV screen saying things like: "Hawaii is a tax hell!" "Worst Business Climate in the Country!" and "State Takes Money from Mouths of Babes to Balance Budget!" And smiling next to each headline is that cheerleading banker and nascent gubernatorial campaigner Walter Dods flashing his famous "Thumbs Up!"

You may recall that the "Thumbs Up!" campaign was a bizarre bit of political theater thrust upon the people of Hawaii by the Emperor's New Clothes Advertising Agency in 1995 designed to convince us that the economy wasn't in the state of suckage that it actually was. First Hawaiian Bank head Walter Dods was one of the prime movers behind the "Thumbs Up!" effort, which struck me as odd because you'd think that bankers would know that a state's economy doesn't go into the toilet simply because "the people" don't feel good about it. Aside from being self-delusional and sophomoric, the "Thumbs Up!" campaign was insulting to residents.

So if Dods does actually enter the race for governor (as I am writing this he still has not made up his mind) the "Thumbs Up!" debacle will be just one unflattering item from his past used against him.

And not by the Republicans in the general election. He's going to face his trial by fire in the primary, with his co-Democrats tying him to the pillory. Why would fellow Democrats candidates want to destroy Dods, a party stalwart and financial sugar daddy to many a candidate? First, because they can. Second, because they must. Third, because they just want to.

Take Lt. Gov. Mazie Hirono. She's royally ticked off at being insulted by her party after showing nothing but groveling loyalty, which is a lieutenant governor's primary job. Lieutenant governors always become governors. Check the record. But not this time. Then, just when Mayor Jeremy Harris ducks out, leaving her the front runner, the back-room boys dig up moneybags Dods to take her on. Believe me, any dirt Hirono can dig up on Dods before the primary, she will.

Dods takes away the Democrats' favorite rap against the Republican Party, that it is the party of rich, white men. Congresswoman Patsy Mink went apoplectic at the recent Democrat convention screaming about Republicans giving tax breaks to the filthy rich at the expense of the poor. Yikes. Democrats have seen the filthy rich and his name is Walter Dods.

If Dods hasn't regained his sanity and quit the race before this column is published, I'll be surprised. Walt, buddy, in the game of life, you've already won. You've got all the marbles. Why tarnish an otherwise sterling career with a late life roll in the mud with desperate politicians? Time to give this governor's election thing a big "Thumbs Down!"

Charles Memminger, winner of National Society of Newspaper Columnists awards, appears Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. E-mail

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