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When Hanabusa decided to primary the popular and progressive Hawai'i Senator, Brian Schatz, the only clear advantage she had was the fabled (and instantly leaked) "private" letter that Inouye allegedly wrote to Gov. Abercrombie minutes before his death.  In that letter, Senator Inouye asked Abercrombie to grant his "dying wish" and appoint Rep Colleen Hanabusa to his Senate seat.

Hanabusa can't draw a distinction between her more conservative politics and Schatz's progressive positions since Hawai'i is a progressive state that elects progressives.

In fact Hanabusa is rapidly back-peddling from her New Democrat Coalition conservative positions and denying that she was ever in favor of cutting Social Security -- despite being featured in the New Dem press conference which declared "everything is on the table".

And she's become much more supportive of a woman's right to choose in response to the dangling carrot of Emily's List funds.

So other than hiding her conserva-dem credentials and saying "Me too" how can she differentiate herself from Senator Schatz?

Enter the infamous Inouye letter anointing her as his chosen successor.

But wait?  Did Inouye actually write the letter? And who exactly leaked the letter within minutes of it coming into Gov. Abercrombie's hands?

Until now, no one has dared question the letter's authenticity.  Yes, people have pointed out that the leaking of the letter served Inouye's staff well and speculated that the Inouye staff were the leakers.

Professor of Political Science at UH, Manfred Henningsen, made the case that the letter was a fake.

On the morning of December 17 when the Governor was speaking at a function at Pearl Harbor he became suddenly informed by his staff that he had to immediately return to the Capitol building because of a political emergency. At around 11:30 AM, he encountered in the waiting area of his office two prominent Inouye supporters (Walter Dods and Inouye’s lawyer Watanabe) who, supposedly, had just returned from Washington, D.C. with a letter (marked personal) from the Senator. Since the letter was printed on the personal stationary of the Senator, the Governor assumed that its content was indeed personal. He therefore didn’t share it with the messengers and thanked them for the delivery. Thirty minutes later his staff informed him that the Senator had died around 12:00 PM. When he looked at the date of the letter he found it rather peculiar that it was dated December 17. How was it possible that the two prominent citizens could deliver a personal letter from the Senator to the Governor 30 minutes before his death?

Was the letter written in Washington or Honolulu? Was the letter actually signed by the Senator or was it a signature stamp put on the letter in the Senator’s office in Honolulu? Was the letter part of a grand Shakespearean cabal orchestrated by people in the inner circle of the Senator who were aware that his death would mean that they would all lose their power to the Governor?

It would be understandable that they were desperately trying to preserve the political influence they had accumulated over the years.

Questions abound. Was this one of Sen. Inouye's famous deals? Did he, perhaps, promise Colleen Hanabusa his position on the condition that she not enter the 2008 primary for Sen Akaka's seat?

Political commentator Bart Dame argues against this saying, "Ed Case announced he would be running almost immediately after Akaka announced he would retire. If both Hirono and Hanbusa were to run, that would split the more traditional Democratic vote, allowing [Blue Dog] Case to win the Democratic primary. "  

According to Civil Beat, Inouye head of staff Jennifer Sabas concurs saying, "We didn't have anything to do in any way with Mazie’s decision to go, nor did we have any conversations with Colleen.”

Whether the letter is real or not, Sen Inouye might have favored Hanabusa. But did he actually want her to succeed him?

It seems pretty obvious that Sen Inouye's staff leaked the letter but did they also fabricate it?  According to Civil Beat, here's what Inouye's chief of staff says about the letter:

Sabas said she was with Inouye the day before he died and took notes on what he wanted to say. She then drafted the letter and sent it electronically to their Honolulu office, where it was printed, machine-signed, and picked up by Dods and Watanabe.
Really?  We're supposed to believe that Sen Inouye, as he lay dying, dictated and reviewed this letter and instructed that it be given to Gov. Abercrombie?  Really?

Below the fold: Prof. Manfred Henningsen's article in full.

Here is Prof Henningsen's article in its entirety:

Dan Inouye’s Shakespearean Endgame

Ian Lind's source for his latest Civil Beat article questioning the last letter from Senator Inouye is the article below written by Manfred Henningsen.

William Shakespeare had a remarkable understanding of the successes and
failings of rulers. Though his plays present primarily rulers of royal and aristocratic descent, these figures can be easily replaced with the members of the power elites in modern societies. When on a recent trip to China and Germany someone informed me on December 18 about the death of Senator Daniel Inouye and the extraordinary letter, presumably from his deathbed, suggesting to Governor Neil Abercrombie that he appoint the just re-elected Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa as his successor, I immediately thought of a grand Shakespearean design. Here we had a plot involving the most powerful politician in recent Hawai’i history attempting to retain his influence beyond his death. The Senator assumed that the Governor would simply be overwhelmed by his dying wish and the emotional expectations of the people and follow his suggestion. He didn’t anticipate that the Governor would respond in kind, namely follow his own reading of the situation. After all, the old master of politics was dead and the Governor was now taking on his role of power.

On the morning of December 17 when the Governor was speaking at a function at Pearl Harbor he became suddenly informed by his staff that he had to immediately return to the Capitol building because of a political emergency. At around 11:30 AM, he encountered in the waiting area of his office two prominent Inouye supporters (Walter Dods and Inouye’s lawyer Watanabe) who, supposedly, had just returned from Washington, D.C. with a letter (marked personal) from the Senator. Since the letter was printed on the personal stationary of the Senator, the Governor assumed that its content was indeed personal. He therefore didn’t share it with the messengers and thanked them for the delivery. Thirty minutes later his staff informed him that the Senator had died around 12:00 PM. When he looked at the date of the letter he found it rather peculiar that it was dated December 17. How was it possible that the two prominent citizens could deliver a personal letter from the Senator to the Governor 30 minutes before his death?

Was the letter written in Washington or Honolulu? Was the letter actually signed by the Senator or was it a signature stamp put on the letter in the Senator’s office in Honolulu? Was the letter part of a grand Shakespearean cabal orchestrated by people in the inner circle of the Senator who were aware that his death would mean that they would all lose their power to the Governor?

It would be understandable that they were desperately trying to preserve the political influence they had accumulated over the years.

At 1:00 PM the Governor was present at a scheduled press conference dealing with the budget for the new fiscal year. During that appearance he was asked whether he had received a letter from the Senator and whether he would abide by the request made in the letter. It dawned on him that the letter had been released by the Senator’s staff to the press, either in Washington or Honolulu, and wasn’t any longer a confidential communication from the Senator to him.

The letter had become a public document putting pressure on the Governor to actualize the Senator’s political last will. He responded in the press conference by saying that he would abide by the constitutional procedure that was set up a few years ago, ironically with the help of legislator Colleen Hanabusa. The Governor had no choice but to wait for the recommendation by the Central Committee of the Democratic Party and to then follow his own political instinct, namely to assert his authority in transitioning Hawai’i politics into the 21st century.

Senator Inouye’s career symbolized dramatic political change in Hawai’i that
began with the radical transformation of the Democratic Party in 1954 by local Japanese WWII-veterans and a few Haole liberals. The change meant the end of the postannexation era when Haole oligarchs and the offspring of Hawaiian Ali’is were in control of political and economic power in Hawai’i. It culminated in statehood in the year 1959 and the replacement of the Republican Party by the Democratic Party as the unchallenged political force in the Hawaiian Islands. Inouye’s masterful management of politics during his tenure of 58 years in various elective offices began to falter in 2008 when he chaired the presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton in Hawai’i and had to face an overwhelming defeat in the presidential primary by the Obama campaign, chaired by then US Representative Neil Abercrombie and managed by Brian Schatz who has now become the Senator’s successor. Inouye didn’t comprehend the meaning of this stunning defeat and repeated that capital mistake when he supported in 2010 Mufi Hannemann against Neil

Abercrombie in the democratic primary for Governor. His losing grip on the dynamics of Hawai’i politics became confirmed in the congressional primary of 2012 when he again supported Hannemann, this time against Tulsi Gabbard, a rising Democratic Party star at 31. Inouye was out of touch with the new era she signifies, because he held stubbornly on to an understanding of politics that had served him well for many decades. His death represents the end of the politics that has governed Hawai’i since statehood. Neil Abercrombie is the transitional figure who with the appointment of the 40 years old Schatz as Inouye’s successor and the 41years old Senate President Shan Tsutsui as his new Lt. Governor has already set perimeters for the future. His gubernatorial campaign slogan from 2010, the dawn of a “New Day” in Hawai’i, has emphatically taken on a new meaning. Yet something else may still result from this generational change in the political class of Hawai’i.

Hawaii’s mainland image is defined by the tourist destination of Waikiki and the WWII-memorial at Pearl Harbor. The political dynamics of the state remains a terra incognita for mainlanders, including all political pundits. The inane controversy surrounding President Obama’s birth certificate simply confirmed the exotic image of his origins. The President himself has been unwilling to highlight the symbolic meaning of his Hawai’i background since it would simply have added to the alien aspects of his African father and Indonesian childhood that right-wing opponents used to malign him as
being ‘un-American’, though he is recognized around the world as the first cosmopolitan U.S-President. In addition, his Hawai’i background gets a new meaning by the demographic transformation of the U.S. which will look more and more like multiethnic Hawai’i. The diverse faces and faiths of the new Congressional delegation from the State represent the future demographic reality of the country as a whole. Abercrombie’s campaign slogan from 2010, which pundits have frequently ridiculed, may actually be seen as recognizing the path breaking role Hawai’i is performing with the Hawai’i born President in the White House, its truly representative Congressional delegation and the
upstate New York born Governor. The 21st century has arrived.

Manfred Henningsen has been a Professor of Political Science at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa since 1970.

Poll

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Comment Preferences

  •  One correction to Prof's article (6+ / 0-)

    Mufi Hannemann CLAIMED that Inouye supported him against Abercrombie but talk is that pissed off Inouye so much that he gave a lot of behind the scenes support to Tulsi Gabbard in her primary against Hannemann.

  •  What is in it for twiddle dee and twiddle dum (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    IllanoyGal

    the two delivery dudes?  The letter does seem a little bit out of line, like in a lot out of line.

  •  I was at a friend's house in Maunawili a month or (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FishOutofWater

    so ago.  She was cleaning out her old mementos.  One she hung onto was an old campaign poster of Abercrombie's from when he ran a quixotic campaign against Inouye for US Senator (early 70s?).  Abercrombie was flying his freak flag prominently: the poster was a Rob Crumb-style comic depiction of HI politics.  

    Another friend told me of frequent meals in the old days with Abercrombie and his wife, back when they were all DFHs and connected with the coop movement.  This friend said (and mind you, she's quite liberal), "He was such a bore. He was incapable of listening to anybody and he just spouted shit constantly.  Too full of himself."

    Thanks for an illuminating look at a too-often thoroughly opaque political scene here.

    Question: what's your opinion of Tulsi's performance so far?

    "Well, yeah, the Constitution is worth it if you succeed." - Nancy Pelosi // Question: "succeed" at what?

    by nailbender on Sat Jul 20, 2013 at 11:26:40 PM PDT

    •  Tulsi is doing well (0+ / 0-)

      Tulsi's been very good on the environment.

      She's kept her promises to the pro-choice and gay communities, backing their bills and voting against bad bills.

      She owes a lot to the Vote for Vets and her military votes reflect that she is focused on keeping our obligations to our PEOPLE (Vets) rather than fattening the wallets of the military contractors.

      Since the House is controlled by the [adjectives fail me] GOP that intent of repealing Obamacare (40 attempts) and rolling back Roe vs Wade, etc, it is very difficult for ANY Democrat to get anything through that body.

      And every vote is fraught with poison pills that leave Dems with avoid-avoid choices that are no win.  Like the continuing resolution to fund the government which (in the Senate not the House) had the Monsanto Protection Rider inserted.  Do you vote for the odious rider or do you let the entire government collapse due to no funding.  No matter HOW one votes, it is bad.

      My only quibble with Tulsi is that for the first time neither of our Reps from Hawai'i are members of the Progressive Caucus.

      I think Tulsi is a natural fit for the Progressive Caucus and wish she'd join.  She's occupying Patsy Mink's seat and I believe Patsy Mink was instrumental in founding the Progressive Caucus.

      Hanabusa (our other Rep) has gone in the opposite direction and jointed the ANTI-progressive New Dem Coalition (ugh)

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