Friday, May 4, 2012

With Anti-Rail Columnist in Cayetano’s Corner, Media’s Role in Transit Issue Looms Even Larger; Will Rail Supporters Finally Demand ’No Mas’?

Civil Beat wrote yesterday after the first debate among the three mayoral candidates that the pattern was set in how they’d conduct themselves during the campaign. One day and one additional analysis later, there can be no doubt that the attack candidate is anti-rail Ben Cayetano.
Star-Advertiser columnist Richard Borreca, who’s also anti-rail, pounded home that message today in yet another glowing Cayetano-centric commentary that surely will be posted in the Cayetano campaign headquarters.

So far this week, Mr. Borreca has compared Mr. Cayetano to William Wallace, the battle-axe wielding hero in the “Braveheart” movie, and (indirectly) to Sugar Ray Leonard, who pounded Roberto Duran into gasping “no mas” (no more) to end their famous 1980 fight.

“’No mas’ comes to mind after witnessing the pummeling former Gov. Ben Cayetano gave former acting Mayor Kirk Caldwell in the debate Wednesday night in downtown Honolulu,” Mr Borreca writes. He says Mr. Cayetano’s tactics “were tough enough” that he had Mr. Caldwell on the ropes.

What We Need?
“So finally, we are getting it all out in the open. Cayetano’s challenge gives Honolulu the debate it needs,” the column continues near its end.

What happened Wednesday night may satisfy a columnist whose meat and potatoes is politics and campaign mayhem, but it’s not what Honolulu needs in this election.

What Oahu residents need are the details of Mr. Cayetano’s intention to substitute the Harris Administration’s bus rapid transit plan as his alternative to Honolulu rail. There’s plenty of politics as usual in this campaign; what’s missing is the most essential element that Mr. Cayetano so far refuses to discuss.

Mr. Borreca ends his column with yet another reference to boxing: 

"This week’s debate showed that before they get in the ring again with Cayetano, both Carlisle and Caldwell must figure out a way to explain why they are in the race and why their election is vital, because Cayetano certainly knows what he is doing.”

He certainly does. Throwing verbal haymakers has long been the favorite tactic of this legendary political pugilist, but Mr. Cayetano’s most obvious tactic these days is back-peddling around the ring to avoid any engagement on the specifics of his BRT plan.

Fight enthusiast Mr. Borreca alluded to that tactic by observing that neither Mayor Peter Carlisle nor Mr. Caldwell laid a glove on Mr. Cayetano: “Neither…asked Cayetano to spell out his alternatives to the rail project….”

That’s the emerging issue in this campaign. Mr. Cayetano is either holding back his alleged BRT plan for later use, or he's back-peddling because there is no suitable substitute for mobility-enhancing, travel-time-reducing, development-guiding, transportation-equity-enhancing and job-creating Honolulu rail.

The weakness of his BRT plan, which was rejected the first time around, almost certainly is Mr. Cayetano’s glass chin. One or both of his opponents eventually will start swinging away at it, and the ring-side media – who so far don't bother to report on Mr. Cayetano’s back-peddling – will have to report those blows when they land.  

It’s a one-two combination that could put the tough-talking Ben Cayetano down for the count. 

This post has been added to our "aggregation site" under the 2012 Mayoral Race & Rail heading.

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