Sunday, July 09, 2000

Can Bedinghaus get over the hump?




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        There is a scene in the old Mel Brooks comedy Young Frankenstein where the young Baron Frankenstein is rooting around the ruins of his mad scientist father's old laboratory when he comes across the demented, hunchbacked Igor.

        Help me revive my father's monster, the young baron says to Igor (the late, lamented pop-eyed Marty Feldman), and, in return, I will perform surgery to remove that hump from your back.

        Igor looks at young Frankenstein in bewilderment.

        What hump? he asks.

        Carrying a burden through life and being blissfully unaware or utterly indifferent to it is one way to cope.

        Politicians do it all the time.

Extra baggage
        Hamilton County Commissioner Bob Bedinghaus has been toting a burden of almost biblical proportions for the past two years, straining under the weight like a modern-day Job.

        It was he who led the campaign to pass a hike in the county sales tax to build a new stadium for the Bengals and a ballpark for the Reds. It is he who has heard himself called every name but mister ever since, with the cost overruns, the allegations of mismanagement of the project, and the astonishingly generous terms he handed the Bengals in the football team's lease agreement.

        And, now, he is running for re-election.

Early ad
        Put it all together and sane, reasonable political people in this town would tell you he might have some trouble doing that.

        Mr. Bedinghaus is not as blissfully ignorant of his affliction as poor Igor, but he chooses to carry on despite it all.

        Hump? What hump?

        He also knows that there are a lot of voters out there who are spitting mad over the stadium situation, many of them his fellow Republicans.

        So, Monday, when you sit down to watch the local evening news, you will see a Bedinghaus ad about two months ahead of the time when you would expect to see one.

"Mistakes were made'
        Mr. Bedinghaus takes the stadium issue head-on, arguing that, when all is said and done, it is not about “home runs and touchdowns” but about the future vitality of the riverfront.

        In the ad, he says that “mistakes were made” and that he learned from them.

        Asked Friday what mistakes he was referring to that were so instructive, Mr. Bedinghaus said that he learned from the Bengal experience that capping the cost of the new Reds ballpark and not being locked in to a guaranteed opening date were good ideas.

        Why these were not good ideas three years ago when the Bengals bellied up to the bar was not explained.

Circle Aug. 19
        With the early campaign ad, Mr. Bedinghaus is trying to defuse the stadium issue before it gets out of hand — and hope that the public will be so goo-goo eyed with awe when Paul Brown Stadium opens Aug. 19 that they will be willing to forgive and forget.

        And, for that, the debut of the new football stadium will have to go off flawlessly.

        Personally, we'd hate to have our career hanging on whether some guy in an orange-and-black fright wig has to stand in line for an entire quarter to get a hot dog.

        Howard Wilkinson can be reached at hwilkinson@enquirer.com.

       



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