The Hee You See Is What You Get

Dan Boylan
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Wednesday - March 28, 2007
| Del.icio.us

Call me a contrarian, but I rise in defense of Senate Judiciary Chairman Clayton Hee.

As those few who still read newsprint know, Democrat Hee has been accused of late (by a couple of my fellow scribblers) of lacking humility, of being a hypocrite and of causing his leader, Senate President Colleen Hanabusa, grief.

My, oh my, oh my! Isn’t he a naughty boy? Think of it: an arrogant politician, a politician who doesn’t always practice what he preaches, a politician who causes his fellows embarrassment. Wow! What an original, that Hee guy.

Come on. Give me - and Hee - a break. Is Hee arrogant? Sure. For years I’ve been telling people that it’s best to interview Clayton from his secretary’s office, because the senator’s ego takes up all the space in his.


But Hee’s sin - like that of former Mayor Frank Fasi or former Gov. Ben Cayetano or current U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie, all of whom come from similar political molds - is that he does-n’t hide his ego very well.

Nope. With Hee - as the cliché so aptly puts it - what you see is what you get, for better and for worse.

I would urge his scribbling critics, however, to bear in mind that a lack of humility is a requirement of running for and holding public office - a requirement, not an option. (I will not go into the lack of humility to be found in those of us in the columnizing biz. We actually think what we think makes - or should make - a difference to others..

No, all politicians lack humility. I mean, think about it: These pols think they can solve gridlock, gross economic inequality, dumb students K-12 and beyond, global warming, old folks (and some young) getting hit in crosswalks, and more - lots more - by the close of the session.

These pols believe they can win a “global war on terrorism” and vanquish “the axis of evil.”

This is a profession wherein humility, deference and often plain good manners can be liabilities.

What most politicians do better than Hee is hide their lack of humility. Founding father Ben Franklin understood this. In his famous autobiography, Franklin described his attempt to acquire humility as one of his virtues.

Franklin failed. “I cannot boast of much success in acquiring the reality of this virtue,” Franklin wrote, “but I had a good deal with regard to the appearance of it.”

How? Franklin made it a rule never to contradict anyone, even if they knew they were wrong. He banished the “dogmatical expression” from his speech.

So it is with most politicians of my acquaintance, and thus it is that they can be all things to all men - and women - and thus win re-election.

In the specific instance in which Sen. Hee has been recently criticized, he came down hard on Circuit Judge nominee Glenn Kim. Hee heeded the criticisms of two of Kim’s former fellow deputy city prosecutors, and voted with two others on his Judiciary and Labor Committee in not recommending Kim’s appointment.


Now why might Hee do such a thing? Must be a bully, huh?

I don’t think so. I think Hee recognized that getting any lawyer, anywhere, to say anything against a fellow attorney likely to become a judge is next to impossible - for the simple reason that they may someday appear before that judge. So if critics do come forward, if only two, the diligent senator had best pay attention.

After all, if Hee is everything his critics maintain he is - arrogant, hypocritical, a bully, whatever - the good people of Windward Oahu’s 23rd Senatorial District can reject him in two years should he seek reelection.

But a circuit judge will be there for 10 years. Ten long years. The chair of the Senate’s Judiciary and Labor Committee was merely doing his duty.

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