Friday, October 12, 2007

Castor, Hoeffel should settle differences with a duel

If they don't kill each other between now and Election Day, the bitter rivalry between Republican Bruce L. Castor Jr. and Democrat Joseph M. Hoeffel III should be settled on Nov. 6 by voters in Montgomery County.

Castor, the popular district attorney, is leading the GOP ticket for Montgomery County commissioner. His running-mate is Jim Matthews. Hoeffel, a former Montgomery County commissioner, former congressman and Ed Rendell pal, is trying to give Democrats control of the commissioners' board for the first time in 138 years. His running-mate is Ruth Damsker.

Damsker and Matthews are supporting players. The real battle is between Castor and Hoeffel.

Their personal dislike for the other erupted in an in-your-face shouting match after a recent radio forum. Read more about the animosity between Hoeffel and Castor on the editorial page of today's edition of The Mercury.

I have a solution. Let's revive the tradition of duels to resolve political disputes.

Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton met on the dueling grounds at Weehawken, N.J., on July 11, 1804, to settle their long-standing political rivalry. Each fired a single shot in the other's direction. Hamilton's shot missed Burr, a former vice president of the United States. Hamilton wasn't so lucky. Burr's bullet struck the former treasury secretary, who died the next day.

If they do decide to settle things with a duel, my money is on Castor. I'm sure as district attorney, he's had some experience with weapons. Hoeffel is more of a desk guy whose biggest occupational hazard is a paper cut.

I don't want to see any physical harm come to either Castor of Hoeffel. (The dueling code actually calls for both participants to fire a shot at the ground instead of directly at their opponent. The idea is to restore your honor, not kill your opponent. Apparently, nobody told Aaron Burr that in 1804.)

Besides, the Castor-Hoeffel rivalry makes for good copy in newspapers. And if the polls are any indication, the two men will most likely end up serving on county commissioners over the next two years. The question is which party will be in the majority and who will be in the minority?

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