Sunday, October 12, 2008

Of Negative Campaigns and the Politics of Personal Destruction

It is comical that the Democratic Party accuses Republicans of the very behavior they themselves engage in supported by their cheerleaders in the dinosaur media. In psychology they call that phenomenon, projection. This is a hot topic right now, because the McCain campaign has finally gotten around to pointing out the radical connections of Barack Obama. It is truly laughable that the press goes on the offensive and tries to divert attention to this most important issue, by completely fabricating the issue of "anger" among McCain campaign crowds. Of course the subtle or not so subtle goal of the dinosaur media, is to get people to believe that these are red state folks who are just nay - saying racists trying to stop social progress in the form of the historical election of Obama. You know the kind I mean, the ones who cling to guns and religion.

However, when you look at the history of personal attacks and negative ads the Democrats have a virtual monopoly on it. Who can forget the 1964 campaign when Barry Goldwater was declared mentally unstable by the drive-bys based solely on an assessment of a few psychiatrists who had never met nor treated the man. Speaking of 1964, you will remember LBJ's heinous commercial which showed little children playing and then the world blowing up in a nuclear holocaust. The implication being, elect Goldwater and he'll kill us all. Not true and not a shred of evidence to support such a conclusion, but the media ran with it because well, Senator Goldwater was a Republican after all.

In more recent times, President Bush the elder ran an ad against Michael Dukakis in 1988 that became known as the "Willie Horton" ad and the dinosaur media howled. Never mind that it was true and simply pointed out the liberal record of then Governor Dukakis. The liberal governor furloughed Mr. Horton and not surprisingly he went on to resume his career as a violent criminal. There was no discussion in the media however about Dukakis's record, because it couldn't be defended. So they resorted to what else, the race card, that Barack Obama plays so well today.

Who can forget the Democratic ad in the 1990's that stated matter of factly that if you elect Republicans to Congress, black churches will burn. Not a shred of evidence to support this racist lie, yet the dinosaur media was mum. Not one word about the ad being negative. In a laughable exchange I heard Larry King actually defend this ad during an interview with Bill Bennett, by saying that he couldn't criticize the ad because he himself (King) wasn't black. This would be laughable if it wasn't so disgraceful.

How about the politics of personal destruction, as Bill Clinton once called it. Who can forget the names aimed at President Bush, among them: liar, Nazi, killer, stupid, and drunk. Just who is getting personal here. Yet if anyone dares question Obama on any issue of substance, that individual must be a racist. Even more egregious are the cases of Tony Snow and Jerry Falwell. The moment these men died, there was a torrent of hate speech and name calling directed at them. The silence of the dinosaurs in condemning these attacks was deafening. To the contrary, I have never heard such of hateful behaviors directed to politicians and public figures on the left. For example, I can state with confidence that you could go on any respectable, right wing blog and you will find no one wishing ill will on Senator Kennedy as he battles a serious illness.

The bottom line here is that there is a double standard which we all know. While I certainly do not support negative personal attacks, there is nothing wrong with pointing out the deficiencies of your opponent's record as part of your overall campaign strategy. As long as the assertions are true and supported by the record. If so, they are factual and the public needs to know so that they can make an informed decision. More importantly, these "negative" ads work particularly if you contrast them with your own vision for the country.

If you are a Republican it is especially incumbent upon you to follow this strategy, because you have to do the work the dinosaur media won't do, in pointing out the full and complete record of the Democratic candidate. A Republican candidate owes the public no less. To allow the dinosaur media to define what an "honorable" campaign is, is simply ludicrous and will inevitably lead to defeat. I just hope that this is a lesson that the McCain campaign didn't learn until was too late.

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