Friday, October 27, 2006

Political Ads, "Mudslinging" & "Dirty Politics"

I am paying close attention to all of the political ads as we get closer to the election on November 7th. I am looking at ads in races of all the states, and not just my home state of Pennsylvania because I like to be informed as a voter - just in case some of these other races end up appearing in the National race for the 2008 campaign.

One race that has really upset me is the Senatorial race in Tennessee, where a very dirty ad about Harold Ford went to what I consider to be a new low.

The ad mentioned that Ford had attended a Superbowl party dponsored by Playboy magazine. The undertone of the ad was racist - in my opinion - and played upon the irrational fear of African-American men having sexual relations with caucasin women. Harold Ford is an African-American, and a man of faith who attends religous services. I think it is appalling to imply he has done anything inappropriate without actual proof.

I saw a Republican strategist on MSNBC make the error when talking about the ad by saying that Harold Ford was at the Playboy Mansion for this party - which is 100% false. Many people who have been to parties like this have come to Ford's defense by saying that the events are so crowded, and that he was almost assuredly being escorted by someone, that the chances for Ford to be in a position to engage in any inappropriate activity is almost zero. From what people who attend these types of events have said, you get rushed from meeting one person to another so quickly that you don't really get a chance to say much more than "hello" before you are pulled away to the next person you "must" meet.

To falsely state that a party for the Superbowl was actually at the Playboy mansion when it wasn't is a gross example of that Republican strategist lacking any integrity. His comments were said to get a reaction from people too stupid to think for themselves, and when either side does this it is very wrong.

If I were a registered voter in Tennessee, I would be offended by this. Even if I didn't already like Harold Ford for the Senate seat... this ad would cause me to change my mind & cause me to vote for Ford.

I would do that, even though I know that by putting Ford into that Senate seat it puts the Democrats that much closer to gaining control of the Senate. I like him as a person & as a candidate I feel he is the right choice for the position... I don't care if it would mean to the "Big Picture", even though the result would make me want to move to Ireland! :)

When tactics like this are used, it's usually because the opposing side has nothing to offer, so they try to put focus on the negative qualities of your opponent. From what I have seen, this usually backfires on the person who employes the dirty tactic... but this doesn't seem to keep people from going to the mudslinging well, especially as election day gets closer.

Another example of behavior that has me wanting to either vomit or punch the offending person in the face, is the way Rush Limbaugh reacted to a political ad by Michael J Fox in support for stem cell research & a candidate who shares Fox's position.

Limbaugh mocked the way Michael J Fox was moving about in the ad. It wouldn't be an issue, but Fox suffers from Parkinson's disease, and his involuntary movements are symptoms of his disease. For Limbaugh to make fun of Fox is bad enough - but when Limbaugh accused Fox of purposely not taking his medication to ilicit a more sympathetic response from viewers of the ad... well, that is something that will surely reserve Limbaugh his very own place in Hell!! That's way beyond what people should condone, and Limbaugh should be treated the way that the Dixie Chicks were after they offered their opinion about the President while on tour in England. He should be shunned like the pariah that he is until he gets a clue that his behavior is not within the bounds of a human being. (as if Limbaugh should even be talking about a person taking medication or not, taking his own history into account)

I consider myself to be a conservative, but I am for stem cell research. I do not take the extreme position that says it is akin to murder to "destroy" an embryo to harvest the stem cells needed to do research. Those people need to get a grip on reality & not exclude a line of research that has the potential to save lives - by saying that it is destroying lives in the process. That position makes no sense and only serves to prevent a cure from being discovered sooner than it will be by not allowing stem cell research to continue.

Getting back to using political ads in a dirty fashion... I do not approve of how the opposing side has recruited celebrities to appear in ads to counteract what Michael J Fox has gained for those who are for stem cell research.

One particular example of what I consider to be a "low blow" is the recruitment of actor Jim Caviezel - the actor from the movie "The Passion of the Christ" to oppose the views of Fox on the topic of stem cell research. I am appalled by this because Caviezel portrayed Jesus in the movie... and this is a subliminal way of answering the popular question of: "What would Jesus do?"

And now I will bring up the Senate race in Virginia.

Incumbant Senator, George Allen has been a victim of some serious mudslinging by Democrats who want his Democratic opponent, Jim Webb, to take that seat.

Weeks prior to the election much was being made of comments that Allen said on the campaign trail. He pointed out to the audience that Webb had a staffer following Allen as he went across the state filming Allen's words. (presumably so that Webb's people could disect every word to find anything that could be used against Allen) The result was George Allen calling the Webb staffer a word that is supposed to be a racial slur. Allen referred to the man & used the word "mecaca" - a term that is used negatively to describe a person of dark skin in the French Colonial area in Africa.

Supposedly it is a word that Allen's mother should have known about because of where she is of French Tunisian descent, but no proof exists that Allen ever heard the word from his mother at any time prior to the incident when he called the Webb staffer (who is of Indian descent, NOT African) the term.

I could tell a story from my youth that relates how innocently a racial slur could become part of a child's subconscious without that person realizing the actual meaning of the word... but it would take too long & go way off topic - so I will save that for another time.

But that doesn't mean I am excusing Allen for saying the "mecaca" comment. It also doesn't mean that I believe he is a racist, because I don't see that as proof of anything other than him being foolish with his words.

This comment was the subject of many news reports & commentary by people wishing Allen to lose his Senate seat. It was just one way that people (who had no basis to debate Allen on his excellent record for the people of Virginia) to take focus away from what really matters in an election. That's why those same people kept digging into Allen's past for more dirt to use against him.

It's why we heard about how Allen was fascinated with "Southern" culture, even though he grew up in California. It's why we heard how Allen had a noose & a Confederate flag in his office, and alleged examples of Allen being a racist.

People were bringing up alleged comments that Allen made from THIRTY years ago! Stories were printed that misreported the facts, and people who never actually heard Allen say the "N" word went on record as "knowing" that he used that word frequently... 30 years ago.

But, when Jim Webb admitted that he himself had used that word as a youth, so many years ago... the same people condemning Allen tried to downplay the words Webb admitted to using - because they couldn't let their guy be called a racist for doing the exact same thing they were calling Allen for. That doesn't help the Democrats win that Senate seat... sot Webb is NOT a racist for saying "nigger", BUT Allen IS a racist for saying the same word. I'm sure it makes sense to the Democrats, when they filter it through their double standard lens.

And now that Jim Webb is in the news for what he wrote in some novels back in 2001... the same people who felt that Allen's past (from 30 years ago) is so relevant now are saying that Webb's past (from ONLY 5 years ago) is NOT relevant, so we shouldn't even discuss it.

Nevermind that Webb writes about the type of behavior that is far worse than what Democrats accuse former Representative Mark Foley of... Webb is a Democrat, so whatever he does is ok.

Jim Webb wrote about an incident that he supposedly witnessed (along with about 300 people, or so we are to believe) back in Viet Nam - where a man engages in a sexual act on his son. Webb's novel seems to romanticize the act, and his supporters claim it's not relevant to the election, and says nothing about Webb's character.

I think that is DOES show a lack in character if Webb witnessed the heinous act & did nothing about it! Isn't that what Democrats accuse Republicans of in the Mark Foley scandal?

In a side note about Foley, I saw a Democratic strategist get away with calling Foley a "pedophile", when it is 100% false. There is no proof that Foley engaged in sexual activity with a minor - which is what a pedophile is. He seems to have had inappropriate message exchanges with people who were over the age where it would be considered a pedophile - IF Foley actually went on to have a physical relationship with the former Congressional pages. BUT, since Foley waited until the pages were over 21 before engaging in sexual relations... he is NOT a pedophile. But Democrats casually ignore that important fact when they play dirty politics.

Back to Allen & Webb and how the Democrats apply the double standard:

It's ok to bring up all of Allen's past, no matter how far back you go, when talking about how he shouldn't be re-elected to the Senate. It is NOT ok to talk about the exact same issues of Webb's past, even from 5 years ago, when talking about why he shouldn't become Virginia's Senator.

It's funny to listen to the strategists as they say Webb's past is irrelevant, while trying to pack in as many of Allen's past deeds into the same sentence. If just ONE news personality would ask them why it's ok in Allen's case, but not Webb's & force the strategist to answer the question (rather than just rehash Allen's past) you would probably see the person's head explode from all the hypocricy.

Another example of "dirty politics" is when people take comments that Vice President Dick Cheney recently made out of context.

Cheney was asked a question about "water boarding" and he was fed the term "no brainer" in the question. When the Vice President asnwered the question, the answer was used against him, as if the term "no brainer" was a comment by the Vice President, and not the interviewer.

That's disingenuious, and another example of "dirty politics" used by reporters when they are forwarding an agenda.

The Vice President never initiated the term "no brainer" when talking about water boarding, he was forced to reply to the term in a way that made him look like he supported that tactic - because the interviewer "painted him into a corner" by the way he phrased the question.

No matter who is doing it... it's wrong. Unfortunately, it happens for too often, and the debate never ends up about what really matters.

Harold Ford is a decent man, and deserves to be the new Senator from Tennessee. George Allen is not a racist, but a man who has done tremendous good for the people of Virginia while he has been serving them through the many political offices he has been elected to. Michael J Fox is a decent man who is trying to help find a cure for a terrible disease, and shouldn't be mocked for the disease he is afflicted by.

People who engage in dirty politics as a way of avoiding the issues, should be chased out of politics because they do no good for the people of this country.