An article in today’s Washington Post discusses how Democrats are targeting their opponents and using past and present legal/ethical problems their competition has faced as issues in their campaigns. The article takes a slant towards painting the Democrats strategy as dangerous. This part in particular highlights that slant:
Former Republican National Committee chairman Ed Gillespie said Democrats are dangerously close “to overreaching” in their attacks, risking a political backlash like the one that damaged Republicans after they pushed for the impeachment of President Bill Clinton over the Monica S. Lewinsky scandal in 1998. Democratic operatives said they are aware of this possibility but are calculating that, as long as the attacks are at the local level, they will not backfire.
Now the examples the article gives are pretty severe:
- Rep Don Sherwood’s alleged assault on a former mistress, including allegations of choking.
- Deborah Pryce and what she did/didn’t do in the Mark Foley scandal
- Joy Padgett and her close ties to now convicted felon Bob Ney (who will be sentenced today – more on that later)
- John Doolittle for supporting “forced abortions and sex slavery” in the North Mariana Islands (60 minutes highlighted this back in the 90’s)
To add to the list, there are numerous races where ties to Abramoff are a key issue also.
So what really strikes me with this is how Gillespie is trying to compare it to the pounding Republicans took for going after Clinton for the Lewinsky scandal. Let’s think about that for a minute. What issue did I list above would be less “severe” than Bill Clinton having consensual sexual contact with a woman? I can’t find a single issue that would be as minor as that.
Corruption is a key issue in this election. The Republicans have no one to blame but themselves on this. They are the party who wants to legislate family and moral values. The party that once stood for “small government” wants to be involved in every aspect of American lives. What the Democrats are doing is proving the hypocrisy of the Republican agenda.
There is another side to this. This strategy is attacking the Republicans at their base – the Christian Conservatives. It exposes how the Republicans are so quick to pander to the Christians and denounce their opponents for not fulfilling these “values”, yet they are the first ones to sin. Something about throwing stones in glass houses comes to mind on that. It’s simple – if you want to take the moral high road you better make sure there are no hidden skeletons in your closet.
Calling what the Democrats are doing “attacks” is not appropriate. Highlighting facts can not be construed as an attack. It is giving the voters valuable information to base their decisions on. What would be considered an “attack” would be something more along the lines of putting television ads out saying that a former Presidential candidate did not actually fight in a war – aka “swiftboating”. An attack would be a conservative group saying that the closeted gays in the Republican Party are actually liberal operatives sent in to infiltrate. An attack would be blaming all the problems that have happened since Bush has been President on the previous President.
The entire mudslinging game in politics is a nasty one. The problem for the Republicans is that they were once the kings of mudslinging and are now failing in it. The other problem for Republicans is that the Democrats don’t have to resort to tales of fiction to highlight corruption within the Republican party. We have proof of it on every news channel (FOX excluded) and every news paper (Washington Times excluded). In other words, what the Republicans are getting right now is the fault of their own. They choose to not enforce ethics. They chose a leader in the House who did not even have an Ethics Committee. They chose to sell their legislative power to the highest bidder, Jack Abramoff. They chose to ignore their own member preying on children, a heinous act that was occurring while the Republicans wanted to go after a President for consensual sex. They created all their problems and now they will have to suffer from their poor decisions. The blame lies squarely on the shoulders of the Republican Party. If they don’t like it then they need to look at changing from within.