Friday, October 27, 2006

Washington Post Calls The GOP On Their Dirty Ad Campaigns

From Page A01:

On the brink of what could be a power-shifting election, it is kitchen-sink time: Desperate candidates are throwing everything. While negative campaigning is a tradition in American politics, this year's version in many races has an eccentric shade, filled with allegations of moral bankruptcy and sexual perversion.

At the same time, the growth of "independent expenditures" by national parties and other groups has allowed candidates to distance themselves from distasteful attacks on their opponents, while blogs and YouTube have provided free distribution networks for eye-catching hatchet jobs.


The result has been a carnival of ugly, especially on the GOP side, where operatives are trying to counter what polls show is a hostile political environment by casting opponents as fatally flawed characters. The National Republican Campaign Committee is spending more than 90 percent of its advertising budget on negative ads, according to GOP operatives, and the rest of the party seems to be following suit.


Most harsh Democratic attacks have focused on the policies and performance of the GOP majority, trying to link Republicans to Bush, the unpopular war in Iraq and the scandals involving former representative Mark Foley and former lobbyist Jack Abramoff. That is not surprising, given that polls show two-thirds of the electorate thinks the country is going in the wrong direction. And studies show that negative ads can reduce turnout; Democrats hope a constant drumbeat of scandal, Iraq and "stay the course" will persuade conservatives to stay home on Nov. 7.


Experts say that in the past, negative ads were usually more accurate, better documented and more informative than positive ads; there was a higher burden of proof. Stanford's Iyengar thinks that is still true for candidate-funded messages, which now require candidates to say they approved them. But it is not true when the messages are produced by political parties, shadowy independent groups or partisans posting on YouTube.

"You're going to see more of this sensational, off-the-wall stuff," Iyengar said. "If you get people disgusted, they might withdraw from politics, and that's the real goal these days."

In other words, a desperate GOP is saying and/or doing anything to desperately try and disqualify their Democratic opponents and desperately cling to the vestiges of power and stave off opposition subpoena power and oversight.

The key word is desperate.

Democrats, meanwhile, are hitting Republicans on the issues.

On the Wednesday edition of Hardball
, the Washington Post' John Harris, MSNBC's Chris Matthews and The Hill's A.B. Stoddard criticized Democrats for not having "the stomach" to run the kind of nasty, negative, bullshit ads that Republicans run all the time. Here's the transcript:

JOHN HARRIS, WASHINGTONPOST.COM: Chris, it‘s working. I wrote this book, as you know, “The Way to Win,” and a lot of Democrats say look, you know, Republicans are just tougher than us. They wring their hands, they whine. The fact is it‘s true. And you can see in the polls that this kind of very tough attack does have impact.

MATTHEWS: I have heard it read a couple of years ago, somebody said it‘s not that the Democrats don‘t know how to make these ads, they just feel they have gotten above it, that this is really bad stuff. It‘s like they are like Michael Corleone. They have gotten out of the business of running dirty ads. The Republicans are still in that business. They say, look, I have left that behind. That‘s the Democrat‘s attitude. We‘re not going to run that kind of campaign. Is it the mentality?

HARRIS: I think they just don‘t have the stomach for it.

MATTHEWS: That‘s another way of putting it.

So there you have it. The professional punditocracy thinks Dems should also be running negative personal attack ads instead of issue-oriented ads. Harris said the personal attack ads work and all he seems to care about is what works in politics, not what's right or moral or ethical. So for Harris (and his book co-writer, ABC News wanker Mark Halperin) you do whatever you have to do to win, even if it means cheating, stealing, lying and smearing, and it's all all right in the end as long as you win at the ballot box.

No wonder the country's so fucked up. These guys actually admire the Rove/Mehlman smear machine and want more bullshit attacks ads and scorched earth politics.

Why not scorched-earth ads exposing these people for the lying bastards they are?
I'm with you on this, nyc.
Unfortunately negative ads work. What I don't understand is that ad against Harold Ford: does anyone care that he partied at the Playboy Mansion? And why is it racial to show a white woman asking him to call? Or is Tennessee weirder than I thought?
Elizabeth, I don't think Ford actually partied at the Playboy Mansion. I think he attended a Superbowl party that was sponsored some years back by Playboy Magazine at the Superbowl site. As for the "Call Me," bit by the white woman at the end, yeah, I think that's appealing to the stereotypical southern fear of miscegenation. The ad is saying "Don't vote for this 'uppity Negro' or he'll steal your women from you."
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