The dirtiest political ad of my lifetime is off and running without a trace of mass indignation. Let me therefore dump all of mine into the vacuum.
Dirty politics is nothing new. The older dirty politics can be downright amusing. In 1952, the popular Florida Sen. Claude Pepper was unseated by George Smathers who unleashed a whispering campaign throughout the rural Florida heartland that Pepper was well known in Washington as a "homosapien" whose daughter was an outright "thespian" who performed "thespian-like" acts in front of paying audiences!
In the 1940s old Country-Bob Reynolds won his Senate seat in North Carolina by appearing before groups of farmers and telling them, "My opponent, the incumbent, goes to dinner parties at embassies in Washington. Do you know what embassies are?" Reynolds would ask rhetorically. "Embassies are big buildings full of foreigners. Now, I have here a menu from one of those embassies where my opponent goes to dinner," Reynolds would declare, his voice building into a sinister register. "I'm gonna read you what's on this menu at that embassy full of foreigners," Reynolds would continue. "It starts with caviar," and Reynolds would fake great difficulty pronouncing "caviar."
"Do you know what caviar is?" Reynolds would ask his audiences, now frowning and clenching their fists. "Caniar is fish eggs!" Reynolds would stage-wait a second or two for the power of that to sink in and then he'd finish off his opponent by adding, "And they're fish eggs from Russia!"
More recently we've seen the Willy Horton ad that helped destroy the chances of Massachusetts Gov. Mike Dukakis. That ad was rough, so rough that Lee Atwater apologized for it on his deathbed. But it was true. Gov. Dukakis had, indeed, OKed the prison furlough during which Willy Horton raped and murdered again.
Former North Carolina Sen. Jesse Helms beat his black opponent, Charlotte Mayor Harvey Gantt, with an ad showing a white man's hand crumpling a letter explaining he wasn't going to get the desired job because affirmative action quotas demanded that particular position go to a minority applicant. Rough, yes indeed. Very rough. But Helms and Gantt had different views on affirmative action quotas. If you don't like that particular way of getting that point across, how would you do it?
Many jokes, some of them clean, are told about folks reaching the Pearly Gates and being interviewed by St. Peter regarding their eligibility to enter Paradise. If it actually works out that way, I've got my "campaign speech" all prepared.
I've always been proud, as a life-long anti-communist, that I was the sole defender of Soviet ruler Nikita Krushchev, believe it or not, when he vowed,"We will bury you!" during an anti-American tirade. All my anti-communist siblings emblazoned that outburst as proof that Krushchev intended the physical destruction of the United States of America. I had too well-fnctioning a conscience to let it go at that. I knew enough about the Russian language and the Russian soul to know Krushchev meant he would "bury" America in a successful competition, and not in any literal sense.
That claim, though absurdly unlikely, was at least a lot less menacing than the literal interpretation.
Which brings us now to that awful TV ad by MoveOn.crg that shows John McCain casually saying he doesn't care if America is in Iraq for a hundred years or a thousand years or ten thousand years.
Stop, America! Stop everything but your respiration and the circulation of your blood. Think! Sen. John McCain is running for president. The war in Iraq is universally recognized as unpopular.
How likely is it that a candidate for president would haul off and embrace an unpopular war to the extent that he doesn't care if we stay there "for a hundred or a thousand of ten thousand years?"
What Sen. John McCain obviously meant is, if the fighting ends, he has nothing more against American troops remaining in Iraq that he does American troops remaining in Germany and Japan, where they've been since 1945 or in South Korea or Italy or England or Kuwait or any ot the other places American troops have been deployed where there are no hostilities and no threat to their well-being.
However, the clear implication of the ad is, McCain doesn't care if this awful war in Iraq rages for another hundred or thousand or ten thousand years. Ask yourself, please; Do the producers of that ad know that, or do they really believe Sen. McCain wants American troops in a raging war for a hundred, a thousand or ten thousand years.
Obviously the perpetrators of that ad do not believe John McCain wants that raging war killing American troops on and on and on. Obviously he's saying he has nothing against a situation like Germany, Japan, South Korea, Kuwait, England, Italy, etc. where American troops are peacefully billetted and non-violently engaged.
So, for MoveOn.org to ignore an obvious truth for the purpose of hurting McCain's chances is nothing less than a political sin. If we had a good system of political malpractice law, that ad would be a crime.-
Does the American population have enough intelligence to discern the difference between American troops waging a violent war versus being peacefully stationed in a foreign country? We had enough intelligence during World War 11. Our average American back then knew very well the difference between being stationed comfortably in England and landing on the beaches of Normandy.
MoveOn.org is betting America's national intelligence has declined since then. It's a smart bet!
They'd better hurry up and develop that artificial intelligence we read about. There's not much of a trace left of the other kind.
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