Campaign About Nothing
final week before what are certain to be memorable midterm elections,
Americans are being faced with a barrage of campaign ads, rhetoric and
catchy bumper sticker statements such as “I deserve your vote because I
care for your family.” You do? Oh my, how could I have ever considered
voting for the other guy? I mean you’re right, he clearly does want to
see me working for the oil industry for three dollars an hour while he
and Karl Rove chew on my civil liberties all the while figuring out the
best way to keep black people out of Ivy League universities!
whole, it has been a fairly depressing campaign season. Discussion of
the issues, for the most part, was kissed goodbye very early on. There
has been no debate on Social Security, free trade, government reform,
technology, education, abortion and so on. Instead, candidates,
particularly in the most competitive races, have relied overwhelmingly
on attacking each other’s personal histories, slips of the tongue and
races where candidates are not attacking one another’s characters, they
are going after affiliations. Democrats have been especially excited
about tying everybody to President Bush, and have become obsessed with
the idea that doing so would gain them the majority. “Look! Here is a
picture of your incumbent Republican Senator with, gulp, your incumbent
challengers’ mailings have been filled with what they convinced
themselves would be subtle innuendos about “this George Bush Congress”
doing so and so. Most remarkable are the countless Democratic attack ads
that expose Republicans for “voting with President Bush over 90 percent
of the time.” Does it matter what they were voting for? Of course not!
They could have been voting to put an end to the practice of feeding
live toddlers to sumo wrestlers, but that would be irrelevant. All that
matters is that they voted with that devil in the White House.
Some of the
nastiest attacks could be seen in some of the most high-profile races.
In Tennessee, for example, after news came out about Democratic
senatorial candidate Harold Ford Jr. attending a Playboy party, a
Republican campaign advertisement included a two-second clip of a girl
saying that she met Ford at the party and then adding, “Harold, call
theoretically make the argument that it is not, in fact, that big a deal
for a candidate to attend a Playboy party. The claim could also be made
that it is useless, mean and idiotic to use such an incident in a
campaign ad. I might not agree with either of these two claims, but I
would certainly respect them. But instead, Democrats decided to attack
the ad as “racist” because the woman in question was white. Really? What
would they say if the woman was black? That it was racist because the
Republicans are reminding Tennesseans of Ford’s color?
and Maryland, another form of victimization is being used. This time,
however, it isn’t the race card being played, but the advantage of
having an ill celebrity on your side. Michael J. Fox, who has been
diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, has aired ads criticizing Republican
candidates for their stance on stem cell research. In Missouri, Fox
says, “Senator Jim Talent opposes expanding stem cell research. Senator
Talent even wanted to criminalize the science that gives us a chance for
hope.” Of course no context is given, no mention of the difference
between embryonic and adult stem cells is made. Senator Talent dances on
the graves of dead Americans, discussion over.
Virginia, senatorial candidate Jim Webb became competitive for the sole
reason of Senator George Allen’s slip of the tongue, where he called an
Indian-American Webb staffer “Macaca.” After extensive research, the
media found out that “macaque” is a “type of monkey typically found in
Asia and Africa” and a racial slur used sometimes in some parts of
Europe. Sure enough, it became clear to the Webb campaign that Allen had
looked up the term so he could use it on the man filming him for the
exclusive purpose of capturing such mistakes on tape.
responding by reminding Virginians that unlike his opponent, he actually
shares the conservative values and positions of his constituents, Allen
decided to fight back by releasing sexually intense passages from Jim
Webb’s novels. As a result, Allen’s razor thin lead in the polls has now
All of this
unfortunate behavior points to the fact that Americans have been robbed
of the debate they deserved this campaign season. These midterm
elections presented a great opportunity for citizens to elect
politicians who will help improve the state of the union. But instead,
we will get men who were elected because they have never accidentally
used exotic racial slurs, or because they pledged to never attend a
Playboy party, or even because they had never taken a picture with Mark
Foley or President Bush. Regardless of who wins, it will be another
disappointing cycle for the country.
© 2006 North Star
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