One of the reasons politics is increasingly unpalatable to the citizenry is the half-truth, manufactured scandal and much ado about nothing attacks leveled by political parties and candidates at their opponents. A recent example is the silly attempt by the Washington State Republican Party to link two leftist members of Congress, Jay Inslee and sexting Anthony Weiner, in a scandal. Silly or not, it generated several days of so-called news. It ended when Inslee and other Democrats, no doubt following the advise of some public relations firm, promised to donate the tainted Weiner contributions to their campaigns to charity. I can just imagine how New Jersey’s Governor Chris Christie might have responded in a similar situation. “I got a campaign contribution from Congressman X just like dozens of other GOP candidates. I spent it on my campaign. I don’t feel required to return the money just because it turns out that Congressman X is a scumbag.”
This little dustup is fairly tame but there are too many to list that are not. As Rush Limbaugh has noted it is not the truth or falsehood but the seriousness of the charge that is important. Evermore true in the age of the Internet and “gotcha” journalism. Because such tactics often work by sowing seeds of doubt, it is probably naïve to hope for better in the campaigns of 2012. That’s unfortunate because there are a host of solid reasons to oppose election of Obama, Inslee, Cantwell etcetera. But it would be refreshing to mix in a little Christie in the campaigns. Speak out on the issues honestly and clearly, stay on message, don’t participate in or leave unanswered ad hominem attacks, win with integrity.