There is a great cartoon this week showing a man sitting in a chair in front of his television with mud from head to toe. His wife asks him if he has been outside and he replies that he has been watching political ads. I have watched political ads for years and this year's repertoire of televised political dysfunction represents the lowest, slimiest campaign season I have seen.
It even got personal for me. I have had tears and rage this weekend as Rep. Rick Renzi (R-AZ) made my brother?s contribution to Democrat challenger Ellen Simon's campaign a centerpiece of his fight to keep his seat in Congress.Why? My bother gave less than the legal limit allowable, but he is one of the lawyers who sued the Bush government in Rasul vs. Bush. Rick Renzi is calling him a lawyer for al-Qaida. If he is a lawyer for al-Qaida, then I guess the United States Supreme Court is a court for al-Qaida, as the majority ruled in favor of my brother's client.
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Had Mr. Renzi's mudslingers bothered to check, they would have found out that my father helped candidate Simon's father get his first job when he was a refugee from the Holocaust. We have been family friends for over 50 years. Oh, lest I forget, Renzi goes on to attack Ellen Simon's Cleveland, Ohio values. What are Cleveland, Ohio values? It is amazing given there have been two reports of federal corruption investigations about him.
The Republicans are really digging deep this season, which means they are really afraid of losing the election. My all-time favorite of the ''how low can you go?'' category is in Oneida, N.Y. for an open congressional seat pitting prosecutor Mike Arcuri against state Sen. Raymond A. Meier. The Republican Campaign Committee ran an ad (although many stations refused to air it), saying the Democratic candidate had dialed a sex hotline and charged the taxpayers for it. Turns out he was on a trip with two other law enforcement officials and one of them dialed 800-457-8462 rather than 518-457-8462. The charge to the taxpayers of New York? One dollar. Sen. Meier was horrified by this ridiculous ad, but his national committee was unrepentant.
In the very close Tennessee Senate race between African American Harold Ford Jr. and Bob Corker, the Republican National Committee came up with an ad that has a thinly dressed white woman saying, ''I met Harold (Ford) at a Playboy party.'' Yes indeed, Playboy threw some bash with about 3,000 attendees in Florida. Some called the ad racist, others in very poor taste. Even the Corker campaign thought the ad was over the top and in poor taste. Again the national committee was unrepentant.
The tight Virginia Senate race between Sen. Allen (R-Va.) and former secretary of the Navy under President Reagan, James Webb, (now a Democrat), has degenerated into Sen. Allen of ''Makaka'' fame enticing the Drudge Report to post selections from some of Mr. Webb's novels. The stunt was so well orchestrated that by Friday afternoon Republican-leaning talk show hosts were talking about Mr. Webb's writing about pedophilia in one of his novels. Turns out the ''pedophilia'' that he was writing about has to do with a Thai ritual that involves a father kissing a part of his sons genitalia as a right of passage. He writes about the ''Banana Show'' in the sex area of Thailand, which takes place in almost all the sex bars. Never mind that Sen. Allen will not release his arrest warrant records from 1974. A novel is clearly more important to the tax payers than an arrest warrant.
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A few other campaign hits from your friends in the GOP: the Republican Party of Wisconsin distributed a mailing linking Democratic House candidate Steve Kagen to a convicted serial killer and child rapist. The supposed
connection: the "bloodthirsty" attorney for the killer had also done legal work for Kagen.
In the Ohio gace for governor, Secretary of State Ken Blackwell's campaign is also warning voters through suggestive "push polls" that Rep. Ted Strickland failed to support a resolution condemning sex between adults and children. Strickland, a psychologist, objected to a line suggesting sexually abused children cannot have healthy relationships when they grow up.
Why all this extreme nastiness and sex focus? I don't think you need to be a rocket scientist to speculate as to who might be behind this extreme season. Most of the mud is being slung from the Republican national campaign offices in Washington, D.C. The guy who communicates with all of these national campaign committees happens to be Karl Rove. I can safely make an election year bet that Mr. Rove, a public servant paid for by you and me, is behind this year's below-the-belt nastiness. It is classic Karl Rove tactics. We can only hope that the public has had enough and will see through the slime in time.