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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Democrats Ramp Up The Politics of Personal Destruction

Last week as Standard and Poor's (S&P) announced the downgrade of United States credit rating from AAA to AA+ they criticized the discord in today’s political landscape. The press release that accompanied Standard and Poor's announcement explained their frustration.
We lowered our long-term rating on the U.S. because we believe that the prolonged controversy over raising the statutory debt ceiling and the related fiscal policy debate indicate that further near-term progress containing the growth in public spending, especially on entitlements, or on reaching an agreement on raising revenues is less likely than we previously assumed and will remain a contentious and fitful process.
Rasmussen is reporting that voter confidence in America’s leaders is at an all-time low. The survey finds that only 17% of likely voters think the federal government today has the consent of the governed. The government has the consent of the governed - a foundational principle, contained in the Declaration has fallen to its lowest level measured yet. Only 8% of voters believe the average member of Congress listens to his or her constituents more than to their party leaders also a new low.

Part of the reason for the low approval of the federal government is negative advertising. Studies have shown that voters hate negative ads but they are still used because, well, they work. But research has also shown that there is a boomerang effect, meaning negative political ads end up tarnishing the image of the candidate the ad is supporting and the candidate’s desired office.

Sadly the news coming out of the beltway that Democratic Party operatives are already planning commercials designed to make personal attacks on candidates of the other party.

Politico is reporting:

Barack Obama’s aides and advisers are preparing to center the president’s reelection campaign on a ferocious personal assault on Mitt Romney’s character and business background, a strategy grounded in the early-stage expectation that the former Massachusetts governor is the likely GOP nominee… so the candidate who ran on “hope” in 2008 has little choice four years later but to run a slashing, personal campaign aimed at disqualifying his likeliest opponent.

…The onslaught would have two aspects. The first is personal: Obama’s reelection campaign will portray the public Romney as inauthentic, unprincipled and, in a word used repeatedly by Obama’s advisers in about a dozen interviews, “weird.”

“First, they’ve got to like you, and there’s not a lot to like about Mitt Romney,” said Chicago Democratic consultant Pete Giangreco, who worked on Obama’s 2008 campaign. “There’s no way to hide this guy and hide his innate phoniness.”

A senior Obama adviser was even more cutting, suggesting that the Republican’s personal awkwardness will turn off voters.
Romney should not feel “picked on” because U.S. News and World Report is reporting the Democrats are beginning a campaign trying to brand the Republican Party as tools of the Tea Party who they call extremists.

Attempting to steal some thunder from their adversaries, Democratic leaders are trying to link the Republican presidential candidates with extremism in advance of the GOP debate and straw poll in Ames, Iowa this week.
To that end, the Democratic National Committee has announced a new campaign to define the 2012 Republican candidates as too closely tied to the conservative Tea Party. The DNC is sponsoring a web video making that case, and DNC Press Secretary Melanie Roussell told reporters in an e-mail yesterday, "When it comes to the GOP presidential candidates and what America will hear from them in Ames this week, they have extreme aims to please the far-right, Tea Party wing of their party and they are following the extreme agenda of congressional Republicans instead of leading. All this while our country's future hangs in the balance." As examples, she mentioned cutting Medicare and giving tax breaks to the rich.

Negative political advertising is as old as Presidential politics itself and every political party has relied upon it somewhat. The first competitive Presidential campaign was John Adams campaigns against Thomas Jefferson in 1796. Adams slammed Jefferson as an atheist and a “mean-spirited, low-lived fellow, the son of a half-breed squaw, sired by a Virginia mulatto father.” Adams was condemned as a monarchist who sought to become a king; he was also branded as a fool and a hypocrite. Now that is nasty.

Just because negative advertising has been around for 215 years doesn’t make it right or desirable. America is arguably facing its biggest economic crisis in her short history. Even during the Great Depression the full faith of the United States credit was never questioned, but it is questioned today. Voters are demanding a full and rational discussion of the important issues facing the country. Yet 15 months before the election and possibly a year before the GOP will pick a candidate, the Democratic Party is already ignoring the issues and waging the politics of personal destruction, guaranteeing the loser in the 2012 election will be the American people.

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