Over the 40 years I’ve been involved in politics I’ve come to loathe negative campaign ads.
They demean the process and cheapen it. They thrive on distortion, half-truths and outright lies. They are proof positive that, because they are covered by free speech, one can make any charge and it doesn’t have to be factual or even close to the truth.
Many years ago when the young Lyndon Johnson was an aide to a Texas congressman running for re-election the congressman repeatedly charged his opponent with something and LBJ knew it wasn’t true. Finally he confronted his boss with continually repeating what he knew wasn’t true.
The congressman’s terse response was “let him deny it.” He knew if his opponent denied it the story would carry for another day. That’s the essence of negative campaigning in a nutshell. Put your opponent on the defensive and make his to deny a charge no matter how ridiculous.
I’d like to think that people want to know what a candidate is for, not how rotten his opponent is. Unfortunately, voters are easily manipulated for the record shows negative ads often work because people like to believe the worst about others.
Last week I was ready to convey the character award to Brad Little until I saw that in response to a negative ad by Tommy Ahlquist, Little decided he had to go negative. How disappointing and we’re all losers, for the truth gets lost and trampled in the process.
Little’s ads were every bit as distortive as Tommy’s. Shame on them both. Little’s ad was a classic list of guilt by association and false syllogisms. Follow this twisted logic full of false syllogisms:
Ahlquist gave $5000 to his good friend A.J. Balukoff’s race for governor. He is immediately tagged as a DEMOCRAT in sheep’s clothing (Better keep a good eye on those herds of sheep you run, Brad). Ahlquist also gave a like amount to Governor Otter’s campaign, but of course that’s not mentioned..
Ahlquist is a Republican and he is running for the GOP nomination. Makes no difference to Little’s campaign consultants.
The $5k to AJ means he is a Democrat and by golly he gave at a time when Obama and Pelosi were trying to take away our 2nd amendment gun rights. Don’t you see the connection?
Oh, and let’s be sure and punish Ahlquist for not supporting Trump during the primaries but rather someone else, Ahlquist should be commended for recognizing Trump is not qualified to be president and readily and honestly answering a question. Instead he is held up to ridicule. It’s a known fact that privately Little has said some less than nice things about the President.
Then there are the code words - Ahlquist is a liberal, a big spender and he wants to tax everything he can. Not one shred of evidence supports any of that.
Come on Brad, give me a break. Both your ads and Tommy’s are beneath both of you. Stick to the issues and quit panderng to the lowest common denominator of the voters about cutting more taxes. That’s a code phrase for further cuts to education. Idaho is near last in per pupil support by a state as you well know and the U of I is cutting core classes. Yet you all piously say you support public education.
Your portraying yourself as a conservative tax cutter just doesn’t ring true. You and Tommy and Raul are all capable of debating issues. So eschew the negative and get back on the positive path.
There’s only one gubernatorial ad campaign out there that is all positive. It is Balukoff’s and if he sticks to the high road whoever wins the GOP nomination just might see the crown slip away in November.