Friday, August 25, 2006

Granny's Got A Knife!

The Journal Inquirer wrote a blistering editorial on Nancy Johnson. They really nailed it. Enjoy!

Nancy Johnson's ads: first grandmother, then knife fighter

After 12 terms in Congress, 24 years, U.S. Rep. Nancy Johnson's act may be wearing thin. It is being revved up again in television commercials. It goes like this.

First Johnson, who represents Connecticut's 5th Congressional District, the northwest part of the state, raises millions of dollars for her re-election campaign from special interests, particularly from the medical and pharmaceutical industries, over which she has great influence as a high-ranking member of the Republican majority on the House Ways and Means Committee.

Then Johnson's campaign produces and broadcasts a series of commercials portraying her as a caring grandmother looking after everyone. Oh, look -- There's Nancy getting free prescriptions for all the old folks. And there's Nancy attending the memorial service of someone who was killed in the terrorist attack on New York, earning the gratitude of the victim's family and proving that she REALLY CARES.

And then the caring grandmother unleashes the attack ads against her Democratic opponent, ads in which the caring grandmother can be found only for the briefest instant, when she delivers the legally required disclaimer in her own voice that she approves this message. No caring grandmother would want to stick around long enough to be associated with the demagogic abuse that is to follow.

This year Johnson's opponent is state Sen. Christopher S. Murphy of Southington, and Johnson's campaign is broadcasting a cartoonish TV commercial proclaiming that Murphy has voted to raise taxes 27 times and on just about everything -- your house, your car, your gas, even your pet. Twenty-seven times! Twenty-seven times! Twenty-seven times!

(Get it yet? That was 27 times!)

Well, OF COURSE Murphy has voted to raise taxes. He's running against Johnson, isn't he? He must have voted to raise taxes. Actually, 27 times, if that number is close to true, may not be so high for someone who already has had four years in Connecticut's General Assembly. And as Murphy replies in a TV ad of his own, he has voted to cut some taxes as well. So just how does it all add up?

But Johnson's attack ad isn't your grandmother's attempt to sit down, go over the details carefully, reason things out, and do right by everyone. It's your grandmother smashing the skillet down on your head because you may have just THOUGHT of reaching into her cookie jar.

That is, it's a smear. For as Lenin is supposed to have observed, if you label something well enough, you don't have to argue with it.

If Murphy's campaign had the money and the wit, it might have replied differently to Johnson's attack ad - replied with an attack ad of its own a bit closer to the truth:

"In her three decades in Congress, Nancy Johnson has voted to bankrupt the country by running up the national debt 1,027 times! Yes, 1,027 times!"

After all, where does anybody think that money for free prescriptions for the old folks is coming from? It's all being borrowed from their grandchildren, just like the money for the war in Iraq.

Or maybe this one: "Going to funerals of terrorism victims is nice, but how does Mrs. Caring Grandmother serve in Congress all this time without ever having had anything to say, much less a critical question, about the war in Iraq? The funerals won't let up until someone asks questions."

Contrary to the suggestion of those of Johnson's campaign commercials in which she shows herself, distinct from the commercials in which she slashes at her opponent almost anonymously from a safe distance, government is NOT all warm and fuzzy. Its choices can be as cutthroat as Johnson's own attack ads. But it has been a long time since Johnson has been compelled to confront and acknowledge those choices when doing so might mean something -- in an election.

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