Nobody ever said campaign ads were supposed to be fair or accurate or anything like that, of course. If you're old enough, you can remember one in the 1964 campaign of a little girl whose play is interrupted by an atomic bomb exploding. The point was that Barry Goldwater might do that (no proof offered of course) but not good old Lyndon Johnson. It only ran once, but it had a large impact.
Then there was Willie Horton, the criminal paroled on Michael Dukakis' watch as governor of Massachusetts. That ran, it seems to me, about a million times and had an affect though, to be fair, he was paroled under a program Dukakis supported.
And we can all think of more, of course. But North Carolina Senator Elizabeth Dole may have retired the trophy for the scuzziest, most shameless ever in an ad she's running this fall against her Democratic opponent, state senator Kay Hagan. It's about God.
The ad shows members of an atheist group--the Godless Americans Political Action Committee, talking about some of their goals--removing 'In God we trust' from U.S. currency, the words 'under God' from the Pledge of Allegiance, and so on. The ad questions why Hagan went to a fundraiser at the home of a man who advises the group.
'Godless Americans and Kay Hagan,' the ad says. 'She hid from cameras. Took Godless money. What did Hagan promise in return?' Then the ad shows a picture of Hagan while a woman's voice says, 'There is no God!' It's not Hagan's voice, of course, but the folks who made the ad don't tell you that. Why would they? Truth is not their goal.
In fact, Hagan is a Presbyterian church elder and sometime Sunday school teacher. Her campaign has sued, charging Dole with defamation and libel.
We don't know how the suit will turn out, of course, and the election is supposed to be close. You know, I'm sure, who I'm rooting for. I wish Mrs. Dole had consulted her husband, who ran candid and basically clean campaigns for the Senate and the White House. I suspect Bob Dole is a little embarrassed at what his wife is up to these days.
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