Dirty politics, past present and future

Victor Nieto:

Victor Nieto:

Victor Nieto

The political process can be a wonderful thing at times, exposing us to diplomatic debate, progressive ideals, visions of value-based reform or a continuation of those values and my personal favorite – the art of dirty politics.

One of my favorite examples of dirty politics comes from the 1950s Senate race in Florida between George Mathers and Claude Peppers. Mather’s speech in no way lied about his opponent but associated familiar sounding words with those frowned upon, thus allowing the audience’s interpretation to set false impressions.

In that speech he said that his opponent’s sister was a “well-known thespian,” that his brother was a practicing “homosapien” and that Peppers himself “masticated daily.” However, in the eyes of the voters, a vote for Peppers was a vote for lesbians, gays and open masturbation, which in turn contributed to Mather’s victory.

What about the 2000 Republican primary in South Carolina where the whisper campaign of Gov. George W. Bush revealed that his rival Sen. John McCain had a black child out of wedlock? That move was just enough to overcome McCain’s lead and help propel Bush to the nomination in the Christian and heavily populated white, Republican base of South Carolina and eventually the presidency.

I hated the results of this dirty move, but on all accounts it was quite brilliant. This is because the message was simplistic yet strident. Indeed McCain has an adopted daughter from Bangladesh, but that wasn’t disclosed beforehand. In truth, he did not marry his adopted daughter’s mother and the color of her skin is not white.

Now our attention turns toward Sen. Hillary Clinton. Even before she formally announced her candidacy, the then-presumptive front-runner for the Democratic nomination was bombarded by insults. She was deemed a “polarizing character,” and compared to the devil by opinion hacks such as Anne Coultier.

The attacks seem to be running nonstop and still continue today, but I think the bigger question in all of this is why her and not the freshman senator from Illinois?

It’s because she’s the real threat to the conservative nation.

I have all the respect in the world for Sen. Barrack Obama but I truly believe that he would be better suited to lead this country with more congressional experience, diplomatic foreign affairs trips and bi-partisan deals first (and don’t give me that JFK thing – ‘Bay of Pigs’ occurred too).

The whole concept of the conservative right rallying against Hillary Clinton if she were to win the Democratic nomination applies to Obama as well. Based on his voting record in Congress, Obama was the most liberal Democrat in the Senate. If you think that won’t be a factor in the general election, grow up.

People pay attention to statistics such as blacks voting eight out of 10 for Obama in South Carolina and nine out of 10 for him in Mississippi primaries, and if they don’t, the media and public relations machines will. On paper it doesn’t look like an ideals thing, but a race thing, and in “swing-states” this will become a factor.

The right-wing people are going to get their man and if the Texas and Ohio primaries are any indication that people will feel more comfortable with Clinton answering the 3 a.m. red telephone call than Obama then it appears the conservative strategy to keep a Republican in the White House is working.

However, the Republicans haven’t been the greatest decisionmakers as of late and it may turn out that getting Obama as the Democratic nominee may be subversive to their efforts. It’s just that way with dirty politics. Sometimes it’s helpful, sometimes it’s harmful, but it’s always attached with a “buyers beware” sign.

Victor Nieto can be reached at [email protected].