Daily Editorial: Negativity works
Vail CO, Colorado
Negative campaign ads are like Britney Spears albums ” nobody admits to liking them, but they’re always the biggest hits of the season.
Mitt Romney is using ads to attack Mike Huckabee in Iowa and, according to NPR, they’re working. Huckabee is sliding in the polls even though going negative in the Heartland is said to hurt the aggressor as much as, if not more than, the victim.
Aside from hanging chads, attack ads are among the most memorable moments from past campaigns. There have been notable speeches, such as Pat Buchanan’s bigoted Republican convention tirade, and one or two remarkable debates, such as Lloyd Bentsen’s chewing to pieces of Dan Quayle.
Everybody remembers the Swift Boat ads in which George W. Bush so devastated John Kerry’s war record many voters thought the Massachusetts senator had also dodged the draft. Memorable attacks, of course, run in the Bush family.
The most famous attacks before the Swift Boats, were George H.W. Bush’s famous commercials in which he made Democrat Michael Dukakis look like Kermit the Frog riding in a tank and the Willie Horton ad, which accused the Massachusetts governor of letting murderers out of prison to commit rape and robbery.
Those attacks all took huge chunks out of the credibility of their targets, and it’s not because Democratic or Republican politicians are horrible people or because the media became obsessed with these ads ” it’s because a significant number of us voters bought into them.
If we want mud-slinging to go away, we have to stop responding to it so enthusiastically. To do so, keep one simple thing in mind: Vote for issues, character and facts, not obvious smears from the opposite camp.
” Matt Zalaznick for the Editorial Board