Using Walsh to bash reps unfair
BY MARK BROWN October 9, 2012 10:22PM
U.S. Rep. Judy Biggert
Updated: November 11, 2012 6:30AM
If Republican political strategists were to go on television right now with campaign commercials tying local incumbent Democratic congressmen to U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. and his travails, we could be pretty certain there would be a backlash in the news media.
You can see how such a commercial might be done: Cobble together some of the news coverage about Jackson allegedly trying to buy a U.S. Senate seat from Rod Blagojevich and wrap it together with reports about Jackson’s absence during his mental health difficulties.
Better yet, they wouldn’t even have to mention any of that stuff, just show some of those recent photos of Jackson looking lost and disoriented; cite some votes where his Democratic colleagues sided with him, and throw it out there to take advantage of Jackson’s current unpopularity outside his home district. If such an ad appeared, I’d probably join my media brethren in crying foul.
Of course, this is an exercise in pretend because no Chicago area Democrat is facing a close enough re-election fight to make it worth anyone’s while to spend the money on that type of effort.
Yet it strikes me as a fair analogy to what’s happening for real on the other side of the ticket, where a Democratic SuperPAC took to the airwaves Tuesday with a campaign commercial trying to saddle two suburban Republican members of Congress — Judy Biggert and Robert Dold — with the unpopularity of their obnoxious colleague, Rep. Joe Walsh.
The ad features video of Walsh doing what he does best, running his mouth, in the characteristic over-the-top style that has made him the darling of the Tea Party crowd and worn out his welcome with lots of other folks.
You see Walsh angrily bellowing: “Don’t blame banks! I am tired of hearing that crap!”
Then there’s another where he snaps: “I want America to pay for my contraceptives? You’re kidding me. Go get a job!”
The latter quote is a shot at Sandra Fluke, the woman whom Rush Limbaugh called a “slut” after she was denied a chance to testify before Congress in favor of including birth-control coverage in the Affordable Care Act (a k a Obamacare.)
“Who’s hiding behind Joe Walsh’s loud talk?” the commercial asks.
Biggert and Dold, the narrator answers, citing three issues where each took the same position to vote the Republican line — including a vote to repeal Obamacare, which the Democrats recast in their ad as being against affordable contraceptives and cancer screenings.
But all such particulars are drowned out by the Walsh video.
The commercial doesn’t mention Walsh’s well-chronicled court fight with his ex-wife over unpaid child support, the source of much of his negative image with women in particular. There’s no need to bring it up. Everyone remembers.
The real take-away from the commercial, therefore, is simple: Walsh is a jerk and these two are Republicans, so they’re guilty by association.
That doesn’t pass my fairness test, not that fairness has a whole lot to do with anything in political campaigns this year, with both parties relying heavily on rump groups raising money in unlimited amounts for negative attacks on the opposition.
This ad is paid for by the pro-Democrat House Majority PAC and the Service Employees International Union, which refer to it in-house as “Trifecta” — no doubt believing they hit a three-headed jackpot by tying Walsh as a dead weight around the necks of his two colleagues. The ad will be airing heavily on Chicago television over the next two weeks as the centerpiece of a $2.4 million buy.
Republican groups are running their own ads pushing the boundaries of fairness, which makes this a good time of year just to try to tune all that stuff out.
If you’re familiar with my politics, then you know I have no affinity for Walsh and would much prefer voters in his district replace him in Congress with his Democratic opponent, Tammy Duckworth.
Nor do I wish to preserve the jobs of Biggert and Dold — or by extension, that of House Speaker John Boehner.
But voters should judge Biggert and Dold on their own merits and not be fooled by anyone casting Walsh as their spokesman.