Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Democrats Can Play Dirty, Too!

My Congressional race here in NJ is considered one of the seats most likely to be a pickup for the Democrats this year. The Republican Congressman is retiring after four terms and after barely surviving in 2006 due to the anti-Iraq War wave (which the Dems seem to have misinterpreted as a pro-Dem economic wave). The race to replace him pits an long-time state senator, Leonard Lance (a Republican) against the Dem candidate who barely lost in 2006, Linda Stender. There is also an independent candidate who is running to the right of Lance, Michael Hsing, primarily it would seem on social issues.

Lance bills himself as a fiscal conservative who has a reputation for being a social "moderate." In reality, though, Lance's views on social issues are virtually indistinguishable from Stender's, making him a fiscal conservative and social liberal, which has led him to get endorsed by literally every newspaper in the area including the undeniably liberal New York Times. He seems to have been a supporter of the Iraq War and the "surge," but also now favors withdrawing from Iraq on the grounds that the surge has worked. Anyways, the race has drawn lots of attention from both parties' national committees and has featured some high profile guest campaigners (including, unfortunately, the President). Lance is far from a libertarian dream, and I have more than my share of problems with him, but in this day and age, a fiscal conservative/social liberal is about the closest thing you can get to a libertarian; plus, with a Dem President an absolute certainty (and with McCain being far less palatable than that Dem President), trying to keep the margin in the House as close as possible is the only way to have any chance at blissful gridlock in the next 2-4 years. But I didn't decide who I would vote for until I received a couple of pieces of mail that can only be described as blatantly fraudulent and/or deceptive.

Only when you look closely do you realize that they were sent by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Nowhere on either of the pieces is Linda Stender mentioned by name. Instead, the first piece is what is facially a hit piece on the independent candidate, Michael Hsing. The piece asks "Is Hsing just too conservative for your family?" The thing is - it was sent to me, who likely only appears on mailing lists idiotic politicos still consider "conservative" (ie, libertarian). When you actually read the piece, moreover, it becomes clear that it is a rather soft hit piece. In fact, it's a blatant attempt to get conservatives (of which I am obviously not one) to vote for Hsing instead of Lance, including such "attacks" as saying that he "wants to lower taxes on American and create a simpler, fairer tax system which could require cuts to important government programs."

The second piece is far worse, though, keeping in mind that it is paid for by the DCCC. It is entitled "For Congress the Choice is Clear." Below is a comparison of Lance and Hsing, with Lance labeled "Trenton Insider" and Hsing labeled "Fiscal and Social Conservative." What makes this a particularly deceptive piece is that it contains clear endorsements of Hsing positions that liberals, as well as the nominally liberal DCCC, obviously do not hold - endorsements of Hsing's "simpler, fairer tax system," his "pro-life," anti-stem cell research record, and his support of a ban on gay marriage.

Now, I have no problem with the DCCC being allowed to do this - and I would fight tooth and nail any attempt to prohibit them from doing so. But that doesn't change the fact that it is brutally dishonest and deceptive in its endorsement of positions that are supposedly antithetical to the Dem platform. It also doesn't change the fact that it shows that the Republicans aren't the only ones who can soil themselves in mud, a fact that too many of my liberal friends seem to deny. In my case, though, it backfired horribly - most of what they rip into Lance on are social issues where I would find Hsing unpalatable and where I usually find the Republicans unpalatable. In telling me that Lance is a social liberal, the DCCC has just made Lance an acceptable candidate in my eyes.