When I was in College and an active College Republican, we had training sessions in a variety of of campaign activities. While the lessons of many of those lectures have been lost I distinctly remember one session leader saying, “If ever in a campaign you are faced with a difficult decision, and you don’t know what to do, there is one question you should ask. Does anyone here know what it is?”
A nice girl from Libery Baptist College raised her hand and said “What Would Jesus Do?”
The speaker smiled, and said ” No…you ask what is the smart thing to do?”
This lesson has apparently been lost to the body politic over the last few years, and while it has hit both parties it has been terribly ignored in Virginia…and typically by the GOP.
This goes back many years. In 1953, Republican state Senator Ted Dalton found himself in position to defeat Congressman Thomas Stanley for the governorship. Such a win would be the first time since reconstruction a Republican had been elected governor of Virginia. Dalton picked that moment to come out for borrowing money to build roads in Virginia.
Dalton was great friends with Harry Byrd, Sr., and Byrd decided he would not campaign against his friend unless he came out with something that Harry absolutely could not swallow…and this was it. Byrd came out swinging over the need to stick with Pay As You Go road financing, and Stanley won the closest gubernatorial election in Virgina history to that time. Both parties engaged in it by deciding to send candidates against an Independent Harry Byrd, Jr. in both 1970 and 1976. The nominations of mondo liberal Henry Howell in 1977 by the Democrats and the ultra conservative Wyatt Durette in 1985 fall into this category, but at a higher level of thought.
The GOP has really been bit by the screw up bug recently.
In 2005, as Kilgore made a move toward Kaine was had apparently closed the gap between them to nothing, the GOP released the “Hitler” ads. I remember Chad Dotson saying these ads were decisive, and the race was over.
Chad was right, but not in the way he anticipated.
In 2006-there was “Macaca” and an inability to recover. You know how that song goes.
I really thought we were too close to the 2007 general election for something like that to happen. I was mistaken.
You can go to RK and NLS for the full details of the unfortunate mailing that JMDD recently distributed. The mailing included a copy of a disclosure form that included Chap!’s home address and phone number. With this information landing in the mailboxes of potentially unusual folks across the district, Chap! and his family received a number of harassing phone calls…and by this AM the WaPo had picked up the story.
When asked for comment, JMDD was amazingly obtuse:
Davis said that her opponent is making too much of the mail piece and that she did not publish the personal information intentionally. She also said that all of the information is readily available in the telephone book and on the Internet, and that much of it has been published by Petersen himself.
“He sent out a piece with his children’s pictures and their names,” Davis said. “Give me a break.”
Perhaps, but apparently there was no slew of harrasing phone calls after his mailing, nor was there an increase in threat factor that caused the local police to increase their neighborhood patrols just in case…
We should note that of course she intentionally printed the information. Perhaps she meant it was not done maliciously.
But it is her cluelessness that really sings out. Here she is with a money edge and having supposedly eliminated a nine-point gap-which if true means her campaign was building an unstoppable velocity-and she sends out this drek. She could have made her point without including the personal information.
Why? Why pull this stuff? Probably because they never had the training class I mentioned above. Hence the foolish execution of stupid political trick.
I don’t know that I should be surprised. I have long criticised the Va GOP for the failure to create and articulate a vision for the future, a vision that would build a party identity that would help win elections. When you combine that with a continued inability to run a smart, error free campaign, then you have two obstacles that will likely make the GOP a General Assembly minority unless the party leadership smells the coffee and hears the cries from the wilderness of me and those like me. JMDD is only the latest manifestation of these trends.
Some may think this harsh criticism; some may say “why are you saying this about another Republican?”
Fair enough…what you need to understand is that I am not a Yellow Dog Republican, I am a Default Republican. My default vote is for the GOP candidate, but a strong enough argument or candidate can convince me to cross party lines.
But our party affiliation-or lack thereof-is simply a manifestation of our values and who we are. Before you get to me being in the GOP, I am a husband and a father, and I would not want my family harassed like this…so in the current situation it gets down to this:
–As a father and husband, I find this mailing to be inexcusable;
–As a Republican, I find the thinking or logic behind sending this mailing out in this form to be inexplicable;
–As a politically interested citizen and observer, I find the JMDD reaction to be troubling and sitting somewhere between silly and ridiculous.
I do not live in the 34th, but I bet there are plenty of folks in Senate 34 who fit one of the three categories above.
JMDD wants to be given a break…and I think she will, but not the one she thinks she should receive.
Stupid Political Tricks, indeed.