Sowell: Oppose the tactic, not the candidate
In what seems to be shaping up as a personality contest between Mitt Romney and supporters Nikki Haley, Chris Christie, George Will et.al on one side and Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin, Herman Cain, Arthur Laffer and more on the other side, Thomas Sowell weighs in to say it isn't one candidate or another that must not be rewarded, but his tactic.
Gingrich is by no means above criticism. He has been criticized in this column before, over the years, including during the current primary season, and he will probably be criticized here again.
But the poisonous practice of irresponsible smears is an issue that is bigger than Gingrich, Romney or any other candidate of either party.
There have long been reports of people who decline to be nominated for federal judicial appointments because that means going before the Senate Judiciary Committee to have lies about their past spread nationwide, and the good reputation built up over a lifetime destroyed by politicians who could not care less about the truth.
The same practices may well have something to do with the public's dissatisfaction with the current crop of candidates in this year's primaries -- and in previous years' primaries. Character assassination is just another form of voter fraud.
There is no law against it, so it is up to the voters, not only in Florida but in other states, to punish it at the ballot box -- the only place where punishment is likely to stop the practice.
A vote for anyone but Newt at this point in the process is a vote for the politics of personal destruction, and the continuation of business-as-usual in Washington D.C.
Posted by JohnGalt at January 31, 2012 2:55 PM
jg: we can make this a lively discussion.
"The politics of personal destruction"? Abraham Lincoln wasn't above making an issue of Stephen Douglas' drinking habits. Lincoln made it clear that his opinion was that no man who drank to excess was fit for the office of the Presidency (I suppose in retrospect that it was fortunate for Grant that Lincoln was already dead by the time of his campaign, eh?). Some considered that smear campaigning.
There's a thin line between telling the ugly truth about an opponent, and telling what amounts to lies. The problem, of course, is that many voters believe the lies that help their guy and hurt the other (how many people, even this late in the game, still think Sarah Palin said she could see Russia from her back yard?), and by the time the fact checkers have spoken and the truth is still lacing up its shoes, the election is over and can't be undone. It would be interesting to see libel and slander laws applied to political campaigns.
Re: your last sentence - I will submit that although he's not my candidate of choice at this point, Mr. Santorum is doing a fine job of running a no-mud-to-be-slung campaign, very much to his credit. Of the four candidates left, he's the one I'd be most comfortable inviting to my home for dinner with the wife. Shame we're voting for a President and not for a dinner guest.