Hypothetical Question

October 19, 2006

It’s a few weeks before the election. Someone you know gives you reliable information about an opposition-party candidate running for state office. That information is of a personal nature and would make the candidate look bad. Do you publish it?

For me, the answer is no. I would not publish the information. I think it would reflect poorly on my own character to be dealing dirt on people instead engaging people on more substantive political issues.

On the other hand, supposing the candidate and his party make an awful noise about being chock-full of “family values”? Does the fact that the candidate himself has made character a campaign issue change anything?

I might wish for someone else to publish the information. Some kind of attack-dog who is unafraid to play dirty. But, supposing such a person could be found, would it still not be you putting that information out there? Doing it by proxy is just a chickenshit way of letting yourself off the hook.

It would bother me a great deal, however, knowing that there are many people on the other side of the aisle who would not hesitate to go public with such information were the shoe on the other foot. I do not think our high-minded solicitude helps us at the ballot box. It’s depressing.

Hypothetically, that is.


No comments yet

  1. Wow, it’s fascinating to me that no one has commented on this entry. It seems to me that during the Clinton presidency, this whole issue changed radically. The right set a new standard of acceptable vitriol in the political world and democrats have never recovered. Does that make us weak or honorable?

    I think the answer continues to depend on how we, as democrats, respond. Do we cower in a corner? Do we resort to the same tactics? Or do we stand up loud and proud and talk about how personal attacks demean EVERYONE involved – the attacked, the attacker and the electorate? I think we’ve done some of each, with mixed success. But I think our long-term success and viability as a party relies on differentiating ourselves from the Karl Rove Right – not emulating it.

  2. So, did he win?

  3. No, the guy lost.

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