An article in the Thursday Post-Dispatch titled “‘Soft money’ takes new shape” says that because the FEC cracked down after 2004 on the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and even on a couple of liberal political advocacy groups, such independent groups have morphed into new variations. One such new group, the conservative American Issues Project, shows that the change isn’t for the better:
The AIP was set up earlier this year as a nonprofit, “social welfare” organization that is subject to even less disclosure than the Swift Boat-style groups.
Ed Martin, looking for a new gig since he had to skedaddle out of the governor’s office over the e-mail scandal, eagerly boarded this new Swift Boat vessel.
[H]e noted that Democratic soft money groups have traditionally had an edge on their GOP counterparts, so this was a chance to even out a “lopsided debate.”
“The liberal-leaning groups have made very clear … that they’re going to spend tens of millions of dollars on advocacy for their issues and to influence the discussion in the fall,” Martin said, citing campaigns by the Service Employees International Union and Planned Parenthood, among others. “So our goal is to be pushing into the public discourse some conservative ideas.”
Oh, you mean conservative “ideas” like linking Obama to William Ayers, a one time member of the Weather Underground”? That kind of “idea“? Because that was AIP’s debut on the political ad scene. One question about that ad, Ed: where’s the idea in that idea? I don’t call a groundless ad hominem attack an idea.
Far as I can tell, though, when liberal advocacy groups air attack ads, they actually do feature factual information about relevant issues. The United Food and Commercial Workers, for example, has its Wake Up Wal-Mart campaign, which informs us that Wal-Mart makes $21,000 profit a minute and expects to fare even better than that in a sour economy. Yet McCain has proposed $1.5 billion in tax breaks for Wal-Mart. That ad comes several light years closer to being an idea.
MoveOn’s been pushing its philosophy as well. It is airing a radio ad against Roy Blunt that lists how much money Blunt and McCain have taken from Big Oil and then mentions how they voted to give Big Oil tax breaks. The ad complains about the Republican “failed energy policy written by Big Oil” and urges Blunt to “jump out of the pocket of Big Oil.”
(By the way, attacking Roy Blunt is just an excuse in Southwest Missouri to go after McCain. Blunt’s Democratic challenger William Tharon Chandler had, as of June 30th, raised no money and spent no money. Whatever. The ad still has actual ideas in it.)
MoveOn’s active on TV too:
Announcer: “When John McCain says . . .” John McCain: “My friends, my friends, my friends, my friends.” . . . Announcer: “You know who he’s talking about? The 177 lobbyists who have ties to his campaign. More than a dozen lobbied for oil companies. McCain got more than $2 million from energy companies. And he didn’t support the measures we need to get cleaner, cheaper fuel. So when it comes to gas prices, John McCain won’t be taking care of you, he’ll be taking care of . . .” John McCain: “My friends, my friends, my friends, my friends.” Announcer: “MoveOn.org Political Action is responsible for the content of this advertising.”
The idea there is that it’s dishonest to call yourself a maverick when your campaign is stuffed with lobbyists and your voting record shows you voting against the interests of ordinary Americans in favor of those lobbyists.
I’ve yet to see mere character assassination coming from the Democrats. No, that’s the Republican stock-in-trade. Democrats have to scramble to defend themselves against Swiftboat lies; they don’t initiate the same sort of scummy tricks from their side. And the wonder is that much of the voting public hasn’t noticed that difference.
So don’t talk to us about conservative “ideas“, Ed. You’re just putting lipstick on Swiftboaters.
Photo of Ed Martin courtesy of Fired Up!