Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The new guilt by association

By Brent Woodcox
Communications Director/Assistant Legal Counsel, North Carolina Republican Party

When the NCGOP ran the “Extreme” ad nearly two months ago, we were universally condemned for engaging in “guilt by association” politics. Nearly every newspaper in the state accused us of being malicious, twisting the facts, or worse. So-called “guilt by association” was universally decried as a scare tactic not worthy of serious debate. Here are just a few examples of the press coverage at the time.

“That's a ludicrous defense of this kind of guilt by association, twice removed.” (“Action, low-down,” News & Observer, April 25, 2008 http://www.newsobserver.com/print/friday/opinion/story/1049237.html)

“Let's call it guilt by association by association.” (Curtis, Mary C., “‘Extreme” link, twice removed,” Charlotte Observer, April 26, 2008 http://www.charlotte.com/local/story/597049.html)

“…this old and tired guilt-by-association gimmick.” (Betts, Jack, “GOP ad the latest in N.C. to rely on race,” Charlotte Observer, April 27, 2008 http://www.charlotte.com/291/story/598432.html)

“…guilt-by-tenuous-association tricks…” (“Despicable Ad,” Winston-Salem Journal, April 25, 2008 http://www2.journalnow.com/content/2008/apr/25/despicable-ad)

Now, of course, there is a new guilt by association tactic being deployed by Democrat candidates against Republicans. Suddenly, guilt by association is all the rage. It looks to be positively fashionable for the fall. It’s as in as designer jeans and big sunglasses. Most prominently, you see the new guilt by association tactic being employed by Barack Obama. Obama can’t utter a single sentence anymore without somehow trying to relate John McCain to President Bush. Everything now is the “Bush-McCain” policy or “Bush-McCain” tactic. Even Kay Hagan has got in on the mix by sending out a mailer trying to tie Senator Dole to President Bush.

Maybe Democrats need to be reminded that the Constitution term-limits President Bush. His name will not be on the ballot this year. However, Democrats without new ideas of their own would rather run against an unpopular incumbent President than actually offer solutions to the problems facing North Carolinians. The media is quick to go into lockstep with the Democrat talking points. Suddenly over their initial qualms with guilt by association politics, reporters are all too eager to remind voters that Republicans come from the same party as the President.

Never mind that John McCain has parted with the President on some of the most important issues being debated this year. Senator McCain has taken principled stands on wasteful spending, earmarks, the surge strategy in Iraq, and energy policy. His positions have not always made him well-liked by the left or the right, but he has always stuck to what he believed was the correct course for the country. Senator McCain has his own vision for the country and would set his own bold course as President. Lest we forget, Senator McCain was the last Republican to oppose President Bush in his run to the White House. With these facts, it cannot be seriously contended that John McCain represents a third Bush term.

The same can be said of Senator Dole. Though Kay Hagan would not like to admit it, Senator Dole has been a vocal critic of the Bush Administration on issues important to North Carolinians. That includes being a primary sponsor of the 287(g) program that gave tools to local sheriffs so they can work with federal officials to see that illegal aliens caught committing further crimes are deported and not released back on our streets. It also includes pushing for the Iraqi government to start shouldering the financial responsibility for the War in Iraq so we can do more to improve our economy and rein in government spending here at home. She has also consistently been an advocate for North Carolina farmers and workers to make sure they get a fair shake from the federal government.

It is time for the media to stop parroting the talking points of opportunistic Democrat politicians and start focusing on the issues of this campaign. Simply yelling the name “George Bush” at the top of your lungs as many times as you can is not an agenda to change our state and nation for the better. It is a tired, unimaginative attack and North Carolinians deserve better. We deserve a full airing of the issues of this campaign and I hope the media will do its part to provide that debate.