Campaigning and Mudslinging

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(Host) Commentator Bill Seamans has been thinking a lot lately about campaigning and political mud slinging.

(Seamans) In just three and a half months the election will demand our final decision. Between now and then I wonder if the the level of dispute can get any lower. Are we on the way to what historians will look back on as the dirtiest campaign in American political history? Smear is the word du jour. I sense that the public is getting fed up with an over-dose of bi-partisan spin, disinformation, hypocrisy and character assassination. The middle and lower classes want Bush and Kerry to fix America first – before we try to fix the rest of the world.

Until recently, Bush and Kerry, to avoid being splattered, have left most of the messiest mudslinging to their surrogates who were called the mudfellas by the New York Daily News. Now the candidates, themselves, are getting into it with some mean rhetoric. I think that whatever gentlemanly courtesy remained was shattered when Dick Cheney bleeped the political dialogue down to the level of a barroom brawl.

It’s obvious that the Democrats have overcome the Ashcroftian admonition that if you criticize the administration you’re giving aid and comfort to the enemy – that you are unpatriotic and a traitor. Meanwhile, the Republicans who say candidate Kerry is a rather dull adversary, have been energized by a fresh target of opportunity – the new v.p. candidate John Edwards who they are calling, among other things, the Breck Girl because of his well-endowed coiffure.

The Democrats, for the moment, seem to have run out of ad hominem ammunition after having said all they can about Bush’s patrimony, emperor complex, his multi-vacations cutting brush at his horseless Texas ranch and whatever. They may have to start digging into Bush’s earlier years before he took the alcoholics pledge at forty – the years about which Bush said When I was young and irresponsible, I was young and irresponsible. Sounds like a potential Democratic mudfella’s mudmine.

And, of course, there’s the continuing buzz over Fahrenheit 9/11, the very controversial anti-Bush film produced by Michael Moore who, unless someone else pops up before November, will emerge as the most notable mudfella of this campaign. I polled my mini-focus group who belabored the obvious – that the film preaches to the liberal choir and will not change the opinion of any conservative who drops in to see what all the fuss is about. Moore’s film certainly is a classic example of what a very talented mudfella can do with soundbite video clips.

In the meantime, thirteen more GI’s and Marines were killed and more than twenty others were wounded these past several days in Iraq – did anybody notice other than their families?

This is Bill Seamans.

Award-winning journalist Bill Seamans is a former correspondent and bureau chief for ABC News in the Middle East. He spoke from our studio in Norwich.

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