It’s been an astounding week in the world of poltical campaign attacks, but more than that, in the push back from the targets—and the feverish commentary in the media. I’ve already covered some of it this week—from the case of the steelworker’s dead wife to the race-tinged claim that President Obama aims to gut welfare reform—but there’s really too much to catch up with right now.
Jon Stewart weighed in last night. And at the bottom of this piece I’ve included a couple of new ads: one portrays Florida’s right-wing Rep. Allen West smacking grandma, while the other, from MoveOn, portrays Mitt Romney as a pick-pocket out for your tax money—maybe even your birth control pills!
This week’s ads, and the controversy around them, will soon fade but another “attack” seems to have legs: Sen. Harry Reid’s claim that a “Bain investor” informed him that Romney didn’t pay taxes for ten years. Right-wingers in the media have accused Reid of “McCarthyism” which Frank Rich (now at New York magazine), among others, has firmly rejected. Matt Taibbi at Rolling Stone says Obama, not Reid, should be taking the lead hitting Romney on taxes—the known rate he has paid, based on two returns, of 13 percent is bad enough.
“Barack Obama is one of the few politicians with the communication skills to explain this to middle America, but he’s refusing to go there, probably because he’s still hoping for a post-election rapprochement with Wall Street,” Taibbi charges. “He wants to go after Bain Capital, but not private equity in general; he wants to go after Mitt Romney’s missing tax returns, but not the tax returns of all people like Mitt Romney. That makes him look weak and indecisive, and it makes his message confusing.”
The latest twist is rampant speculation on who Reid’s source might be, with fingers now pointing to the father of Jon Huntsman (remember him?).
Much more on all of this in days to come, but for now, here’s a rare heartening (and possibly precedent-setting) story surrounding an attack ad. It comes out of North Dakota, where Heidi Heitkamp (photo at above left) is running a surprisingly strong race in this red state for the US Senate. Normally, we’d show you the typically misleading or downright untruthful CrossroadsGPS ad in question right here, but—miracle of miracles—it’s disappeared, not only from TV but off YouTube! (You can view their previous doozy against Heitkamp here.)