Patterico's Pontifications

9/26/2006

L.A. Times: Attack Ads Almost Entirely a GOP Phenomenon — Except for When Dems Must Fight Back

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 6:51 am



Those damn Republicans are up to their old tricks again, with their awful negative ads. Luckily, the L.A. Times is there to tell us about it, at length — and to emphasize that attack ads are almost entirely a Republican phenomenon . . . except, of course, when beleaguered Democrats have no choice but to fight back.

The story is titled Negative Ads a Positive in GOP Strategy, with a deck headline that reads “Hoping to deflect attention from Iraq, candidates unleash personal attacks. They get voters’ attention, consultants say.” It opens:

WASHINGTON — Sinister characters are scheming in a smoke-filled room, in a television ad that depicts big campaign contributors to Bob Casey, a Democrat running for Senate in Pennsylvania.

After detailing the legal troubles that each donor faces — including an FBI investigation and jail time — the somber narrator asks, “Where does Casey hold his campaign meetings?”

The camera pulls back to show the cigar-smoking “campaign team” — behind bars.

That graphic, personal attack on the candidate challenging Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) is a particularly sharp-edged example of a key strategy in the Republican political arsenal as the party fights to keep control of Congress: going negative and personal, early and often.

My goodness.

Those damn Republicans.

And now the infamous “some critics” have their say:

While President Bush and national GOP leaders are attacking Democrats on such big issues as national security and America’s role in the world, individual Republicans are hitting their opponents hard — below the belt, some critics say — on personal and local issues.

Amazing.

So Democrats don’t do this as well, huh?

Oh, wait: apparently they do, as we finally learn in a whisper — one that is oh so very soft and fleeting — in the sixth paragraph:

Negative campaigning is hardly new, and Democrats are dishing dirt against Republicans too.

Oh really? Well, let’s talk about that, then. No, let’s don’t . . . let’s immediately return to the theory that it’s purely a Republican strategy:

But mudslinging is crucial to the Republican plan for this year’s midterm elections, because the party’s hold on power will probably hinge on shifting attention from the unpopular war in Iraq and other national issues that cut against them.

Wow. It actually says “mudslinging is crucial to the Republican plan for this year’s midterm elections.”

(This piece is labeled “Washington Extra.” It’s apparently not in the op-ed section, and is not labeled “News Analysis.” Maybe it’s a column of some sort; perhaps a reader can fill me in on that.)

The story tries to substantiate this by pointing to a recent “strategy memo” by a Republican congressman. It then quotes a Republican political spokesman:

“You haven’t seen the majority of the negative ads yet,” said Carl Forti, spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, where a staff of 10 has been deployed on opposition research.

I bet if you were to ask Forti about that quote, he’d tell you that he meant the negative ads coming from both sides — but the story makes it sound as though he’s talking only about ads coming from Republicans. If I can track him down, I’ll ask him.

The next seven paragraphs or so feature numerous examples of negative ads by Republicans. Well, gee. I guess if the negative ads they can find are all by Republicans, maybe the paper has a point.

Oh, wait! It turns out that Democrats do them too . . . but they are summed up in a couple of quick paragraphs, and are characterized as the Democrats simply “fighting back,” “responding,” and “countering” those awful GOP attacks:

Madrid may have cut her losses by quickly fighting back with an ad not only defending herself but linking Wilson to resigned House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas).

It remains to be seen whether the GOP barrage will do lasting damage, especially since Madrid and other Democrats have made a concerted effort to respond aggressively. Ellsworth countered with an ad attacking Hostettler’s record on crime; Donnelly pointed out that Chocola was also once late in paying taxes; Murphy aired an ad challenging Gerlach’s claim to be independent of Bush.

After that, it’s quickly back to reinforcing that this is a uniquely Republican strategy:

That underscores why attack ads may be particularly important to Republicans’ strategy: Many polls show that Democrats are generally more motivated than Republicans to vote this fall.

I’ll keep my eyes open to see if this attack ad thing is really a purely Republican phenomenon. So far this campaign season, about the only attack ad I’ve seen is one attacking Arnold Schwarzenegger for his support for the unpopular George W. Bush. I’m sure I’m just not paying attention.

UPDATE: From the unlikely source of the New York Times comes evidence that both sides play the negative ads game. Shocking news, that.

18 Responses to “L.A. Times: Attack Ads Almost Entirely a GOP Phenomenon — Except for When Dems Must Fight Back”

  1. here in illinois, our donk gov. rod blowdryer-vich has been running attack ads against the gop challenger (she’s no prize btw) since april or may. the ads are funny, though.

    there is one ad that has kind of a subliminal bent to it. the dem incumbent wants to institute some kind of state-wide universal healthcare program (boondoggle) for “the children”, funnily called “all kids(tm)”. the gov’s ads say his challenger, Ms. Topinka, opposes “all kids” meaning the program – but what is drummed into viewer’s subconscious is that she’s against ALL KIDS eg; ALL YOUNGSTERS.

    i hate illinois state politics.

    doug deeper (3875b9)

  2. The GOP is teh SUXOR!!!!111!!1!

    Good Lt (cf8676)

  3. Check out how the Democrat Party is ignoring Prop 34, which prohibits them from running anti-Arnold ads within 45 days of the election (now).

    But here’s the Democrats’ argument against application of the 85310(c) contribution limits to these ads. The limit applies to a communication “made at the behest of the clearly identified candidate”. Here, the clearly identified candidate is Schwarzenegger, not Angelides, and certainly these ads are not broadcast at Schwarzenegger’s behest. It is a factual question whether they are broadcast at Angelides’ behest, but the statute doesn’t say “at the behest of the clearly identified candidate or his opponent.”

    http://electionlawblog.org/archives/006820.html

    Wesson (c20d28)

  4. i believe negativity is about even between the two major parties.
    aren’t we in the sixty day mccain-feingold quiet period? i guess it didn’t make any difference.

    assistant devil's advocate (15d1b3)

  5. Even if it’s true that the Republicans are, on balance, more negative this year than the Democrats, there’s a structural reason that you would expect that: Bush is unpopular at the moment, and history suggests the Democrats will pick up seats because of that. The best thing for Democrats to do is, by and large, to tie Republican candidates to Bush; the best thing for Republicans to do is, by and large, to attack the Democratic candidate.

    This isn’t the result of Republicans being inherently negative; it’s a result of the tactical logic of the particular set of campaigns ongoing this year.

    aphrael (e7c761)

  6. I don’t know about political ads, print or TV, but to judge from the comments on blogs, the Dems are more negative by a wide margin.

    Take your own poll. As you read comments, notice any negative references, keep notes. It isn’t scientific, but it will yield a pretty clear idea of just which side is working the bottom of the barrel, and who occupies the moral high ground.

    Black Jack (507b6e)

  7. Shorter LA Times article: “It all started when he hit me back.”

    Attila (Pillage Idiot) (bafbcb)

  8. I just thank God the Dems have never said anything bad about Bush

    RugPony (abc89a)

  9. Too bad this is keeping the Dems from focusing on the positive aspects of their own policy proposals, proposals such as …. uh … um … c’mon help me out here, someone.

    ras (a646fc)

  10. More of the bad smell of sewage from the SMELL A TIMES what else dose one ever expect from the liberal left-wing news media i mean recently the SACRAMENTO BE had a front page article about a so called missing link from NATIONAL GEOGRAFAKE which looks like shaved little oranatang

    krazy kagu (d61c23)

  11. Yeah, yeah, and the Casey ads link Snatorum to……

    Booooooooosssshhhh!!!!!!!1!111

    N. O'Brain (83656b)

  12. I bet if you were to ask [National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman Carl] Forti about that quote, he’d tell you that he meant the negative ads coming from both sides — but the story makes it sound as though he’s talking only about ads coming from Republicans. If I can track him down, I’ll ask him. – Patterico

    It’s a bet I’d take. The NRCC is crowing over its plan.

    And the LAT’s hardly the only paper reporting it:

    In a Pivotal Year, GOP Plans to Get Personal

    Millions to Go to Digging Up Dirt on Democrats

    By Jim VandeHei and Chris Cillizza
    Washington Post Staff Writers
    Sunday, September 10, 2006; A01

    Republicans are planning to spend the vast majority of their sizable financial war chest over the final 60 days of the campaign attacking Democratic House and Senate candidates over personal issues and local controversies, GOP officials said.

    The National Republican Congressional Committee, which this year dispatched a half-dozen operatives to comb through tax, court and other records looking for damaging information on Democratic candidates, plans to spend more than 90 percent of its $50 million-plus advertising budget on what officials described as negative ads.

    The hope is that a vigorous effort to “define” opponents, in the parlance of GOP operatives, can help Republicans shift the midterm debate away from Iraq and limit losses this fall. The first round of attacks includes an ad that labeled a Democratic candidate in Wisconsin “Dr. Millionaire” and noted that he has sued 80 patients.

    “Opposition research is power,” said Rep. Thomas M. Reynolds (N.Y.), the NRCC chairman. “Opposition research is the key to defining untested opponents.”

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/09/09/AR2006090901079_pf.html

    steve (db6ba8)

  13. mudslinging is crucial to the Republican plan for this year’s midterm elections

    Well, one who believed that no sane person could understand or believe Republican political rhetoric would obviously conclude that. I mean what are the Republicans going to do, since logic obviously dictates a vote for the Party of the Proletariat People?

    There’s a difference between exposing the bad guys and slandering the good guys, no?

    Kevin Murphy (805c5b)

  14. I’m not offended by attacking them one little bit. I hope we ARE going to get negative, there’s so much to be negative about.

    Like they want to surrender to medieval fascists, for example.

    The ads need to highlight this stuff, because the LA Times sure won’t!

    Martin (d3775f)

  15. Well, the Republicans are just darn lucky that the Democrats are mostly above the frey, or we might see things like such in-depth opposition research that the Dems would find something damning like, oh, just off the top of my head: two people who knew George Allen thirty years ago and claim that he used the n-word back then.

    Doc Rampage (47be8d)

  16. […] What’s that? Even Democrats go negative? But the Los Angeles Times assured us just this morning that going negative is a purely GOP strategy — and that when Dems do it, it’s merely fighting back! […]

    Patterico’s Pontifications » Turns Out Both Sides Go Negative! Go Figure! (421107)

  17. […] In context, this passage makes it sound like his quote related entirely to Republican ads — as in: you haven’t seen the majority of our sleaze yet. I suspected otherwise, and said: I bet if you were to ask Forti about that quote, he’d tell you that he meant the negative ads coming from both sides — but the story makes it sound as though he’s talking only about ads coming from Republicans. If I can track him down, I’ll ask him. […]

    Patterico’s Pontifications » L.A. Times Uses Republican’s Quote Out of Context (421107)

  18. I read where AL GORE had over 4 million gallons of water released froma dam in CONNETICUTT so his cannoe would float and then he has ownership of OXIDENTIAL PETROLIUM and yet those eco-wackos will support him what idiots

    krazy kagu (f674df)


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