EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Opinion

November 4, 2012

Column: Left laments negative advertising, then launches personal attacks

There was a time not long ago when my left-wing “friends” — I use that term with all the sincere affection Vice President Joe Biden did when debating his Republican challenger, Congressman Paul Ryan — used to wring their hands in horror over a number of campaign tactics that only Republicans allegedly did.

They deplored “negative advertising.” They were deeply troubled over “personal attacks,” when it was, they said, so much more important to focus on “the big issues.” I can’t even count the number of times I heard about the awful “Republican smear machine.”

They decried “hate speech,” which they defined as anyone offering even polite disagreement with them on a moral or social issue. President Barack Obama himself called for “civility” in political debate, after the shooting of Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in January 2011.

They were enraged at anyone on the right allegedly “questioning” their patriotism for any reason. After all, they said, “dissent is the highest form of patriotism.”

And, of course, there was equal outrage and horror over Republican “scare tactics” and “fear mongering,” since it was grossly unfair to suggest that life might be worse for the helpless American masses if Republican candidates didn’t get elected.

That was then.

Now, television viewers can’t escape a torrent of negative ads claiming that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s only goal at Bain Capital was to ship jobs overseas and put as many Americans on unemployment lines as he could. Or that he is responsible for the deaths of people from cancer. Or that Paul Ryan’s goal is to throw elderly people off a cliff.

For a while there, you couldn’t escape hearing about Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s ludicrous accusation that Romney had paid no income taxes for a decade.

The big issues? Forget about it.

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