Smear Campaign Against Sotomayor May Fizzle Out

While conservatives quickly launched a smear campaign full of misinformation on Sonia Sotomayor, it looks like it might already be fizzling out. There is no doubt that some right wing bloggers and talk radio propagandists will continue to repeat the same lies indefinitely. Those indocrinated in far right propaganda have a tough time shaking it off regardless of how much evidence is presented that they are wrong.  There are still some who claim that Obama isn’t a natural born American citizen and that the there is some validity to the discredited claims of the Swift Boat Liars against John Kerry. There are also some signs of rationality as some conservatives realize that, barring some unexpected revelations, none of their false claims will be enough to prevent Sotomayor’s nomination from being approved.

The right wing attacks have been based on limited and distorted evidence and are so weak that even some conservatives are not able to go along. Some such as Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich are making claims that she is a racist–a claim which certainely takes a lot of chutzpah considering the record of the GOP. These claims were based upon taking a few lines out of context from a lecture given in 2001. The simple fact that claims of racism are based upon a single lecture from almost eight years ago should already raise some red flags as to the validity of the argument. Rod Dreher reviewed the statements which earlier had him thinking she was racist in context and conceded,  I was wrong about Sotomayor speech.

They have made an even weaker argument in dishonest claims that sixty percent of her cases were overturned by the Supreme Court. This argument is so deceitful that it might help open a few more eyes as to the dishonest tactics regularly employed by the right wing noise machine. They leave out the important facts that she only had five cases reviewed by the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court typically reverses 75% of circuit court decisions that rules on. Having three cases reversed is hardly meaningful. This actually represents 2% of her total cases, far less than the 60% number misleadingly cited by the right.

The attackers also claimed that Sotomayor has a far more liberal record than she actually has. Her decisions have offen been based upon narrow technical grounds specific to the individual case  as opposed to ideology. The conservatives who have actually looked at her record are finding that she is far more centrist and far less ideological than they first heard. She has a very limited record with regards to abortion, and opponents of abortion rights found that her record was not what they expected. Steven Waldman wrote:

One has to assume Obama wouldn’t have appointed Sonia Sotomayor without some indication that she’s pro-choice but — based on very, very little information — I wonder if she might not end up being an abortion centrist.

First, in Center for Reproductive Law and Policy v. Bush, she actually ruled against the pro-choice group on Constitutional grounds.

Second, in Amnesty America v. Town of West Hartford, she ruled in favor of the rights of anti-abortion protestors.

Neither of these cases dealt with the merits of abortion. Nonetheless, it’s interesting that in the two cases we know of that related partly to abortion, she took the position that pro-life groups would have wanted (albeit for reasons unrelated to Roe v. Wade). At a minimum, these cases would seem to indicate that, if she is pro-choice, she didn’t let those views affect her view of the relevant law.

While some bloggers and right wing pundits will repeat any attack, the arguments are appearing to be too weak even for the Senate Republicans. Mike Allen reports that any Republican opposition to her is fizzling out quickly:

More than 24 hours after the White House unveiling, no senator has come out in opposition to Sotomayor’s confirmation.

“The sentiment is overwhelming that the Senate should do due diligence but should not make a mountain out of a molehill,” said a top Senate Republican aide. “If there’s no ‘there’ there, we shouldn’t try to create one.”

So far there is certainly no ‘there’ there in the accusations being fabricated by the right. The attacks upon Sotomayor are so weak, and so transparently false, that if they have any impact it should be to increase the backlash against the Republicans. It takes a certain amount of chutzpah for the Republicans to raise charges of racism against others and only their most hardcore supporters can even listen to such claims without chuckling at them. Maybe Joe Gandelman of The Moderate Voice is on to something and their attacks are being orchestrated by a mole out to further destroy the Republican Party:

In instance after instance since Obama’s 2008 election and the Democratic sweep of Congress, the GOP is proving itself to be not so much “stuck on stupid” as much as “stuck on preaching to its (already convinced) choir.” It seems oblivious to the fact that OTHER voters — from critically important ethnic and age demographics — need to be courted which means being at least partially on the same cultural wavelength. Today’s Republican party is seemingly Super-glued to the slash-and-burn, characterize and demonize conservative talk radio political culture.

It’s hard to imagine that a party that has problems with independent voters and Latino voters so going out of its way to repel voters it needs, unless there is a Democratic mole inside the GOP instigating these comments.

Calling her a racist will get lots of publicity but it’s going to drive many Hispanic voters away in droves. And so will the faces delivering this message: the well-fed, sizeable face of multi-millionaire private- jet-owner Limbaugh, sitting in front of his mike, and the very familiar face of Gingrich. Many Americans (who are not millionaires or who aren’t conservative Republicans) will look at and compare the two GOPers’ life narratives with that of Sotomayor.

Even worse:
many independent voters, Democrats who may not be enamored with Obama, and moderate Republicans have already distanced themselves from the GOP. This latest barrage at Sotomayor now clearly is part of a pattern: no matter what the issue, the GOP is responding now with demonization in attempts to stir up hot button resentments and/or political rage.

And even worse for the GOP: its unlikely to resonate among the younger voters the GOP will need to regain footing in the 21st century.

So, except for getting nods of approval and cries of “That’s the way, go get ‘em!” from Republicans, what gains will Republicans (via talk shows, Gingrich and weblogs) make in accusing Sotomayor of being a racist — except, rightfully or wrongfully, causing some on the fence to conclude that those Republicans raising the racism issue could perhaps be mistakenly talking about what they are seeing when they look in the mirror?

A mole might be the most rational explanation for the manner in which the Republicans persist in utilizing tactics which drive away rational voters, but unfortunately what we are seeing is the actual mindset of the conservative movement.

Barring any unexpected findings she will be easily confirmed. The manner of the right wing attacks are now one of the most  significant aspects of this story, considering that any pick would have been subjected to similar lies from the right wing. Their distortion of her judicial record is very similar to how the right typically distorts voting records, such as taking an up or down vote on an overall budget and then launching attacks based upon saying a Senator voted for or against a specific item in the budget.

In a democracy  it is an extremely serious issue when votes are being influenced not by the actual facts or serious discussion over different viewpoints but based upon repeated campaigns of distortion such as this. It is important for a democracy to work for the voters to be working from accurate information, not the misinformation regularly spread by the right. It would be both legitimate and healthy for the democratic process if conservatives responded to a nominee with an honest discussion of the areas where they disagreed. Instead they ignore her actual record, as they also do with political candidates, and launch attacks based upon fabrications created by distortions of the record and taking statements out of context.

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39 Comments

  1. 1
    Mike says:

    I have read the links to all the cases I could find posted.  I’m glad Rod Dreher said it first, it makes it easier for me to come out and say the same thing.  I was wrong, more specifically I drank a big gulp of spin without realizing it was spin.  It made me drunk with anger.  Although I don’t use alcohol nor have I ever been drunk,  I think I may know somewhat how it feels to wake up feeling quite foolish from a night of intoxication.   While not excusing my own error in judging too quickly, I’ll just try to save some face by stating I firmly believe there is no monopoly on spin by just one political party.

  2. 2
    Ron Chusid says:

    All political parties engage in spin but not to the degree to which the Republicans engage in this type of attack on a regular basis.

  3. 3
    nomoreGOP says:

    “In a democracy  it is an extremely serious issue when votes are being influenced not by the actual facts or serious discussion over different viewpoints but based upon repeated campaigns of distortion such as this. It is important for a democracy to work for the voters to be working from accurate information, not the misinformation regularly spread by the right..”

    Sorry to quote such a large portion, but I honestly could not agree more with this statement. And more importantly, it directly relates to the prop 8 issue that was recently judged in the California Supreme Court..While I do agree that this is some of the worst legal discrimination I have seen, I do think that the courts did make the right judgment based on the actual case brought forth by the prosecution. With that said, I don’t think that the polls correctly represent what the measure was actually going to accomplish..  

    Even sadder (and where the relation to this posting comes), The Church of Latter Day Saints “indirectly” contributed millions of dollars towards an equally dishonest smear campaign against prop 8 claiming that passing the measure would “force your children to learn about gay marriage in the classroom.” Which is obviously a complete and utter lie, but the commercial showed a sad and confused child sitting in a dark room asking mommy “why ken and ken can get married” or something to that effect.

    This stuff just plain needs to stop in order for our Democracy to truly work.. There has to be a certain amount of real world common sense added to the mix here.. Just saying “the official plan of the proposition is in the ballot book and should be read by all voters” doesn’t cut it… We all know that commercials and the TV in general are taken for fact more often than not, by a large portion of the country. I think that it would be constitutional to say that any campaign for or against a particular measure should follow the same guidelines of what is allowed in the ballot book itself.. This is just getting ridiculous.. Telling blatant lies about something just to win is NOT letting any of us win..

    And this honestly has very little to do with homosexuality and more to do with our civil rights and upholding the law. Frankly, I am sick of Organized Religion and its cancerous affect on the Government (and pretty much everything).

    I mean its crazy how they somehow convinced a Republican Party that based its party as the party of individual rights, that the “small” Government should be choosing 1. whether you can have an abortion AND now 2. whether or not being homosexual should prohibit you from being married, of all things.. Just directly contradicting the parties core values based on the bible… But then again. if you think about it, civil rights should be a Republican issue as well.. I guess the new found thought of God sure has had a strange way of changing a bunch of aging white guys..

    It is just ridiculous and basically discredits being born gay in favor of it being some sort of problem that should be kept away from us “normal” people..

    Not to mention, it would be a much needed financial boost to a failing economy (albeit, not anything that will “save” us)..

  4. 4
    nomoreGOP says:

    AND.. this would be a great time to reel in another HUGE tax haven.. CHURCHES. With the amount of political pull groups like the Evangelicals are openly bragging about, on top of lobbying campaigns such as the one I explained above regarding prop 8, there is absolutely no way that the IRS can justify allowing all of these churches to continue to avoid helping the rest of us carry the burden THAT THEY LEFT ON OUR SHOULDERS with their religious war..

    Just to double check for myself, there is a .PDF form on the IRS website to complain of violations to this tax exempt status. For the record, two of the available “checkable” violations on the form read: 1. Organization is involved in a political campaign 2. Organization is engaged in excessive lobbying activities.

    Sounds pretty obvious to me..

    Sorry to get so off topic, Just a little tidbit that this whole issue reminded me about..

  5. 5
    GJohn says:

    Can you review how Obama handled the Alito and Roberts nominations when he was a senator? It is laughable that a shill like you would lecture “the right” on the subject of Supreme Court nominees. You look ridiculous with this entire argument. What if “the right” modeled their behavior after Obama’s? You were no doubt cheering him and his cronies on when they were trying to torpedo Alito and Roberts, but now, sensing that the shoe is on the other foot, you beg for “fairness” and “reason”. You disgust me. Rest assured that “the right” will do their job with much more class and dignity than Obama and company did. Don’t assume that they will be as shrill and partisan and downright unfair as he was:
    [quote]One person who doesn’t appreciate all that comes with that ritual — the to-the-barricades rhetoric, the unforgiving ideological stamping of the nominees, the often overheated attention to hot-button issues — is a former Democratic senator who spoke of his dislikes almost four years ago in the midst of the confirmation debate over now-Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. This former senator chastised liberal advocacy groups for attacking the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, who had decided to support Roberts’s confirmation. He also accused groups on both the left and right of taking an “unyielding, unbending, dogmatic approach” that had created “a poisonous atmosphere” when it came to judicial nominations. “These groups on the right and left should not resort to the sort of broad-brush dogmatic attacks that have hampered the process in the past and constrained each and every senator in his chamber from making sure that they are voting on the basis of their conscience,” he said. That former senator was Barack Obama, who then turned around and voted with those liberal advocacy groups in opposing the Roberts nomination. He was just one of 22 senators (all Democrats) to vote no. For a politician with national aspirations, the vote made perfect political sense. But it also seemed to contradict much of what Obama the politician had projected in his then-brief time on the national stage, which was a call to bring the country together, to diminish polarization, to dampen rampant partisanship. [/Quote]

    Don’t assume the GOP will act as irresponsibly as Obama and the left.

  6. 6
    Wow says:

    I am sure you had the same view when Roberts, Alito, and Thomas were being slashed to pieces in the news by the Democrats.  I am glad you are being consistent.

  7. 7
    Fritz says:

    nomoreGOP — you might consider the fact that churches are as important in the political life of African Americans as they are in the political life of evangelicals.  Banning all political (and political issue advocacy) activities by churches would have interesting ramifications with lots of consequences you might not intend.

  8. 8
    Ron Chusid says:

    Wow and GIJohn show the disturbing mindset of many on the right to launch into attacks without any regard for the facts, and prove my point that some on the right will reflexively continue to support such tactics. I have frequently criticized unfair attacks from the left as well as the right. The difference is that while some individual liberal bloggers might make attacks as bad as those from the right we don’t see the type of widespread orchestrated attacks based upon misinformation as we see from the right.

    I am being entirely consistent. I never attacked either Alito or Roberts as the right is attacking Sotomayor. I primarily looked at objective information to try to get a sense of what type of judge they would be. Despite ideological disagreements, I did praise Roberts for his intellect (while conservatives are now raising bogus attacks on Sotomayor’s competence). I even speculated that Roberts might turn out to be more in the mode of Sandra Day O’Connor and preferable to many other potential Bush nominees.

    These two ignore the important distinction between legitimate disagreement on issues and engaging in the politics of personal destruction. As I noted in the post, “It would be both legitimate and healthy for the democratic process if conservatives responded to a nominee with an honest discussion of the areas where they disagreed. Instead they ignore her actual record, as they also do with political candidates, and launch attacks based upon fabrications created by distortions of the record and taking statements out of context.” Disagreeing with Roberts and Alitio, as with Sotomayor, is legitimate political discourse.

    Obama also took an appropriate course. He opposed those who created “a poisonous atmosphere” which is quite different to what conservatives are doing in creating such an atmosphere. It is perfectly consistent to oppose unfair attacks while still opposing the nominations on ideological grounds.

  9. 9
    Ron Chusid says:

    Fritz is right. Trying to ban all political activity by churches, even if there is now some activities which are technically illegal, would open a can of worms and I doubt many people would want to attempt to pursue this.

  10. 10
    Mike says:

    How does one measure “the degree” of  spin? I seem to remember attacks on Bork and Thomas were pretty extensive.  Organized religion’s cancerous effect on pretty much everything, perhaps, but compared to what? What country, society, or culture doesn’t have organized religion?  They have been somewhat limited in some dictatorships, but nothing really astonding that I can see anywhere.   I loved the line by Robin Williams in a movie where he says all these people against same-sex marriage go home and have the same sex all the time.  My concern is really only with definitions on this.  It may seem trivial, I mean, we already say things like: that person is married to their work, and such, but there seems to be some, but little opposition to “civil unions” the opposition comes to the change in the meaning of the word marriage.  I “feel” it too, although I can’t fully explain it.  Perhaps if one were to “sweeten” the deal by offering single person marriage also.  Meaning one could marry him or herself and then file taxes as “married filing jointly” thus giving a tax break to more people, I could embrace it more quickly.

  11. 11
    Ron Chusid says:

    The attacks on Bork were quite different both as Bork had a record of an extremist and deserved criticism for his record. There was also ideological opposition to Roberts but we did not see the type of distortions of his record and statements as we are seeing with Sotomayor.

    I’m not concerned with spin as I am with the politics of personal destruction and blatantly dishonest distortions of the facts. This is done on a far more regular and organized basis by the right. Both the Bush 2004 and McCain 2008 campaigns were based upon gross distortions of the facts about Kerry and Obama. In contrast, there was certainly some spin from the Kerry and Obama campaigns but by political standards both ran very fair and honest campaigns.

    Campaigns based upon distortions have become standard procedure by the right. See, for example, Blinded by the Right by David Brock for an account of one conservative who ultimately realized the degree to which he was being misled by conservative propaganda techniques.

  12. 12
    Mike says:

    Cindy Sheehan, I believe, has seen the light with regards to the Democrat party as well.

  13. 13
    Ron Chusid says:

    Sheehan is hardly an expert on politics. Besides, her objection is that the Democrats have not been as far to the left as she wants and has nothing to do with the issues here. Her main complaint was that Pelosi did not impeach Bush.

  14. 14
    Mike says:

    I was trying to equate Sheehan’s experience to David Brock’s in that he saw he was being misled.  If I recall correctly, Sheehan felt the democrats were talking a good game about stopping the Iraq war but were not taking any real steps to stop it.  I thought she was more about stopping the war than impeaching Bush, but I could be wrong on that.

  15. 15
    Ron Chusid says:

    It isn’t analogous. Sheehan was unhappy over political positions. Brock wrote about organized actions by the right to intentionally distort facts. Sheehan was upset both because Pelosi didn’t stop the war immediately upon becoming Speaker and because of not impeaching Bush.

    Another significant difference is that Brock was on the inside working with the Republican organizations he exposed. Sheehan doesn’t have nearly as much experience in politics. Her fame is due to her protesting after her son died while Brock had years of experience actually working in Republican politics.

  16. 16
    RGB says:

    THIS is justifiable?

    Senator Edward Kennedy — “Robert Bork’s America is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens’ doors in midnight raids, children could not be taught about evolution.”

    To say nothing about Clarence Thomas’ alleged taste for pornography…

    And that from a sitting Senator.

    Not a talk show host.

    What have GOP sitting senators said that smears Sotomayor?

  17. 17
    Fritz says:

    One of her theses in law school was entitled Deadly Obsession: American Gun Culture. She is opposed to the “individual right” interpretation of the 2nd Amendment.  I don’t think I’m going to like this.

    Source:

    http://jumpinginpools.blogspot.com/2009/05/sotomayor-gun-ownership.html

  18. 18
    Ron Chusid says:

    These are not at all analogous to what is being done with Sotomayor. Kennedy was clearly giving his opinion. He was not engaging in distortions of the type seen here regarding Sotomayor. You may or may not agree with his opinion, but there is support for these characterizations in Bork’s record and views which can only be described as extremist. Many conservatives still advocate for policies which would lead to the return of back-alley abortions and the teaching of creationism instead of evolution.

    A Senate witness made the accusation re Thomas and pornography. Incidentally, now that he has been on the court the view that he was not qualified for the position has certainly been verified. Again this is in no way analogous to the campaign of distortions which was launched immediately after her name came out.

  19. 19
    RK says:

    “Both the Bush 2004 and McCain 2008 campaigns were based upon gross distortions of the facts about Kerry and Obama. In contrast, there was certainly some spin from the Kerry and Obama campaigns but by political standards both ran very fair and honest campaigns.”

    Have you ever heard of Sarah Palin?
    Have you ever heard of Sarah Palin’s daughter?
    Have you ever heard that Sarah Palin’s daughter is actually her grand daughter?
    Have you ever heard that Sarah Palin can’t find Africa on a map?
    Have you ever heard about Sarah Palin’s clothes?
    Don’t go driving around until you get that tunnel vision fixed. Whew!

  20. 20
    Fritz says:

    Ron — I was actually glad that Thomas and Scalia were on the court for the recent search ruling.  The “centrist” judges voted to further erode the 4th Amendment.  Just sayin’.

  21. 21
    Ron Chusid says:

    RK,

    Tunnel vision? It looks like you are clearly the one with the problem.

    “Have you ever heard of Sarah Palin?”

    Yes, she was a VP choice who was uniquely unqualified. The criticism of her was based upon factual information and the criticism was unique to her. In contrast the right would be reacting in this manner regardless of who the Supreme Court pick was. As this is in response to a comment on how the Obama vs McCain campaigns were run, it is also significant that the criticism of Palin came from sources outside of the campaign.

    “Have you ever heard of Sarah Palin’s daughter?”

    Yes. Are you denying that she was pregnant? This wasn’t very relevant and most liberals didn’t make a big issue out of this (as the popular press did for the scandal value) but as it is true it is hardly analogous to the attacks on Sotomayor.

    “Have you ever heard that Sarah Palin’s daughter is actually her grand daughter?”

    Yes, I heard this claim–from a conservative blogger.

    “Have you ever heard that Sarah Palin can’t find Africa on a map?”

    You got this one mixed up a bit. The issue was that in a statement she actually made she sounded like she thought Africa was a country. This was brought up by Carl Cameron, a reporter for the conservative Fox News. It was the McCain people who blasted her on this when they became disenchanted with her.

    “Have you ever heard about Sarah Palin’s clothes?”

    Yes–another true story. The story was also largely driven by Republican criticism of Palin over this.

  22. 22
    Ron Chusid says:

    Fritz,

    That was an unusual breakdown:  Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Antonin Scalia, David Souter, and Clarence Thomas vs. John Roberts, Stephen Breyer, and Anthony Kennedy.

  23. 23
    Fritz says:

    Ron — are you referencing Andrew Sullivan about the whole Trig Palin thing?   I would hesitate to call him “a conservative blogger”.

  24. 24
    Ron Chusid says:

    Sure he is a conservative, even if not on good terms at present with most of the conservative movement. As this was in response to a comment contrasting the Obama and McCain campaigns, what really matters is that this attack had nothing to do with the Obama campaign, or even the liberal blogosphere.

  25. 25
    RK says:

    I guess Fact Check made this up:

    ” We’ve been flooded for the past few days with queries about dubious Internet postings and mass e-mail messages making claims about McCain’s running mate, Gov. Palin. We find that many are completely false, or misleading.”

    All campaigns are ugly.

    And the democrats do not have the high ground on “running a clean campaign”.

    News Flash.

    I can’t believe that anyone would believe that Palin wasn’t attacked mercilessly while Biden was let off scott free.

    We now have let the crazy uncle in the attic become VP. The man is dumber than a box of rocks, and a liability to Obama,  but Palin gets skewered.

  26. 26
    Sally Hill says:

    I find your back and forth to be quite striking that you fail to take into consideration – perception.  YOU perceive that the right attacks are far worse than the left attacks, but they are not.  If at all possible, take yourself out of the emotional place you are and look at the situation objectively and I think you will see.  If you lean left, the right’s attacks are TERRIBLE.  If you lean right, the left’s attacks are TERRIBLE – equally.
    I have problems with some of Sotomayor’s comments – taken out of context – humm…I believe some of Palin’s comments were taken out of context too….as well as incorrect statements perpetuated by the left.  It appears to me – in that regard – the attacks are on the same level.  The left BELIEVES she was taken out of context, because they WANT to believe that.  The right BELIEVES her comment was racist and contradictory, because they comprehend issues in a different light than the left.  But I do NOT believe Sotomayor is getting it any worse or better than Palin.  Politics is a NASTY NASTY business and if you don’t have cocodile skin you have no business in politics.
    Incidentally –  Camron was reprimanded on-air on Fox for his unsubstantiated statements regarding her comments with regards to Africa.  Facts are facts and rumors are rumors.
    I am further concerned with Obama’s statement at the celebrity dinner regarding Sotomayor.  The fact that he ‘wants her confirmed – he wants her walking up those marble steps – and he wants her to START providing some justice’.  Humm…justice has NOT been served prior to her nomination?
    I see Obama as an angry man with a chip on his shoulder who wants his way irregardless of whether it is in the best interest of the nation or not.  I’m sure the left will disagree with my statement – but that is MY opinion – it’s the way I see him.  I understand the left saw Bush in the same light and I can appreciate that.  It’s called ‘Being an American’ – where we live in a land where we are ALL entitled to our opinions and the FREEDOM of SPEACH to express it.

  27. 27
    Ron Chusid says:

    Sure there were internet rumors. There always are–but they did not come from the Obama campaign. You can’t equate dishonest campaigning from McCain (while Obama was running a clean campaign) with internet attacks which had nothing to do with the campaign.

    Biden tends to make verbal gaffes (which is well known) but there is no comparison between him and Palin.

  28. 28
    Fritz says:

    Hmm…  My old and cynical brain really perks up when you write “but they did not come from the Obama campaign”.   That is a statement with no verifiability.

    The power of fast-moving Internet memes is leading to a glorious expansion of dirty tricks.   Big fun.

  29. 29
    Ron Chusid says:

    Fritz,

    Nobody really thinks all that crap on the internet came from the Obama campaign. To say there is no verifiability is to assume guilt with absolutely no evidence.

    There was really no need for Obama to engage in this. The types of things in the internet smears did not help him. There were plenty of real arguments without the need to bother with things which were easily disproven.

  30. 30
    Ron Chusid says:

    RK,

    As you like to use FactCheck as your source you might compare their coverage of the actual statements from the campaigns. During the campaign FactCheck documented a greater number of false statements from the McCain campaign, typically with gross mischaracterizations of Obama’s position.  The Democrats most certainly do have the high ground with respect to running more honest campaigns.

  31. 31
    Fritz says:

    Obama campaign != Obama.  And I always assume guilt for politicians.  🙂

    I beg to differ.  The Internet smears about Palin definitely helped Obama.   Just like the “Where’s your birth certificate” nonsense hurt him — anything that throws your campaign off message is a win for the other side.

  32. 32
    Ron Chusid says:

    Sally Hill,

    There is an element of perception–such as your strange perception about Obama’s statement or bizarre belief that he is an angry man.

    The right, with its authoritarian mindset does tend to see disagreements on issues as being wrong, and then creates false equivalences as you do between differences of opinion from the left and intentional distortions from the right. The right also tends to have a religious-type belief that it is right and on a holy mission, making them entitled to tell such lies for the higher good.

    Besides such matters of perception there is a tremendous difference between the conduct coming from the left and right. The right regularly engages in intentional distortions as parts of organized campaigns. Even the more honest conservatives are admitting that the claims that Sotomayor was racist come from taking her statements out of context. There are going to be extremists on both sides making irresponsible attacks. The difference is that the extremists are the actual establishment with regards to the conservative movement and the Republican Party.

    It isn’t so simple as the left and right each perceiving the attacks from the other side as being dirtier. The organized tactics from the right are far dirtier. Many people support the Democrats over the Republicans largely out of opposition to their tactics. This includes many former Republicans who could not longer tolerate the dishonest tactics regularly used by the right.

  33. 33
    U.S. Common Sense says:

    “In a democracy  it is an extremely serious issue when votes are being influenced not by the actual facts or serious discussion over different viewpoints but based upon repeated campaigns of distortion such as this.”

    Both of the two dominant national parties are guilty of this … equally guilty.

  34. 34
    Ron Chusid says:

    No, not equally. The Republicans have utilized lies much more effectively in recent years–until they finally lost all credibility and could no longer win this way.

    Frank Luntz has moved dishonesty to a whole new level, with people like Rove carrying this out and the right wing media such as Fox and talk radio acting as in house propagandists to spread their lies.

    There was a tremendously greater use of dishonest campaigning on the Republican side in both Bush v. Kerry and McCain v. Obama. With regards to governing, few administrations in recent times can compete with Bush for dishonesty, with another Republican, Richard Nixon, coming close. Sure Clinton told some whoppers (I didn’t have sex with that woman) but that is hardly of the level of Bush lying us into a war, or threatening to fire people in his administration for revealing that he was lying about the costs of his Medicare plan.

  35. 35
    Eclectic Radical says:

    In addition to everything Ron has noted, there is one more key element that is frequently left out of discussions of right vs left: the simple fact that the political left is underrepresented in American politics, even in the Democratic Party. Many liberal Democrats (such as Cindy Sheehan, as Ron did note) are terribly unhappy with the Democratic Party and its leadership for tacking hard to the center on a regular basis. In terms of ‘mainstream’, ‘electable’ candidates the American political system offers us a choice between the far right, the right, and the center right. Today’s upper echelon Democratic leadership (individuals such as the Clintons, President Obama, Majority Leader Reid, and so on) largely occupy the the fiscally conservative (right-wingers will laugh at this, but there is a difference between being a deficit hawk and being opposed to all spending entirely), pro-business, socially liberal bloc of American politics that used to occupied by Northeastern, Mid-Atlantic, Midwestern, and West Coast Republicans in the tradition of Nelson Rockefeller, George Romney, Dwight Eisenhower, and others. The GOP, on the other hand, is dominated by the reactionary movement formerly identified with Democrats from the Old South. New Deal and Great Society liberals are not effectively represented (overall) in the Senate or in presidential contests. They are better represented in the House, but still have to vie with conservative Blue Dogs and Rockefeller Republican-style New Democrats.

    There are liars in both parties. There are internet crazies in both parties. However, there are not (despite the conservative wish to make it so) extremists in both parties. The Democratic Party is dominated by middle of the road consensus politics in which they try to give all their membership something without giving any of their membership anything, which often gets in the way of meaningful reform and is they very antithesis of extremism. On the other side of the issue, the Republican ‘big tent’ is defined easily and simply: moderates, fiscal conservatives, and libertarians are welcome so long as they vote the way the reactionaries want them to. Witness Arlen Specter, who while independent and unpredictable is very far from a ‘liberal extremist’ being run out of the party.

    The closest thing to an ‘extremist’ in the Democratic Party is Dennis Kucinich who, while very liberal, is a straight-up New Dealer with the civil rights mentality of the Great Society. Nothing very shocking there. Mike Gravel, the other ‘extreme liberal’ candidate in the Democratic primary supported the right wing Republican Fair Tax! This from one of the most liberal Democratic presidential candidates in the last go-round.

    People like Kucinich and Gravel are marginalized in the Democratic Party, while people like Richard Shelby and John Boehner are tremendously influential Republican pillars. The left wing equivalents to Shelby and Boehner are NOT President Obama and Harry Reid, they are Bernie Sanders and Ralph Nader… who are not members of the Democratic Party and whose influence is extremely limited.

    The Republican Party is an extremist party and the Democratic Party is a moderate party. The people most unhappy with the Democrats are liberal Democrats and it’s been that way since the Vietnam War.

    The most telling thing about the modern Republican Party is that Robert Bork and Clarence Thomas are considered ‘mainstream’ and ‘intellectuals’ by Repulicans while someone can call the most pragmatic and cool-headed political figure I’ve seen in years (I think the man is too pragmatic, sometimes, and I honestly would /like/ to see him angry, it sometimes bothers me a little that he isn’t) an ‘angry man with a chip on his shoulder’. Yet I am an evil fascist who hates God and religious people because I believe in natural human rights and that written law should be based on such rights and judges should make sure the two are in tandem.

    I think the majority of arguments claiming the Democratic and Republican parties are equally extremist and dirty form some of the best arguments for how far out on the right and how inside its own box the GOP really is.

  36. 36
    RodDavis says:

    Smear Campaign Against Sotomayor May Fizzle Out http://bit.ly/FVDxA There is no truth to the remark that Sotomayor ever worked for Nader!

  37. 37
    roddavis says:

    Smear Campaign Against Sotomayor May Fizzle Out http://bit.ly/FVDxA There is no truth to the remark that Sotomayor ever worked for Nader!

  38. 38
    Bradley S. Rees says:

    RT @RodDavis: Sotomayor Smear Campaign Fizzles http://bit.ly/FVDxA There is no truth to the remark that she ever worked for Nader! |LMAO!

  39. 39
    reesforcongress says:

    RT @RodDavis: Sotomayor Smear Campaign Fizzles http://bit.ly/FVDxA There is no truth to the remark that she ever worked for Nader! |LMAO!

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