The Grand Old Party and Their Long History Of Attack Politics

Dan Murphy

No political party in America launches vicious personal attacks better than the Republicans. Like rabid dogs, the GOP mauled Senator John Kerry to shreds at their convention, even sending out Democrat Zell Miller to do some bashing. Many of their shots were cheap, similar to the heavyweight boxer landing a blow to the crotch of his opponent. The four days in New York were characterized by a bitter tone from most of the convention’s speakers.Were there any moments of uplift and hope? Sadly there were not. The Republican National Convention was marred by lowbrow politics of the worst kind. Let’s take a look at what some of the Convention speakers actually said and compare their remarks with facts. Vice President Dick Cheney noted, “[Kerry] does not seem to understand the first obligation of a commander in chief – and that is to support American troops in combat.” Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Armed Forces is one of the most important roles a president can have. Kerry volunteered for two tours of duty in the Vietnam War and would know the rigors and demands of combat. As a veteran, he understands the obligations of a wartime commander in chief, having led his own men into battle in Vietnam.Cheney, on the other hand openly admitted he had “other priorities” during the war and was awarded five deferments. It’s preposterous for Cheney to criticize Kerry’s fitness as a wartime leader, when Cheney himself never served in the Armed Forces, much less experienced a combat situation. “Senator Kerry has made it clear that he would use military force only if approved by the United Nations.” This line comes out of Zell Miller’s keynote address at the Republican Convention. I wonder what Miller meant by “has made it clear”? I read John Kerry’s acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention and it included this line: “I will never give any nation or international institution a veto over our national security.” So given this quotation from Kerry, Miller is either misinformed or a flat our liar, most likely the latter. Given the history of Republican attack politics, we shouldn’t be too shocked by what we’re seeing in the 2004 campaign. Back in 2000, then-Governor George W. Bush’s campaign ravaged Arizona Senator John McCain days before the South Carolina primary. McCain noted in an interview that two million South Carolinians received phone calls saying, “You know the McCains have a black baby.” In response to this travesty, McCain said, “I believe there is a special place in hell for people like these.” The decision by those associated with the Bush campaign to use the McCains’ adopted Bengali daughter as political ammunition was an abomination. Then again, should we really be shocked? Just a few years earlier, Republicans were at it, wasting millions of our tax dollars in the Paula Jones case against President Clinton. Did it benefit our country to dig up the past exploits of Clinton? Are we proud of the former Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr for spending $40 million tax dollars investigating oral sex? Incidentally, the Paula Jones case was thrown out of court. Clinton should have known to keep it in his pants. Had he said, “What the President does in his private life is not the business of the American public” he would have saved the country and himself years of toil. The impeachment of President Clinton was politically motivated and nothing more. Yet Republicans wanted nothing but complete destruction of the Clinton presidency. After all, Clinton defeated them in two elections and stole their signature issues from welfare reform to crime prevention. With that blood thirsty glare in there eyes, the GOP excelled at the politics of personal destruction. Incidentally, the American people responded by voting more Democrats into Congress at the 1998 election, in the thick of the Lewinsky scandal. Our electorate doesn’t need this political garbage. We live in a critical time. America needs a serious debate about the issues that face us, not the same old name calling and mudslinging.