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Political notes from Free Press staff writers Terri Hallenbeck, Sam Hemingway and Nancy Remsen


8.24.2006

 

Going negative

Bernie Sanders has made a point of playing above the fray in his television advertising over the years. So when his campaign on Tuesday unveiled Bernie's first attack ad since the ugly 1990 contest with then Rep. Peter Smith, R-Vt., it got everyone's attention.

Here's what Sanders had to say about Rich Tarrant's ads alleging Sanders was soft on drug dealers and child pornographers.

"I'm Bernie Sanders and I approved this message because dishonest ads should not be part of Vermont politics. For months my opponent Rich tarrant has been spending millions telling us about himself. Well, it's his money and he can spend it if he wants to. But he has no right to distort my record or what I stand for. I can't match his money ad for ad. But I'll let the truth speak for itself. I trust you to use your good judgment. Please go to my website and check the facts. [www.bernie.org] Thanks for listening."

Not exactly ruthless as "attack" ads go, but effective.

That would also describe the 1990 ad Sanders made late in the campaign against Smith, who had accused Bernie of being a tax dodger, cozy with Communists and nauseated in 1960 by the election of John F. Kennedy.

Here's the text from the 1990 ad, issued just a week before Election Day.

"There are enormous challenges facing our country -- health care, the growing gap between rich and poor, the crisis of our environment. The list is a long one. It saddens me that my opponent, finding himself behind in the polls, is now resorting to the most negative and dishonest television advertising in 1990 this state has ever seen ... I've run a positive and honest campaign, and that's the way I'll represent you in Congress."

Sounds a bit like the one Sanders released Tuesday, doesn't it. BTW, the 1990 ad nailed Smith, but good. Sanders had a single-digit lead in the polls when the ad was released, but won a week later by 16 percentage points.

--Sam Hemingway

Comments:
That is not an attack ad.

That is self defense. And the way its written and presented, Bernie stays above the fray. That is what Vermonters want and that is what Vermonters expect of Bernie.

An attack ad would be something like "What does Rich have to say about his involvement in the biggest Vermont scandal ever? And why did it take the Governor to get him to stop? Can we really afford to have more corruption in Washington?"

Nah, that is not an attack ad.
 
I agree...

It's not "going negative" and it's not an "attack" ad.

And neither is your example from the 1990 campaign.

It troubles me when this insider short-hand jargon paints a very different picture than the reality.

Couldn't you say something like "Bernie directly criticizes his opponent" or something more accurate?

(And not to be picky, but you folks here at vt.Buzz really need to work on your blockquote skills. It is impossible to tell what you are writing from what could be an excerpt. And how 'bout responding to the fact that pretty much all the Vermont bloggers include vt.Buzz in their blogrolls, yet you continue to reciprocate. Maybe there's an honest explanation. We'd all be pleased to heat it. Cheers.)
 
Sorry, that should be "pretty much all of the major political Vermont bloggers" and "continue not to reciprocate."
 
And one more thing about the negative thing...

As Terri Hallenbeck just wrote in the previous post (my emphasis)...

"Defining negative could turn out to be a matter of disagreement as the campaign season goes on. Rainville said she will be talking about opponents' voting record and will feature fact-based statements about opponents. "That is all fair," she said.

Rainville said her opposition has been negative toward her. "I think there have been some pot shots," she said. She declined to specify or characterize those pot shots. The voters, she said, will define what is negative."

I'm not a Rainville supporter, and may disagree with the "pot shots" comment or whether her campaign doesn't engage in "pot shots" of their own, but I completely agree with her definition of what's not "negative."

Let the voters decide.
 
One thing that has gotten lost in all this talk about "negative ads" is the fact that Tarrant has no public record to run on. Lacking any voting record in any office, the only option Tarrant has is to campaign against Bernie's record. Bernie should know his record is fair game. After all, isn't he running on his record?
 
Lacking any voting record in any office, the only option Tarrant has is to campaign against Bernie's record.

If Tarrant were running on Bernie's record, Bernie would only get more popular. Tarrant is running on tiny little targeted bits and pieces of Bernies record, taken out of context and fastened into a Frankinstein he labels "Bernie's Record" via rediculous amounts of media buying.

Just calling it "Bernie's record" doesn't make it so. What's happened to Rich Tarrant?
 
"Just calling it 'Bernie's record' doesn't make it so."

Why don't you point out what Tarrant says is part of Bernie's record that you believe isn't then.
 
Why don't you point out what Tarrant says is part of Bernie's record that you believe isn't then.

Like what, for instance?
 
I'm asking you, genius! You said "Just calling it 'Bernie's record' doesn't make it so," let's hear what Tarrant's calling "Bernie's record" that isn't.
 
No no no. I'm not going to play that game. YOU repeat one of Tarrant's bogus assertions, then I will shoot it down. Pick your favorite. Go ahead.
 
"YOU repeat one of Tarrant's bogus assertions, then I will shoot it down."

Are you literally retarded? I'm saying that none of them are bogus! They all reflect Bernie's record, I never said otherwise, you did. Point one out that doesn't.
 
I thought Tarrant supporters were supposed to be "civil."
 
Who said I was a Tarrant supporter? I'm a logic supporter.
 
I'd like to know why Tarrant chose to not allow comments on his "blog". Is he afraid of the truth?
 
More interestingly, why does Bernie's blog censor anti-Bernie comments? Try leaving one and see!
 
Umm, just checked and there are anti-bernie ads.

Perhaps you posted one that used inappropriate language.
 
There are anti-Bernie ads on Bernie's blog? That's odd.
 
What? Sanders isn't cozy with communists? I thought half the loony Left in Vermont were either anarchist, syndicalist, socialist, communist, or someother variation of progressive egalitarian radicalism? Oh, wait...that's just the leftovers from the New Left and their Red Diaper Baby friends who migrated to Vermont from New York.
 
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