Monday, October 02, 2006

Heather and the Smear Merchants

Looking through the news can yield up all kinds of interesting trivia. Try this one, for example:
Republicans are planning to spend the vast majority of their sizable financial war chest in 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 (NRCC), which this year assigned six 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.
Gee, I wonder why they'd do that? I mean, couldn't Republicans run on the overwhelming victories in Iraq and the flowering of democracy all over the Middle East?

...OK, maybe not...

But we've improved conditions in Afghanistan and kicked out the Taliban, right? Well, technically, we've only improved things for the opium farmers and given them a bumper crop of heroin. And the Taliban is still pretty strong over there, too. So maybe we shouldn't bring that up, either.

But they could run on how they've made government smaller and more efficient, and saved American tax dollars! Well, technically, our Republican-controlled Congress took a record-breaking surplus and turned it into a record-breaking deficit. And those pesky Democrats keep bringing up little things like the Alaskan "Bridge to Nowhere" (a Republican-led, federally funded, $223 million dollar bridge that would link fifty people on the Alaskan island of Ketchikan to the mainland).

So what does this leave them? Well, pretty much just personal attacks on their opponents. When you don't have a record to run on, you demonize the other side.

Which brings us to the Patricia Madrid/Heather Wilson fight.

Heather likes to call herself "independent" - it’s right there at the top of her website: "Independent. Honest. Effective." She likes that word so much that it’s on her bio page six times. But her voting record doesn’t support that idea - she votes pretty much a straight Republican ticket. (Which kind of makes you wonder about the "honest" part of that soundbite, doesn't it? Especially if you remember her claim that the Democrats love her so much that they keep asking her to join their party.)

But since Heather isn’t willing to talk about her record (like her long-standing support of the Iraq war), she’s fired off a series of attack ads. One of them claims that Patricia Madrid received donations from a casino owner, and the legal problems of that casino magically disappeared. Which sounds pretty bad, until you consider what actually happened.

It's a pretty simple story, really. You see, the problem was that, every so often, a tribe wants to build a casino outside of their reservation, and declare it reservation land "in trust." Madrid pointed out that the sovreignity of the Native American tribes on their reservations was the loophole that allowed them to build casinos. But our friends in the Republican Party don't want you to know unimportant things like facts in this case - they prefer the libelous impression that they want to give you.

Heather also tries to smear Ms. Madrid for "interfering with the investigation" into former State Treasurer Robert Vigil on 24 separate charges of corruption. Strangely enough, Heather can never quite explain how Patricia "interfered" - perhaps the problem was that Patricia, as a trained lawyer, could see how the evidence was a little flimsy? In fact, it was so flimsy that a jury this weekend acquitted Vigil of twenty-three out of the twenty-four charges. (I wonder if we're going to see that fascinating fact in any of Heather's future ads?)

But hey, it seems only fair to reverse that little mirror, doesn't it? I wonder who gives money to Heather?

Well, if you check out the groups that donate to her, you find that she’s one of the top recipients of money from oil and gas companies, and she’s gotten a surprisingly large amount of cash from the electronics and defense industries - in fact, the corporation that threw the largest amount of money to her was Lockheed Martin.

Hmm... Isn't it amazing? Heather has consistently voted in favor of allowing our troops to be shot at in Iraq, and the companies that are making the most profit out of this little Middle East dust-up are giving Heather money.

I’d hesitate to use words like "kickback," but it's a fascinating coincidence, don't you think? Definitely a fine example of that old political maxim "one hand washes the other."

Didn’t Pontius Pilate wash his hands, too?

Even better, let's look at who Heather’s best friends are. She’s taken thousands of dollars from Tom Delay, Jack Abramoff, the recently-outed pedophile Mark Foley, Duke Cunningham and Bob Ney.

Isn't that cute? Heather Wilson is in the pockets of the top convicted criminals in the Republican Party (OK, they haven’t convicted Foley yet - but they need to). Doesn't that feel make you feel all warm inside?

Of course, Heather wants to look clean, so she returned donations from Bob Ney and Duke Cunningham. She also claimed to have returned all of the money she got from Delay, even though she only gave back around a fifth of it - ten thousand out of the almost forty-seven thousand dollars ($46,959) she took from him (that’s the easily-documented amount – some sources place the figure closer to sixty-five thousand).

There’s a phrase my late, lamented momma taught me - "you’re judged by the company you keep."

And looking at it that way, Heather, you’re a dirty, dirty girl.

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