07/01/04 — The low road: Out-of-control comments flourish

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The low road: Out-of-control comments flourish

We should be able to expect more from people whose fellow citizens have bestowed upon them positions of great respect and confidence. But former Vice President Al Gore — who was given the largest popular vote for president in 2000 — appears to be out of control. In recent days he repeatedly has launched unbridled attacks on President George Bush, suggesting that he is either a conspiratorial liar or too gullible and inept to be president. Speaking at Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, Gore said the president and vice president follow a course of deliberate dishonesty rather than “look like complete fools for launching our country into a reckless, discretionary war against a nation that posed no immediate threat to us whatever.” Gore obviously is the low-road surrogate of Sen. John Kerry’s campaign for the presidency. He carefully avoids acknowledging the fact that Kerry — and the vast majority of the members of Congress — supported going to war in Iraq, basing their positions on the same intelligence information that was available to the president. ••• Closer to home, Republican State Sen. Fern Shubert, seeking her party’s nomination for governor, has begun running TV and radio commercials that in a convoluted but obvious fashion accuses Gov. Mike Easley of making it easier for terrorists like those who struck on 9/11 to get driver’s licenses to legally operate in this country. The TV commercial shows hijacked planes hitting the World Trade Center. It is accompanied by the voice of the father of a victim of that attack, intoning: “Within days after 9/11, Mike Easley signed a law that makes it easier for terrorists, illegal aliens, drunk drivers and everyone except law-abiding citizens to get driver’s licenses.” The radio ad has the same father’s voice saying: “You can’t bring Jamie back, but you can help keep Mike Easley from helping illegal aliens and the terrorists who hide among them.” ••• Negative campaigning, unfortunately, has been in vogue for several years on the national and state levels. And in many instances it has proven successful. But there are depths to which the public should not let such attacks sink. The best way to limit mean-spirited and misleading slime is for the public to resoundingly reject such allegations when they enter the voting booths. ••• “Fair and Balanced” is Fox News’ appraisal of its programming. There is a modicum of truth in this, but only from the standpoint that the conservative approach by Fox News tends to balance out the left wing slant of the other networks. But then there’s Bill O’Reilly, Fox’s nightly commentator. He manages, somehow, to have some nationally and internationally respected people as guests. They are folks who, given a chance, could have enlightening views for the American people. But O’Reilly never lets a one of them finish a sentence before interrupting with his own spin. TV types often use pseudonyms. Perhaps O’Reilly’s should be O’Rudely.

Published in Editorials on July 1, 2004 11:39 AM