Two Republicans explore the depths of dirty politics, and strike a rich vein of hypocrisy

Ever since Karl Rove’s epic rant last Tuesday night on Fox News, Republicans across the country have been searching for explanations — and almost universally reaching the wrong conclusion. And often, turning themselves into the pure-hearted victims of damn dirty Democrats.

And now, joining the parade, is soon-to-be-ex-Republican State Representative Jim Eckhardt, who lost to challenger Anne Gallivan by 37 votes. Take it away, VTDigger…

The one-term lawmaker blames his loss on “garbage politics.”

Eckhardt says the Vermont Democratic House Campaign distorted his record in a mailing that was sent to constituents the day before the election.

The dastardly mailer focused on Eckhardt’s attendance record, which included time away from the Legislature during school vacations.  

“I don’t mind suffering a loss if I felt that the loss was justified,” Eckhardt said. “I think this dirty, dirty last minute BS they pulled just blew me out of the water. I had no time to respond to their crap.”

(Cough.) Excuse me, Mr. Eckhardt. A couple of points, if I may.


First: this one last-minute mailer came after months and months of deceptive advertising from Vermonter(s) First that endlessly repeated Republican lies about the Dems. Including a whole lot of mailers on your behalf.

We’re sorry if you think the one Democratic mailer was so much more impactful than all those conservative missives. I presume you’ll be having a sharp word with one Tayt Brooks, International Man of Mystery, about the utter failure of his million-dollar Super PAC campaign.  

And second: The effectiveness of last-minute attacks is highly questionable. Conventional wisdom in politics is that in order to move public opinion, an attack needs a little time to sink in. If your voters spent the entire campaign staring vacantly at the wall and drooling, and then made up their minds because of the last piece of bulk mail they received, well, I think you lack respect for your constituency.  

One last insight from Eckhardt: “If you want to know why they targeted me my guess is because I’m very vocal.”

Er, no, Jim. It’s not because you pose such a singular threat to the Shumlin Hegemony. You were targeted because you represented a swing district. It was simply a winnable seat for the Dems. Nothing at all to do with your excellent communication skills.

Let us turn to the voluntarily outgoing Rep. Oliver Olsen, who discerns a link between the Eckhardt takedown and a similar last-minute hit job in 2008 that took out another Republican state representative.  

Wow. Two mailers in four years. That’s a rare feat of trendspotting.

Now, watch in awe and wonder as Olsen explains why Vermonter First was perfectly okay, while these two mailers were dastardly political misdeeds:  

He says he’s not aware of any GOP PACs launching a negative attack at the 11th hour.

“It’s one thing to challenge someone’s record and give them a chance to respond,” Olsen said. “It’s quite different to go out deliberately to issue a mailer in a manner in which there is no opportunity to respond.”

Well, that’s one way of putting it. Note the curiously qualified denial in the first line: he’s not aware (weasel word) of any GOP PACs (leaving out the GOP itself) launching a negative attack at the 11th hour (every other hour yes, but the eleventh? Not at all. At least not that he’s aware of. By any GOP PAC).

Slap someone with a single late mailer and it’s evil. Carpet-bomb them for months on end and it’s perfectly okay because they had an “opportunity to respond.” While the carpet-bombing continued right up to the last minute.

Nice set of ethics you’ve got there, Ollie.

Look. From what I’ve read about the Eckhardt mailer, it seems an obvious case of stretching the truth to make an opponent look bad. These things happen a lot. All the time. On all sides. In my estimation, the Republicans have it all over the Democrats in partisan truth-stretching. And, as Mr. Dooley famously put it, “Politics ain’t beanbag.”  

5 thoughts on “Two Republicans explore the depths of dirty politics, and strike a rich vein of hypocrisy

  1. Eckhardt sure hands a lot of power to the Dems.  A one-time post card sent by the Dems had the effect of refuting months of mailers from the GOP side?  Who knew?  

    With that kind of logic, the Dems only need to send out one post card less than a week before the vote in order to win everything all the time.

    Of course when a Republican says, “distorted his record” they really mean “told the unvarnished truth instead of couching it in Republican NewSpeak”.

  2. One strategery:  Start shooting early in as many directions as possible.  Keep shooting often.  Pray the damn moose walks in front of one of your bullets.  

    Your big donors love to hear the bullets flying – makes them think they are getting bang for their big bucks – all the noise you’re generating makes them think you got that sucker.  

    Your campaign consultant loves this strategery, too.  The more money you spend, the more they can charge you for running your campaign.

    Of course the manufacturers of red, white, and blue ink love this strategery.  And the USPS needs the revenue.

    Admit it – you love this strategery, too.  Why campaign amongst your lessers on your do-little record when you can libel your opponent in weekly mailers – with your picture on them?

    Second strategy:  First find the moose.  Get a real good look at the moose.  Find out where the weak spot on the moose is.  Then take your one shot.  

    It probably won’t do the damage you hoped.  But at least you only took one shot. That means you spent the rest of your time – and money – actually campaigning.

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