Letters to the Editor
Readers write about whether negative campaign ads inform or mislead voters, and what benefit 'trickle-down economics' really gives ordinary people.
Negative campaign ads: informative or misleading?
Regarding the Oct. 14 Opinion piece, "What's good about McCain-Obama mudslinging": This otherwise useful commentary included the conventional thought that Sen. John McCain has the "necessary experience" to serve as commander in chief.
In my lifetime, the only individual who came to the presidency prepared with relevant experience to be commander in chief was Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower. Others have since come to the office and done a credible job, but it was not their military experience at any level that made them succeed.
What made the better ones effective was the fortunate confluence of judgment, temperament, intellect, integrity, adaptability, and patience. What mattered most was found deep inside them.
As we wash away the mud of negativity of late, the candidate who best expresses these standards should be easier to identify.
Professor Geer's perspective is great, but this short commentary is way too positive! Negative attack ads must contain truthfulness to be called information, let alone be useful. While dissent is a pillar of our freedom, negativity in the form of deceitful or distorted claims is disinformation, which is hard to filter. It disappoints and eventually exhausts voters, destroys faith in our society, and undermines our ability to form consensus, which is another pillar of our freedom.
It is easy to accept the professor's observations that negative ads are about the issues, are specific, and contain facts, arguments, and evidence to support their claims. However, it also seems clear that the facts are usually distorted and the evidence is hard to verify. Distortion of facts is sometimes so obvious that it backfires, but more often, it is subtle enough to sneak past the public's lie detectors.
Evidence, even from voting records, can be difficult to verify. Often, a supporter of a particular policy appears to vote against that same policy when a bill concerning it contains a "poison pill" or is too watered down. Congressional debates are full of rhetoric, repetition, and delay tactics; back room deals never make the congressional record. In their ads, the candidates take each other's words and voting records out of context, knowing these things are difficult to verify.
The truth will make us free.
What really 'trickles down'
In regard to the Oct. 10 article, "Americans tightening belts": For years we have heard from conservative Republicans about the benefits to our economy from "trickle-down economics." The theory is, what's good for the fat cats is good for the little guy down the ladder. It is a version of the claim made years ago by the CEO of General Motors, "What's good for General Motors is good for the country." Has anyone noticed the value of GM stock these days?
Of course, "trickle-down economics" is like barbecuing ribs on an outdoor grill. The president and the Congress, the CEOs, the investment bankers, and all the other fat cats on Wall Street get the meat, and we, the common people, get the grease and fat that "trickles down."
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