Campaigning turns ugly in final weeks
Pop Quiz! Question #1:Identify these three men as to their recent fame or notoriety, and explain how they are interrelated: John L. Hall, Ward Churchill, and Tom DeLay. Q #2: Explain the correlation between Hank Brown-Bruce Benson and Grover Norquist-Dick Armey. How are they the same and how are they different? Q #3: Likewise, Bill Owens and Joan Fitz-Gerald? Some clues are in the reading with the answers at the end.
On August 31 I wrote, “Between now and November, expect the campaign on Referenda C & D to get down right nasty, and understandably so—after all, while it may be your dough, it is also your state.” Not only has it gotten nasty, it has gotten nastier in the last two weeks with the it’s-all-about-me crowd’s latest desperate and despicable shrills. In that same piece I wrote, “Expect out-of-state ‘celebrities’ to show up to tell you how to vote. A few weeks ago Texan Dick Armey stopped by to tell Coloradoans what a Texan think they should do. Expect conservative guru Grover Norquist of the American for Tax Reform to do likewise before it’s all said and done.” That one I got wrong—Norquist showed his true color—yellow—when he ducked a debate with Governor Owens by refusing to come to Colorado. Norquist insisted the exchange take place in his house, somewhere near Foggy Bottom, far way from the folks about whom this campaign is all about—the citizens of Colorado.
Al Franken quips that the 2004 election was about “smears, fears, and queers.” Indeed. In 2005, the referenda opponents have gone beyond C & D to E: Contorting, Distorting, and Exhorting.
Contorting: Of late, according to the “free marketers,” it’s the “illegal immigrants” who will primarily benefit from your hard-earned dollars if the referenda pass. Tortuous is the logic, or lack thereof, to the antis’ reasoning on that latest scare tactic as well as Steven Graeber’s argument that you should vote no because the President was “missing in action” during the Hurricane Katrina crisis, or somehow in the New Orleans fiasco businesses were good, while in this debate, they’re bad. Well, at least Steven and I agree on something—Bush being MIA during Katrina.
Distorting: Recently, I quoted Bob Ewegen of the Denver Post when he wrote, “There’s an easy way to tell when opponents of Referenda C and D are lying. Just watch their lips. If their lips move, they’re probably lying.” In Saturday’s Rocky Mountain News, Douglas Bruce, in his counter-piece to Governor Owens’s column, right out the gate “re-lies” about the amount of rebate an average taxpayer would get if the referenda were defeated. He claims it would be an astronomical $3,200, a figure the antis bizarrely arrive at by dividing the $3.7 billion by the population of Colorado. Bruce dishonestly omits the fact that 17 special interest groups get their cut first, leaving you less than $500 over five years. It’s a time-honored strategy—The Big Lie. Repeat a lie over and over, and soon superficial thinkers begin to believe it.
Exhorting: The cacophony emanates from the antis, not based upon reason and fact, but upon paranoia—evil and sinister politicians such as Governor Bill Owens and Senate President Joan Fitz-Gerald are simply out to separate you, the fool, from your money!
According to polls, the President’s approval rating is about 39 percent. That means that about 24 percent of those voting for him in 2004 have changed their minds. In reality, nothing’s new—Bush is the same guy with the same crew as a year ago. It’s just taken some longer to get it. One hopes that a similar outcome does not result from this statewide vote. In 2004, it was “smears, fears, and queers,” and now it’s “contorting, distorting, and exhorting.” Same strategy, one year later. The hope is that Coloradoans don’t fall for it twice—casting votes based on emotion rather than reason and facts.
Q #1: John L. Hall is the professor at the University of Colorado that has recently won the Nobel Prize for physics. If you listen to the likes of Douglas Bruce and Jon Caldera, one would think Ward Churchill is the only CU professor worthy of note. As for Tom DeLay, recently indicted on money laundering and less recently the Majority Leader of the U.S. House of Representatives, he’s the rightwing counterpart of Ward Churchill.
Q #2: All four gentlemen are Republicans with strong feelings about what is best for Colorado. Brown and Benson support the referenda, and Norquist and Armey oppose it. Brown and Benson are, of course, Coloradoans, while Norquist is a Virginian and Armey, a Texan.
Q #3: Like Douglas Bruce, Owens and Fitz-Gerald are politicians. I have met them both, and while I have disagreed strongly with the Governor on many issues, I have found him and Joan to be honorable individuals. To their credit, they were able to do what the citizens of Colorado expected them to do—Put the best interests of the state above partisan politics and craft a workable and fair compromise to pull Colorado out of the economic mire and muck in which it has been stuck over the past five years. For doing what he swore to do when taking the oath of office, Owens has been scathingly Swift Boated, a practice perfected by the Right in 2004, not so surprisingly by “his own.”
This campaign is nearing an end; but fear not, November 2 begins the next. That one, folks, promises to make this one seem like a stroll up Herman’s Gulch.
Program notes: KYGT is now “streaming.” Go to the website www.clearcreekradio and click on the Goat. Also, join Harry Dale, Randy Wheelock, Matt Bergles, and me on November 5 at 3:00 on Western Exposure as we “deconstruct” the voting results.