Saturday, February 21, 2004

In His Master's Idiom

Rick Renzi responded to Paul Babbitt's announcement speech criticism of Renzi's voting record by conceding the race. He accused Babbitt of using 'smear politics'. Characterizing substantive differences with your opponents voting record as 'negative campaigning', 'smear politics', or 'lacking a positive agenda' is the latest tactic from the Rovian college o' campaigning knowledge. What it signifies is that Renzi is unable to defend his record, and so, lacking ammunition with which to launch a smear campaign, he used the only weapon he had left; lying about Babbitt's campaign tactics. And that means that Renzi's campaign is over before it even starts.

Renzi's remarks are an immitation of the Rovian tactic of characterizing legitimate debate and criticism of an opponent's record as negative campaigning. It is itself a form of negative compaigning, because the charge is completely baseless.

The Rovian school of gutter politics holds that using slurs against a man's patriotism and probing for dirt in a man's personal life is legitimate 'contrast' communication, but researching a man's record and criticizing his priorities are off limits (well, at least to Democratic candidates). Of course, it is hypocrisy itself for Renzi to even think of leveling a charge of 'smear politics' at Babitt, considering Renzi's tactics against George Cordoba last cycle. He baselessly accused Cordoba of being a liar, a cheater, and a thief. Renzi's campaign was nothing more than slurs backed by lots of money.

Who would you guess said: "My opponent's blind accusations and false claims only highlight his lack of a positive and pro-active agenda." Sounds like a talking point from Mehlman's BC04 campaign play-book doesn't it? That's because it is. An except from a Bush speech responding to the critiques of one of the Democratic Presidential contenders? No. Renzi statement on Babbitt's announcement.

Renzi is nothing but an eager tool of the far right-wing agenda. He's an empty shirt, stuffed with the reality-impaired rhetoric of the Bush-Cheney-Rove-DeLay junta. His voting record proves it. His response to criticism of that record demonstrates that Renzi is as devoid of values and intellectual integrity as the Bush Administration itself.

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