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More on the ethics of political advertising March 24, 2010

Posted by admin in Uncategorized.
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Amidst the debate about the House of Representatives’ vote on the health care bill recently, Democrats were being targeted by conservatives with several advertisements. Ohio Rep. Steve Driehaus from Cincinnati, in particular, was the subject of a controversial print ad purchased by the Committee to Rethink Reform that ran in the Cincinnati Enquirer. The ad featured the congressman’s young daughters, a violation of an unwritten law forbidding the use of lawmakers’ families in political advertising.

Dreihaus immediately attacked his opponents, and claimed that the healthcare ad crossed the line. After demanding an apology, Dreihaus received an acknowledgment by the Washington-based group that they had made a mistake. The Enquirer ran a full-page retraction and apology, thus confirming that the healthcare battle is getting dirty.

Although the ad doesn’t seem to be available on the internet, it represents a growing trend of dirty attack ads. For more examples, watch some of the videos posted by Yahoo News:


Discussion Questions:

1.  What is the strategy behind running negative attack ads in politics? Why do they work? When do they not work?

2.  When do attack ads get inappropriate?

3.  Which political attack ads have you seen recently that also might be considered inappropriate?



1. William Thien - October 31, 2010

It would seem the BCRA, or bipartisan legislation co-authored by Senator Feingold meant to curb the behavior we are seeing today, has failed.

Russ Feingold is my senator, a decent guy. Once his claim to fame was that he was supposedly a maverick. But even after calling his offices and asking him not to vote for the stimulus package, where most of the money went to the New York financial district and six months later was used to pay million dollar bonuses, Russ voted for it anyway. It would have been a stimulus check to each and every taxpayer of at the very least $7,000 had the government sent the money to the people who pay the taxes in the first place. Some would have received checks of more than $11,000 based on their income. Now that would have stimulated the economy like you wouldn’t believe. Schools could use that money. The roads need serious repair. Instead, the money mostly went to banks and other financial institutions in one or two states, money from the entire country , and was concentrated to the very people Russ often says he does not support. It makes you wonder.

But even more concerning is the BCRA, the bipartisan legislation he basically wrote in 2002 to control campaigns. It was supposed to stop what we are enduring now. I like Russ. But if there is anyone who says one thing and something else entirely happens, it would appear it is Russ Feingold. It would appear he is one of the best at doing just that in fact.

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