Friday, November 20, 2009

Terrorism turns to partisan politics

Call it the campaign strategy for 2010 – any Democrat who doesn’t play along with the GOP attempt to scare Chicago with talk of terrorists hitting the Willis Tower or O’Hare International Airport is going to get attacked anyway.

Now I understand that campaigns are about criticism and trying to differentiate oneself from the opposition. I also realize they can get nasty pretty quick. People who are too sensitive ought not to be running for elective office.

YET THE TYPE of criticism that is coming from the proposal to put inmates from the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba (the so-called terrorists who act in a perverted take on Islam) to the vacant state prison at Thomson, Ill., is so shallow as to be offensive.

What I’m referring to is a series of press releases I have been receiving in my e-mail in recent days in which GOP officials are using interchangeable rhetoric to dredge this issue up against anyone who dares to go through a political life with a “D” rather than an “R” after their name.

Some of these releases have come from the gubernatorial campaign of Andrew McKenna, while others have come in the name of the Illinois Republican Party.

The statements I have seen have been critical of Democratic Senate hopeful Alexi Giannoulias, and Reps. William Foster and Jerry Costello. None of them have been quite so quick as to state a stance on the issue of the inmate shift.

SO THE REPUBLICANS are going out of their way to criticize them for being quiet – claiming that a real candidate would have jumped the gun and shot his mouth off, just like they have.

But the thing about all these statements I have seen is that the rhetoric is nearly identical in each statement, which makes me think it is a party strategy that is being earmarked for use against all Democrats.

Which means that there probably are many more statements in circulation criticizing other Democrats, across Illinois and the nation, for this very same issue.

It bothers me to think that anyone has the gall to think that rational people would be swayed by someone who wants us to believe that thinking before opening one’s mouth is a negative trait.

NOW AS I wrote earlier this week, this issue involving the fate of the Guantanamo inmates is one that has become a partisan mess – Democrats generally are supportive because President Barack Obama has touted the idea, while Republicans don’t want Obama to get anything that might be considered a positive achievement.

So they’re trash-talking the idea, even though it makes sense and is a solution to a problem that has to be addressed.

It is sad to say that at least some Democrats are taking the rhetoric that moving such inmates to Illinois makes Chicago a bigger target on the international scene too seriously.

Rep. Melissa Bean, D-Ill., has made some statements in recent days that imply she has problems with the idea of the so-called terrorist suspects being brought to Illinois. She represents a district in the outer Chicago suburbs that once was considered a Republican stronghold, and is one that the GOP would like to have their candidate win back come the ’10 elections.

SO SHE WENT so far as to make the statements in line with the Republican rhetoric so that they can’t use the issue against her in their campaign leaflets and television spots once the general election cycle picks up next fall.

It is the same logic that caused then-Sen. Obama a few years ago to vote for construction of a wall along the U.S./Mexico border, even though the Democratic Party “position” was that such a wall was a waste of federal funds, in addition to being a generally stupid concept.

The Illinois GOP went so far as to issue a statement praising Bean for taking a GOP-like stance on the issue, which means they’re now trying to stir up resentment amongst Democrats against Bean.

Anything that helps weaken her, it could work. The fact that Obama was on the record as backing that border wall was one of the reasons that Latinos were more inclined in the Democratic presidential primary last year to support Hillary R. Clinton instead of the concept of Obama-mania.

IF NOT FOR the general disgust of Latino voters for the GOP these days, it probably would have hurt him in the general election too.

This tactic is more about Republicans trying cheaply to define an issue on their terms. I’d like to think the electorate is too sensible to fall for this.

Otherwise, my e-mail box is going to be overflowed with the same stupid statement sent over and over, with the only variable being the “fill in the blank” for the name of yet another political person to be criticized.


No comments: