Newly-elected Congressman Steve Scalise is obviously worried, which may explain why he’s running one of the most dishonorable political commercials I have ever seen.
Scalise claims Harlan has spent $1 million “attacking” him with “desperate lies,” yet he offers not a single example or rebuttal of those “lies.” Instead, he quickly pivots away from Harlan and onto Barack Obama and, believe it or not, Jeremiah Wright, a man even John McCain has called “off-limits.”
The ad almost looks like a parody: “Harlan’s desperate lies won’t cover up the fact that he’s a Barack Obama delegate,” says the narrator.
Perhaps it’s true Harlan was an Obama delegate, but I- along with Daniel, Ryan, and nearly 100 other Louisianans- was in Denver a couple of months ago for the Democratic National Convention.
And I don’t recall Mr. Harlan being there and casting his vote for Senator Obama. Perhaps he swooped in for the roll call. Maybe we all missed him. Doubtful, though.
Regardless, this ad is sleazy and shameless. It’s the lowest type of attack ad– an ad that doesn’t even attack the opponent on substance but relies on guilt by association to paint a good and decent American as being subversive, based solely on a soundbite of someone else’s former pastor.
“Harlan embraces Obama’s liberal and dangerous agenda, shaped by radicals like Jeremiah Wright,” the narrator says. The buzzwords (“dangerous” and “radical”) juxtaposed against the fleeting clip of Jeremiah Wright may make for powerful imagery, but they also speak to Mr. Scalise’s willingness to play a game of ignorant cultural divisiveness, a game that refuses intellectual nuance and prefers hyperbole over understanding, as a strategy for victory.
But that isn’t the only problem: Mr. Scalise reveals himself to be amateurish. He would like to represent Louisiana in the United States Congress, but this ad (and the message it carries) is an insult to integrity of the office to which he seeks. It seeks to play on the fears of the fringes in order to discredit a highly-qualified and highly-respected man who also simply seeks to represent his district and the Great State of Louisiana.
It appears as if Scalise’s only defense against his opponent is attempting to inject a supercilious national smear into a local election that is ultimately about the people of Louisiana.
In short, this is a commercial borne out of arrogance, a type of arrogance that refuses to acknowledge substance and subtlety and instead hopes to scare voters by questioning his opponent’s, another American, commitment to his nation.
This is actually guilt by association squared, and it is absolutely shameful, particularly coming, as it does, from a sitting United States Congressman.