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Name Recognition for Edwards

May 17, 2003

    You have to be impressed by the unmitigated gall, as folks used to say, of this right wing Republican business group’s expensive attack ads against our distinguished Senator John Edwards, a Democrat who happens to be running for President.

    Without the least bit of shame for the irony and hypocrisy inherent in the name, the group calls itself “Americans for Job Security.” According to the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania, the group is an offshoot of a coalition of 32 business organizations led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. That group spent $5 million on issue ads in the 1996 campaign cycle and $8 to $10 million in 2000.

    My initial reaction was to protest the full page ad attacking Edwards which the group ran this week in North Carolina newspapers. If the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce does not disassociate itself from this mean-spirited campaign and apologize to our senator, their members will no longer get any of my money. But, of course, they don’t get a whole lot of business from me anyhow.

    Briefly, the “Americans for Job Security” ad accused Edwards of ignoring the needs of ordinary people and voting to support the special interests of the wealthy. Excuse me. Are these people living in the same America we are? Just for the helluvit, let’s see what big business’ own President George Bush has done for America. In two short years, ordinary Americans have been subjected to: $400 billion in lost retirement savings, $4.5 trillion in stock market losses, a $400 billion deficit. But the bottom line blithely ignored by “Americans for Job Security” is that more than 2.6 million Americans have lost their jobs under the Bush “administration.” While the median income of most Americans dropped for the first time since 1991, the salaries of CEOs of the top 100 companies rose by 14 per cent. If the Democrats can’t take these statistics and reclaim the government of the United States, they don’t deserve to win. If a majority of Americans continue to vote for the kind of blatant hypocrisy expressed by “Americans for Job Security,” they deserve the “deflation” or Depression that will surely follow.

    But, hold on, there’s a silver lining to this dark cloud of lies and misrepresentation from these corrupt Republican businessmen. If John Edwards has a serious problem in his campaign right now it is name recognition. Most people don’t really read the ads in newspapers, they just scan them. They’ll no doubt miss the point of these attack ads, but they’ll remember Edwards’ name. The same goes for the expensive billboards “Americans for Job Security” is erecting all over Iowa. They appear to be blaming Edwards for every frivolous lawsuit in America. And they are so verbose, there’s no way anybody on the freeway will ever read all those words. But they’ll see Edwards’ picture and name and remember them. On second thought, let’s hope the Chapel Hill Carrboro Chamber of Commerce keeps those dollars flowing to their national office so they can keep John Edwards’ name before the public.

    Another weird crusade might backfire on the Republicans’ radical right wing with this upcoming election. In their immoral “moral” crusade these people have gone way beyond anything that could be called “conservative.” How can anybody call himself a conservative when he thinks the government has a right to control behavior between consenting adults in private? Yet, that is precisely what a Republican assistant attorney general in Texas said recently before the Supreme Court: “Texas has the right to set the moral standards for its people.” Whoa. Where is Thomas Jefferson when we need him.

    We have also been subjected to a display of profound ignorance and bigotry on this subject by two prominent Republicans. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania said “if the Supreme Court endorses a right to consensual gay sex, that could also mean a right to bigamy, polygamy and incest.” That attitude was taken a step further by President Bush’s nominee to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, Alabama Attorney General Bill Pryor. He said recognizing a right to privacy for homosexual conduct “must logically extend to…prostitution, adultery, necrophilia, bestiality, child pornography, incest and pedophilia.”

    Neither man was censured by his party and both are still in office. This shows the degree to which the radical right has now taken over the Republican Party in America. I can scarcely believe there is any American with a heart who does not know and love somebody who is homosexual. It should be obvious that there is no ethical or moral “choice” involved in being born that way. Would anybody in his or her right mind choose to be relegated to second class citizenship and called queer, faggot, dyke, pansy, fairy? These Republican attacks are yet another manifestation of the evil instinct in the animal man that needs a scapegoat. It is the meanest worst trait of primitive man to attack others merely because they are born different. The Republicans should examine their own closets before they start condemning the rest of us for being different. The man who engineered Jesse Helms’ nastiest campaigns in North Carolina lives to this day with his male lover and two adopted children on a horse farm north of Boston. The daughter of the current Vice President of the United States is homosexual.

    Once again, if the Democrats can’t stand up to the Republicans’ hypocrisy on this issue, they don’t deserve to win. The good news is that Democrats are doing just that, openly courting the gay vote, unafraid of the radical right backlash. I spoke with an insider in the Edwards campaign and he told me “those people weren’t going to vote for Edwards anyway. To Edwards, it is simply a matter of fairness.” And that is how it should be.