President Obama recently launched an attack on Mitt Romney in which the President focuses on Romney's time at Bain Capital. You can see the ad on youtube: here. This has caused quite a controversy: while the main surprise came from the comments that Cory Booker made (see news story, here) this is a broader issue (as covered by The Hill). Other Democrats are distancing themselves from the attacks as well.
Cory Booker, the mayor of Newark and star of the film Street Fight (2005), called the ad "nauseating" - all the more surprising, since he is widely referred to in the media as a "surrogate for President Obama's re-election campaign" (from the CBS story, above). Salon called Cory Booker "the surrogate from hell" in a thoughtful analysis of the issue. They aren't buying the "accident" story --- they think this was a deliberate move on Booker's part to advance his own career.
That brings me to my first thought of the day, borrowed from 1 Henry IV (5.1):
Well, 'tis no matter; honour pricks
me on. Yea, but how if honour prick me off when I
come on? how then? Can honour set to a leg? no: or
an arm? no: or take away the grief of a wound? no.
Honour hath no skill in surgery, then? no. What is
honour? a word. What is in that word honour? what
is that honour? air. A trim reckoning! Who hath it?
he that died o' Wednesday. Doth he feel it? no.
Doth he hear it? no. 'Tis insensible, then. Yea,
to the dead. But will it not live with the living?
no. Why? detraction will not suffer it. Therefore
I'll none of it. Honour is a mere scutcheon: and so
ends my catechism.
If you buy Salon's argument, this was a well timed backstab, forsaking honor for advancement. Another source said it "was no gaffe."
On the other hand, it is also possible to believe that his comments are actually... correct. A lot of Americans don't like negative ads very much. We think they work (campaigns certainly do!). But perhaps it is the ads themselves that are dishonorable. The Washington Post described Booker's reaction this way: "A gaffe is when a politician is accidentally honest." It is notable that the press reports have focused almost entirely on his criticism of attacks on one side... while his larger point is probably agreeable to most Americans:
"The last point I'll make is, this kind of stuff is nauseating to me on both sides. It's nauseating to the American public. Enough is enough, stop attacking private equity, stop attacking Jeremiah Wright. This stuff has got to stop."
Reading that, and especially pondering the piece from The Hill, brought to mind a second thought on this issue as well. There is another explanation for this controversy, provided by one of the great American sages, Will Rogers:
"I don't belong to an organized political party. I'm a Democrat."
Republicans are doing their best to take advantage of that in November.
--- Stag Staff