Friday, September 22, 2006

LEO's Comment on Anne Northup's Attack Ads -- Context is Everything

Yes, attack ads work, but only if you let them. Before you take Anne's ads to heart, consider that John's never been afraid to get his opinions and ideas to the public, and unlike the blind follower of the architect of the Iraq war (which was planned months before 9/11), isn't afraid to admit when he's wrong.

Anne claims that John will say anything to get elected. The truth seems to be that Anne will say anything about John to get elected. Anne. Why don't you grow up, accept some responsiblity, and become a leader, not a follower.

City Strobe: Please, enough with the negativity
By LEO Weekly

A screen capture: of the Anne Northup political advertisement that criticizes John Yarmuth for his stance on the gas tax and the Senior Prescription Drug Program.As surely as the leaves turn in fall, Republicans in Louisville’s TV market have begun anew their negative campaign offensives. 3rd District U.S. Rep. Anne Northup launched an ad last week attacking Democratic contender and LEO founder John Yarmuth (who no longer has ties to the newspaper) for what her campaign calls a change in position on the gas tax and the senior prescription drug program. The ad ends with this contention: “Either John Yarmuth doesn’t know his own positions, or he’ll say anything to get elected,” and it compares Yarmuth’s most current TV ad (he has released two so far, both focused on issues and neither of which mentions Northup) to his LEO editorials.

The Northup ad offers no context and, as a result, is misleading.
The first examines Yarmuth’s position on the federal gas tax. The LEO editorial referenced in the commercial is from May 22, 1996. In it, Yarmuth argues that cutting the federal gas tax would not solve the problem of a temporary spike in gas prices, and if the federal tax were to be cut, raising the state tax could be necessary. At that time, the federal gas tax was 4.3 cents per gallon.

Now, more than a decade later, the federal gas tax is closer to 20 cents a gallon, the price of gas has almost tripled, and even President Bush is publicly questioning America’s dependence on foreign oil. Clearly much has changed on this issue in the past 10 years.

The second point Northup’s ad asserts is that Yarmuth opposes the Senior Prescription Drug Program that he supported in a June 26, 2002 editorial. A quick read for context reveals again that the ad is misleading. In the editorial, Yarmuth called for a bipartisan approach to creating and passing a plan that works for senior citizens, which ultimately did not happen: Medicare Plan D, as it is now, significantly benefits the 10 largest U.S. drug companies while disallowing the government to negotiate price with drug companies. In reality, that leaves such decisions to insurance and drug companies to negotiate, which Yarmuth’s editorial contends should not be allowed to happen. Republican or Democrat, that’s simply not a change in position.

On a related note, Yarmuth has signed the League of Women Voters’ 2006 Ethical Campaign Pledge, which aims to keep such smearing and negativity out of this year’s campaigns. Northup did not sign it, nor did 2nd District U.S. Rep. Ron Lewis (R).

The pledge covers federal and state legislative races, the mayoral race, Metro Council races, and many municipal races. A majority of those who signed are Democrats, though several Republicans in state and local races also pledged not to smear. —Stephen George

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