Monday, August 21, 2006

Balancing Act

The Post Star is weighing in on the race again, this time it is in a story about the negativity of the 20th race. Is it just me or are they stepping on the scale again when they judge Kirsten Gillibrand?

The negativity in this race has been by John Sweeney. A college newspaper first reported that Sweeney was a a frat party, not the Gillibrand campaign. When asked to comment on the incident, Kirsten had no comment. Moveon is organizing a protest against Sweeney, not the Gillibrand campaign.

Once again, how is filming a public figure in public a negativity against John Sweeney? Gillibrand says it is a common practice and she's correct. None of the press articles about the volunteer filming Sen. George Allen in a VA race, claimed that the challenger was being negative. The story doesn't point out that Sweeney's people have also been attending and documenting Gillibrand at events or that Sweeney already used a photo of Gillibrand in a mailer taken by one of his campaign's volunteers doing the exact same thing! Gillibrand never whined to the media about being "stalked" when this happened.

In the Post Star's side bar on the story (by subscription), they list the negativity in the race. Here is an example:

-- July 2006 -- Sweeney's campaign mailed out a full-color glossy brochure depicting a Manhattan high-rise building on the cover.

The brochure stated, "This is 1755 York Avenue on the Upper East Side of Manhattan ... and to Kirsten Gillibrand it's home."

Gillibrand and her husband did once live at that address, but they purchased a home in Hudson in 2003, and moved to the home full time in 2004.

The Gillibrand campaign countered by airing radio commercials stating Sweeney was misrepresenting her residency status.

Here is the reality:

First the GOP held a press event outside of Gillibrand's workplace launching these charges. Next the press reported them, and later refuted the charges.

Next, Sweeney sent out the mailer mentioned.

Next the Sweeney campaign issued a radio ad repeating the same tired disproven claims.

Finally Gillibrand defended herself in public with an ad countering the charges.

If Gillibrand never defends herself, people will assume the charges Sweeney makes are true. It is not fair to claim that Gillibrand defending herself against Sweeney falsehoods is negativity on her part.

Another item cited is the inquiry into Sweeney's Ski Weekend in Lake Placid. The Post Star picks up Sweeney's talking points that this is a Democratic led attack on him (isn't that what Tom DeLay tried to tell the press too?). The story doesn't tell you that Pataki has the state doing an audit of the event as well.

How is any of this an example of Gillibrand's campaign not being focused on the issues?

The story also completely ignores all of her policy events which have taking place in the same period that the story covers, such as her new energy plan, her plan to restore fiscal discipline in Congress, her support of GI Bill reform, her call for Middle Class Tax cuts.

The Moveon protest isn't about Sweeney's personality flaws or where he lives, it is about his record. It seems valid for citizens to stage a protest when people are unhappy with an incumbents voting record. According to the constitution this is still a protected right, right? The media attacking concerned citizens for protesting, what next, will the Post Star claim that we shouldn't have freedom of the press anymore?

When Saratoga GOP chairman showed up at the protest of Gillibrand's campaign announcement, it was clear that the Republican party if not Sweeney himself was involved in the protest. But none of the Sweeney protests have been organized by the Gillibrand campaign or by the local Democratic party.

The sad part is that the story goes on to state that a nasty race usually helps the incumbent. So we have to say, doesn't that seem to explain why Sweeney has been slinging mud? It is good for his campaign.

It is a shame that the Post Star failed to mention the many issues and plans that Gillibrand has released, and that it blamed Gillibrand for things that other groups have done, hopefully they will begin to see that Gillibrand's focus has been on the issues. Hopefully they won't claim she is being negative when she simply defends herself against false claims about non-issues stated repeatedly by the Sweeney campaign. Hopefully they will decide it isn't valid to report a story that the Sweeney campaign puts out about Gillibrand "stalking" when his campaign is doing the same thing as well.

Now that I've had my say, here's an excerpt of the story:

Local campaign is one of the nastiest in the nation

Former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani is coming to Saratoga Springs today to support U.S. Rep. John Sweeney's re-election campaign, and not all of those who turn out to greet him will have glowing praise.

MoveOn.org, a liberal political action group, plans to stage a protest outside a $1,000-a-plate noon luncheon headlined by Giuliani and Sweeney at a private residence.

Protesters will be carrying giant Styrofoam red hands to illustrate Sweeney, R-Clifton Park, getting "caught red handed" making unacceptable votes in Congress, the group said in a press release.

The protest is an example of theatrics and attacks that have become common in the spirited race between Sweeney and his Democratic opponent Kirsten Gillibrand.

The tone of the race has become so negative one national political analyst suggested last week it may be one of the nastiest in the country.

"Is this the nastiest House race in the cycle?" asked Chuck Todd, in an article in National Journal, a nonpartisan political magazine. "It's certainly one of the top five dirtiest right now," Todd continued, answering his own question.

Todd, a contributing editor, ranked the local race No. 24 in the nation overall, up one position from his last ranking.

The local race has centered much more on personalities than others, Todd said in a telephone interview on Thursday evening.

"Most of the other campaigns are so dominated by the issues," he said.

Sweeney's negativity, Todd said, may be an attempt to counter criticism from Democrats after Sweeney attended a late-night fraternity party at Union College in April.

"Part of this is because of Sweeney," he said. ... (source, subscription required)

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