Election Day is here and not a minute too soon. Is it just me, or aren't you glad this thing is almost over?
This campaign season has been one long Jerry Springer special, only not as classy. The candidates have resorted to everything — accusations, name-calling, heated debates — except throw chairs at each other, and that might be preferable.
This was the year they gave the last rites to civil dialogue. The candidates didn't talk about the issues so much as the other guy (or gal).
They have a word for this type of campaigning: negative.
Or maybe you have another word for it: entertainment.
If these guys didn't have anything good to say about someone else, they said it. It was open season on the opponent across the nation.
Let's roll the highlight film:
Peter Corroon, Utah's Democratic Party candidate for governor, went on the attack with ads that focused on contributions made to his incumbent opponent, Gary Herbert, by members of a bid team that won a billion-dollar freeway project. Amid the fuss, an extramarital affair between a UDOT employee and a member of the winning team made the front pages, as well as news that $13 million was paid to one of the losing bidders became election fodder.
Was this a campaign or an afternoon soap?
Then, things got really good: Corroon compared Herbert to Rod Blagojevich, the impeached Illinois governor, during a KSL radio interview, which led to some heated on-air exchanges.
These guys won't be exchanging Christmas cards.
Then, there is the Morgan Philpot and Jim Matheson campaign. In their race for the House seat that Matheson has held for 10 years, Philpot ripped his opponent for casting the deciding vote to adjourn Congress without voting on tax cuts first. That seemed like fair play, but then Matheson ratcheted up the verbal sparring by noting that Philpot missed hundreds of votes while serving in the Utah House, claimed he didn't pay his taxes and kept his state-paid health care after leaving the Legislature. Oh, and he also wondered why Philpot didn't vote to tax strip clubs and escort services.
Proof, context and the whole truth don't seem to matter much these days.
Jerry Votaw, the Republican candidate for Salt Lake County clerk, accused Democratic incumbent Sherrie Swensen of using her position to influence the outcome of next week's election. An investigation said otherwise.
Maybe they should settle these things on the playground at recess.
"The best way to get elected or re-elected now is to tear down the reputation or character of your opponent," former president Jimmy Carter said during a recent visit to Salt Lake City.
Across the nation, candidates are in attack mode:
In Nevada's U.S. Senate race, Republican Sharron Angle and Democratic incumbent Harry Reid sniped at each other in ads.
She says rape victims should be forced to have the baby.
Harry Reid, the best friend illegals ever had.
Reid actually voted to use taxpayer dollars to pay for Viagra for convicted child molesters and sex offenders.
We can't have a woman that's this extreme and this dangerous, someone who wants to privatize the V.A., someone who believes in these crazy ideas.
Angle suggested that Reid became wealthy while in office. Reid's ad countered that Angle is "pathological."
In Connecticut, Republican Linda McMahon produced a TV ad that showed a clip of Democratic Senate nominee Richard Blumenthal commenting about "the days that I served in Vietnam." The comment was discredited two years ago. McMahon, the former World Wrestling Entertainment executive, found herself the target of media reports that her wrestling business had worked with a company that produces the "Girls Gone Wild" videos.
House Democrats claimed that eight Republican hopefuls around the country had "disturbing backgrounds and legal problems."
Rhode Island Democratic gubernatorial candidate Frank Caprio announced that President Obama could "shove it" for refusing to endorse him.
In California, the gubernatorial race between Meg Whitman and Jerry Brown has been ugly. Brown's campaign attacked Whitman for not telling the truth about how long she lived in California and for getting caught in insider deals and for changing "her story about physically abusing an employee" and for hiring a housekeeper who is an illegal alien.
Then, a recording surfaced in which Brown asks if they should produce an ad about Whitman's pension plan. A staffer replies, "What about saying she's a whore?"
During a debate, Brown apologized for the "whore" comment but countered by asking if Whitman had reprimanded her campaign chairman Pete Wilson, who suggested members of Congress were "whores (to public opinion)."
Civility and class have taken a vacation. During another debate, moderator Matt Lauer called for a truce and asked both candidates to drop all negative ads. The candidates couldn't work out the terms and refused.
Arnold Schwarzenegger was on stage with Brown and Whitman that night. He should have clunked their heads together like the Three Stooges.
Doug Robinson's column runs on Tuesdays. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
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