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There's a difference between vetting and smearing

By Frank Salvato
web posted January 30, 2012

Call it wishful thinking. Call it expecting the campaigns to honor what the American people have been demanding for several election cycles. Call it what you will, but I admit, I am one of the life-long Conservatives and Republicans who finds the attack ad blitz being perpetrated by our GOP presidential candidates against one another over-the top and, quite frankly, embarrassing. It is one thing to illuminate an opponent's past record, even his past behavior where it applies to his ability to execute elected office, but it is quite another to engage in the slash-and-burn, win-at-all-cost political tactics of the Progressive Left. We, as Conservatives and as Republicans are better than that...we have to be.

The recent exchanges between Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich about lobbying, taxes, who is more Conservative than who, etc., serve as a perfect example of destruction (read: negative) politics. Truth be told, aside from the fact that we now know Newt Gingrich had a rider in his consulting contract with Freddie Mac that prohibited him – or any of his team – from lobbying, and aside from the fact that we now know venture capitalist Mitt Romney is wealthy and pays the least amount of taxes legally possible, what did we learn from any point brought up by either candidate that weighed heavily on the negative?

For the record, being a venture capitalist is not only legal, when done in a responsible manner, i.e. when done successfully so that investors glean profits from companies that are set on the path to prosperity, they create employment opportunities and products that help the Capitalist economic cycle. The last time I checked the United States employed a Capitalist economic system, much to the chagrin of the Progressive Left.

Also for the record, lobbying and political consulting – although well demonized by the politically opportune – serve not only a legitimate purpose, but a vital function within our system of government. True, the art of lobbying should be reformed to exclude the financial manipulation of elected officials, i.e. money, in any form, should never flow from lobbyist to the elected class, but at its core the act of lobbying is simply the act of the petition of government. If not for lobbyists and political consultants – the majority of which are honest advocates for their causes and clients, and who legitimately earn compensation for their expertise and services – we would have no laws on the books that address pollution, child labor laws, work place safety, safety standards for automobiles, aircraft and marine vehicles or the protection of natural resources. In fact, the right to petition government by the private sector is enshrined in the First Amendment:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." (Emphasis mine)

So, Mr. Romney and Mr. Gingrich – and to a lesser extent Mr. Santorum and Mr. Paul – have been trying to smear each other for being things that are not only legal and legitimate, but necessary and proper.

Boy, that seems a bit...stupid, especially for people who claim to be so intelligent.

What each of the Republican candidates has missed, evidently, is that when they stay positive, when they respectfully compare and contrast their records of accomplishment with those of their opponents – without going caustically negative, i.e. saying someone "resigned in disgrace" or that the other is "lying" or a "vulture Capitalist" – their poll numbers go up. In addition to that, when the GOP Primary candidates stay positive, on message and stay focused on the issues – especially when they juxtapose Conservative principles from those employed by Barack Obama and the Progressive Left – they engage in "teachable moments," where the American people are afforded the opportunity to learn why Conservatism is more appealing than Democratic Socialism.

I could care less if Newt Gingrich was a consultant, lobbyist or shaman for Freddie Mac, especially if everything that was executed was done legally, which by all accounts it was. What I care about is being able to understand how a Gingrich presidency will help to bring about tax reform; or how he will go about working with Congress to repeal Obamacare while righting the wrongs that still exist in the health insurance market regardless of Obamacare. What I care about it being able to understand how his administration's policies will reform, remove and refine the regulations that keep small businesses from being prosperous and which allow advocacy groups like the not-so-defunct ACORN from forcing financial institutions to follow grossly irresponsible lending practices; practices that provided the nation with a behemoth mortgage crisis that is still the catalyst for our economic woes.

Mr. Gingrich, you're a professor (and not a fake activist professor, like the one currently inhabiting the Oval Office). Explain these things to the American people; seize the teachable moment to explain to the American people why Capitalism works, why limited government works, why American entrepreneurship is the best in the world when allowed to be free.

Additionally, I could care less if Mr. Romney made a million or a billion dollars as a venture Capitalist, for that matter I don't care whether he invested in companies or flipped them for a profit, as long as everything was legal and above board. What I do care about is being able to understand how a Romney presidency will go about reforming, revising or eliminating unfair trade practices that see the United States at a disadvantage on our shores and around the world; or how a Romney Administration will go about diminishing the influence of labor unions in both the public and private sectors, entities whose time of usefulness has been replaced by enacted legislation and established law. What I care about is being able to understand how a Romney Administration will go about crafting a message to the world that indicates that while the United States should be considered a trusted ally to those who honor our relationship, we are not the world's ATM nor are we the world's 911 center.

Mr. Romney, seize the teachable moment. Abandon the negative campaigning and explain to the American people why Capitalism is good; why venture Capitalism serves a great purpose; and why redistribution of wealth only creates a non-motivated society that eventually devolves into the Atlas Shrugged storyline.

Is there a place in honest, positive, above board politicking for examining an opponent's record? You bet. The honest comparing and contrasting of one's record against those of his or her opponents is not only legitimate, it is absolutely necessary. People – Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians and even those who believe they are Progressives – need to know the differences between the candidates and the bona fides, accomplishments and failures of each of the candidates. But this can be done – can be done – in a civil manner; in a manner devoid of the gutter political tactics of Saul Alinsky, David Axelrod, Valerie Jarrett, David Plouffe and Barack Obama. To wit, each and every one of the GOP contenders is guilty of such actions and, therefore, should bear the "mark of the beast" – no, not Satan, but a mark designating them as being politically opportune; as placing their own political well-being against the common goal: removing Barack Obama from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

So, the Republican candidates – Mr. Gingrich, Mr. Santorum, Mr. Paul and especially Mr. Romney – need to understand that the American people are thirsty for solutions; for knowledge; for specifics. We are choke-full of attack ads that teach us nothing; that provide no issue-oriented information. Make no mistake; Republicans cannot win a battle of politics against Barack Obama using Alinsky tactics. Mr. Obama taught a class on Saul Alinsky; he lives and breathes Saul Alinsky.

No, the only way to beat Mr. Obama, once the Republican candidate is selected and beginning now – in the primaries, is to "out teach him." When he plays on emotion and greed, we must educate on why his agenda only enslaves. When he promises economic equality we must educate on why economic equality always ends up with everyone but the elites being on the bottom rung. When he pontificates about social justice we must educate on the superior opportunities of blind justice and justice for all, not just some.

The Progressive Left has captured our education system and we are purposefully less constitutionally and economically literate because of it. They have successfully "dumbed down" going on two generations now, in an effort to create a majority dependent class; a demographic that feels entitled instead of empowered, deserving instead of thankful. If there was ever a time to think "outside of the box" where politicking is concerned, if there was ever a time to embrace the idea of educating the public on the issues before us rather than trying to tear each other down so that we limp into the final battle, this would be the time, gentlemen.

A June 2011 CBS News piece quoted former-Beatle John Lennon as having been Conservative in his last years:

"The singer's former assistant claims in a new documentary that Lennon was a Ronald Reagan fan and a Conservative at the time of his death...

"'John, basically, made it very clear that if he were an American he would vote for Reagan because he was really sour on Jimmy Carter,' [Fred] Seaman reportedly told filmmaker Seth Swirsky.

"'...but it was pretty obvious to me he had moved away from his earlier radicalism,' Seaman reportedly said. 'He was a very different person back in 1979 and '80 than he'd been when he wrote 'Imagine.' By 1979 he looked back on that guy and was embarrassed by that guy's naiveté.'"

Borrowing from Mr. Lennon's musical genius:

Imagine there's no smearing,
It's easy if you try,
No negative ads to answer,
Just answers to questions 'why?'

Imagine all the people,
Learning about the truth.
You may say that I'm a dreamer,
But I'm not the only one,
I hope today you will all join us,
Then the election can be won.

Imagine that...gentlemen. ESR

Frank Salvato is the Executive Director for BasicsProject.org a non-partisan, 501(c)(3) research and education initiative focusing on Constitutional Literacy and the threats of Islamic jihadism and Progressive neo-Marxism. His writing has been recognized by the US House International Relations Committee and the Japan Center for Conflict Prevention. His organization, BasicsProject.org, partnered in producing the original national symposium series addressing the root causes of radical Islamist terrorism. He is a member of the International Analyst Network and has been a featured guest on al Jazeera's Listening Post and on Russia Today. He also serves as the managing editor for The New Media Journal. Mr. Salvato has appeared on The O'Reilly Factor on FOX News Channel, and was featured in the documentary, "Ezekiel and the MidEast 'Piece' Process: Israel's Neighbor States." He is a regular guest on talk radio including on The Captain's America Radio Show, nationally syndicated by the Genesis and Phoenix Broadcasting Networks, catering to the US Armed Forces around the world. Mr. Salvato is also heard weekly on The Roth Show with Dr. Laurie Roth syndicated nationally on the IRN-USA Radio Network. Mr. Salvato has been interviewed on Radio Belgrade One. His opinion-editorials have been published by The American Enterprise Institute, The Washington Times, Accuracy in Media, Human Events, and are syndicated nationally. He is a featured political writer for EducationNews.org, BigGovernment.com and Examiner.com and is occasionally quoted in The Federalist. Mr. Salvato is available for public speaking engagements. He can be contacted at contact@newmediajournal.us.





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