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Political InQueery: Campaigns Run Afoul

Fake Web site for Sharron AngleI double-checked a map of the United States this evening just to make sure that Nevada is not on a border with Mexico, becuase an ad from Sharron Angle's campaign against Harry Reid implies that undocumented workers sneak into Nevada on a regular basis. Only the ad doesn't call them "undocumented workers," it just refers to "illegals," and I hate when people use adjectives as nouns.* The commercial goes on to make a load of misleading or false assertions about Reid's voting record when it comes to immigration, as comprehensively described by Fact Check.org's website. When it comes to making claims about someone's votes in the House or Senate, there are easy ways to respond and defend one's campaign. Unfortunately, the "Friends of Harry Reid" did not take this approach.

Earlier this month, this group friendly to Reid's campaign made their own 40-second video missive, entitled "Sharron Angle's Crazy Juice." Here it is.

Where does one begin in responding to this video? The mocking of mental illness, the sexism in painting her as a crazy woman, the unprincipled critique of "extreme" ideas? It's not an isolated moment in his fight against Angle to retain his seat in the Senate, as evidenced by the website paid for by the Nevada State Democratic Party, Sharron Angle's Underground Bunker. In it, we're given some quotes from Ms. Angle and some glossy copy about the aspects of her extremism. Because there aren't any citations, users are left to look up the quotes or positions themselves, or take the site at face value. At the bottom, among the links to examples of her unfitness for duty, there is a section named "Just Plain Weird," that notes her support of the "Oath Keepers," a militaristic group readying itself for an impending dictatorship in the U.S. Isn't that kind of alliance refutable on the face of it? Calling them and Angle "weird" just takes away from what could have been a critical stance.

It seems a principled feminist response to many of Ms. Angle's positions and statements would serve Reid's camp much more effectively, given that his opponent has put issues germane to Democratic Party values front and center. On the Alan Stock show last July, Angle was questioned about her stance against abortion:

Stock: What do you say then to a young girl, I am going to place it as he said it, when a young girl is raped by her father, let's say, and she is pregnant. How do you explain this to her in terms of wanting her to go through the process of having the baby?

Angle: I think that two wrongs don't make a right. And I have been in the situation of counseling young girls, not 13 but 15, who have had very at risk, difficult pregnancies. And my counsel was to look for some alternatives, which they did. And they found that they had made what was really a lemon situation into lemonade.

I have got to believe there is a way to respond to her comment without resorting to more sexism. Isn't it a cakewalk to deconstruct why letting a 15-year-old girl carry her father's baby to term is a bad idea? And why using an idiom like "turn lemons into lemonade" a crass dismissal of what would unquestionably be a traumatic situation, especially for a teenager? Summing up Ms. Angle's statement at the tail end of Rita Rudner's narration is only another flippant, lazy reaction to an issue that deserves a more rigorous response.

As context from another race in this election cycle, consider another anti-immigrant ad from Louisiana, in which incumbent David Vitter (R) is running against Rep. Charlie Melancon. Granted, Vitter has a sizeable lead, an inverse situation to Harry Reid and Sharron Angle. But in this race, both opponents are men. How does the Democratic candidate respond to Vitter's far-right positions on undocumented workers, and how does he answer very similar charges that he has voted to give Social Security benefits to "illegals"?

He ran an ad showing Vitter at a press conference in which he acknowledged infidelity, his "serious sins," with his wife at his side. The ad goes on to state:

We know how David Vitter handled his 'serious sin.' And when David Vitter's staffer violently abused his girlfriend, Senator Vitter let him keep his job -- working on women's issues. David Vitter on women: he voted against equal pay for equal work; against coverage for mammograms; even against protections for women raped on the job. David Vitter: for women, his 'serious sin' isn't even his worst.

Here's the video:

A notable difference.

*More importantly, using the term "illegals" is dehumanizing and offensive.

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