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The Times
  • Philip Maddocks: Super PACs worried presidential race may devolve into a contest of noble actions and dignified words

  • As Election Day draws nearer, hundreds of super PACs are expressing concern that the race for the presidency is dangerously close to degenerating into a competition of statesmanlike discourse and well-mannered campaigning that will put at risk the very ideals upon which this country and these new types of political action committees were founded.


     

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  • As Election Day draws nearer, hundreds of super PACs are expressing concern that the race for the presidency is dangerously close to degenerating into a competition of statesmanlike discourse and well-mannered campaigning that will put at risk the very ideals upon which this country and these new types of political action committees were founded.
    As Democrats and Republican leaders call on one another to focus on issues and not character assassination, super PACs say that voters in battle-ground states across the country are suddenly finding themselves facing the unpleasant possibility of having to watch political ads that play up the strengths of candidates rather than ones tearing them down into tiny shards of shame. 
    “This is a development that threatens to undermine the very fabric of our post-Citizens United democracy,” said a spokesman for Restore Our Future, a super PAC that supports presidential candidate Mitt Romney. “If our wealthy funders are unable to hold the public’s attention with ads featuring hate-filled declarations with little basis in fact, what does that say about our commitment as a nation to the principle that money is the equivalent of free speech?”
    The clear signs that both Democrats and Republicans are reconsidering the wisdom of spending tens of millions of dollars to sully the character, family, and work of political foes comes just as the 550 groups organized as super PACs are trying to finalize plans for spending their hard earned donations — totaling more than $216 million as of May 22.
    “This couldn’t come at a worse time for us,” said a spokesman for American Crossroads, a super PAC that supports conservative causes. “It’s like running onto the field all jacked up and ready to put a hurt on someone and finding out that you’re playing flag football. If these guys aren’t ready for the punishment, why are they in the game in the first place?”
    After Cory A. Booker’s appearance Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” during which the mayor of Newark, N.J., a top supporter of President Barack Obama, called the descent into personal attacks “nauseating” and said both campaigns should stop the “crap” they have been offering the public, the super PACs Priorities USA Action, which supports Mr. Obama, and Restore Our Future went on the offensive, issuing a joint statement that hinted at “some unsavory associations” in Mr. Booker’s past and characterized his attacks on the campaigns as “heartless, un-American, bad for the middleclass, and based on failed policies from the past.”
    “We’re calling on Cory Booker to take a moment and think about what his life — what his digestive system — would be like if the crap were suddenly to stop,” read the super PACs’ statement. “There is nothing wrong with crap. It is a vital component of our plant, animal, and political eco system. What Mr. Booker is suggesting would result in nothing short of a manmade disaster that would destroy life on the planet and make it far more difficult for candidates to make their points to the public free from the filter of the media.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Following the release of their joint statement, USA Action and Restore Our Future, along with some 500 other super PACs, hastily convened an emergency super meeting at their super retreat in Zurich, Switzerland. There, the super PACs, lounging comfortably on bundles of $100 bills and hurling personal attacks at one another, hashed out super plans for heading off the discordant drift toward political civility.
    “I think we all emerged with a sense that this is not a long-term trend, that someone is going to say something about Romney’s wife or Obama’s daughters and everything will return to normal,” said the spokesman for Restore Our Future.
    He admitted that his super PAC, like many others, is deeply alarmed by Mr. Romney’s recent comments about taking the campaign high road in his race against Mr. Obama.
    “I’m not going to lie to you — at least not this time,” said the spokesman. “When Mitt said he repudiated the idea of using President Obama’s former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, in ads attacking the president, and then, in almost the same breath, called on Obama to stop running a campaign of character assassination, well, that sent shivers down our spines.
    “But I think Mitt will get over it. I know we have.”
    Philip Maddocks is a political satire columnist for GateHouse News Service. He can be reached at pmaddocks@wickedlocal.com.
     
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