Dan Dolomon: [dirrty politics]

Dan Dolomon (9/18/08)

[dirrty politics]

I just finished reading Mudslingers: The Twenty-Five Dirtiest Political Campaigns of All Time by Kerwin Swint. It’s especially interesting to look at in a Presidential election year, even if it’s more of a bathroom-style read than, like, a serious book (it’s broken down into 5-6 page sections with clever subheadings and lots of pictures). I don’t know that I’d agree with the order in which he ranks them, but it’s obviously really well-researched and some of the pictures, especially when it comes to old handbills and things like that, are fascinating. Some things I learned from it:1. Obama vs. McCain doesn’t come anywhere close to the list. Even in terms of race-baiting and dogwhistle politics, nothing that’s happened this year qualifies as significantly dirty. Not when you compare it to Harvey Gantt’s Senate run against Jesse Helms or Harold Washington’s race for the Chicago mayor’s office. Or, you know, George Wallace versus Albert Brewer. That shit makes the “celebrity” ad seem downright tame. Helms/Gantt featured the white hands ad, darkening Gantt’s skin and slowing his speech in commercials, highlighting all the black support he had in commercials… In the race against Harold Washington, Chicago’s first black mayor, his opponent Bernard Epton rallied his supporters with t-shirts that said “vote right, vote white” and played “Bye Bye Blackbird” at his campaign events. His staff distributed leaflets featuring a police badge that read “Chi-Congo Po-Lease“. And George Wallace would go into small Alabama towns explaining that Brewer, his white opponent, had “300,000 niggers at his rallies” and he needed their strong support. Obama/McCain doesn’t really compare. Wallace may have been fifty years ago, but Gantt and Washington were each in the 80’s and 90’s.

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