‘You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet’

If you think this has been one of the nastiest campaigns you've ever seen, you're not alone.  John McCain and Barbara Bush, a pair with a lot of firsthand knowledge, are just two of the many who will agree with you.

McCain was the target of some vicious attacks during the 2000 South Carolina primary campaign in which he faced George W. Bush. Voters got calls asking  "Would you be more likely or less likely to vote for John McCain if you knew that he fathered an illegitimate black child?" He and his wife, Cindy, had an adopted daughter from Bangladesh. 

Yet the Arizona senator called this year's campaign the "nastiest I have ever seen."

Former first lady Barbara Bush concurred. “I think it’s been the worst campaign I’ve ever seen in my life," she told a Southern Methodist University conference on the influence of the nation’s first ladies, the Dallas Morning News reported. “I think the rest of the world is looking at us these days and saying, ‘What are you doing?’”

She didn't single out any one campaign, but she did refuse to record a robocall attack on President Obama for the Mitt Romney campaign that she apparently thought had one part that went too far. With the line dropped, she then recorded the call saying that she and her husband, George H. W. Bush, believe "Mitt is the best man to lead the country for the next four years."

Over 90% of the advertising money spent by the Super PAC supporting Romney has gone for attack ads – more than nearly all the other campaigns combined. Romney's assertions that he can't control how the Super PAC spends its money may be legally correct but it blatantly false.  All he has to do is say he disapproves, but he disingenuously refuses.

McCain, appearing on Meet The Press this week, said he thinks super PACs have made it more difficult for Republicans to win in November.

There's a name for such attack campaigns, it's called Swift Boating after the smear campaign to discredit the war record of Sen. John Kerry in the 2004 presidential campaign by backers of George W. Bush.

McCain also had the courage during his 2008 campaign to correct a supporter who accused his opponent, Barack Obama, of being an Arab and a Muslim.  That's more than can be said for overly pious Rick Santorum who, when faced by a similar charge at one of his campaign rallies, didn't have the courage to speak the truth.

The injection of religious biases in this year's campaigns has been poisonous.  Four years ago it was charges that Obama was a secret Muslim or followed an extremist, hateful Christian preacher, or both. This time it is Romney's Mormon religion and Santorum's extremely conservative brand of Catholicism.

Dr. Richard Land, a prominent leader of the Southern Baptist Convention, said he does not consider Mormons like Romney to be Christian and likened their religion to Islam.

"Islam is not a Christian faith. Mormonism is not a Christian faith,” he told Newsmax.

Similar views have been expressed by the Rev. Franklin Graham, son of famed evangelist Billy Graham. “Most Christians would not recognize Mormons as part of the Christian faith,” Graham told MSNBC. 

Both Franklin Graham and Land indicated they are willing to overcome their religious biases and vote for Romney if he is the GOP nominee.  In other words, they hate Obama more than they hate Mormonism

It is still early in this campaign year.  The Republican primary campaign isn't over, and the general election is still more tan seven months away. Things will really heat up after this summer's conventions and the two parties, their candidates and their Super PACs begin spending over a billion dollars slashing away at each other.  And don't forget the millions more than will be spent in hundreds of other races for the House and Senate where things also are bound to get nasty as well.

As Al Jolson said in the first talking picture 85 years ago, "You ain't seen nothin' yet."

About the Author
Douglas M. Bloomfield is a syndicated columnist, Washington lobbyist and consultant. He spent nine years as the legislative director and chief lobbyist for AIPAC.