Can’t We All Just Get Along? Is All This Primary Fighting Good?

The campaign for the GOP nomination is really getting hot in Florida. The hard campaigning has caused a lot of bemoaning over the attacks going on between Mitt Romney, his ads and the ads sponsored by his super PAC, and Newt Gingrich’s own attacks. Everyone is concerned that this mudslinging and in fighting may be hurting the GOP. But is it?

Well, relax, everyone. There is nothing unusual going on here. What we are witnessing is really nothing different than we’ve ever seen in this country. In fact, some may recall the viciousness between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama in 2007. But memories fade all too quickly and too many jump to this momentary feeling that things are worse now, that today’s political climate pales in comparison to vague, past golden ages that never existed.

All this fighting is a good thing. From it we get to see issues debated in immediate and passionate ways that mere, dispassionate debate will not show us. Sure it’s raucous, loud, maybe a bit unseemly, even. But compared to what our nation’s enemies want to do to us, this is weak brew and if we have candidates that can’t stand up to a few TV ads, then how badly will the wilt in the face of real challenge when in office?

As to the issues, up until this month Romney has been allowed to skate on answering to his hardheaded and unfathomable support of Romneycare. His Massachusetts healthcare policy — one he continues to support adamantly — is little different from Obamacare. After all, his healthcare plan was the model for Obamacare. Yet, the media has given him a complete pass on answering to it. But Rick Santorum and Gingrich have finally started hitting Romney on his hypocrisy of claiming that Romneycare is great but Obamacare isn’t when they are indistinguishable in the particulars.

With the attacks on Gingrich we are seeing all his warts uncovered. All his past mistakes, flip flops, and at times odd behavior are being dredged up for a whole new generation of voters that may not remember his years in the House of Representatives.

How Romney and Gingrich handle these challenges gives us a measure of them as candidates. A staid debate does not reveal temperament nearly as easily.

Further, do we want a candidate that gets nominated without ever having to answer a single question about his record and his past? We got that with Obama and he has been a disaster.

But, let’s gain a bit of perspective shall we? These sorts of attacks on politicians have been going on since day one in these United States. People like to recall how in the 1800 election surrogates for John Adams (backed by Alexander Hamilton) floated the tale that Jefferson was a Godless atheist and was prone to bedding his slave women. Jefferson’s smear machine accused Adams of being un-American and pro-royal Britain. But the mudslinging started long before the 1800 presidential contest. A whisper campaign calling Washington stupid, senile, and out of touch had started before his first term was up with whisperers hoping that Washington would go home to Mount Vernon and clear the field for other candidates.

Andrew Jackson was called an uncultured fool who supported whores, Lincoln was called a baboon, candidate Al Smith was called a Papist that would hand the country over to the Catholic Pope, Barry Goldwater was said to desire a nuclear war with the Soviets, and on and on it goes. About the only presidential contest that was free of such viciousness was the campaign of James Monroe. His era wasn’t called the “era of good feelings” for nothing.

So, quit the carping, people. It’s always been this way. Let the mud fly and let’s see how it all shakes out.

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Posted by on January 31, 2012.
Filed under 2012 Presidential Race, Politicians, Politics, Republicans.
Warner Todd Huston is a Chicago-based freelance writer, has been writing opinion editorials and social criticism since early 2001 and is featured on many websites such as Andrew Breitbart's BigGovernment.com and BigJournalism.com, RightWingNews.com, CanadaFreePress.com, RightPundits.com, StoptheACLU.com, Human Events Magazine, among many, many others. Additionally, he has been a frequent guest on talk-radio programs to discuss his opinion editorials and current events. He has also written for several history magazines and appears in the new book "Americans on Politics, Policy and Pop Culture" which can be purchased on amazon.com. He is also the owner and operator of PubliusForum.com. Feel free to contact him with any comments or questions, EMAIL Warner Todd Huston: igcolonel .at. hotmail.com "The only end of writing is to enable the reader better to enjoy life, or better to endure it." --Samuel Johnson

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  • http://www.rustedsky.net JLawson

    “So, quit the carping, people. It’s always been this way. Let the mud fly and let’s see how it all shakes out.”

    One thing you’re not taking into account – the internet never forgets.  When it comes time to form all the arguments against the anointed candidate, the opposition will have quite literally months of backbiting research to comb through – and it’ll be pulled up all over again.

    In short – the candidates are writing the Dem’s ads for them.  Nice going – I’m sure they appreciate it.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_R7FMXY3DZP7JF7SGSPIOSLLXNE Stephen

      Indeed :)

    • herddog505

      While we’re certainly doing the dems a favor, I’m not so sure that it’ll matter very much in the end.  As Warner Todd Huston points out, attacks and mudslinging have been a regular part of the nomination process.  More importantly, I suggest that they average voter is going to be concerned with what Barry has to say about the GOP candidate, and what that candidate has to say about him.  In the latter case, Barry’s record is pretty friggin’ bad; unless the economy GREATLY improves within the next several months, all Barry will have is “he’ll make things worse!”, and I don’t think that’ll carry too much weight.

      O’ course, the GOP’s capacity for killing itself is NOT to be underestimated!

    • Hugh_G

      Yes. :)

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_IZ5BM5GNLA54OADSWGSXAMA7SY Jay

    Kind of hard to say that we shouldn’t be worried about the infighting when the polls say most Republicans and indies don’t care for the main candidates.

  • Hank_M

    CNN ran an article after the bruising 2008 democrat campaign essentially stating the same thing, that nasty political campaigns are the norm, not the exception.
    See Sweetness and Light for the article.

    And really, it is better to get everything out in the open now.
    It avoids, or seriously blunts those campaign destroying bombshells from coming out later  and it allows the target to say it’s old news if they want to avoid the subject.

    Sure, Obama’s staff is paying attention and they’ll more than likely try to use some of the material that the Repubs are using against each other.
    But if the attacks are successfully countered now, then their use by Obama should be negligible. And though negative campaigning does work, it should be noted that a positive campaign can be successful as Scott Brown showed during his Senate run.

    Last note. No matter what Obama uses against his Repub opponent, it won’t take away from the fact that he cannot run on his record. It’s a record of failure that millions of unemployed know full well. Trillion dollar a year deficits for as far as we can see, no budgets, etc. Obama now has a record, one of failure, and he cannot lock this up.

    • http://www.rustedsky.net JLawson

      Getting everything out in the open… rather like the old joke about the Polish Mine Detector?  (Guy with fingers in ears, stomping around an area suspected of having mines…)  Yeah, you’ll find the mines – ‘getting everying out in the open now’ – but you’re going to lose a few essential things along the way.

      Sigh.  My worry is that by the time the primary season is finished, the survivor will be so weakened he won’t be able to mount an effective attack against Obama.

      I’d really rather see them starting in on the issues we face as a nation – but that won’t happen as long as they figure it’s more important to cut each other’s throats politcally. 

  • http://otisthehand.blogspot.com/ OTIS the hand

    I do not agree. This is not just political candidates “fighting it out.” This is not business as usual. This is a war, waged by the political aristocracy against the American people. It’s not Mitt vs. Newt. It is Mitt+the elite political machine against any and all takers. Establishment Republicans vs. reformers. They have destroyed, or attempted to destroy, any challengers to the political machine’s dictates. I’m sick of people telling us to suck it up and take what we’re doled out. I cannot believe the number of people being suckered, or compromised, into going along with this crap.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_R7FMXY3DZP7JF7SGSPIOSLLXNE Stephen

      Sheeple, trained by Fox News to swallow whatever Fox News wants them to believe will just roll over and vote for Mitt. Fox News owns the WSJ as well.

      It’s ironic that the biggest victim of the Fox News farce isn’t Democrats or Independents, but the conservatives who loyally watch and trust Fox News to give them the “Fair and Balanced” truth.

      It’s anything but the truth. Others have been saying that repeatedly, but you wouldn’t listen, because Fox News trained you to not listen to their critics and to only believe them.

      Now they are determining who you will vote for in the 2012 election.

      Reap, sow… repeat

      But don’t listen to me… Fox News would tell you that. Don’t listen to me…

      • jim_m

        When the left complains about bias in FOX News they are usually complaining about the opinion shows and not the hard news broadcasts. Ask them about what is biased and they shout out “O’Reilly!! Hannity!!” They do not recognize a difference between fact and opinion and what really irks them is that a competing idea should be allowed to be disseminated.

        Since they cannot distinguish between news (facts) and opinion (interpretation of facts) they denounce FOX news for promulgating lies. They cannot conceive of the idea that more than one opinion could be reached from the same set of facts.  Rather then try to explain their position they demand that the opposition be silenced.

        Then they wonder why we call them fascists.

        • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_R7FMXY3DZP7JF7SGSPIOSLLXNE Stephen

          Jim M is a Romney supporter, so of course he’d take stance that holds up Fox News in a better light.

          • jim_m

            As a matter of fact I am not a Romney supporter.

            Were I to act like you I would carry on for the next twenty posts about what a liar you are.

            I won’t hold my breath for your correction.

            I also note that you refused to address the substance of my comment and just left an ad hominem because you really have nothing constructive to bring to the discussion.

          • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_R7FMXY3DZP7JF7SGSPIOSLLXNE Stephen

            II interpret you to be a Romney supporter, just like you interpret my positions into anything you want them to be.

            And I didn’t refuse to address the crap you made up, I ignored it.

            If you’d care to point to any statistical evidence, or evidence of any kind,  that what you say is true, I’ll look at it.

            Otherwise I’ll just assume you’re making up crap and will make excuses as to why you can’t provide a link to back it up, as usual…

            So you’re in the closet for Romney but don’t want to admit it in front of the adults in the room? Not surprising… they’d rip you a new orifice.

            Ji is just a typical right wing loud mouth boor. Supports Romney but can’t admit it in public.

          • jim_m

            Whatever, Stephen.. You’re just pathetic.

            At least when you called me on a legitimate error I acknowledged it and then corrected my posts so you could see both the error and the correction.

          • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_R7FMXY3DZP7JF7SGSPIOSLLXNE Stephen

            Yes, but you continue to  make up crap, and when called on it you just shrug and say “it’s your interpretation”.

            4. “Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules.”

            You’ve decided that’s an applicable rule to this web site. Now you’re whining and crying and want to run home.

            Righties are such hypocrites. You give them the tiniest dose of what they spew and they scream.

          • jim_m

            Dude if I misunderstand your intent, explain it better don’t just call people liars.

            Like I said you whine like a 6YO (no offense to 6YO’s)

          • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_R7FMXY3DZP7JF7SGSPIOSLLXNE Stephen

            I speak and write english. If you can’t understand what I write ask before you decide to  interpret it anyway you choose.

            and quit crying just because you got a dose of your own medicine, you whiner.

          • jim_m

            I’ll just note that you edited that after I responded.

            And I explained before that my point was that Alinsky had said to make the opponent live up to their own rules and I did say that the same treatment should be given to the left.

            Your response was to say that I was crazy for using the term “enemies” and since then you have been complaining that I’m some kind of liar for pointing out that obama believes this and that the whole enemies comment was borrowed from someone else.

            Face it.  You made a BS assertion and I explained quite clearly where I was coming from.  You just hate that that I had a valid point.

          • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_R7FMXY3DZP7JF7SGSPIOSLLXNE Stephen

            You’re lying again, and are apparently too stupid to realize it.

            “Your response was to say that I was crazy for using the term “enemies”
            and since then you have been complaining that I’m some kind of liar for
            pointing out that obama believes this and that the whole enemies comment
            was borrowed from someone else.”

            You’re a liar for claiming (and I quote) “Stephen’s claim was that someone who referenced these ideas was crazy”

            I didn’t. You’re lying.

            And so now you’re lying about what you lied about previously.

            Someday you’ll stop lying… or not It’s pretty much up to you to put a stop to this by not lying anymore.

            Can you do that? Are you even capable of knowing the difference?

            maybe not, but one thing is clear, you love to follow me around and lie.

            4. “Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules.” You want to play that way, fine…. but don’t whine about it.

          • jim_m

            Again:  Whatever.  You posted two consecutive comments to the effect that my remarks were crazy.  Why not go and edit them to conceal that truth now.

          • jim_m

            As a matter of fact I am not a Romney supporter.

            Were I to act like you I would carry on for the next twenty posts about what a liar you are.

            I won’t hold my breath for your correction.

            I also note that you refused to address the substance of my comment and just left an ad hominem because you really have nothing constructive to bring to the discussion.

        • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_R7FMXY3DZP7JF7SGSPIOSLLXNE Stephen

          Jim M is a Romney supporter, so of course he’d take stance that holds up Fox News in a better light.

      • http://otisthehand.blogspot.com/ OTIS the hand

        Are any of the other networks telling you anything different? At least Fox helped blow the whistle on AG Pam Bondi, not that many people are paying attention.

    • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/EU5DQWQTTHTPO4A4ZYSL3AAV2U Adjoran

      If a guy whose entire 35 year career has been sucking at the federal teat either directly or indirectly through “consulting” on dealing with it or selling books and making speeches to trade on his notoriety from service in it is NOT an “establishment insider” then who the heck is?  That scum of the earth is no conservative, he’s never been about anyone but himself.  Ask Steve Largent or Tom Coburn – they were there.

      Ask yourself why conservatives threw his ass out, and why so very few who served with him – out of hundreds – have come out to support him.  If he was such a great leader like he says, shouldn’t there be more?

      • http://otisthehand.blogspot.com/ OTIS the hand

        The establishment insider is he who is supported by the inside establishment. It’s not rocket science.

        P.S. You want to have it both ways in your argument. On the one hand you keep asking why Gingrich’s Republican colleagues hate him so much and no one is endorsing him; on the other hand you keep insisting that Gingrich is the “insider.”

        Unsurprisingly, you miss the contradiction. Anything that sticks, right?

      • http://otisthehand.blogspot.com/ OTIS the hand

        Romney is a crony-capitalist, just like Gingrich. Gingrich is not as conservative as I would like, but his conservative betrayals are largely symbolic. When he had the power, he used it to advance conservatism. He has a 90 percent ACU rating. The point is that Gingrich is far more conservative than the Northeastern liberal Romney.

  • MichaelLaprarie

    Stephen, you’re getting tiresome.

  • http://www.wizbangblog.com David Robertson

    If the dirty laundry of the GOP contenders comes out now, then an October surprise will be less likely to occur.

  • MichaelLaprarie

    WTH, I agree with your recollection of the 2008 Democrat primary.  However there are major differences.  After Obama began gaining momentum, the press began reporting Obama’s challenge to Hillary with mostly positive spin.  They liked him and wanted him to take the nomination.  The primary dogfight was desirable for the MSM, if it resulted in Obama having a decent chance to capture the nomination.

    But today, the press is promoting the Newt-Romney dogfight in the hopes that it will critically damage the Republican party.  I think they would like to see a strong Newt challenge because they view him as unelectable, and if he exerts a strong influence on the party (or, heaven forbid, captures the nomination) they will be excited because such a scenario greatly improves Obama’s chances for reelection in the fall.

    One thing we can count on for sure, once the Republican nominee is chosen and the general election campaign begins, the MSM will do everything to avoid mentioning Obama’s record and the awful state of our economy.  They’ll leave that up to the Republicans; then they will point out how “mean spirited” and “divisive” the Republicans are, because all they talk about is how bad everything is – a direct contrast to their performance in 1992, when the main themes in their reporting were “worst economy of the last 50 years,” “it’s the economy, stupid,” “Clinton feels your pain”, and “Is George Bush out of touch with America???”

  • Brian_R_Allen

    Bring back Mister-Tea!

  • http://otisthehand.blogspot.com/ OTIS the hand

    So much for the “it’s always like this” meme.

    Florida primary ‘the most negative campaign ever,’ says media group