Rupert Howell’s column

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 16, 2008

Will negative ads dominate in round 2?

Several factors may have contributed to the Republicans losing their custom-made U. S. Representative district seat to the Democrats during last Tuesday’s election, but I want to think negative advertising had a lot to do with it.

There was plenty to go around, but it appeared that it was the Republicans, specifically Southaven Mayor Greg Davis’ camp, who fired the first shot in the first round. And how they fired.

Then in the runoff the Democrat camp of Travis Childers fired back to the point that no candidate was running on their qualifications, but rather on negative associations, race baiting, innuendoes and outrageous accusations that reminded me of the night riding tactics of the KKK.

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Negative news releases poured from the candidate’s public relations offices. Television and radio commercials, mail outs and robo phone messages greeted district residents to the point that most of us already suffering from “election fatigue” thought it all absurd.

Being away for the pre-election weekend, we  returned to find enough negative mail to choke several hundred dollar mules and an answering machine that was “maxed out” with messages not extolling the virtues of any  candidate, but speaking dastardly of the opposing candidate.

Surely the economy, high gas prices and a lingering war had an effect on Tuesday’s election, but I  have to think that many of us went sour because of the negativity. Most all of us were taught at one time or another, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”

Taking another cue from Howard Carpenter  who taught political science 101 almost forever at Northwest Mississippi Junior College, “Don’t criticize the man–criticize his action.”

And if you don’t like it, you’ll get to do it all over again this November.