Politics Ain’t Beanbag: Jack Conway Edition

Deterrence is not pretty. But sometimes it’s necessary.

Not for the first time, Mark and I disagree.

Here’s the analogy that comes to mind.  No one likes having to use bombs in war.  Forget the garbage about “smart bombs”: they kill people.  Lots of them.  They kill innocent people.  Lots of them.

But if the other side is bombing the hell out of me, I’m not going to sit there wringing my hands about collateral damage.  That doesn’t mean I’d try to kill civilians; anything but.  I’d take precautions. 

And that is exactly what Conway did for the most part:

1.   Most importantly, the ad is true as far as anyone can tell.  Even more importantly, Paul had never denied it.  He just says that it comes from blogs, or the gutter, or wherever — the classic non-denial denial.

2.  The ad’s text does not insult a religion: in fact, it criticizes Paul for insulting a religion.  Think to yourself: isn’t it quite disgusting what Paul and his fraternity brothers did?  Maybe he should have a right to insult a religion: that hardly makes it a qualification to be a Senator.

3.  Mark doesn’t seem to believe that the issue about tying a woman up was important for Conway, but it figures pretty heavily in the ad.  That’s a clean and to my mind quite important hit.

4.  As Markos points out, in this Senate campaign Rand Paul started the whole thing about who is Christianer than thou.  That’s an important precaution: you don’t start the slime.

Okay: I don’t like the big images of Buddha (Buddhism had nothing to do with this) and the flute music in the background.  That was off base.  But to call it the “ugliest, most illiberal political ad of the year”, as Jon Chait does?  Please.  It wouldn’t even make it on the Top 100 of conservative outrages in this election cycle alone. 

Still, if that’s all there was to it, I’d probably feel the same way that Mark does (although by Kleimanian standards “sucks dead dogs” is pretty mild).

But that’s not all there is to it.

For the last 30 years, the Republican Party has decided to make religion a test for political office.  It has impugned every progressive’s religion (or lack of religion), and has turned evangelical Christianity into the Republican Party at prayer.  It has encouraged, funded, and nurtured religious bigotry throughout the United States.  It has poisoned Christianty — and is now doing its best to poison Judaism — into becoming pawns of right-wing agitprop.

And now, it is just shocked, shocked, that one of its candidates, who is cynically playing religion for votes, is confronted with his own actual record.  After spewing for months that Barack Obama is a secret Muslim, or a Nazi, or a Muslim Nazi, it suddenly is getting on its high horse about an ad.  It has spent decades falsely running down the character of its opponents; most infamously, when Karl Rove ran a whisper campaign saying that a judge famous for helping abused children was a pedophile.  And now it complains when it gets a taste of its own medicine, except that in this case, the medicine is truthful. 

Sorry.  No sympathy here.  The only way to get these guys to stop is to throw it in their faces whenever there is an opportunity to do so.  Conway’s sin — the big Buddha and the flute music, and not the gravamen of the ad itself — pales in comparison to Paul’s and the GOP’s sins.

Deterrence is not pretty.  It may not even be moral.  But sometimes it’s necessary.  This is one of those times.

Maybe Conway’s statement should read: “I apologize to all Buddhists by in any way associating them with Rand Paul.”

Author: Jonathan Zasloff

Jonathan Zasloff teaches Torts, Land Use, Environmental Law, Comparative Urban Planning Law, Legal History, and Public Policy Clinic - Land Use, the Environment and Local Government. He grew up and still lives in the San Fernando Valley, about which he remains immensely proud (to the mystification of his friends and colleagues). After graduating from Yale Law School, and while clerking for a federal appeals court judge in Boston, he decided to return to Los Angeles shortly after the January 1994 Northridge earthquake, reasoning that he would gladly risk tremors in order to avoid the average New England wind chill temperature of negative 55 degrees. Professor Zasloff has a keen interest in world politics; he holds a PhD in the history of American foreign policy from Harvard and an M.Phil. in International Relations from Cambridge University. Much of his recent work concerns the influence of lawyers and legalism in US external relations, and has published articles on these subjects in the New York University Law Review and the Yale Law Journal. More generally, his recent interests focus on the response of public institutions to social problems, and the role of ideology in framing policy responses. Professor Zasloff has long been active in state and local politics and policy. He recently co-authored an article discussing the relationship of Proposition 13 (California's landmark tax limitation initiative) and school finance reform, and served for several years as a senior policy advisor to the Speaker of California Assembly. His practice background reflects these interests: for two years, he represented welfare recipients attempting to obtain child care benefits and microbusinesses in low income areas. He then practiced for two more years at one of Los Angeles' leading public interest environmental and land use firms, challenging poorly planned development and working to expand the network of the city's urban park system. He currently serves as a member of the boards of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (a state agency charged with purchasing and protecting open space), the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice (the leading legal service firm for low-income clients in east Los Angeles), and Friends of Israel's Environment. Professor Zasloff's other major activity consists in explaining the Triangle Offense to his very patient wife, Kathy.

13 thoughts on “Politics Ain’t Beanbag: Jack Conway Edition”

  1. I'm glad some Dems are finally playing by Chicago rules. They pick up a knife, you pick up a gun. They send one of your to the hospital, you send one of theirs to the morgue.

  2. Conway is guilty of judging Rand Paul by the same standard that Rand Paul professes to employ. Yes, it's an ugly standard, but Conway didn't invent it.

    Fact is, there are a lot of worse things than Paul's blasphemy, Vitter's doing business with prostitutes, or Craig's restroom trysts. Each has committed crimes against decency far worse – and right out in public, too. But if enforcing their own standards on them is what gets them thrown out of office, that's fine with me.

  3. Zackly. The Aqua Buddha ad is ugly, but unilateral disarmament is uglier. I've cut a check to Jack Conway, and will mail it in tomorrow morning.

  4. When you run an ad, you generally do not want to turn off your base. The liberal base is, so to speak, less base than the conservative base. What is sound strategy for the latter may be weak strategy for the former.

  5. I don't think that deterrence is likely to work in this case.

    First, a significant number of people on the right won't make the connection. Their perspective is that conservatives are good and liberals are evil–and any facts that don't fit into this picture simply don't register.

    Second, deterrence only works if both sides perceive that they have something to lose from escalation. Republican policies have been quite bad for most people, so they may very well be better off arguing about who is the more Christian rather than arguing about who has the better policy proposals.

  6. Jonathan, you ask, "Think to yourself: isn’t it quite disgusting what Paul and his fraternity brothers did?"

    Well, no. I do not thisnk a NoZe prank that this so called "vistim" admits she went along with is disgusting. At least, it's not as disgusting as what Jack Conway and his fraternity brothers did. Sigma Alpha Epsilon at Duke. SAE was banned from campus because of rapes and violent hazing incidents. They were even ousted from the National SAE.

    You may want to temper your outrage at Paul's NoZe Brotherhood antics for now, because when this damning information is disseminated about Conway's frat, it ain't gonna be pretty. He's the AG, for cryin' out loud.

  7. Thank you for the help idiot progressives. This ad increased our poll numbers by 7 points. Could not have done it with out you.

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