If you wouldn’t say it after the election, you shouldn’t say it before one.

At some point America should put the smackdown on political speech. It’s starting to get dangerous. In our do and say anything to get elected environment, hiding under the protection of “free speech” and counting on the slowness of the courts and regulatory authorities to act, we’re undermining the power of those who do get elected.

I’m not railing against Palin alone on this one- we saw this kind of opportunistic cannibalism in the democratic primary. The New York Times has this story about Palin’s attacks on our probable president:

Underscoring the McCain campaign’s aggressive attacks on Senator Barack Obama’s character, Gov. Sarah Palin accused the Illinois senator today of “putting ambition above country” at several private fund-raising events in Ohio.

In making her remarks, Ms. Palin cited a disputed report in The Washington Times today that said Mr. Obama, on a trip to Iraq with other members of the Senate, had encouraged an Iraqi official to delay an agreement that would extend the presence of American troops in Iraq. Mr. Obama’s campaign denied that claim, as did other attendees on the trip.

Ms. Palin portrayed the events in a darker light. “We learned this morning that Iraqi officials are saying Senator Obama tried to make a secret deal with the Iraqi government,” she said at a fund-raiser outside Cincinnati, although the article in The Washington Times does not make that specific claim.

“Obama apparently tried to undermine our government’s official efforts to reduce troops in Iraq,” Ms. Palin said. “If this is true, again, it is a stunning example of putting ambition above country.”

She repeated the attack line at a fund-raiser later in the afternoon in Cleveland, where the accusation was met with rumblings in the audience. “He tried to influence negotiations with Iraqi leaders in a way that would set back America’s cause there while advancing his campaign here,” she said. At both events, she described the allegations as “stunning.”

With Donors, Palin Keeps Up Attacks on Obama – The Caucus Blog – NYTimes.com.

Of course, it also doesn’t help when Joe Biden opens his mouth and inserts his foot with his statement that foreign leaders should test Obama in the first six months either.

Other nations wouldn’t stand for this kind of behavior, and neither should we. If Obama was president,  and Governor Palin started with this crap it would border on treason.

The rule of thumb should be, if you would think twice about saying it after they’re elected, you shouldn’t say it in the campaign. We need leadership that is interested in building this country- not undermining it.

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ScottDavid EsratiLarry Tiberati Recent comment authors
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Larry Tiberati
Larry Tiberati

Thanks for putting the disclaimer that you’re not railing against Palin. You are right. This is the type of crap that has populated our Presidential election culture. Candidates misrepresent themselves. Candidates misrepresent their opponents. It’s all baloney.

And, for an example that could go side by side with Palin, I remember a month or so ago where Obama, while questioning McCain’s slogan “Country First”, had the audacity to ask, “What country?” Anyone questioning McCain’s sense of loyalty should be ashamed of themselves. But hey, he’s just trying to get elected.

David Esrati
David Esrati

I’ve often said if politicians were held to the same standards that “truth in advertising” laws require- they’d all be in jail.


Dave, I have to disagree with you on this one. While I too am sickened by the attacks, I fully support the right of free political speech that is one of the cornerstones of this country. I am free to call any of our political leaders (or potential leaders) immoral, dishonest, slimy snakes who would sell their own mother to get elected and will likely drive us all to ruin if they do, if I so desire, and my speech is protected by the Constitution. If I outright lie, that is a crime that can be prosecuted and/or sanctioned by the FEC (if it is part of a political campaign). If I violate existing slander or libel laws, that too can be prosecuted. But short of violating those laws, and short of “fighting words” or shouting “Fire” in a crowded theatre, my speech is protected. Restricting my political speech gives the State the power to determine what is acceptable for me to say – a truly frightening concept.
The Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled that commercial speech is held to a different standard than political speech. The State has a more compelling interest to protect political speech than commercial speech, and so more control is permissable regarding commercial speech (eg truth-in-advertising laws).
What we count on in our Democratic system is the power of the people to see through the smoke and select the candidates/issues that best represent their needs and interests – in short, democracy functions best with an informed electorate. An informed electorate should (and is, if the polls in this election cycle are to be believed) reject baseless attacks of the type that you cite.

David Esrati
David Esrati

Scott, when we start making claims involving foreign policy, that’s not exactly how we uphold our freedoms.
The problem with elections is that they are too fast and the courts and boards are too slow.
If we had automatic impeachment for making false claims- that may solve the problem. What’s the point of saying “I’m joe candidate and I approve this message” if it’s false and there is no penalty.
If you still lived in Ohio- instead of a blue state, you might change your mind. I had to listen to total BS this am in the shower- directly from John McLame about Obama’s tax increases.
There has to be a penalty.