SUSAN CAMPBELL: Cheap little shots on the 5th District campaign trail
Justin Bernier is airing a TV ad featuring his wife and daughters that accuses 5th District Congress Republican primary opponent Andrew Roraback of supporting "gender-selection" abortions.
At least, I think that is the message of a political ad now running in the Fighting Fifth District (you can watch it here: http://vimeo.com/47174839). In the ad, Bernier reports that Roraback would not support a ban on gender-selective abortion. According to the ad, Roraback – like Bernier, a Republican candidate for U.S. representative – made the statement in an earlier debate during the long campaign for a seat being vacated by Rep. Chris Murphy, who is running for U.S. Senate.
All that to say: Bernier is against abortions performed specifically because the parents want a boy, not a girl.
Well, who isn’t? Except even the august body to which Bernier aspires did not support such a ban when they voted on the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act in May – not because any one supports sex-selective abortions, but because enough representatives, including a handful of Republicans, saw the measure as unenforceable, unnecessary, and/or as yet another threat to reproductive rights. There’s a lot of that going around lately, but even in a climate where states are making it increasingly difficult to get an abortion, where Planned Parenthood funding is threatened and then threatened again, no one much expected the ban to pass – nor should it, since it is a solution in search of a problem. I can’t find numbers I trust on the incidence of gender-selective abortions in this country — and I bet you can’t, either — but the Census Bureau says the sex ratio for boys vs. girls at birth is roughly 105 to 100, and it’s been that way for decades. Either parents have been surreptitiously practicing gender selection, or this is a big waste of time.
That Bernier would take this political tack is pretty much par for the course in the run-up to Connecticut’s primary, which is – thank God — Tuesday.
Another Fifth ad (available here: http://bit.ly/NmBtQC) shows an actor portraying the embattled state House Speaker Christopher Donovan, a Democrat, emerging from a tanning bed, clad only in a towel and goggles. The supposition of this particular ad, from fellow Democrat Dan Roberti, is that Donovan took money from various interests, and then dictated, as Speaker, whether bills affecting those interests would be heard. The claim’s tenuous, at best, though I giggle every time I see the actor-Donovan climbing out of the microwave.
Is there a better response than a giggle?
This may be the lamest campaign in state history – and not because too many of the candidates are spending too much time in attack mode, either. No, this is a lame campaign because while it is short on substance, it still doesn’t rise to the level of “rowdy.” Rowdy, I can enjoy. This is more like a slap-fight between opponents whose hearts aren’t in it. And slap-fighting eats into time better spent discussing what voters face in the coming months.
For some real nasty politics, go to YouTube and watch “Attack Ads, Circa 1800 (available here: http://bit.ly/NfY2s3). You can’t go much lower than “If Thomas Jefferson wins, murder, robbery, rape, adultery and incest will be openly taught and practiced.” The Fighting Fifth does not rise to that level of vitriol, but it also doesn’t promise to deliver any messages that will stay with us – say, Lyndon Johnson’s Daisy ad, or the Willie Horton ad against then-Democratic presidential candidate Michael Dukakis. That last one was a whopper and moved its architects, Lee Atwater, to later apologize to Dukakis — but it worked.
I do not wish for a dirty campaign, but if you’re going to throw a punch, throw one. What we have here are a series of cheap little shots that are no more memorable than last Tuesday’s lunch.
You had the chicken. It was so-so.
Susan Campbell is an award-winning author of “Dating Jesus” and former columnist at the Hartford Courant. Her new biography, “Tempest-Tossed: The Spirit of Isabella Beecher Hooker,” is coming soon. Follow her blog at http://datingjesus.wordpress.com/.