Wednesday, June 23, 2004

The Green Country Conservative

I just received a "newspaper" in the mail purporting to be the "Green Country Conservative" but the newspaper seems to be a campaign piece from the Bill Wortman for Congress Campaign. In fact, the return address for the "Green Country Conservative" newspaper IS the Wortman Campaign HQ. Inside the newspaper there is an article titled "An Interview with Republican Candidate for Congress Bill Wortman - Bill Wortman sat down with the Editors of the ""Green Country Conservative"" and spent a couple of hours discussing issues" This is an example of what's known in the advertising industry as "borrowed legitimacy" - using the appearance of a trusted medium such as newspapers, radio etc to lend credibility to an advertising message. Advertisers (and political candidates) try to make their ads look like its coming from an objective third-party medium. While most people are intelligent enough to see through this deceptive tactic - many are not. Why else would advertisers continue to use the deception?

Ironically, inside this "newspaper" Wortman, er, the "Green Country Conservative" reprints a story from the Tulsa World about Congressman John Sullivan's (Wortman's opponent in the primary) staff members calling in to talk shows Sullivan is on and using fake names to ask the Congressman softball questions. At the bottom of this story Wortman is qouted as saying, "this shows the institutional dishonesty pervasive in Sullivan's political career". Perhaps true, but odd coming from a candidate trying to make his political ad look like a third party newspaper.

Wortman doesn't like Sullivan's claim to be a businessman either - pointing out that Sullivan was a real estate agent that only sold 8 houses in 3 years. Then, in an attempt to win the government employees vote, Wortman says "I don't believe our government should be run by rejects from the business community." Besides unfairly painting those who dedicate their careers to public service, this statement is just plain stupid.

What really gets me is a little table that shows Sullivan's alledged arrests for assault, loitering, and drunkeness - all charges from pre-1985!! Almost 20 years ago! Sullivan must have been a teenager or college-age at that time. I've got news for you Mr. Wortman - people change. If Sullivan assaulted someone five years ago then that would be news. As a Christian (Wortman makes sure we know he's Christian) you'd think Wortman would believe in a person's capacity to turn over a new leaf and to not throw stones at a man for 20-year-old bad behavior. It's really distasteful to bring up old charges like this.

The scariest facet of Wortman's campaign is that he thinks Sullivan is not conservative enough! As proof, Wortman points out that Sullivan voted for the National Endowment of the Arts budget. Do you have to be anti-art or anti-civilization to be a conservative these days? Is business all that matters? Just when I thought Sullivan was a far right extremist Wortman reminds us that - it could be worse. Maybe Sullivan isn't so bad after all? At least until a moderate comes along.

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