Monday, February 17, 2014

Gooden borders on slander in late robo-call personal attack

I'm not all that big on Sigmund Freud, but I have to wonder if Lance Gooden's mass robo-call effort on the weekend before voting starts wasn't a massive bit of psychological projection.  Apparently he has named the guy he sees in the mirror "Liberal Stuart Spitzer."

While Gooden has successfully used a late push of negative campaigning to win the last two elections, this seems to be a more vitriolic personal attack.  Is that OK with you Gooden folks out there?

Given the advantage an incumbent has going into an election, this seems to go way out of bounds and borders on slander.  From my time at the Terrell Tribune, I know Lance to be a smart guy and an ambitious politician, but at what point to you gain the world and lose your soul?

The text of the call...
"Good afternoon, I am calling with an important message about the lies you may have received in your mailbox today from liberal Stuart Spitzer about our conservative leader Lance Gooden.  Yes, it is the same Stuart Spitzer who was investigated two years ago for using our taxpayer resources to slander Representative Gooden's good name.  It didn't work then and its not going to work now.  The facts have not changed.  Stuart Spitzer is still a liberal masquerading as a conservative, and Lance Gooden is still the only pro-life, pro-gun, Christian conservative in this race.  Early voting starts next week, so lets reject self-serving liberals like stuart Spitzer and re-elect our conservative fighter Lance Gooden."

I know Stuart, go to church and Bible study with Stuart, and consider him a friend.  And that entire call is a load of hogwash.

A few points worth noting…
First, in mentioning the 2012 ethics complaint, (itself a questionable affair from last election*), Gooden has broken a resolution of the Texas Ethics Commission.  (Full text here)
 The use of the statements “a sworn complaint has been filed against Candidate A” or “the Texas Ethics Commission is investigating a complaint against Candidate A” are improper attempts to mislead the public. It is therefore the unanimous opinion of the bipartisan Texas Ethics Commission that the use of such language in campaign communications is an unfair practice and should be judged accordingly by voters. 

Second, as a campaign message, this kind of simplistic name calling seems to assume a certain amount of blind trust from constituents.  I understand that you want to implant negative ideas about an opponent, but somewhere this message seems to go so far as to call into question the maturity of Gooden himself. There is absolutely no substance in this message, simply name calling.

And then… does it help to just lie?  I know it is a Republican primary and trying to position yourself as the most conservative is understandable.  But to demean fellow conservatives as "self-serving liberals" is ridiculous and not helpful in the long-term political picture.  Elected officials at the top of our state government need to be the leaders in bringing the party together to fight against creeping liberalism.  Instead this kind of campaigning drives deeper wedges into the party while simultaneously repelling people who may want to run for office or support conservative politics.

The question is, will it work?  Will the voters who received this call accept or reject the message and the method? Has Spitzer made enough contact outside the TEA Party faithful  so that voters know this call is a farce?  We will know in a few weeks.

*A quick note about Jim Dellar's 2012 ethics complaint against Spitzer.
In that campaign, Spitzer made the rookie mistake of posting a YouTube video from the State House chamber, in which Lance Gooden was called out asking for appropriations earmarks.  Very helpfully for incumbents, that is not allowable, and the video was quickly removed from Spitzer's website.
A gracious fellow Republican could have simply said "Hey, you can't do that." Instead, Dellar turned it into an ethics complaint that Gooden has been using ever since.
I could file an ethics complaint about the use of an ethics complaint in this call, and it would probably still be under investigation five years from now.

Unfortunately this kind of campaigning and a strong dose of self-important personalities within the Republican Party distract from the real issues at hand.  And that may make us all lose down the road.  In the grand scheme of things, Kaufman County has not been a Republican stronghold for all that long, after all.

What say you, especially my Gooden supporting friends?

Don J.

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