Sunday, October 16, 2005

Hitler references and the AP hypes (again)

Well, seems to be a nazi theme running in the air this weekend. As many of my readers know, I'm in Virginia just outside Washington, DC. Virginia, along with New Jersey, holds its elections for Governor 1 year out of phase with the rest of America. (I have no idea why.) So our state is one of only 2 that will hold an election with a candidate for the state's highest office. That makes the stakes for the elections just a little higher than most and, accordingly, the eyes of the media are upon us.

I have a special place in my heart (right next door to my seething hatred for child pornographers) for politicians who can't come up with a better set of analogies than to accuse their opponents of being like Hitler. Or nazis in general. It's ludicrous. It's juvenile. It should be enough to have that person drummed right off the ballot at least, if not out of their party. MoveOn.org's got the Professor Emeritus title for this particular behavior but they're certainly not unique. Dick Durbin comes to mind.

So I read up on CNN's web site the link titled, "Governor's race ads invoke Hitler" and I start getting that sinking feeling. There's only 2 races for Governor, us and Jersey, so it's a 50-50 shot right then and there that this appalling behavior is happening right here in the Old Dominion. Bring up the link and sure enough, it's an AP story filed in Richmond, VA.

Great. Just great. So, who was it? Democrat Tim Kaine or Republican Jerry Kilgore?

::::::::RICHMOND, Virginia (AP) -- The Republican candidate for Virginia governor is drawing fire for campaign ads that suggest his Democratic opponent...::::::::

Aw, crap. What the hell is that idiot thinking? All of the polls show he's out in front! What the blue peepin' hell does he need to go pull such a brainless, stupid, idio -

Wait a minute. Keep reading.

::::::::RICHMOND, Virginia (AP) -- The Republican candidate for Virginia governor is drawing fire for campaign ads that suggest his Democratic opponent is so averse to the death penalty he would have spared Adolph Hitler from execution.::::::::

OK, so it's not incorrect to say that the ad "invokes" Hitler, but that's not the impression the headline grants. When people see that kind of headline, they're thinking someone just called someone else "Hitler." The comment by Jerry Kilgore might be a bit coarse, but it's equally on target. Kaine has a personal, deep conviction that the death penalty is never called for. In interviews he says he'll apply it as directed by the law. However, as Governor, he's got the power to stay an execution simply by saying so. He doesn't have to get approval and he doesn't really have to explain himself. It's very much a pertinent concern that a man looking to be Governor would be unable to allow the state to proceed with an execution when the case warranted it as decided by a jury. John Muhammad, the DC sniper, got the death penalty here in Virginia. Tim Kaine has as much said that he'd let the little bastard off on it.

To the point, however, Kilgore's ad states the fact. If Kaine couldn't bring himself to allow the execution of Hitler - or Stalin or Idi Amin, as the ads continue - then he's not likely to allow it in any other case, either. He claims he would but then makes statements that don't square with that claim. It's information the electorate needs to have in their decision process and, like the ad or not, it's justified.