The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

The ‘Shipping Jobs Overseas’ Smear

Posted on | October 20, 2010 | 2 Comments

When I came home from my recent nine-day road trip, I found this piece of mail on the dining room table:

So I picked up the telephone, interviewed Neil Parrott and filed my latest American Spectator column:

HAGERSTOWN, Maryland — Neil Parrott admits he was “very surprised” to find himself accused of supporting “tax breaks for corporations that send jobs overseas.” The attack, he says, “came out of nowhere.”
Although the shipping-jobs-overseas accusation has become a standard-issue smear against Republican congressional candidates this year, its application in this case is particularly surprising, because Parrott isn’t a candidate for Congress. He’s a local businessman running for a seat in the Maryland state legislature, and utterly mystified by the claim his Democratic opponent makes in a slick four-color mailing sent to thousands of Washington County homes last week. The mailing depicts Parrott in front of a map of Mexico and urges voters, “Vote NO on Neil Parrot — BAD for JOBS, BAD for US.” Adding to the xenophobic tone, the Democrat’s mailer calls Parrott an “outsider” and says he “isn’t from Washington County,” although the Republican is a lifelong Maryland resident who lives in Hagerstown — which is in Washington County — where he owns a highway engineering company.
Never mind the facts. It’s an election year, and Democrats desperate to distract voters from their own party’s policy failures aren’t going to let truth stand in their way, so that a small business owner running for a state legislature seat is portrayed as an “outsider” pursuing a hidden agenda behalf of a “Washington D.C. special interest.” . . .

Please read the whole thing. Democrats are engaged in peddling economic ignorance, and they shouldn’t be allowed to get away with it.

UPDATE: Da Tech Guy recounts his rules for road trips with me. I’m currently planning my final road trip of the campaign season — to Florida, where I hope to catch up with Marco Rubio (on whose behalf we waged the “Not One Red Cent” rebellion) and Allen West, whom I first interviewed in June 2008, back when the NRCC wouldn’t give him the time of day.
Over at Hot Air, Ed Morrissey has a spreadsheet showing poll numbers and stuff for 10 districts with Democrat incumbents recently surveyed by The Hill. This brings up a criticism Dan Riehl made over the weekend to which I haven’t had time to respond:

There are cases where shoe leather matters. But they are fewer and further in between. And the better one is at building out a cost-effective, electronic network of disparate resources across any geographic region, the more likely it is that they are going to be successful in pure news gathering.

You can read the whole thing at Riehl World View. Here’s the point about traveling to cover campaigns: If all you see are poll numbers and episodic news items — when one of the candidates does something that make headlines — you’ve got no idea what’s actually going on out there.

One of the things you can see when you’re in a district is how the local press is covering (or not covering) the campaigns and how heavy the TV ad rotations are. During the final two weeks of the NY-23 special election campaign last fall, for example, Doug Hoffman was getting slammed with ads by both the Scozzafava and Owens campaigns, while the Watertown newspaper was practically the Dede Daily. And you can’t see that kind of stuff unless you’re actually on the ground.

The “Big Picture” view from 50,000 feet — where everything is polls and trends and messages — is often very different from the view on the ground.

You can’t count yard signs from 50,000 feet. You also can’t gauge the level of volunteer enthusiasm from 50,000 feet. Da Tech Guy’s visit to Keith Fimian’s VA-11 headquarters, where a steady stream of volunteers were coming into the office, gives a lot better impression of how that campaign’s going than any poll ever could. And in VA-11, as in so many contested congressional races, there haven’t been any poll results published, so even the experts at Real Clear Politics can convey only a general impression of the campaign.

Dan Riehl is correct that it would be nice if we could rely on a network of local and regional New Media to provide a steady stream of political reporting on these races. However, such resources are limited. In Massachusetts, they’ve got Red Mass Group, Fleming and Hayes, Da Tech Guy, Michael Graham, Howie Carr, the Boston Herald . . . well, I don’t know who else, so I won’t pretend to do an exhaustive list.

Getting those local sources “amplified” to the national level is one of the purposes of a road-trip. During the PA-12 special election, for example, I got to meet local bloggers like Brian of Red Dog Report and Chris Renner. And another important purpose of my road-trips, quite frankly, is as a publicity stunt.

Look, when I started beating the drums for my first campaign road-trip to cover NY-23, it was a signal saying, “Here is a story important enough that I need to be there covering it on the scene.” A couple of days later, thanks to the tip-jar hitters, I was providing news, photos and videos of the campaign on the ground. Readers got the “you are there” story from a familar source, and I think it made a difference. (Compare my post of Oct. 17, 2009, with my post of Oct. 22, 2009.)

As I’ve often said, Doug Hoffman’s near-miss in NY-23 in November 2009 provided the “template” for a natiowide grassroots mobilzation that helped make Scott Brown’s January 2010 victory in Massachusetts possible. (Remember Randy May, the Vietnam veteran who drove 1,600 miles to volunteer for Brown?)

That there is an element of show-business to my campaign-trail exploits, I freely admit. But show business has always been part of politics — the ballyhoo, the signs and banners, the rallies and parades — and being a “Road Man for the Lords of Karma” may seem like a frivolous job description. But when the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.

And so . . . Florida.

My plan for the final 2010 road trip is to bring three of my sons along for the ride. They’ve been pestering me for a chance to see me at work, and Mrs. Other McCain has agreed to let them have it. We’ll travel via I-81 to drop in on the Morgan Griffith campaign in VA-9 and, on our way through Knoxville, perhaps get a chance to visit with a certain University of Tennessee law professor. In Georgia, I hope to see Liz Carter in GA-4 before going spend a day or so with the Ray McKinney down in GA-12. Then we’ll finish up in Florida for Election Day.

One of our best friends lives in the Orlando area. Her daughter Abbie’s birthday is Nov. 2 and they’re planning to take the kids to Disney World. So please hit the tip jar.


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