Dirty tricks have no place in politics

Published 9:28 pm Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Historically, Republicans have been labeled as dirty tricksters in politics because of antics of some young Republicans dating back to Richard Nixon’s second run for the White House during the early 1970s.

For instance, Karl Rove used a false identity to enter the campaign office of Alan J. Dixon, who was running for Illinois state treasurer and took 1000 sheets of campaign letterhead. Then, Rove used the letterhead to print out campaign rally fliers that promised free beer, food and girls. These were passed out at concerts and homeless shelters. The result: Dixon’s rally crashed.

All these information and more came from Donald Segretti, a Nixon operative, who even wrote a letter published by a New Hampshire newspaper, claiming the wife of Nixon’s Democratic opponent, Edmund Muskie drank too much and used foul language while campaigning.

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But it seems at least one Democrat now is accused of his own brand of dirty tricks against Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin. David Kernell, 20, of Knoxville, Tenn., pleaded not guilty Wednesday to hacking Palin’s e-mail account. Kernell is the son of a Democratic Tennessee state lawmaker.

The federal government is investigating the incident. Authorities have accused Kernell of breaking into her account, accessing her e-mail , reading her e-mail, making screenshots of the account and placin it and other personal information on a public Web site.

The issues in this campaign are serious enough. After all, the U.S. faces hard economic times, a struggle overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan and myriad other issues. The candidates should feel comfortable enough to address these matters and not have to worry about some college student breaking into their e-mail accounts.

After all, these kinds of actions are punishable by fines and jail time.

Hacking into some official’s e-mail is much more than covering a yard in toilet tissue or making late-night telephone calls and hanging up.