Misleading ads do no good

Published 12:10 pm Saturday, October 25, 2008

As the late President Ronald Reagan would say: “Here they go again.”

In less than two weeks before the election before the Alabama Supreme Court, Alabama Voters Against Lawsuit Abuse has launched a radio advertisement that says candidate Deborah Bell Paseur gets an “F” rating from the Administrative Office of Court when she was a district judge in 1988 in Lauderdale County for not rapidly dismissing the cases.

Paseur’s campaign has called the ad a lie. An official with the agency said the ad is misleading because the court system’s report also notes that Lauderdale County had an above average number of cases filed that year.

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This type advertisement by a special interest group smacks of the same dirty politics as the Swift Boat Vets for the Truth that aired television advertisements, accusing 2004 presidential candidate John Kerry of lying about his war record.

The people who put together the advertisement — Stevens Reed Curcio & Potholm of Alexandria, Va. — worked for John McCain in 2000 and George H.W. Bush in 1988. The producers of the advertisements, found men who said they “served with” Kerry, but later it was discovered they were not on the same boat. Only one of the men was a Kerry crewmate.

The advertisements also took comments out of context and re-arranged facts, much as the advertisement for Paseur has done.

These are the dangers of third-party campaign advertisements, which have become more and more popular in national and state races because the candidates can step away from the mudslinging and cast the light on someone else for the cheap shots.

Those tactics say a lot about character and honesty.