The Campaign Spot

Ad Critics Continue To Ignore Sponsor’s Later Amendment to Switch Law Back to Grade 6

A few more readers continue to howl with outrage about McCain’s education ad – it’s unfair, it’s a smear, it’s swill, the subtext is offensive and makes people think Obama wanted to take away children’s innocence. (I wonder how many would argue that there’s no subtext to Obama’s “lipstick on a pig” comment, but there’s subtext to this ad.)
One reader accuses me “backing up a rather dishonorable ad—come on, is this really what we need to be talking about?”
Oh, for heaven’s sake, do we need to be talking about Cindy McCain’s battle with an addiction to prescription drugs, as on the front page of the Washington Post today? Bristol Palin’s pregnancy? Take it up with the McCain campaign if you wish, but my argument is with those who are screaming that the ad is inaccurate, when in fact it gets the facts right. Obama’s defenders are insisting that he didn’t really mean to vote for what the bill text actually said. (I guess the bill’s emanating penumbras laid out the limits for the kindergarten curriculum.)
One of the specific changes in the law was to change existing standards for sex education from starting in grade six to starting in kindergarten. Even those who put together lengthy analysis of the ad and the bill never address why one of the bill’s original sponsors changed her mind and introduced an amendment to change it back to the sixth grade after it was approved by the committee.
Did any of the ad’s critics go back and quote the legislation? Did anybody else go back and find the later amendment to change it back to the sixth grade? Few if any. Instead of hearing specifics, you hear a lot of adjectives – it’s unfair, it’s dirty, it’s offensive , etc. Much of the argument has been in the vein of, “don’t bother me with the facts, this ad feels like it’s wrong.” Even a commentator I respect has given the ad a thumbs down because it “feels [badword]y and gross” [emphasis in original].
You’ve probably heard that old lawyer’s saying, “When the law is on your side, argue the law. When the facts are on your side, argue the facts. And when neither the facts nor the law are on your side, pound the table a lot. Ask yourself which side is pounding the table the most in this argument.

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