The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Tuesday, October 26, 2004  

Desperate Times, Desperate Measures
Republicans Playing Games with Terrorism

Sure, saying the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) is sleazy is simply redundant, but when one looks at even a single congressional race and then considers the number of districts in which the games are being played, the mind reels.

Take Pennsylvania's eighth congressional district, in which Democrat Ginny Schrader faces Republican Mike Fitzpatrick for the seat occupied by retiring Rep. James Greenwood (R).

In this race, with tough ads from both sides hitting the airwaves every day, it's an old-fashioned standby, attack mailings from the NRCC, that are attracting attention. In one mailing, the Republicans are tying Schrader to terrorists, and more specifically with Hezbollah, an inflammatory accusation in a district with an abudance of Jewish voters.

Dave Davies of the Philadelphia Daily News today writes ("A Real Slugfest for Bucks House Seat"):

A recent Republican mailing in Bucks County sought to associate Democratic candidate Ginny Schrader with the terrorist group Hezbollah.

"The 'Hate America' crowd has found their candidate," the mailing screamed, charging that Schrader "raised money for her campaign by showing a film filled with propaganda that Hezbollah-related organizations offered to distribute."

"I was appalled," said Schrader, whose daughter and son-in-law are Jewish. "Disgusting is the mildest word I could use for this." Schrader walked out of a debate yesterday after demanding an apology from her GOP opponent, Mike Fitzpatrick.

The mailing was the work of the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee, which is working on behalf of Fitzpatrick but is legally barred by campaign finance laws from coordinating with his campaign. [...]

Both national parties have spent heavily on the race. The Republican Congressional Campaign Committee had spent $2.2 million as of Saturday -- including $52,000 on attack mail pieces over the last week alone. [...]

According to the Republican committee, the factual basis for the "hate America" mail piece on Schrader is a July event in which she hosted a viewing of Michael Moore's film "Fahrenheit 911," raising about $700 for her campaign and giving a speech about the war in Iraq.

The GOP group cited a June story in the London Guardian that said organizations "related to Hezbollah" had offered to help distribute the film.

It gets worse, or more bizarre, one might say:

The mailer also said Schrader gave a "speech filled with anger" in which she "unloaded on America . . . spewing venom on our leaders."

My! Whatever could Schrader have said? Surely she must be beyond the pale!

Challenged to substantiate such outrageous assertions, the RCCC offered "a newspaper account of the event in which Schrader's most strident comment is a reference to President Bush's 'arrogant administration.'"

Schrader called them "arrogant." Parlor conversation, that; hardly the stuff of a backroom brawl, let alone anything that would justify accusations of siding with terrorists.

Desperate times, desperate measures.

[Post-publication addendum: See related story in the Philadelphia Inquirer, "Schrader Decries Charges in GOP Mailing," by Leonard N. Fleming.]

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