Blogging about negative campaigning could seem as old and trite as blogging about taxes: There’s a sense that it’s never gonna change. We even have news networks whose bias is so pervasive that their negativity (or positivity) about certain causes and people is predictable even before the non-media spin types get started.
But now there’s a new kind of issue: Negative campaigning about negative campaigning. Or positive campaigning, depending on your perspective. A current example is Michael J. Fox’s commercials and appearances on behalf of stem-cell research.
“They say all politics is local, but it’s not always the case,” say Fox says in one commercial. “What you do in Missouri matters to millions of Americans–Americans like me.” It’s not a commercial for research–it’s a commercial for a Democratic candidate. And conservative commentators are attacking Fox for it: Rush Limbaugh said Fox was “either off his medication or acting.”
The Associated Press story week presents both sides of the issue. “Dr. John Boockvar, a neurosurgeon and assistant professor at Weill Cornell Medical Center at New York’s Presbyterian Hospital, called Limbaugh’s claim ‘ludicrous’,” said the story. “Boockvar said those with Parkinson’s have ‘on’ and ‘off’ spells.”
“’If there is one single disease that has the highest potential for benefit from stem cell research,’ Boockvar said Tuesday, ‘it’s Parkinson’s,” said the same story. The AP’s conclusion: “Celebrities have a long history of supporting political candidates. But there’s no question that Fox, who campaigned for John Kerry in the 2004 presidential race, is uniquely suited as a spokesman for stem cell research.”
With all of the negative campaigning of the season, those who are supporters or opponents of stem cell research should debate the merits of the issue rather than the rights of certain Americans to leverage their role in life to make their case. That kind of negativity is worse than debating the issue: it’s un-American.