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Rove II: The Slimer Boogaloo

Remember the days when candidates stood for public office on the basis of their positions, their philosophies, and their proposals for policy change?

Naw, I don't either, and I'm pretty old. The whisper campaign, oppo research and the philosophy that if an opponent is clean, smear his wife, kid or dog is as old as the hills. But there are only a few who reach the peaks of their putrid profession in any given era. Meet the next Karl Rove: Christopher Lyon:

A researcher working on Thomas H. Kean Jr.'s [campaign] once sent out thousands of anonymous post cards and automated phone calls accusing a New Hampshire candidate's wife of being in an orgasm cult.

You may take a moment and meditate on how an "orgasm cult" could be considered a bad thing exactly before we move on to some of Lyon's other Greatest Hits, a term we use more literally here since it includes oldies-but-goodies like the Willie Horton matter.

Christopher Lyon's resume includes work done for Republican state parties in New York and Virginia, more than one New Jersey congressman, former New Jersey gubernatorial candidate Bret Schundler, and now Kean, Menendez's challenger in New Jersey's U.S. Senate race.

Lyon researched Willie Horton, the furloughed killer who became an issue in the 1988 presidential race between Michael Dukakis and George H.W. Bush, and Bill Clinton's background while Clinton was governor of Arkansas.

Lyon, known as an "opposition researcher," is definitely not the kind of campaign worker politicians brag about. Yet his work often drives strategy in a tight race such as the one between Republican Kean and Democrat Menendez.

Lyon declined to comment.

Yeah, I bet. It's a real hassle for creatures like him to have to burble all the slime out of his throat in order to be understood by normal human ears.

In a famous race in Florida before even my time, one George Smathers said his opponent Claude Pepper was a "extrovert," who had "frequently marticulated on campus," and later become an admitted "pedagogue." And that he had a sister who was a "known thespian."

He also accused Pepper of "engaging in celibacy before marriage," and of being a "practicing Homo Sapien." Smathers, reading accurately the tastes and educational level of his rural audience, won in a landslide.

What is puzzling is why Tom Kean Jr. would have to stoop to such a level as to hire this Lyon person. His dad was a reasonably classy guy, what you would have called a "decent" or "moderate Republican" back when such things existed. Kean Jr. would have done far better in today's New Jersey to have tried to ride the coattails of that clean reputation than to get a simian-shit-flinger like Lyons involved.

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