Yesterday, I got a phone call from an old friend. Unlike most of my other Republican friends, who have been appalled by the Lugar-Mourdock results, he was euphoric. Why? Because Mourdock “is a bomb thrower! He’ll go to Washington and he won’t play the game!”
Also yesterday, a commenter to one of my recent blogs on the subject questioned the idea that Lugar had moved to the right during his long career. Why, he had voted for the President’s Supreme Court Justices and the bailouts, and supported the Dream Act! How could he be conservative?
If there is any lesson to be learned from the expression of these sentiments, it is that political advertising is effective, especially when coupled with an audience’s lack of understanding of basic democratic (note small d) governance. The examples cited by the commenter as evidence that Lugar is really a “moderate” who (in the opinion of my Republican friend) “played with the liberals” amount to little more than a regurgitation of Mourdock’s ads. Three or four examples were plucked from a 36-year career and relentlessly pounded on; voila! the man’s a squishy bipartisan compromiser. And compromise is bad, bomb-throwing and intransigence are what we need!
The people expressing these opinions aren’t uneducated. But they were clearly swayed by an unrelenting ad campaign fueled by lots of Super Pac money.
I don’t worry about two people with uninformed opinions. Nor do I fault these folks for not doing the research necessary to counter the 30-second sound-bites.
But I am deeply worried about the extent to which billionaires and Super Pacs will influence the millions of equally uninformed voters in November.