I've heard that Republicans have a guy following around Democratic Congressional candidate David Gill in surgical scrubs and calling himself "Dr. Radical." The Illinois Republican Party (where Gill's opponent, Rodney Davis, used to be Executive Director) has a website to match, complete with a cartoonishly bad photoshop job of Gill putting on a surgical glove, as if he's about to perform a colonoscopy.
The website is mostly full of gross distortions about Gill wanting to end Medicare, when the reality is that he would essentially extend it to everyone. But, the best part is when this sophomoric, ugly campaign site accuses David Gill of "not running a positive campaign." Seriously!
This made me laugh for a good ten minutes. Isn't that the perfect conservative talk-radio style attack? The site is saying, "We expect you to run a positive campaign while we call you childish names and lie about your platform." It reminds me of Mitt Romney's recent whining that Obama is running a negative campaign after Romney spent the past year lying about Obama's record. Davis and Romney want everyone else to follow the rules they ignore.
It's standard operating procedure for talk radio conservatives to accuse Democrats of anything shameful that Republicans are in the process of doing. My favorite was during the Mark Foley Congressional page scandal when Fox News kept bringing up a similar 30 year old scandal involving a Democrat. Was that supposed to be an excuse for Foley?
Another example is when you have a candidate, like Rodney Davis, who wants to put everyone's health care in the hands of the private insurance industry, which obviously wouldn't include a public program like Medicare. Falsely accusing Gill of wanting to end Medicare is a tactic to blur the distinction between the two candidates. Now, reporters who want to seem balanced will write headlines like "both campaigns accuse the other of attacking Medicare" and the issue is successfully obfuscated. The tactic usually works.
I'm not sure how effective this attack will be. Dr. Radical sounds more like a cool comic book character. Are people really scared of the word radical anymore?
When discussing this with a friend, we had the thought that "Dr. Radical" sounds more like a mixed drink. Which begs the question, what ingredients would make up a Dr. Radical?
I'm guessing it would have to include my favorite soda, Dr. Pepper. I remember finding out in the Ken Burns Prohibition documentary that some people got around the law by obtaining a prescription for supposed medicinal use of alcohol. Also, it was common for doctors to use whiskey for treating various ailments during the Civil War.
When General U.S. Grant was accused of being a drunkard, Lincoln famously asked the accuser to find out what brand of whiskey Grant drinks and send a barrel to the other generals. Legend has it that Grant preferred Old Crow whiskey. Coincidentally, Grant sided with the "Radical Republicans" during his Presidency. Being "radical" in those days meant you had crazy ideas like smashing KKK terrorism and guaranteeing the right to vote regardless of race. As the saying goes, conservatism is the worship of dead radicals.
So, clearly, a Dr. Radical drink would mix Dr. Pepper and Old Crow whiskey. If anyone decides to try one let me know if it's any good.
And if you want to show Rodney Davis that negative campaigning backfires then you might donate to David Gill.