Diary

When Giudas Attack

Desperation in politics is ugly; perhaps never more so than when displayed by conservatives – who put their trust in the slow, patient rhythms of social activity rather than the wrenching, revolutionary zeal preferred by the radical leftists. Yet even among the strongest of right-minded candidates, the final weeks of an arduous election campaign can apply artificial pressures all their own and force unnecessarily rash decisions. To resist these pressures requires a singular integrity, the possession of which a candidate only discovers when it is required.

For former NH Rep. Bob Giuda, that time of pressure has arrived, and he has succumbed to it. In a campaign commercial too long, cheap and clumsy to be broadcast anywhere other than YouTube yesterday, Giuda uses a single video clip from the 2nd Congressional District GOP candidates’ debate in Rindge to create a negative attack against his rival, Jennifer Horn. In all of 30 seconds – 25 of which were taken up by Giuda himself – here was the exchange:

GIUDA: “In the last debate, you advocated across-the-board cuts without exception in federal spending. ‘Across-the-board’ means ‘without exception’ – it’s all programs without exception. Does that include military pay benefits, military weapons systems, veterans’ benefits, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and all government programs without exception? And how would you get it done?”

HORN: “My words – exact words were that I support across-the-board cuts –“

Annnnnnd stop! Using an editing criteria that would have made the Politburo envious, the remaining 62 seconds of Horn’s answer is conveniently left on the cutting room floor. Fortunately, in this age of internet access, the truth is not difficult to acquire, and Horn’s complete answer is correct and compelling:

HORN: “My words – exact words were that I support across-the-board cuts. Our government is too big. It is too bloated. It is too expensive. And every program and department out there should be on the table to be looked at for waste, abuse, fraud, redundancy. And where it exists we have got to cut it. We are living in incredibly dangerous times and that danger comes primarily from the, uh, position we’ve put ourselves in as a nation because of our spending. You know, the Department of Defense – one of the actual Constitutional responsibilities of our federal government is to protect and defend the nation. We must fully fund our military efforts especially (inaudible) but that doesn’t mean we should be spending $1,200 for a toilet seat. I think there is some common sense that has to be brought to the table. What we DON’T need in Washington are folks who keep telling you over and over again, ‘Vote for me cause I already know how to manipulate the system.’ We need people in Washington who understand that the system is broken and it needs to be fixed.”

It is immediately clear that Horn in no way recommends cuts in benefits to retirees or the poor – nor cuts that would threaten national security – but rather reductions that would be the natural result of a comprehensive vigilance against waste, fraud and abuse. Any Republican (pace Charlie Bass) would agree that current levels of expense factor for spending on items which serve little or no legitimate purpose. Horn’s reply, therefore, was fully in line with her campaign philosophy of fighting Washington corruption and protecting taxpayer interests.

What is not clear, however, is Giuda’s decision to redact that answer so severely so as to create a preposterous cartoon of Horn as a heartless right-wing dope. It is even more curious that he would post the ad with the breathless title “JENNIFER HORN DOES NOT CARE ABOUT OUR CITIZENS AND OUR TROOPS.” And it is still more curious that after consulting with obviously clearer-minded individuals in their corps, the Giuda campaign quickly amended the title less than 24 hours later to the bland “JENNIFER HORN ON SPENDING CUTS.” Horn’s three seconds on screen are almost completely obstructed by a helpful caption of giant, diagonal red letters in bold type, screaming: “JENNIFER HORN SAYS CUT IT ALL!” This is negative campaigning by the hopelessly inept.

How else can you explain Giuda’s failure to anticipate the glaring counters to his charges: if Horn is wrong to demand spending reduction, does Giuda mean to continue it at current levels – or even INCREASE it? If, apparently, the public must be shielded from learning about Horn’s desire to root out fraud, doesn’t that necessarily infer Giuda wants to protect it? And finally, how does Giuda, the vehement Constitutionalist, square that document with preserving funds for some of the most Constitutionally-backward schemes ever devised?

The answer lies not in Giuda’s attitude but his altitude. He is simply unprepared to successfully manage a candidacy at this high a level of politics – as also evidenced by his “men-and-goats” remark earlier this year. Giuda is a clever legislator with sincere commitment, but he is not ready for primetime. Until he is, he should leave the attacks to people who know what they’re doing. Only a fool throws a punch he cannot himself absorb.