That’s what some people are saying.
It’s a brutal attack on an attorney running for governor, blasting him for representing criminal defendants. How can he protect battered women when he helped their abusers beat the rap? How indeed. Oh, and it’s not just that he helped their abusers, he did so for money. Because counseling the accused for fees in this country is where all the money is. It’s a seedy racket no way at all as admirable as, I don’t know, lobbying elected officials for political favors at the expense of the citizenry. If only this guy was smart enough to take hundreds of thousands to poison rivers and streams he wouldn’t be such a scumbag.
This ad is just goddamned brilliant at connecting the disingenuous dots for the easily duped.
And this message was “approved” — ultimately — by a former prosecutor who’s now being investigated by the office he once led….
This ad comes to us from South Carolina, where State Senator Vincent Sheheen, a lawyer, is challenging incumbent Nikki Haley. But Governor Haley didn’t approve this ad, it’s coming to her defense from the Republican Governors Association, a group currently headed by Governor Chris Christie. Even though he never did as a prosecutor, you’d think he’d start respecting the rights of the criminally accused right about now.
So is it the most negative ad ever? I don’t know about that. It doesn’t imply that Sheheen is going to blow up the world in a fit of cartoon villainy, or talk about how black people are out to steal all our jerbs or kill us.
Ed Kilgore says it “sets a new standard for immoral cynicism.” That sounds more like it, because the ad’s most striking quality is its cynical effort to paint a basic constitutional principle as a moral failing. John Adams rose to prominence representing the British troops who caused the Boston Massacre and even in the most negative campaign of all time I don’t think Jefferson would touch that. He was too buy calling Adams a hermaphrodite.
You’d think the “constitutional conservatives” of the Republican Party might be aware there’s an item in the Bill of Rights—the Sixth Amendment to be precise—that guarantees those accused of criminal acts the right to “the assistance of counsel.” A really deep-thinking constitutional conservative might even understand that we don’t know who the “criminals” are until they are given a fair trial. In an especially despicable little twist, the anonymous narrator of this ad twice notes that Sheheen was paid for defending “violent criminals who abused women.” Would it have been better if he had represented them for free?
Let’s close with a defense of Christie and the RGA. Come on, they’re not out to abolish the Sixth Amendment. They understand that defendants are innocent until proven guilty. The beef they have with Sheheen isn’t that he gave counsel to the accused, it’s that he gave counsel to the convicted. All those defendants became criminals when he Sheheen lost their cases. South Carolina doesn’t deserve a loser in the governor’s mansion, do they?
Abolish the Sixth Amendment! [Washington Monthly]