Monday, March 17, 2008

Gableman 'Willie Hortons' Butler

Michael Gableman must be desperate. Or else he's as sinisterly cynical as they come. Gableman's smear of Louis Butler – his opening salvo in the ad wars – is offensive on so many levels it's hard to know where to begin. The ad clearly and intentionally misleads viewers, playing fast and loose with the facts and leaning heavily on deceptive insinuations. And its not-so-subtle appeal to racism evokes memories of the infamous Willie Horton ad in the 1988 presidential campaign.

That's not all that's wrong with this ad. It commits the same act of violence against public understanding of the Supreme Court's role in our justice system that the interest group ads are committing. Virtually all of the advertising in this year's race creates the impression that fighting crime is the primary if not sole function of the Supreme Court, as if candidates for the high court were running for sheriff or district attorney. But the Supreme Court is not a sheriff's office or a DA's office. And it is not a trial court that is responsible for conducting trials and sentencing convicted criminals.

The public's knowledge of the third branch of government has long left a great deal to be desired. It surely will be worse after this election is over.

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