Philosophy, Film, Politics, Etc.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Palin on Negative Campaigning and the First Amendment

Governor Palin is really stupid.

As reported by ABC News on Halloween, she thinks that the First Amendment should protect her from the media's accusation that she has been negative campaigning. As she says, "If [the media] convince enough voters that that is negative campaigning, for me to call Barack Obama out on his associations, then I don't know what the future of our country would be in terms of First Amendment rights and our ability to ask questions without fear of attacks by the mainstream media."

This is nonsense, and plenty of people (e.g., salon.com) have called her out on it already, correctly observing that the First Amendment protects the press' right to speak critically of politicians. It does not protect politicians from being criticized.

That is not the end of the stupidity of Palin's remarks. There's more, though I'm not sure if anybody else has bothered to point it out yet. The thing is, Palin doesn't understand what the phrase "negative campaigning" means.

There are two ways of campaigning. Either argue for what you promise to do as a politician, or argue against what the competition will do if you lose. The latter strategy is called "negative campaigning," and it doesn't matter if your arguments are valid or invalid, or if they are sincere or insincere. It doesn't matter if the questions you are raising are important or not.

Palin doesn't understand this. Instead, she thinks the charge of "negative campaigning" means that she was not justified in raising the questions or making the comments she has raised.

I don't think her behavior is justifiable, but that is beside the point. The point is, she doesn't know what she's talking about. The First Amendment and negative campaigning . . . these are basic concepts any self-respecting politician should understand.

Thankfully this will all be over soon.