To read Phyllis McKenna’s article (April 24) about Democrats’ smear tactics, one might think that Republicans run clean, righteous campaigns when seeking office. As an independent and student of history, I can assure you that both parties have run smear campaigns full of false claims and innuendo throughout American history.
In his 1950 senate campaign, Richard Nixon repeatedly referred to his opponent Helen Gahagan Douglas as the “pink lady,” even going so far as to say “she is pink right down to her underwear.”
Throughout the ’60s and ’70s, Republican candidates inaccurately used phrases like “soft on crime” and “soft on communism” to describe opponents.
The ’80s saw anti-abortion candidates call opponents “baby killers.” Recently, Donald Trump used juvenile nicknames like “lyin’ Ted,” “crooked Hillary,” and “tired Joe.” In the most recent congressional election, Republicans ran a smear campaign with inaccurate ads against Christy Smith. Then Donald Trump ran a smear campaign against the election process itself, spending three months lying about election fraud that culminated in a despicable riot and attack on the U.S. Capitol.
In addition, the article was full of historical inaccuracies. Barry Goldwater lost in 1964 by historic proportions because half of the Republican electorate thought him too extreme and didn’t vote for him.
Her statement, “Thanks to Republicans, civil rights laws were passed in spite of Johnson,” is flat wrong. While some Republican votes were needed to pass the 1964 Civil Rights Act (to offset segregationist Southern Democrats), Jonson, Hubert Humphrey and the other Democrats drove passage of the act that was approved by and signed by Johnson.
Dan Quayle invited criticism by having the audacity to compare himself to John F. Kennedy. Bill Clinton did not win because Ross Perot split Republican votes; exit polls at the time indicated Perot took roughly the same number of votes from both Bush and Clinton.
Her defense of Sarah Palin is offset by John McCain’s later admission that choosing Palin was a mistake.