Attack ads should aim for coherence

The Republican Governors Association recently launched an attack ad in Pennsylvania, criticizing Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D) for supporting this year’s farm bill in Congress. There was, however, a small problem: incumbent Gov. Tom Corbett (R), the candidate the ad was intended to help, endorsed the same legislation.
 
This week, the RGA ran into a similar problem in South Carolina. Sean Sullivan and Aaron Blake reported:
A new ad from the Republican Governors Association attacks the Democrat running for governor of South Carolina for supporting Obamacare, as well as its Medicaid expansion.
 
Left unsaid? Several GOP governors took that same Medicaid expansion, including … RGA Chairman and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R).
It’s at least rational when one party blasts the other over genuine disagreements. But the RGA is playing some fairly transparent games.
 
In South Carolina, we’re effectively left with a situation in which the Republican Governors Association wants voters to oppose a Democrat for agreeing with the head of the Republican Governors Association (and several other prominent RGA members).
 
From the RGA’s perspective, it’s probably worth the risk. South Carolinians, the argument goes, probably won’t know the whole story, and will have no idea the Democratic candidate agrees with so many Republicans on the issue.
 
But what does that say about the merit of Republican arguments, if they’re dependent on public ignorance to work?
 
It’s entirely consistent with the recent round of Medicare attacks, in which the entirety of the Republican leadership in the House and Senate have condemned Democrats over “cuts” to the Medicare Advantage program. And who else voted for these exact same cuts? The entirety of the Republican leadership in the House and Senate.
 
They’re working from the assumption that voters just won’t know the difference.
 
From the GOP’s perspective, their party’s standing is ascending. President Obama’s approval rating is struggling; polls show Republicans taking the lead on the generic congressional ballot; the Affordable Care Act remains unpopular; and the national map suggests control of the Senate is very much in play.
 
Given all of this, why rely on deception? If the political winds are at Republicans’ backs, shouldn’t the party be able to thrive with honesty?
 

Medicaid and South Carolina

Attack ads should aim for coherence