Commentary

Saunders: When political groups craft dirty-trick memos, we all lose

bsaunders@newsobserver.comMarch 3, 2013 

Tricky Dick would be proud.

No, not about seeing his political dirty tricks turned against a fellow Republican, but he’d at least admire the spirit of America Votes, the group whose leader last week copped to drawing up a strategy to “eviscerate” the gubernatorial reign of Pat McCrory.

Nixon, the 37th president who left office in disgrace, would’ve turned 100 in January, and hundreds of his admirers had a fancy shindig in Washington to honor his legacy.

Jessica Laurenz, North Carolina director of America Votes, paid tribute to the old Trickster, too, when she admitted that her group was responsible for the memo that laid out plans to hinder McCrory’s and Republicans’ effectiveness.

Among their plans: disrupt GOP events, implement heightened surveillance to catch any missteps and hire private detectives to dig up dirt on GOP leaders. The only thing the group seemingly didn’t consider was ordering up 1,000 pizzas and having them delivered to McCrory’s crib, or ringing his doorbell at midnight and running away.

Laurenz said in a recent N&O story that she didn’t really plan to hire private dicks, but didn’t disavow the part about planning to “eviscerate the (Republican) leadership and weaken their ability to govern.”

Whatever patriotism is, that isn’t it.

Get on board and try

No one who really loves this state would try to gum up the works just because the “wrong” candidate won.

Indeed, a true patriot would, after a suitable period of wound-licking, soul-searching and scotch-guzzling, get on board and try to make sure the chosen leader leads in a direction that is best for the entire state.

The America Votes memo has proven to be a boon for the GOP, and it has made Pat sympathetic, allowing him to go onto Fox News and don the martyr’s robe while lamenting the Democrats’ “shameful” tactics.

Before “Eviscerate-gate,” I’d heard from many disappointed people who, if they were being truthful, had voted for McCrory because they thought he was a moderate. They now see him as a tea party pawn.

For evidence of how intentionally sabotaging a leader makes good governance impossible, one need look no further than Washington. Some Republicans there have made it their mission to ensure that President Barack Obama doesn’t succeed – America be damned.

Little that is noble

Few are as forthright about it as Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell, who said on inauguration night – the first one – that his main goal was to ensure that Obama didn’t succeed. It is, however, obvious from their actions and inactions that others would similarly prefer seeing the country wither and die than flourish under this president.

There’s a lot to be said for being the noble opposition, but there is little noble in this uncivil, “scorched earth” philosophy that believes “if we aren’t in charge, we’ll destroy it for everyone else.”

The Republicans, predictably, are shocked, shocked, I tell you, to discover that a political advocacy group would resort to such measures, as though this is the first time such has been done. It isn’t.

Here’s the deal, though. Regardless of which side eviscerates the other and wins, whether it’s the tea party or, as now, the Chablis Party, it’s We the People who lose.

bsaunders@newsobserver.com or 919-836-2811

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