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Thursday, November 03, 2005

Enlightenslimen New Jersey

As New Jersey approaches its gubernatorial election with a clear front-runner, the state has two major issues facing it: property taxes and political corruption. Unfortunately, Republicans seeming unwilling to focus on these issues at all.

Instead, they are jumping on a smear campaign. What happened is the Star-Ledger, the largest circulating newspaper in the state, endorsed Doug Forrester. Then the S-L published a sleaze piece based on conversations with the Senator's ex-wife. This is news? An ex-wife doesn't like her former husband?

Up to this point, Joanne Corzine has kept her thoughts to her self. Of course, it is her right to speak up to anyone who wants to listen. She is entitled to tell her side of the story. Any newspaper who thinks it is news-worthy is within their rights to publish it. I don't have a problem with either of these points, though I consider the fact that it is considered news-worthy to be evidence of how our culture has descended into voyeurism. But, whatever...I don't own a paper, so that's how much my opinion is worth to them (exactly one subscription that I've never had).

What does bother me is that this is somehow supposed to translate to a reason to not believe Senator Corzine is going to address either of the top two issues facing the state. Apparently, the Forrester campaign is willing to use familial disagreements as political fodder. Corzine cheated on his wife. Does that mean he can't ease the burden of property taxes? Exactly how does that connection get made? How does it translate into not being able to tell County Bosses to shove it (especially since he already has with at least one)?

Apparently, a significant portion of the state is going crazy about this. And, crazy it is. Almost as crazy as this post - which would be funny if it weren't so earnest.

I admit up front to support Jon Corzine, though I've never so much as given a nickle to his campaign or stuck a bumper sticker on my car. Yet I was singled out by a demand by other Jersey bloggers for running a Corzine banner on my blog (note: I answered that request immediately, but my answers were deleted because the author doesn't like the way I answer). Interestingly enough, this same blog has also written about the dangers of unaccountability with blogging.

The problem is that Doug Forrester is losing the race and losing ground while doing so. The problem is that at least one side in every political campaign seems to be willing to do anything to destroy their opponent - which means winning and governing isn't the goal anymore (by the way, that's SUPPOSED to be why we have elections). It's why at least half of all Americans usually stay home for any election. It isn't a problem with attacking your opponent because you think their stance on the issues is wrong or because they are consorting with criminals (real or just "known"). That is legitimate. It is a public service to expose any politician as being on the take or cutting deals with the devil (whatever form the devil takes in that campaign).

However, it is quite another to run a campaign based on innuendo and second-hand (or third- and fourth-hand) information simply to imply what cannot be stated as fact so you can destroy your opponents image. That is what is going on in New Jersey. That is the problem for all of us.

There is no "truth in blogging" law - yet. That does not mean that bloggers should simply act like the truth doesn't exist. Nor does it excuse the unethical actions of irresponsible individuals.

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