In Massachusetts, Greens’ Slimy Tactics Get Zapped

by William Yeatman on May 15, 2011

in Blog, Features

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Environmentalist lobbying outfits run some of the sleaziest political attack ads in the business. Their stuff would make Lee Atwater grin. My colleague Marlo Lewis wrote an excellent, extensive analysis of one such sleazy ad, from the folks at Move On. Another colleague, Chris Horner, caught Greenpeace apparatchiks rummaging through his garbage, no doubt looking for attack fodder.

Interestingly, industry refuses to defend itself from these black arts PR tactics. “Big Oil,” for example, runs silly ads denigrating its core business, like BP’s “Beyond Petroleum” campaign and Chevron’s “I will use less energy” commercials. Then there’s “Big Gas,” which promotes itself by talking about “Dirty Coal.” (Sigh.)

But that’s a separate issue. This post is about how the greens’ sleaze tactics are backfiring in Massachusetts. In that State, the League of Women Voters is running ugly advertisements that essentially equate baby-abuse with Senator Scott Brown’s vote for excellent legislation that would strip the Environmental Protection Agency of the authority to regulate greenhouse gases. Unfortunately, there’s nothing new about this zero class, wrongheaded attack analogy. Move On made the same insinuation in a similar, recent advertisement.

A cursory internet search suggests that these advertisements are dishonest. The League of Women Voters/Move On’s accusation is based on a supposed link between increased temperatures and asthma attacks. I googled “asthma+attacks+U.S.+peak+months” and, at the top of my search results, was this 2008 report from the Minnesota Department of Health, from which the first sentence reads,

“In Minnesota, asthma hospitalization rates follow seasonal patterns. The greatest number of hospitalizations is seen in the fall months, usually September, with a smaller peak in the spring. The lowest rates are generally seen in July.”

Maybe Minnesotans are not representative of American asthma patients, but if they are, then this whole warming-asthma link seems dubious to this non-scientist.

Sen. Scott Brown, who deserves kudos for his Senate vote to rein in the EPA’s power grab, decided to make an issue of these unfounded, underhanded attacks. He wrote an oped to defend himself. Regarding his Senate vote, he correctly noted,

“Burdening our businesses with even more bureaucracy will kill jobs, and that is the last thing our economy can afford right now when we are barely starting to recover.”

For a detailed discussion of why Sen. Brown is right, click here. As for the League of Women Voter’s tactics, Sen. Brown wrote,

“By misrepresenting one of my many votes and running a shameful attack ad, the LWV has put its reputation at risk. It has gone into the gutter and become part of the negative politics that voters have rightly rejected.”

Sen. Brown is a politician, so his decision to politicize the League of Women Voters’s sleazeball ads was politically based, likely backed by polling data. This apparent blowback against the League of Women Voters is the subject of a Boston Globe column today, by Joan Vennochi. Here’s the gist,

“But the anti-Brown attack ad launched recently by the League of Women Voters isn’t going to help. It may thrill the liberal base, but it also threatens to chill the independent swing vote that both a Republican and a Democratic candidate need to win in Massachusetts.

Why is Brown drawing attention to the League’s ad a full 18 months before election day? Not because it hurts him, but because it helps him. It reminds people of the unflattering “League of Women Vultures’’ moniker that detractors like to use to describe the organization. And, its depiction of a coughing, rasping child who is suffering because of Brown’s vote against air pollution standards illustrates the same old stereotypical scare tactics that turn off voters of all ideological persuasions.”

Hear, Hear!

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