Taking the low road? It’s a Republican family tradition.

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It’s understandable that fundamentally decent people treat election season with a revulsion normally reserved for war criminals, plague bacilli and Adam Sandler movies.

Much of the disgust owes to the prevalence of television and radio attack ads, generally financed by money coming from well outside the election arenas. Most people grasp that these noxious defecations atop the carpet of our body politic are a symptom of a much larger malady, namely the vast sums of cash that are required of any person seeking to participate in the allegedly level playing field of American-style democracy-for-hire.

Apart from the merrily ringing cash drawers of the media outlets airing them, no one benefits from the process as currently constituted, and yet the fact that it continues unabated must indicate that for a certain segment of the voting public, attack ads remain viable. This probably serves as sufficient proof that the attitude of Americans toward education remains the greatest impediment to social progress and economic self-sufficiency in this nation.

That’s a debate for another day. Let’s glance to the political battlefield of southwestern Indiana for a particularly repugnant example of the attack ad, one certifiably in the arsenal of every threatened extremist Republican, though perhaps not voiced as openly … yet.

After all, it’s probably only a matter of days for us. Consider the subtext of our 9th District congressman Mike Sodrel’s comments, as quoted here by USA Today:

Sodrel, a wealthy trucking company owner, manages to be folksy even while wearing tasseled loafers, aiming barbs at (Baron) Hill and quoting Johann Goethe (the 19th-century German writer). He reminds his listeners that Hill’s first vote, should he win, would be to make ‘the lady from San Francisco, Nancy Pelosi,’ the new House speaker. ‘God help us,’ a volunteer calls out.”

If the 9th District race remains in a dead heat, look for “Baron (Hill) of Castro Street” attack ads on behalf of Sodrel, with candidate Hill’s face on one side of a split screen, and the bath houses circa 1978 on the other.

But we digress. Back to Indiana’s 8th District:

‘Dirty Harry’ warns voters of gay agenda; Hostettler ad targets Democrats, by Ryan Lenz (Associated Press).

EVANSVILLE, Ind. — An embattled Indiana congressman is invoking Dirty Harry and the Old West in a new campaign warning that a vote for his Democratic opponent could trigger a shift in House leadership and advance a “homosexual agenda.”

In the one-minute radio ad, paid for by Friends of Rep. John Hostettler, an announcer impersonating Clint Eastwood says a vote for challenger Brad Ellsworth would be a vote for California Democrat Nancy Pelosi as House speaker.

“Pelosi will then put in motion her radical plan to advance the homosexual agenda, led by Barney Frank, reprimanded by the House after paying for sex with a man who ran a gay brothel out of Congressman Frank’s home,” the narrator says.

Recall that the well documented incident involving Frank, a self-described “left-handed gay Jew” who has served his Massachusetts congressional district since 1981, actually occurred in 1990. Remember that in another time, the “homosexual agenda” might have been subordinated to “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” or a similar Jewish conspiracy theory. The intent is the same, and it is inexcusable.

Just as rain periodically falls in Death Valley, political campaign ads occasionally transcend the peddling of hate and prejudice that passes for a platform in the tortured minds of people like Rep. Hostettler.

We turn again to the Associated Press:

Actor Michael J. Fox Ad Touts McCaskill.

His body visibly wracked by tremors, actor Michael J. Fox speaks out for Missouri Democratic Senate candidate Claire McCaskill in a television ad that promotes her support for embryonic stem cell research.

“As you might know I care deeply about stem cell research,” says 45-year-old actor, who has struggled with Parkinson’s disease for more than a decade. “In Missouri you can elect Claire McCaskill, who shares my hope for cures.”

McCaskill has made support for the research a key part of her campaign to unseat Sen. Jim Talent. The Republican incumbent opposes the research as unethical, saying it destroys human embryos.

Alas, and predictably, even the diseased are now to be excluded from the GOP’s intellectual flea circus, presumably because they offended the God of the evangelicals and brought the wrath of Parkinson’s upon themselves. The story continues:

… The spot was the subject of widespread discussion on Monday after conservative radio commentator Rush Limbaugh claimed Fox was “either off his medication or acting” during the ad.

“I think this is exploitative in a way that’s unbecoming either Claire McCaskill or Michael J. Fox,” Limbaugh said on his syndicated show.

Al Franken is left. And he was right.

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