Desperate times call for desperate name-calling

Back when I was ardently following the battle for control of the House of Representatives (I’m doing less of this now because I’m increasingly confident that Republicans will gain control of the House and have shifted my focus to the Senate), I wrote about the race in Michigan’s Ninth District between incumbent Gary Peters and challenger Rocky Raczkowski. I also posted a link where readers could contribute to the Raczkowski campaign.
Having taken this much interest in the race, I thought I would update readers on where things stand a month and a half later.
Larry Sabato continues to rate the district “leans Democratic.” However, last week a poll showed Raczkowski leading 45 to 40.7. Since this lead is within the poll’s margin of error, and with so many voters still undecided, it may be fair to consider the race a toss-up. It’s my understanding, though, that the Raczkowski campaign thinks its guy is ahead.
Peters may think so too; at a minimum he seems to be feeling the heat. This would explain his recent reference to Raczkowski, during a candidate forum held at a public library, as a “tea-bagger.”
Perhaps we should give Peters the benefit of the doubt and conclude that his use of this label, which refers to a sexual practice, was the result of over-exposure to sick leftists, rather than a knowing attempt to be a sick leftist himself. But it’s questionable whether this sort of name-callng will help Peters stave off Raczkowski’s challenge, in any event.
According to this report, Peters went on to claim that those who attend Tea Party rallies are “close-minded” and guilty of “creating a polarizing rhetoric.” Such a statement is also injudicious. The more sophisticated approach is to attack “the people behind the movement,” rather than those who attend rallies, i.e., people’s friends and neighbors. It may also be self-defeating to call folks close-minded, and to label one’s opponent a tea-bagger, while purporting to be above “polarizing rhetoric.”
Peters’ comments came at about the time the White House reportedly decided to try to make the Tea Party movement the focus of the election. I doubt that this is a highly promising strategy. In any case, it needs to be executed more artfully than Peters was able to.