The Blog Squad

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Has the death penalty put Kaine on a swift boat to defeat?

Shhhhh! Can you hear it? Listen.

Thwack, thwack, thwack ...

Those are the nails in Tim Kaine's campaign coffin.

We've all been kind of waiting around for this gubernatorial campaign to finally be about something and today Kilgore made it about something: the death penalty. He's launched a series of new ads featuring family members of murder victims saying things like: "How could you not think the death penalty was appropriate? That's not justice. When Tim Kaine calls the death penalty murder, I find it offensive." Another person says, "Tim Kaine voluntarily represented the person who murdered my son. He stood with murderers in trying to get 'em off death row."


And never mind that Kaine was court-appointed.

The ad certainly depends on the notion that family members of murder victims have the same so-called "moral authority" both granted and denied (depending on your perspective) Cindy Sheehan as the mother of a slain soldier protesting the Iraq war. But in Virginia, odds are, voters are going to grant that authority.

But this isn't really about the death penalty, per se. It's about politics and timing. It's about the thrust and parry of two campaigns in their last month. Kaine has been forced into a position he hasn't faced too much, of being on his heels and of having to create ads that respond to Kilgore's ads. He is, in effect, on a swift boat to defeat.

His response so far has been dreadful. Vague, meandering. Uh, yes, Hitler deserves the death penalty but only God can grant life and only God can take it away except in kind of rare instances like self -defense or a just war ... Oh, mercy. His basic position is not an untenable one as many people of faith feel the same way and many people who tout their support for a "culture of life" also have a disconnect between their positions on the death penalty and abortion. (Ah-hem! Right, Jerry?)

But as a friend just said to me: "This is Politics 101. Somebody asks you if Hitler deserves the death penalty, you say YES."

You wonder if Kilgore's campaign had this up their sleeve from Day One or whether the debate distilled this issue for them and they seized upon it quickly. It's brilliant either way. And I don't know if Kaine will be able to recover but he's going to need to go back on the attack quickly on the most hot-button issue he can find.


But if he keeps up his hummina-hummina defense and goes back to talking about Pre-K funding and transportation lock boxes it could be over well before Nov. 8.

Wait. Do you hear it?


That was Jerry Kilgore pulling the sword out of the stone.


At Wed Oct 12, 04:50:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The press must be desperate for an issue if you are discussing this. This is such a non-issue for Virginian voters. No one thinks or believes that Kaine would dismantle the death penalty. I wonder why it would be the "death knell" for Kaine if he did go back to real issues like education and health care. Is it because of the attention span of the voter or the lackadaisical attitude of the press to cover "real issues" which require research and work rather than just bad puns.

At Wed Oct 12, 06:38:00 PM EDT, Blogger Janet Giampietro said...

i agree with you 100 percent. i think if people thought it through they would realize that in fact the chances that kaine would dismantle the death penalty are much, much slimmer than the chances that kilgore would roll back roe v. wade given the chance. but i said outright that this isn't at all about the issue. it's about the way the game is played. it's disgusting and pandering and plays precisely to the short attention span of the voter. but it's also fascinating to watch. you don't think that if kaine could hit upon an AHA! issue he wouldn't do the very same thing? but i do think you are wrong about one thing. i don't believe this is a non-issue for people. even though i personally believe the issue has very little meaning in our everyday lives it just might be the thing that tips the scales for those people who are still sitting on the fence. and please, a little respect for bad puns. even shakespeare was known to use them now and again. ;)

At Wed Oct 12, 09:42:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh you're right Janet. I'm not mad at the press, not really, I'm angry at the voters that will decide who will be governmor on such a pointless issue. I hate that more people aren't interested in politics or are so tricked by these stupid issue ads. And use all the puns you like - I feel like a total pun head now anyway. :(

At Wed Oct 12, 09:44:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually not govermor but governor. Why can't they have spell check on these comments?!

At Thu Oct 13, 11:16:00 AM EDT, Blogger Janet Giampietro said...

maybe we should elect a govermor! he (or she, of course) could be the one who presides over all these death penalty/gay marriage/abortion/intelligent design vs. evolution/10 commandments outside of courthouses issues and the governor could take care of the real stuff!

At Sun Oct 30, 02:14:00 AM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Better yet, Why won't ANY politician recommend the one thing that benefits all of us, them most of all...Referendums. We elect politicians to go to Richmond to sit spend days talking to constituents and hours listening to experts speak about complex issues like how to regulate the transportation industry.
Abortion & gay marriage are issues voters can decide for themselves. We know the arguments and I don't need someone to decide these "complex" issues for me.
The worst of it is how 15% of our electorate votes for one candidate or the other solely on these issues, when we could pull them out of their hands.


Post a Comment

<< Home