I live in the 4th Congressional District, where Republican Melissa Hart is seeking to recapture her seat from Democrat Jason Altmire.
I have reservations about Mr. Altmire - to me, he seems a little too clever by half in covering his political flanks and that raises issues of courage and dependability. I would like to say I might be open-minded enough to vote for Ms. Hart. She is tough, smart, serious-minded, polished, a person of character that I would like to like.
But first she would need to persuade me that she gets it - that she realizes her loyalty to George W. Bush was a folly, that her right-wing views are amenable to reason. In meetings with the Post-Gazette editors, she has tried to tell us that she was not in total lockstep with Bush during her three terms in Congress. I haven't really bought it.
And for good reason. She belongs to a party that still doesn't get it - the proof came in a mailer I received just the other day lampooning Altmire. It wasn't clear who exactly had approved it - her name was nowhere mentioned, although it was obviously in the service of her candidacy.
It was a colorful, expensive-looking mailer and it pictured Jason Altmire as a ventriloquist's dummy sitting on the knee of his personal ventriloquist, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, whom conservatives apparently believe is a horned beast mentioned in the Book of Revelation. The big lettering said: "Meet the Liberal Act of Pelosi & Altmire." A little scroll beneath said: "Jason Altmire has voted the way LIBERAL Nancy Pelosi has told him to almost 90% of the time"
Point of order: I believe a ventriloquist's dummy says what his master wants him to say 100% of the time, not at least 90%. If he did that, he would be quite an independent little dummy.
OK, so that's picky. But even by the low standards of such things, this was unbelievably childish stuff. Are there any adults supporting Republican candidates?
But here's what really set me off: The word "liberal" was scattered throughout the mailer, 10 times by my count, and it was used in the sense of dung, vileness, evil.
I am a liberal. I bet there are lots scattered through the district, seeing as how it is a proud term to describe those who have been on the forefront of positive social change. The word liberal is not an expletive.
This juvenile mailer on behalf of the Hart campaign was an insult to the collective intelligence of the electorate. But it was also an insult to me personally. I know whom I am voting for, all mild temptations to the contrary now banished.