Mudslinging Can Be A Useful Tool

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The voting booth process of deciding which man or woman is best qualified to lead one's city, state or country can be a mind-bending ordeal. How can we ever rest assured that our candidates of choice won't turn out to be the next Richard Nixon, Fife Symington, Debra Brimhall or Ev Mecham?

The great benefit of candidates such as Independent Party gubernatorial hopeful Richard Mahoney is that they help narrow the field.

Yes, mudslinging is as old as politics itself. And yes, even the most honorable of candidates have been known to fire dirtballs in the heat of a campaign. The stuff Mahoney is tossing, however, is that bovine-produced material most popularly used in gardens.

Most recently, Mahoney charged in a TV ad that Republican Matt Salmon's Mormon faith would keep Salmon from cracking down on the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints based in Colorado City, Ariz., and Hildale, Utah a sect now under investigation for allegations of polygamy, forced marriages, sexual abuse and other crimes. The ad features narration by Flora Jessup, an anti-polygamy activist and former plural wife and, if you can believe it, footage of the burning Branch Davidian compound near Waco, Texas. Fertilizer doesn't come any purer than that.

Another Mahoney commercial claimed Napolitano is soft on pedophilia by recalling a 1996 case in which she, as U.S. attorney, did not issue a search warrant against a man later convicted of molesting hundreds of boys. Napolitano who had asked police to get more evidence first was correct when she said the Mahoney attack was one of several intended "to create an innuendo that I'm gay."

Mud is mud. But outright lies and distortions about another candidate's religion and sexuality do no favors for anyone.

Except, of course, those of us who feel so accommodated when candidates like Richard Mahoney weed themselves out of the selection process.

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