Ben Nelson Plays "the Liberal Card" Against Republican Opponentby Kyle Michaelis
Now, there is much I've tolerated and kept my mouth shut about in this ugly race, particularly where Nelson's campaign has stooped to the same spurrious and outlandish attacks that Ricketts set the standard for months ago. But here, where Nelson is playing on the very Anti-Democratic sentiment that christened the fall campaign - when Ricketts put the conservative Nelson in league with "liberals" such as Hillary Clinton, Ted Kennedy, and John Kerry - things have come full circle to an absolutely disturbing degree.
Regardless of the merits of Nelson's claim about Ricketts' immigration position (which has made a considerable rightward shift over the last few months), I am just sickened and disheartened to see this particular tactic of identifying ones opponent with "the liberals" used by a Democratic Senator.
Many, including myself, have defended Nelson from detractors by pointing out that, unlike Sen. Joe Lieberman, he doesn't make a habit of insulting fellow Democrats for his own political advantage. While simply mentioning "Kennedy and Kerry" can't really be called an insult, using these honorable mens' names as liabilities is an act of unimaginable cynicism of which I could hardly imagine even Lieberman would be capable.
I don't care how effective such a tactic is where Republicans reign supreme. I don't care that the Democratic Party establishment - of which both "Kennedy and Kerry" are a part - will tolerate this sort of denigrating name-dropping, turning a blind eye to its long-term destructiveness.
There was no justification for naming "Kennedy and Kerry" in this ad - none but playing on Rush Limbaugh-inspired liberal cariactures that have made a complete mockery of our once venerable democracy. Pete Ricketts was wrong to play "the liberal card" on Ben Nelson this summer, and Nelson is every bit as wrong to return the favor by implication with the election just around the corner.
Of course, it's only three words in just one more throw-away campaign ad. Perhaps Nebraska Democrats don't need to be outraged, but they should definitely be disappointed. While it's perhaps clever to use Ricketts own pathetic strategy against him, those of us who are trying to build something lasting and respectable of the Nebraska Democratic Party should not be asked to tolerate this blatant show of disrespect and disregard from the man we hold out as our standard-bearer.
Ben Nelson isn't a liberal - not by any stretch of the imagination. That's just fine and dandy. But those of a more progressive persuasion who've stood by Nelson despite their many differences of opinion deserve better than to see leaders like "Kennedy and Kerry" associated with Pete Ricketts. Things are hard enough for liberals in Nebraska without being unjustly linked in voters' minds and memories with that particularly embarrassing candidate or his meaningless campaign.