I'm sure there are similar stories about dirty campaign tricks from all over the country, but I'm here in Texas and have a particular interest in the kind of smears which have been surfacing in our Republican Senatorial primary. It's an interesting race between an insider who started out with a presumed lock on the seat being vacated by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison and an large field of candidates representing various interests and grassroots groups from whom an impressive leading challenger has emerged with a real surge of popular support.
Not surprisingly, when an anointed insider candidate like Lt. Governor David Dewhurst, who has nearly unlimited money at his command, feels threatened by an insurgent campaign, his reaction is to go negative as big as he can, and Dewhurst has gone after former Solicitor General Ted Cruz with both barrels. He has been running very negative attack ads for several weeks, spending $1 million a week and clearly planning to spend even more in the month remaining in the primary.
What makes this particular negative campaign interesting is that Dewhurst seems to be taking his cues from a third-tier candidate named Glenn Addison who began a negative campaign against Cruz early in the primary. Though there's no real evidence, some have suspected that Addison may have been acting as a shill for Dewhurst the whole time, but the peculiar nature of his accusations suggest that his attacks on Cruz may have started as a kind of personal vendetta. The attacks are interesting because they all center around a conspiratorial, paleoconservative perspective characteristic of the John Birch Society.
The Bircher-style smears basically come down to taking various things from Cruz' background and suggesting that he's part of a conspiracy of the global elite and perhaps even some sort of closet international socialist. From Addison they merely seemed peculiar, but with Dewhurst's money behind them and reaching a much wider audience they are a lot uglier and more disturbing.
I could go after the ridiculousness of tainting Cruz because his immigrant father fought with Castro as a teenager in Cuba, or because his law firm defended a Chinese tire company in a patent suit, or because he has taken some campaign money from arch-devil of the conspiracy fringe Goldman-Sachs. None of these other attacks make any sense, but there's one attack which I find more offensive and which is right up my ally because of my past writings on the subject.