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GOP Tactics Skirt The Truth

David 'Kip' Koontz

March 9, 2005

Last week the Republican right showed us just how low they will go (as if we didn’t think they could take us to new lows) to win the day at all costs when they sent their lackeys to attack the AARP.

Attack an organization with 38 million members?


Because the AARP doesn’t much care for President Bush’s plan to overhaul Social Security, that’s why.

But in the interest of “truth” (propelling political discourse further down the slippery slope it is already on, actually), W’s protectors sent USA Next, an alleged “grassroots, issue-based advocacy organization representing seniors,” as they call themselves, out with a $10 million ad campaign that is pure fiction at best, to distort the truth in every which way about the AARP and its position.

The campaign, which shows a member of our Armed Forces covered with a big red X and a kissing gay male couple covered with a big green checkmark, with the words underneath reading, “The REAL AARP Agenda,” purports that the AARP is anti-troop and pro-gay marriage.

A quick check finds that the AARP has taken no position on the matter of marriage rights for America’s gays and lesbians and, as many members of AARP are veterans themselves, they most likely do care about our men and women in service.

But, hey, they don’t like W’s proposal so it is okay for this “senior’s advocacy group” to attack the AARP, right?

Of course, because it has become standard operating procedure to attack, distort and contort the truth, ala the Swift Boat Veterans, which the GOP and the Bushies practice when feeling threatened; not true, above board honest discourse.

It seems that fanning the flames of discontent is much easier for them then telling the truth; especially when poll numbers show support for W’s social security plan dwindling in spite of his vigorous campaign tour to tell us how good it will be for us.

Some polls show that as many as 56% of those surveyed oppose Mr. Bush’s plan.

This most likely portends that our airwaves, newspapers, magazines and radios will be cluttered with even more messages attacking anyone perceived as being opposed to President Bush’s plan in the near future.

A bit about this so-called “senior advocacy group” finds it to be nothing more than a Republican political front group financed mostly by funding from pharmaceutical companies, not individual contributions as is the AARP.

Since it founding in 1991, this self proclaimed “senior’s advocacy group” is best known for lobbying on behalf of Republicans and attacking Democrats on such hot button “senior” issues as conservative judicial nominees, drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and abortion issues.

What is the AARP’s position on these matters? They haven’t taken one.

The Associated Press reported that in 2002, USA Next “was the biggest spender on political TV ads, paying nearly $9 million for ads mainly supporting Republican candidates.” The Center for Responsible Politics noted in 2003: “Last year, the group reportedly spent $17 million to run political ads in tight congressional races.” They went on to point out that all their contributions in 2003 were to Republicans.

Their current president and CEO, Charles Jarvis, worked in the administration of both Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush.

It is difficult to take this group seriously as an independent organization concerned about the welfare of America’s seniors.

To show how low this element of the Republican Party will go, they crawled in the gutter by attempting to “gay bait” the issue of Social Security with the picture of the two men kissing. It was used without the men’s permission.

Apparently USA Next just pulled the picture off the Portland Tribune’s website (the use of which was given by the men) possibly violating copyright laws as the paper has stated that no one asked them or paid them for permission to reproduce their picture.

So, what, in the name of protecting and supporting W, law breaking and violation of people’s privacy is fair game as well?

When told that the men planned legal action against USA Next, their leadership scoffed.

Why not? The law is just a trivial matter over which they can step if the ends justify the means, right?

USA Next’s claim that the AARP is anti-troop while playing on what they believe to be people’s loathing and fear of gay people, looks to be what has become the GOP’s standard ploy.

It worked in the 2004 elections.

Portraying W as the only true American patriot, who loves our military while standing for the virtues of the ideal of American morals – fundamentalist Christendom, while showing those who oppose him as un-American, anti-troop and anti-Christian value, was the moving force of the Bush/GOP 2004 campaign.

Heck, USA Next even hired the same media consultants who launched the infamous “Swift Boat Veteran for Truth” commercials last year, showing how this element, this tactic, is now firmly ingrained in the GOP playbook.

Sure, some might insist that this is an overstated claim.

But where is the leadership of the national Republican Party?

Condemning such actions?

No, they are sitting quietly on the sidelines letting others do their dirty work.

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