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That odor you smell is the odor of desperation.
Whether it is on the TV show Mad Men in the offices of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, which has lost a majority of its billings and must sign up new businesses to survive, or from politicians and campaigns who find themselves on the wrong side of public opinion as Election Day approaches, desperation yields unfortunate results.
Campaigns, candidates and even elected officials who should know better say and do bad things.
In Pennsylvanias 13th district, the campaign of Republican Dee Adcock, who is challenging three-term Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D), recently e-mailed a news release with the subject line Poll shows tight race in PA 13.
The memo, which included only a generic ballot, Schwartzs re-elect and an informed ballot, repeatedly conveys the impression that the race between the Congresswoman and Adcock, the president of his familys 50-year-old swimming pools, accessories and supplies distributorship, is very competitive.
I know that when I see a news release in October that states that, When voters hear where Adcock and Schwartz stand on the issues Adcock wins, I have stumbled across a campaign that probably has no chance of winning.
When or if voters hear the contrast? On June 30, Adcock had $285,000 in the bank, compared with $3.3 million for Schwartz.
When I called Adcocks campaign to get the initial ballot, I was told by a press spokesman that the campaign isnt releasing that. I wasnt surprised, since I already knew that Republican and Democratic polling showed Schwartz with at least a 20-point lead over the challenger.
Putting it simply, the campaign was lying about the race being close. An overenthusiastic campaign manager or press operation? Probably. Chalk it up to another desperate campaign doing desperate things.
But desperation and bad judgment arent limited to just one party.
In the northwest corner of the Keystone State, freshman Rep. Kathy Dahlkempers 3rd district campaign was proving that she, too, is more than a little desperate.
The Democratic lawmakers Oct. 8 fundraising e-mail asks for contributions because seven outside groups, some funded by foreign interests from the Middle East, are running TV spots attacking her.
Candidates have long sought to raise money and energize voters by noting the dollars spent against them and the groups doing the spending. Thats certainly fair game. Republicans tried to define Democrats in 2006 by supporters George Soros and MoveOn.org, just as Democrats try to define the GOP as the party of Sarah Palin, Christine ODonnell and Karl Rove.
But whats this about unnamed groups funded from the Middle East? Is she talking about Israelis? Arabs? Muslims? Al-Qaida?
No, she is talking, apparently, about the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Dahlkemper and other Democrats are making an issue of the fact that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce gets a piddling amount of money from a number of AmChams, American Chamber of Commerce affiliates around the world.