Higgins: Collateral damageWritten by Tim Higgins | | firstname.lastname@example.org
One of the unfortunate consequences of warfare throughout history has been the concept of Collateral Damage. Priceless monuments have been damaged or destroyed, battles have been fought after peace has been declared, and the careers of noble military leaders have been ruined … all part of the sometimes star-crossed nature of armed conflict.
For those of you that have not been paying attention to events in more recent history, the modern concept of collateral damage is described as unintended harm caused as part of an executed strategy. It’s most often heard in describing the consequences of using ‘smart bombs’ during air attacks in one of the many undeclared wars going on around the world. No matter how much care is taken in properly planning a mission or how efficient the technology used is claimed to be, sooner or later the law of averages catches up and Murphy’s Law permits one of these so-called ‘smart bombs’ to either miss or hit a little off the mark of its often unsuspecting target; causing devastation where none was intended. As those in a union hall in Clarington, OH found out recently, the same can be sometimes said of political warfare and the use of ‘F-bomb’ technology.
The explosive device in question (though it can hardly be considered a ‘smart weapon’) was apparently one dropped by Ohio Democratic Party chairman Chris Redfern while speaking as part of an endorsement party being held by the United Steel Workers. Apparently Mr. Redfern was unhappy with the Tea Party movement, and inexplicably chose this public forum to use a well-chosen (or more accurately, poorly chosen) word regrading it. While I will not dignify the word in question, one of the local TV stations in Steubenville (WTOV) was not only on hand to witness it (something that Mr. Redfern was apparently aware of), but recorded the unbecoming remark that was made. When subsequently contacted by the station for an explanation of the remarks, Redfern only response was that he assumed that his comments were not being recorded and refused to apologize.
Setting aside the poor taste and lack of professionalism by a political party leader in using such colorful language to describe one’s opposition in the days leading up to an election (or any other time), one cannot help but question the common sense of a politico who, seeing reporters with a camera and a microphone, assumes that they will not be recording and reporting on such an event.
One cannot help but also question in some way, the competence of a representative of a party that decries the concept of profiling, then uses this very approach to broadly paint and castigate members of the Tea Party. Apparently Mr. Redfern is incapable of realizing that his candidates are running against Republicans, that the Tea Party is not a recognized political party in this country, and that as such they present no direct competition to members of Mr Redfern’s organization. One could even further speculate that what the head of the Democratic Party of Ohio simply objects to anyone who challenges the things that he and his party believe in.
That something like this finally happened can certainly come as no surprise. Negative campaigns have long become the rule rather than the exception in politics, and both parties are equally guilty of abuse. It has to be realized that in this Twitter, Facebook, YouTube society however, that if the mainstream media is not present that someone else will be and recording almost everything; whether intelligence or good taste warrants it or not. Few faux pas or misdeeds will not go unnoticed by a lurid public who treats coverage of political campaigns with the same intensity that it does any other tasteless reality show.
One cannot help but ask however if this is to be the tenor of political debate going forward in the 2010 election cycle? Have politicians reached such a level of ignorance, fear, and desperation with any group of voters refusing to follow in lock step behind their leadership that they are reduced to objectifying them with words we would seldom expect to hear in polite society, let alone in reasoned public political debate?
While the Democratic party seems to have been enjoying a recent (and perhaps short-lived) love affair with the state of Ohio, and while we all know that “love means never having to say you’re sorry”; I fear that Mr Redfern may have to offer more than he has to date to have this indiscretion fade away. Failure to do so may cause him to find himself yet another victim of the political law of unintended consequences, and his current political position little more than another victim of Collateral Damage.