Friday, October 20

Going For Gibbons

It seems almost too coincidental that just as Rep. Jerry Weller (R-Ill.) is being hit with rumors that he was somehow involved in the page scandal, gubernatorial candidate Rep. Jim Gibbons (R-Nev.) is also being accused of assaulting a woman outside a restaurant (just days ago).

The allegations against Gibbons are being made by Chrissy Mazzeo, a 32-year-old cocktail waitress at Wynn Las Vegas, who called 911 three times, charging that Gibbons grabbed her, shoved her against the wall, and threatened her in a parking garage outside a local restaurant. Apparently intoxicated, her story seems to have changed with each call, including one call when she actually laughed while talking to the dispatcher.

While I'm not big on conspiracy theories, some folks have obviously noted that sexual conduct is the Achilles heel of the Republican Party and they're all too happy to exploit it, whether that means making false allegations or not. They know all too well that false allegations can distract a campaign, taking a candidate off issue-oriented messages by forcing them to address such charges as Jim Gibbons had to do yesterday.

Despite rumors, neither the Weller connections nor the Gibbons allegations appear credible. In fact, the only reason either story has the potential to become a brush fire, fanned by bloggers and major news media, is because of our public's insatiable appetite for scandals and media's willingness to feed it.

In the case of Jim Gibbons, the entire sordid story makes me inclined to support him all the more, a decision I made shortly after weighing who would make the best governor in Nevada after the primary (most know I have a long-standing friendship with State Sen. Bob Beers, who has also come to support Gibbons). In fact, it was also this decision that made me all too happy to assist the Nevada Republican Party with GOTV efforts.

In working on GOTV projects that include Gibbons and lieutenant governor candidate Brian Krolicki, whom I have always admired, I learned a few things about Gibbons' character that, in my opinion, has not received enough attention. As a Vietnam veteran and elected official, Gibbons did not have to serve in the Gulf War. Yet, he was compelled to serve again because he recognized he was one of only a handful of pilots with previous combat experience.

To me, this provides an accurate measure of Jim Gibbons' character, above and beyond any misstatements he may have made in the past. It also demonstrates exactly how unlikely Mazzeo's story really is (which at one point she herself called a misunderstanding because she was drunk).

In deciphering communication today, particularly in political communication, I urge voters and members of the media to remember that many off-issue rumors are often personally motivated for attention at best or political trickery at worst. Somewhere along the line someone has to remember the real role of the media is to get at the truth rather than fan the fires of an attention-grabbing rumor for the benefit of a headline.

1 comments:

Rich on 10/23/06, 9:23 AM said...

Famous Last Words:

"We're living in a kindergarten. It should be on the issues, and that's the thing makes you sick about the political scheme of things right now, regardless of what side." — Clint Eastwood recently summed up his take on politics today in Entertainment Weekly, which mirrors my post on the very subject.

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