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Incumbents Deceive Voters About Their Jobs

By Steve Benen, Maddow Blog - August 6, 2012

For reasons that may not be immediately obvious, this 30-second ad in an Ohio congressional race is one of the more interesting spots I've seen in a while.

For those who can't watch clips online, the ad features a man named Bill Johnson standing in a field, reflecting on his 26 years in the Air Force, and complaining about "politicians in Washington." In the ad, Johnson goes on to blast his Democratic opponent, whom he describes as "Congressman Charlie Wilson."

Why is this interesting? Because Bill Johnson is the incumbent. The ad never mentions that he's actually already in Congress, making him one of the "politicians in Washington" Johnson presumably doesn't like. "Congressman Charlie Wilson" lost in 2010, but is seeking a rematch.

It's part of a larger trend: conservatives who loved running against incumbents, levering anti-Washington attitudes in competitive districts, aren't quite sure what to say when the shoe is on the other foot.

The House Republican freshmen ran for Congress as the ultimate outsiders determined to clean up Washington. But they've been here two years now; things are still a mess; and now, they want voters to send them back for another two years.

What to do? The answer, based on their early campaigning: Don't acknowledge you're an incumbent.... As they kick off tough reelection battles, the GOP newbies are taking pains to distance themselves from a Capitol that remains toxic, casting themselves as the same insurgent forces that swept to power in 2010.

In New Hampshire, for example, we're seeing the exact same situation play out -- Rep. Frank Guinta (R) recorded a robocall recently that says, "Hi, this is Frank Guinta, candidate for Congress, running against Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter. I'm running to end the broken culture of Washington."

If it weren't easy to fool people, folks like Guinta wouldn't try to pull cynical stunts like these, pretending he's the challenger, rather than the incumbent.

But the truth is, politicians who won in 2010, vowing to make Washington better and more effective, got to Capitol Hill and made matters much worse. Given the number of reasons this is the worst Congress ever, these GOP incumbents have to hope for widespread ignorance for the stunt to pay off.

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The guy did 26 years in the Hair Farce? The organization that thinks airplanes fly because angels lift the wings? He's lucky if he's smart enough to sign his name the same twice in succession.

Wait! Wouldn't supporting the Keystone pipeline be Big Gubmint infringing our personal parts (and liberty!)? Whose side is he on anyway?!

Have been seeing a similar ad against Sherrod Brown in the OH. senate race-calling him a career Washington politician. My non political junky spouse even picked up on this one as Brown is in his 1st term as senator. While its true he's pretty much always been a politician, he did serve time in state offices as well. Hardly a life long Washington insider.

Obviously the economy trumps everything, and the uncertainty in Europe will hold incredible sway over how this election turns out. But the path is set for a Democratic takeover because John Boehner and Tea Party House Republicans have been such miserable failures in their nearly two years at the helm of Congress. The approval rating for Congress has never been lower, and voters are simply fed up with the reckless intransigence and partisanship displayed on anon-stop basis by the GOP. What have they done to create jobs or strengthen our economy? Nothing. Principled Progressive

The most useful- and used- phrase in Washington seems to be, "I was for it before I was against it!"

This technique shouldn't even be legal, I won't comment on the ethics of it since that is beyond the scope of the TP.

if the rise of the tea party and the dixie republicans has taught me nothing else, i've learned to never, ever bet against ignorance!

Sadly,the voting public suffers from advanced "widespread ignorance."

"If it weren't easy to fool people, folks like Guinta wouldn't try to pull cynical stunts like these, pretending he's the challenger, rather than the incumbent."

The studies show FOX NEWS viewers are the least informed so this tactic should fall flat with the average American voter. In fact, it should be seen as insulting to the average American voter.

War is Peace

Freedom is Slavery

Ignorance is Strength

"Widespread voter ignorance" is what elected these people in the first place.

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