I’m a little taken aback by how taken aback some people are over Jack Conway’s hit on Rand Paul:
This ad has the virtue—not that common in politics—of being accurate. It also has the virtue of raising actual policy issues about the consequences of Paul’s position on tax reform. It’s true that the implication that unorthodox religious belief should disqualify one from office is ugly, but it’s an implication that I think is extremely common in American politics. Joe Lieberman ran around the country 10 years ago slandering atheists and Mitt Romney did much the same in his effort to make Mormonism acceptable to the GOP’s Christian base voters.
At any rate, what I find most striking about the Conway-related outrage is the lack of outrage over the torrent of xenophobic China-bashing ads we’ve seen from candidates of both parties throughout this campaign season. Accusing one’s opponent of transferring economic opportunities from the United States to China (sometimes India) is a major feature of a huge number of 2010 campaigns. These attacks tend to be factually misleading, and also promote the widespread by definitely wrong misconception that the US and China are engaged in a zero-sum contest for prosperity. What’s more, even granting the factual and analytic premises of these ads their ethics is clearly mistaken. If it was the case that the US and China face zero-sum competition for economic resources, transferring resources from rich America to poor China would be morally praiseworthy.