Jim Beam’s One-Sided Boustany Endorsement

This morning Jim Beam, who cross-posts his Lake Charles American Press editorials here at the Hayride twice a week (and we’re extremely appreciative of him doing that and earnestly hope he continues), came out in favor of Charles Boustany over Jeff Landry for the 3rd District U.S. House seat which will be decided – assuming there isn’t a runoff – in nine days.

Jim is entitled to his opinion, and I don’t disagree with his contention that Boustany is a competent public servant the district, and the state, will profit from if he wins re-election.

But Jim’s column comes off the rails from there…

Landry has conducted his campaign pretty much as expected. Three years ago he was elected to the former 3rd District seat after malicious attacks on the character and reputation of Hunt Downer, a dedicated public servant. Downer is a former speaker of the Louisiana House of Representatives, decorated military veteran who served in Operation Desert Storm, outstanding citizen of his community and a leader who has served his state and country well.

Sorry, but that’s just not fair. We covered the Landry-Downer race at the Hayride and Landry didn’t attack Downer’s character. Landry attacked his record as a legislator, and records are fair game. But he didn’t attack Downer’s character; those attacks went the other way. Downer’s campaign went to significant lengths to accuse Landry of being involved in drug trafficking, which was a wildly malicious and false charge. That campaign became one of the dirtiest in recent Louisiana memory, but while Landry hit Downer hard on his record as a former Democrat whose conservatism was questionable – and while some of those attacks might not have been completely fair – Downer’s campaign did everything they could to savage Landry’s reputation. The race became poisonous, but it was eerily similar in conduct to this one.

Among the tactics in that campaign was the launch of a website devoted to “exposing” Landry’s purported lies. Which is precisely what Boustany’s campaign has done this time around.

Downer also ditched a debate he’d previously agreed to, just like Boustany has done.

Beam goes further in heightening our sense of deja vu…

Now, Landry is working through Geaux Free TPL, formerly called the Tea Party of Lafayette, and Freedom Works, a Washington, D.C., conservative organization devoted to helping the tea party movement. Like their candidate, the organizations don’t hesitate to twist facts.

Both accused Boustany of not signing a no-tax pledge and said Landry, their candidate, was the only one supported by the National Right to Life Committee. The accusations were false, and Boustany called their hand, noting that he had signed the pledge and was backed by the antiabortion group.

“Jeff Landry and his Washington cronies Freedom Works have had plenty to say about me and my record for the entirety of this campaign,” Boustany said. “They have habitually lied about my positions regarding the sanctity of life, repealing Obamacare, support for Israel and tax policy, with little regard for the truth.”

Joyce Linde, coordinator for Geaux Free TPL, said the mistakes were accidental, were being corrected and “nothing was done intentionally.” However, considerable damage may have already been done.

The pamphlet the Lafayette Tea Party group and FreedomWorks put out might well have been a false attack on Boustany’s record and it might well have been intentional rather than a mistake. I have no interest in defending that, though the offending material has been redacted and new pamphlets distributed without it (at least, that’s my understanding).

But it amounts to an attack on Boustany’s record, not his character. I’m surprised that Beam didn’t mention that Boustany’s attacks on Landry haven’t fallen within those limits.

After all, Landry didn’t call Boustany a tax cheat the way Boustany did, in an attack ad roundly criticized as a flimsy lie. That’s a character attack.

Beam didn’t note that Boustany has attacked Landry’s record as well, in ways which are just as disingenuous as anything Landry might have been guilty of. Like for example his complete butchering of Landry’s position on the Fair Tax. Or his blowing up a tactical disagreement about a Congressional lame duck session into the idea Landry is for tax increases.

The point being that you can be for Boustany or for Landry. And you can be disappointed with the way this campaign has descended into a knife fight. But the idea that Landry has run this negative campaign while Boustany has been blameless, which Beam has rolled out this morning, just won’t wash. Boustany is guilty of every bit the mudslinging his backers accuse Landry of.

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