Cardinal John Henry Newman, who was violently attacked by the media of his day and responded with a more than adequate self defense, the “Apologia Pro Vita Sua,” used to say, “Throw enough dirt and some will stick – stick but not stain.” But Newman could not have been familiar with modern modes of politicking: UTube videos, blogs written by furious partisans, offshore political operations that are little more than "non-partisan" campaign finance producing operations in disguise, and sleepy eyed journalists, themselves partisan, who are willing to overlook their mud splattered political opponents.
But a bright warning line ought to be drawn somewhere.
An ad approved by embattled U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy that craftily connects Sam Caliguiri with former Waterbury Mayor Phil Giordano throws a bucket of mud on Caliguri’s reputation. Mr. Murphy’s challenger is, after all, a politician and ought not to expect to remain unbloodied in a hotly contested political campaign. Even so, the Murphy ad sets a new floor and ceiling to shameless political advertising.
Mr. Giordano is the odious mayor who was sent to prison for having had sexual relations with the daughters of a prostitute in Waterbury. The object of the Murphy ad is to hitch Caliguri to the Giordano stench, hoping that some of the odor will radiate outward to voters who may be persuaded by it to vote for the more fragrant Mr. Murphy.
The ad, “Caligiuri And Friends” -- already denounced, but not ardently or often enough, by some reputable papers -- charges, “When Waterbury Mayor Phil Giordano went to jail for unspeakable crimes, many called for his impeachment. Instead, his Number Two man, Sam Caligiuri, negotiated a deal to allow the mayor to keep his salary and title while in prison.”
Not disclosed in the ad: 1) The negotiated settlement put Mr. Giordano in jail; 2) it spared the city, more furious with Mr. Giordano even than the slander-mongers who wrote the Murphy ad and signed off on it, the ordeal of a protracted impeachment which, while staining the city’s reputation, never-the-less would have been a political boon to Democrats; 3) most convictions for political offenses are negotiated rather than prosecuted. Such was the case with former Gov. John Rowland, former mayor of Bridgeport Joe Ganim and former Bridgeport state Rep. Ernie Newton, now out of prison and vowing to campaign for prominent Democrats in Murphy’s district; 4) Caligiuri turned Waterbury around during a trying period for the city, retiring from his position as acting mayor when his term had been fulfilled; 5 if you throw enough dirt, some will stick – stick but not stain.
Ads such as these offend the good conscience. They seek to take a strength -- Caliguiri led Waterbury through the wilderness -- and turn it into a moral deficit, at the expense of what everyone but committed partisans know to be the truth. People who endorse this junk-thought have lost all sight of the only bearing that matters. We should willingly submit to the dignity of truth, which is independent of us, and not use it as a tool of the moment to gratify our own ambitions. When truth wrapped in chains follows ambition, an honest conscience should recoil at the sight.
And it will. There are indications that people are bone weary with these fact-based truths. They want authenticity. They want the whole truth, not the half lie politicians dangle before them to purchase their votes.
The Murphy ad cannot be linked. According to a message attached to the ad on a newspaper site, it has been privatized. “This is a private video,” the message reads, “If you have been sent this video, please be sure you accept the sender’s friend request.”
Who would wish to befriend such mud slingers? As an alternative, voters who find ads such as these morally repugnant will have the opportunity to cast the sender and his friends into political oblivion on November 2.