Cue up the right-wing outrage brigade, this time in the form of right-wing squawker Charlie Sykes, thinks it’s newsworthy that Sen. Feingold used a fictional name in his most recent TV ad. However, as Jay Bullock notes over at his place, perhaps Sen. Feingold’s campaign used a made up name in the ad because of possible backlash any real person may get from some on the right:
Consider: How do we even know it’s a fake name? Because as soon as the ad appeared, the right-wing smear machine flew into action to see if they could find this “Elizabeth M. Ackland.” Google searches, Lexus-Nexus searches–Charlie Sykes even went so far as to search cemeteries. This is not just a casual “I wonder who that is” curiosity. This is obsession. So if you want to believe that the motives of people like Charlie Sykes in digging obsessively for information about Ackland were entirely pure, be my guest. But you have to ask yourself: Why were the right wingers so hell-bent on finding Ackland, if she were real? Of what possible use to them would the information be about where she worked? Where she lived? Where her children went to school?
Yeah, scary. When you consider the way that the Charlie Sykes stormtroopers (not a Nazi thing–they embrace that for themselves) treat the personal and professional lives of those of us who are real and do attach our real names to what we do and our support for candidates, it would have been irresponsible for Feingold to subject an innocent person and her family to the hell that was sure to follow.
While some on the right – including Fred Dooley – have tried to dismiss Jay’s argument as being pure fantasy, the fact is some on the right have demonstrated they’re not unwilling to delve into the personal lives of individuals whose names are used by Democratic candidates or elected officials, as demonstrated by the treatment of Graeme Frost and his family after Frost’s name was used in a Democratic Weekly radio address back in 2007. What’s more, I can personally attest to the lengths some on the right are willing to go to delve into someone’s background in order to try and tear that person down, so I think Sen. Feingold’s campaign did the right thing in using a fictional name.
But since we’re on the subject of outrage over the content of political ads, where was the right-wing outrage brigade back in 2008, when Scott Walker, running for yet another term as Milwaukee County Executive, used paid actors in a TV ad, despite his campaign’s assertion that the ad used all “real voters.”
EDIT: Grummps from The Happy Circumstance astutely notes a perfect example of the right suggesting someone “visit” a real person who was used during the 2008 presidential campaign, in the form of a commenter at Badger Blogger.