March 25, 2019

Mediator: You ‘Approved This Message’? Seriously?

Mr. Trump’s tactic wasn’t unusual in a year of new lows in politics and media.

The Republican Senate candidate Don Blankenship in West Virginia happily stood by — and in — a primary-season ad alleging that the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, had created “millions of jobs for China people” and had received many millions from his “China family.” Mr. McConnell’s wife, Elaine Chao, the transportation secretary, is Chinese-American.

Representative Duncan Hunter, Republican of California, who is running for re-election while facing a 57-count campaign finance law indictment, chirpily approved a false advertisement accusing his Palestinian-Mexican-American opponent, Ammar Campa-Najjar, of trying to “infiltrate” Congress with help from the Muslim Brotherhood.

Representative Chris Collins, Republican of New York, who is under indictment on insider trading charges, has not backed off a xenophobic spot showing his opponent, Nate McMurray — who is married to a naturalized South Korean citizen — speaking Korean. The commercial went on to claim falsely that Mr. McMurray wanted “fewer jobs for us” and more “for China and Korea.”

Here in Florida, white supremacists, who have long been content to deliver their hateful messages via obscure chat boards and fliers placed beneath windshield wipers, are getting into the act. An Idaho-based Nazi group dutifully followed legal disclosure requirements in its vile robocalls against the Democratic candidate for governor, Andrew Gillum.

In this environment, Representative French Hill and his fellow Republicans in Arkansas brought to mind the touching idealism of Jimmy Stewart’s Jefferson Smith when they disavowed a supportive super PAC’s racist radio advertisement warning that “white Democrats” would “take us back to bad old days of race verdicts, life sentences and lynchings when a white a girl screams rape.”

It’s enough to make a political slasher of yore feel irrelevant.

“Guys like me are anachronisms now — the candidates can curse themselves,” said Floyd G. Brown, one of the political operatives involved in the infamous Horton ad. That ad was produced by an “independent” group to insulate Mr. Bush from any backlash.

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