By Robert Mann
Until this weekend there was only one unacceptable candidate in Louisiana’s 6th district congressional race. Now there are two.
Add to the list Republican Garret Graves, who along with the wife of former Gov. Edwin Edwards, have descended into the sewer with personal attacks on Republican candidate Paul Dietzel. In particular, both campaigns have pushed the implication that Dietzel is gay or secretly supports gay rights. Both campaigns are playing to the homophobia of some 6th district voters.
As readers of this blog know well, I am no fan of Edwards. He’s an unrepentant felon whose election would further sully Louisiana’s reputation. I had long ago decided that I would vote for one of Edwards’ Republican opponents. It’s a safe GOP district, so my plan was to vote for the least objectionable Republican, the person most likely to listen to the other side and least likely to contribute to partisan gridlock.
Until a few days ago, I thought that might be Graves. People who know him well — I don’t know him, except by reputation — tell me he’s a fairly liberal person who simply sold out to run for public office.
But when he sold his soul to the devil and began playing to the homophobia of some 6th district voters, he dropped off my list of acceptable candidates.
In recent days, this mailer began appearing around the district. It doesn’t say Dietzel is gay, but the implication is that he supports gay rights.
Dietzel explained in a statement on his website,
“Anedot is a software company used by thousands of customers across the country every day that provides political campaigns, non-profits and other causes the technology to securely collect donations anywhere, whether in person or online. In no way does the company ‘work for’ or support any customer, just like Ebay does not ‘work for’ everyone who has ever bought or sold a product using its technology.”
Now, it’s not my job to defend Dietzel. I think he went too far in statement when he attacked Graves for working for Sen. John Breaux. It was just an internship. I also strongly disagree with Dietzel’s gay rights position. He against same-sex marriage. I’m for it.
All that said, it’s abundantly clear that Dietzel did not “work for” Equality Louisiana. I wish he had, but he didn’t.
The mailer’s implication is bad enough. But there’s the matter of a nasty website that mysteriously appeared late last week, injecting homophobic poison into the campaign’s blood stream.
I and many others saw the site, thelawatchdog.com, on Thursday night, but failed to capture a screenshot. Here’s a little of what it said from someone who did write down some of its text (if any reader has a screenshot of this, please share it with me so I can post it here):
“Is Paul Dietzel really a champion of Faith & Family values? Dietzel is 28 years old, he has never been married, has no girlfriend and no children. He has flip-flopped on the issue of gay marriage, having been for it before he decided it would be politically advantageous to be against it. In life, actions speak louder than words. What are the actions of this ‘family values’ candidate really?”
At first, it wasn’t clear that this was very likely a website inspired by Graves or his supporters. That’s because the campaign of Edwin Edwards, in particular his wife Trina, was busy pushing these rumors on Twitter.
By Friday morning, the mysterious website had vanished, its filthy job seemingly accomplished. Here’s what you’ll find now at thelawatchdog.com:
Now, there’s no proof yet that Graves’ campaign created the website, but the timing of the site’s appearance with the Graves’ mailer is, at the very least, highly suspicious.
I’ve always marveled at moderate-to-liberal people like Rep. Bill Cassidy (and, apparently, Garret Graves) who so easily change their political ideology in pursuit of public office. It’s not pretty, but I know it’s fairly common when political ambition trumps ideology or principle.
What I don’t understand is how someone like Graves would want an office so badly that he would be willing to inject homophobia into a campaign.
Look, I had absolutely no expectations that Edwards and his wife would conduct themselves with much dignity in this campaign. Ms. Edwards decision to push this homophobic site on Twitter didn’t surprise me.
Perhaps I expected a bit more of Graves. I don’t know why, but I did.
His eagerness climb into the sewer speaks volumes about his character. Graves obviously wants voters to think that an opponent is gay, so perhaps he could tell us why that is so important to him and should be to us. The mailer, of course, also says something about the intellectual bankruptcy of his well-funded campaign.
It’s not often that I agree with former Rep. Woody Jenkins, but he nailed it in a statement on his Facebook page Saturday: “Up until now, I have thought highly of Garret Graves. However, this mailing piece is highly unethical. He should immediately issue a public apology and retraction, or voters should oppose his candidacy as unethical and willing to ‘say whatever it takes for money and votes’ as he falsely attributed to Paul Dietzel.”
If I were Dietzel, I’d be happy, because these attacks suggest that Graves has an internal poll suggesting that Dietzel is a threat to his campaign.
Graves’ desperate and ugly act calls to mind the words of the late Margaret Thatcher: “I always cheer up immensely if an attack is particularly wounding because I think, well, if they attack one personally, it means they have not a single political argument left.”
Note: An earlier version of this post said that Graves once worked for Sen. Mary Landrieu. Graves worked for Sen. David Vitter. I regret the error.