Thursday, January 31, 2013

A headline a politician just wouldn't want to see

By Richard K. Barry

There is a famous story about Lyndon Johnson's successful campaign for Congress in 1948. You've probably heard it.  As it goes, LBJ was running well behind his opponent and probably likely on his way to losing. He got the idea of having his campaign manager call a press conference to accuse his opponent, who happened to be a pig farmer, of being a little too familiar with the live stock. LBJ's wife, his children, his manager were all shocked at the tactic. His manager finally said, "We can't say that, Lyndon. It's just not true." To which LBJ is supposed to have replied. "Of course it's not. But let's make the bastard deny it." 

I was reminded of this story when reading about allegations against New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez that a major campaign donor provided prostitutes and plane flights to the Dominican Republic. I doubt the plane flights would have made much of a story, but the other thing certainly did. Even though the headline in the Star Ledger takes a run at being fair, to wit: "Menendez denies prostitution allegations, says charges are 'politically motivated," the damage is still done.

I have no idea if the guy was partying hard on a donor's dime. I don't really care. Sorry. Whatever the case, his political enemies made him deny it. I've never paid a lot of attention to this particular senator, but when I do from now on, I can tell you what my first thought will be. 

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