There are so many political ads on television and most of them are not very pleasant. Many viewers are disgusted with the personal attacks and conflicting claims. They can’t all be right and it’s possible that none is. The Michigan Truth Squad is likely overwhelmed and these things sometimes take time to suss out. So far no reaction by the Squad to the Dems’ ad about the language of Michigan Supreme Court Justice Robert Preston Young, Jr. Of course, Justice Young admitted to reporters that he did say what has been said he said, so even if the ad is truly unpleasant and repugnant, it has substance. There is at least one problem with the ad, though. Is there no one in the Democratic Party who can summon any grammar skills? They use the phrase “Thats who” when identifying Justice Elizabeth Ann Weaver (Michigan Supreme Court, retired) as the person who exposed Justice Young’s bad behavior. Where’s the apostrophe indicating a contractio of “That is who!”? “Thats who”? No, “That’s who”. Golly. Well, I make mistakes as well, serving as I do as my own editor. But I fix ‘em when I find ‘em. The Dems should have caught and fixed that early on.
Now, I think the Republicans have made their own mistake, too. When I got home on Friday there was a message on an answering machine that purported to be from Michelle Engler, Michigan’s former First Lady. After identifying herself, the speaker went on to say all the ads about Bob Young’s language are lies. Further, they were put out by the Democrats in conjunction with the KKK. Wow! My first thought was that somebody in her working circle went to my website and saw that I had made a film about the Klan. I did, and you can watch the trailer at this website. I’d even be happy to sell a copy if you like. (The film won the 2005 State History award from the Historical Society of Michigan and has appeared on Public Television.) I assure you it was not in praise of the Klan, an enterprise that is still all too alive and well. Was she referring to that? And, dang it, the message was erased before I had the sense to take it down verbatim. If there’s somebody out there who has the message, will you please transcribe it, double check it, and send it to me: firstname.lastname@example.org? Thank you.
I’ve wondered, too, that while many newspapers have followed the story of the racial and sexual language the Justice used, others have not. Heck, theChicago Trib picked up the AP stories as did the Freep, The Detroit News and countless small papers, but the story has appeared nowhere (as far as I’ve been able to check) on the west side of the state (where I live). The Grand Rapids Press, for example, certainly knew about it. I sent the blog postings to the editorial page editor suggesting he might want to at least investigate the matter before endorsing, as I expected the paper would, Justice Young and Judge Mary Beth Kelly. Zip. Papers have a right and duty to decide what they’ll publish, what’s news, what’s manufactured news, what downright scurrilous, what’s partisan prating, what’s fluff, what’s nothing. Seems they’ve made a decision about all this. In a larger sense, it’s unfortunate that all this comes at election time. It is the time, however, when voters are paying some attention to the High Court. This work is not simply about an election, it’s about what’s gone on at the Court. There is more to be done in telling the story.
As for assertions that I am a Democratic operative. Sorry, no. I describe myself as a conservative mostly Republican. I’ve never joined a political party and paid dues, but my votes have mostly tended to that side. I’m pretty sure that party is not eager to have me, but thought is thought. Edmund Burke in pursuing the excesses of Warren Hastings was, I believe, not well loved by his own party (and abjured by others). Any vindication has come long after. I’m no Edmund Burke, but I can try to hew to the same principles. With him I certainly know that ”Among a people generally corrupt, liberty cannot long exist.” An honest revelation–however unpleasant–goes a long way against corruption.