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On NOM's anti-intellectual R.I ad: Something smells (other than the moose droppings)

by Jeremy Hooper

By virtue of its fight against equality, of course the National Organization For Marriage's new Rhode Island ad is detrimental to our shared sense of good will. But this latest one is also just plain childish in the way it tries to slight R.I. Governor Lincoln Chafee for winning his race. Let's watch again:

Okay, so yes, on a face read of the numbers, Chafee's percentage was lower than a candidate in a completely other race. Actually, to be more accurate: Chafee's number was lower than any number of candidates in any number of races across the nation. Because every race is different. The players, the breakdowns, the situational realities -- Race A can rarely be transposed onto Race Z. Apples/oranges, ya know?

So looking at the Chafee race on its facts and merits: We are talking about a man who ran as an independent in a Democratic stronghold state. Chafee is the first independent governor to ever win in the state. That's the headline here! Yes, he won with only 36.1% -- but he still friggin' won! He bested Democrat Frank Caprio (23%). And even more pertinent to the interests of this post: Chafee bested NOM-backed Republican John Robitaille, who, with only 33.6% of the vote, also got a smaller percentage than the Cool Moose Party candidate in the Lt. Governor's race.

And about that Lt. Governor's race and its percentages: It was simply a different breakdown in terms of the three candidates involved and their support structure. There was no Republican in the race, so that factor came out from the start. This left three candidates: A Democratic incumbent, an Independent, and the Cool Moose (Independent/Libertarian) candidate. The Democratic incumbent who ultimately took that race, Elizabeth H. Roberts, handily won by 54.5%. The unattached, largely unknown independent, Robert Venturini, got only a teeny, tiny 6.3% return. So that left a big chunk available for Mr. Healey -- a chunk that materialized to the tune of 39.15%. A chunk that was never going to be available in Chafee's more traditional, two-party + an independent race. A Chafee win was always going to be narrow.

But NOM, ever in need of a simplistic framework onto which they can attach their deceit, has chosen to boil all of this down into a campaign that not only shuns marriage equality, but one that also attempts to deligitimize both Gov. Chafee and candidate Robert Healey. Which, by obvious logic, mocks and scoffs at the sizable percentages of Rhode Island voters who cast ballots for these two men.

It's just a poor argument. A bad ad. Cynical politicking. An example of a cause that has very little, so opted to turn molehills into mountains rather than to turn bias into peace.

Though the ad does do one thing: It frees this guy from his long-held role in "Most Half-Baked Face off with a Moose":

(National Lampoons Vacation,
© Warner Bros., 1983)

So that's something.


*Oh, and about that supposed poll: It's actually one of NOM Rhode Island's own in-house surveys, which objective eyes say is loaded and "a classic example of generating a higher number."


*MORE: Matt Baume has this response vid:

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