Thursday, January 31, 2008

Business, not personal

A recent editorial prompted the usual round of critical letters to the editor from outraged writers complaining about alleged unfair personal attacks.

As I've mentioned in the past, if not in this venue, certainly elsewhere, rare is the newspaper editorial for which an opposing view can't be generated. That's OK and it's welcome. It's all part of the exchange of ideas on opinion pages that newspapers like the one I publish encourage.

What's troubling is when the critics seek to deflect attention from the issues.

In this most recent case, in addressing the systemic problem with campaign contributions and access to power, our editorial board pointed to a meeting between the local congressman, a developer (who happens to be a campaign contributor) and the mayor. The editorial didn't claim illegalities on anyone's part. Read it again and you'll see. But it did speak about contributions and access.

When a John McCain takes on a Mitt Romney , and visa versa (pick your own example, if you don't this one; there are plenty), pundits will say "it's getting personal." I say they're debating the issues.

Calling it "personal" makes for a lively argument, but it's usually way off the point.
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