Monday, October 20, 2008

The silly season

I'm told that in national politics, they call it "the silly season." The way it's been explained to me, this refers to the last couple of weeks before an election, when often-baseless charges fly and the respective sides in a campaign not only jockey for position, but scurry around seeking brush fires where they don't exist and then try to stamp them out.

We have our version of that around here. It has all theelements of the aforementioned national model, and it also typically includes hyper-sensitive reactions to press coverage, or lack thereof. In short, if a candidate gets press coverage, it's not good and/or fair enough. And if a candidate doesn't get press coverage, the sky has fallen.

The final weekend of a local campaign is particularly bizarre, what with a barrage of print and broadcast ads, some of which try to paint opponents with mud-filled brushes.

I don't know about elsewhere, but around our shop, the advertising department is placed on amber alert so as not to allow incendiary ads to be purchased about issues being raised for the first time at the 11th hour, leaving the other side no time for rebuttal.

Then there's the matter of endorsements. No, not the kind issued by newspaper editorial boards, but by politicians themselves. Is it news, for instance, when a Democratic or Republican higher-up endorses a local candidate of the same party? Around here, we say no. But if a Democrat backs a Republican, or vice versa, then you have your proverberial "man bites dog" story and it's worthy of space in the paper.

So brace yourself for the silly season, which started long ago in the presidential campaign, but is really picking up steam in some of our local and regional contests.

Take a deep breath. It will be over soon.
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