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Not A Black Twit… Just A Twit

DeWayne Wickham is a twit. Worse than that, he’s a lazy twit. Before you judge me for saying so, DeWayne, and before you pronounce me another Republican racist, hear me out.

What would you call a guy who reports on political advertising, but clearly failed to do any research at all into the legal requirements for, and limitations on, such advertising? What would you call a guy who makes pronouncements against any ad based on what he alleges others knew, without any actual proof? In my book, “twit” fits the bill nicely. Not Black twit, not Asian twit, not Caucasian twit, just twit. If I had meant anything else, I would have said so.

The reason for my tirade against Mr. Wickham is this ridiculous column in the USA Today. In it, he states:

Republicans have dusted off their Southern strategy playbook. Mehlman won’t admit as much. But the subtle racism of the ad is just a new twist on the more blatant appeals the GOP used to make to whites who were angered by the Democratic Party’s embrace of the civil rights movement.

So what has his ire? This ad run as an “independent expenditure” by the RNC. For those unfamiliar, here’s how an independent expenditure works. The FEC, in its infinite wisdom, left a bizarre loophole in it’s legal framework for ads. The political committees can run ads, but they can’t actually know what’s in them. “What the hell?” you ask. That’s right. It’s a bizarre little loophole, but here’s how it works in a nutshell.

The RNC pays a consultant to create and place ads. The consultant creates the ad, places the ad, adds a paid for by the RNC disclaimer, and the RNC pays for the piece. Make sense? No. But it is a feature of our campaign finance system. (If you dread paying your taxes because of the morass of contradictions that is the federal tax code, you really don’t want to wade into the FEC swamp.)

So anyway, DeWayne, who holds himself out as a professional journalist and covers, at least in this instance, such ads, should be at least somewhat familiar with the laws that govern them. Is he? Apparently not.

Now I don’t spend much time writing about physics and quantum mechanics because I don’t have the proper background. If I wanted to write about such things, I would ask for help from people who know them. I would ask for lengthy explanations from people versed in those fields and make sure they reviewed my work so I didn’t end up looking stupid.

DeWayne chose not to do that.

Mehlman wants us to think that’s not his intention. He wants us to believe that although he funded the ad, he had absolutely no knowledge of its content.

“The way that process works under the campaign reform laws is I write a check to an independent individual and that person’s responsible for spending money in certain states,” Mehlman said lamely during an appearance on MSNBC.

The problem with this dodge is that a voice in the commercial, which was pulled off the air late last week, loudly proclaims: “The Republican National Committee is responsible for the content of this advertising.”

This makes Mehlman’s claim of ignorance ring hollow.

Ummmm…. No, it doesn’t. If you want to challenge the stupidity of the law, that’s fine with me. If you want to address a campaign finance system that is poorly conceived and antithetical to the concept of free speech, I’m all for that.

If, however, you want to attack the RNC for complying with the stupidity of the FEC by running an ad sight unseen, simply because the FEC requires them to add a legal disclaimer that makes BCRA’s disclosure intent a sham, then you really are a twit.

Written by Michael Turk