June 9, 2012
President Obama and his well-intentioned staff set up a web site a while back called "Attack Watch".com., to counter all the misinformation and lies that the Republicans consistently spew -
a daunting task to say the least because the Republicans will deliberately lie and misinform even when they are called out on it and when shown- in black and white- that it is a falsehood they will not admit to it and will continue to do as they please without fear of any retribution or loss of support. Obviously, for many, maybe most Republican supporters it doesn't matter that Mr. Romney is rather fast and loose with the facts. He is even rather immiscible when it comes to himself. With such a character and such patronage it is more than a full-time job to keep pace with such well-planned outrages and scuttlebutt. A quick glimpse of the Attack Watch web site and you can tell that there's some updating to be done and perhaps someone with a better eye for lay-out and reader-friendly touches should lend a hand to the effort. Its as if someone had this idea and then rather lazily went about it. (There's a metaphor in there for the rest of the campaign so far but I digress) Now the idea of a web site to take on the vicious distortions of one's opponents is only new in the cyber-sense but it is an idea that may have first originated with a Mrs. Belle Moskowitz, a name that comes trippingly off a bad punchline if you had not already known the extraordinary political place this woman holds in our seldom realized political history.
( I know of one biography written by her granddaughter about 25 years ago with the formidable title , Belle Moskowitz-Feminine Politics and The Exercise of Power in the Age of Alfred E. Smith) During the 1924 campaign for governor - and throughout the roaring 20's, including the '28 presidential campaign, Mrs. Moskowitz was Gov. Al Smith's ( of NY, of course) closest advisor, political strategist, campaign manager, communications director - in short, she was the most powerful woman in Amercia politics at this time - and Amercia was some reactionary place back then what with Prohibition still the law and segregation still the law and the klan with a tea-party like membership (and the law in some states) and Al Smith was a "tammany" politico, a Catholic from one of the poorest neighborhoods in NYC (a New Yawker! with a heavy New Yawk accent and a cigar yet!) and Mrs. Moskowitz? (You get the idea) Anyway, one of her innovations to the Smith campaign was to set up a "Committee on Misinformation" to counter all the Republican charges and lies leveled at her candidate- a precursor to what is now called "the war room". According to Robert A. Slayton, author of Empire Statesman, The Rise and Redemption of Al Smith, during the 1924 governor's race, when, for example, Smith's Republican opponent Roosevelt ( Ted, Jr.) "claimed that Smith had delayed building
a number of new hospitals, the committee arranged a reply by ..the superintendent of Mt Sinai Hospital and the Rockefeller Institute's advisor on hospital construction who told the press that Smith had not lost a minute in pushing the new buildings but rather it was the Republican legislators who had been agonizing over plans and specifications. (pg. 219)" Stuff like that. She maintained this "committee" while attending to dozens of other responsibilities and mentoring the likes of Robert Moses and Eleanor Roosevelt ( politics do make strange allies). If you have a moment check out what dear Mrs. Roosevelt did during the campaign against her relative. Would that the Democrats today would be as innovative or as "rough". And it was a close election, too. Mr. Axelrod, where is your Mrs. Moskowitz?