Perhaps it’s a little bit that I don’t have a contested primary in my precinct or district this year, but it’s a bit more that I can’t stand to see sloppy thinking and argumentation in situations where Republicans are facing off against Republicans. As I’ve mentioned, there are a number of contested primaries in neighboring districts and one of those that’s generating a lot of traffic and interest has to do with the newly-minted Virginia House 87th District. Accusations and lots of not-so-pertinent information on the candidates’ personal lives are flying around. It’s unfortunate but, as the saying goes, politics ain’t beanbag.
When political attacks boil down to nothing but personal attacks, however, it’s telling and I have no issue holding up those responsible to the light of day. To whit, I give you this story from the Loudoun Times-Mirror, “Supporters rally around Ramadan after protest” describing the so-called “press conference” held to give opponents of David Ramadan a platform upon which to… well, why spoil the fun?
While many local Republicans were gathered to support Ramadan, a press conference demanding more information from the candidate was occurring across the street in front of the Loudoun County Government Center.
Speakers included Frank Gaffney, a Washington Times columnist, Kent Clizbe, a former covert CIA officer, Kerry Patton, a former intelligence officer and Nagi N. Najjar, a Lebanese Orthodox Christian who has aided the government on terrorism-related issues.
“I know there are Muslims that are good Muslims, I know there are Muslims that are willing to make the same sacrifices for this fine nation as any non-Muslims, so this is a not a non-Islamic bash on anybody,” Patton said. “But what we do need to understand is Americans as a whole, we’re pretty damn ignorant about what goes on around us.
“If I had to ask him one question – it would be who are you, and why are you here?” Kent Clizbe said. “Mr. Ramadan is hiding something.”
Most speakers shared concerns regarding Ramadan’s ties to his homeland. Ramadan, a naturalized American citizen, was born in Lebanon. Ramadan speaks regularly of his upbringing, particularly of seeing the wreckage of the 1983 Marine barracks bombing in Beirut.
For a group of people suggesting that they’re not engaging in a “non-Islamic bash” they certainly are focused on the fact that he was born in a country that’s predominantly Muslim. Mr. Clizbe’s comment about “ask[ing] him one question” is the classic case of someone asking something to which they’re completely disinterested in knowing the answer. Mr. Ramadan is hiding something? And you know that, how, Mr. Clizbe? Because he’s from Lebanon and you can’t believe anyone from there could possibly believe in American values and exceptionalism enough to be loyal to the United States? Preposterous.
David Ramadan’s opponent, Jo-Ann Chase, could have shown she was interested in making this a race about the issues rather than personal attacks but she hasn’t. She could have come out loudly against this nonsense of a “press conference” – hell, she could have showed up in person and made her stand right there in front of them. (And if you want to suggest someone’s probably hiding something, I suspect it’s Chase hiding her behind-the-scenes support and direction of events like this one.) And before anyone starts jumping up and down that David Ramadan’s playing dirty, let me make a few factual points:
- David Ramadan hasn’t suggested Chase’s ancestry should be held against her in determining her fitness to hold office.
- David Ramadan hasn’t whined that official, public records unflattering to himself are somehow out of bounds.
- David Ramadan hasn’t threatened lawsuits against people who speak out against his candidacy.
If this is all his opponents have – that David Ramadan shouldn’t be permitted to stand for office because of where he was born and that you can’t trust him because of that – then you have to ask yourself how they would stand up in the general election. Is this to be their mode of operation? Attack the opponent candidate’s upbringing and ethnicity?
Republicans can do better and should not settle for less. I do hope my neighbors in the 87th keep this in mind as next Tuesday’s primaries approach.