Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Swiftboating of Joe Tanner…and Vallejo

Swiftboating. We all know the term by now. It is synonymous with character assassination or smear campaigns. It is dirty and ugly and based on just enough fact, mixed in with lots of lies and innuendo, that it creates confusion and sometimes panic.

One of my favorite swiftboat descriptions is from a June 12, 2008 article in Time magazine by Michael Kinsley:

"Swift-boating's essence is a particular kind of dishonesty, or rather a particular combination of shadowy dishonesties. It usually involves a complex web of facts, many of which may even be true. It exploits its own complexity and the reluctance of the media to adjudicate factual disputes. No matter how thoroughly a charge may be discredited, enough taint remains to support an argument. The fundamental dishonesty is the suggestion that the issue, whatever it is, really matters."

Character assassinations are often conducted by an opposition that has no real standing in fact or truth or ethics. It is usually used to confront a critic who challenges people who are used to being in power. People who want to remain in power. People who fear they are losing their control on power. It is an act of desperation.

Vallejo has experienced swiftboating long before Joe Tanner. The public safety unions have perfected the art of swiftboating in our fair city, aided by the willing editors and publisher of the Vallejo Times Herald. Think about it: Ed Wohlenberg, Penny Barclay, Pete Rey, Foster Hicks, Joanne Schively, Otto Guiliani, Donna Landeros, Rob Stout, Gary Cloutier, Tony Pearsall, myself (Stephanie Gomes), Joe Tanner...

So when are we, citizens of Vallejo, going to stop believing in these swiftboat maneuvers? When are we going to put a period at the end of that long list of names of good, honest, courageous people who risked their personal and/or professional reputations to say "NO" to the public safety unions' stranglehold on our city? Hasn't bankruptcy taught us that the time is now?