Don’t edit out the facts this election cyclePublished 12:08am Sunday, October 30, 2011
Pressure and heat can squeeze normally good people into doing some pretty bad things.
That’s particularly true in politics where survival can be tied to one’s ego and, in many cases, one’s livelihood.
Political pressure and campaign heat will make the weak flip-flip and go against their own self-professed ethics and morals just for the sake of taking a political jab.
A great example of that showed up last week in my mailbox — and presumably hundreds of other mailboxes, too — a slick piece of campaign propaganda emblazoned with patriotic red, white and blue inks.
Like the candidate who mailed the piece out, it had two, distinctively different sides.
On one side, two-time incumbent supervisor Henry Watts is smiling in full color, along with his political resume and calling card. Like all of these sorts of things, it includes things he feels are important for voters to know about him.
This is the side that most people see in Watts — a relatively nice, likeable family man.
Flip the card over and you’ll see a deeper look into the man who wants to represent the county for another four years.
On the flip side, Watts takes political cheap shots on his opponent. By omitting words from things his opponent has said and making just outright wrong statements, Watts is desperately trying to disparage his opponent, challenger David Carter.
Watts taking his campaign down a negative political path isn’t surprising. Many politicians feel like they must turn to nasty tactics rather than run on their own merits.
The saddest thing about Watts’ first dirty political punch isn’t that he did it, but rather how he did it.
For years, Watts has accused this newspaper’s reporters and editors of “editing out” things he said to cast him in bad light. He claims that we vengefully twist his words and the facts to make him look bad.
We’ve spent hours trying to convince him that we’ve never done that, but it’s a futile discussion.
He vehemently believes we’re out to get him and, quite honestly, I’ve tired of trying to convince him otherwise.
Despite Watts’ self-professed aversion to anything but the full truth, his political propaganda conveniently edits out a few things that, while small, change the meaning significantly.
Watts purportedly quotes Carter from an article published in The Democrat, “I am not from Natchez so I don’t see the problems.” (It’s written in huge letters on the mail piece).
But that’s not all of what Carter said.
What he actually said in an article published on July 20, 2011, was: “I’m not from Natchez so I don’t see problems, I see the possibilities.”
Clearly political pressure wins over fairness and truth.
Another statement supposedly quoted from Carter about taxes isn’t an exact quote, either.
The piece also claims Carter has lived in Natchez for “less than four years,” but in reality, he’s been working as Adams County extension agent for nearly five years.
Then, below all the falsehoods, Watts encourages voters to call Carter’s house — and provides his home phone number — to show their displeasure.
The message of such half-truth material is clear: Watts has never allowed the full truth to get in the way of his own political pride and ego.
That’s a shame, for him and the public he represents.
Kevin Cooper is publisher of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3539 or firstname.lastname@example.org.