Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Running Against an Asshole: It's Crazy Enough to Work
Running in a crowded race for the Republican nomination in Colarado's fourth district, Tom Lucero has taken an interesting approach to the race.
Instead of running against his three opponents, Lucero has chosen to run against Ward Churchill, the University of Colorado Professor he successfully fired after he embarrassed the institution one too many times.
The ad even drops the name of Bill Ayers -- the former Weather Underground terrorist who was catapulted into a position of international prominence by his relationship with Barack Obama.
"Remember Bill Ayers? Ward Churchill's friend?" the narrator asks, as words in red bold font appear over images of newspapers and of Churchill himself. "Little Eichmanns? Stated more 9/11s are necessary? Proclaimed 'I don't answer to Tom Lucero'."
"Took care of that mess in Colorado," Lucero then complains, beaming proudly. He then goes on to discuss what he would like to accomplish in Washington as the 4th district's congressman.
In most cases it's considered poor taste to campaign against someone who isn't running in it.
But there's a certain tactical brilliance to Lucero's tactics, especially in the Republiican primary. The glimmer in his eye and the smile on his face demonstrate an unabashedly no-nonsense attitude toward the Churchill affair, reaching out to the viewer and sharing a "yeah, fuck that guy" moment with them.
Moreover, publicly campaigning against Churchill could give Lucero an opportunity to correct the one looming issue remaining from the Churchill firing -- the wrongful termination lawsuit that Churchill inexplicably won after being fired for academic misconduct (although he was denied reinstatement).
If Lucero can successfully draw the Churchill issue back into the public eye, he can remind the public that Churchill was actually fired for his considerable past of academic misconduct -- stemming from cases of plagiarism and forgery of data -- after Churchill had embarrassed his institution one too many times.
In fact, Churchill's firing wasn't the only bone that the crazed dissident had to pick with Lucero. He also didn't approve of Lucero's demands that the University of Colorado's course offerings be vetted at a time that the University was facing a choice between reining in an out-of-control budget amidst incredible wastefulness or having to continually go to the state for increases of funding to the school -- something that would have necessitated ongoing tax increases.
"The larger framing was articulated by one of the regents, Tom Lucero, at the regents meeting the other night: I want a justification for the existence of whole departments. I want to review the tenure system altogether," Churchilll once whined. "I want every course justified to my satisfaction."
"How could Tom Lucero possibly have assimilated the knowledge to pass scholarly judgment on the individual courses and their content and the scholarship that attends them in all these different areas?" he asked.
"This is transparently clear: Anything that he doesn’t like, whether he knows anything about it or not, is to be gone," Churchill pouted. "He has announced—telegraphed—the fact that he doesn’t like anything having to do with cultural studies, ethnic studies, dissident political studies, gay rights. None of that has anything to do with proper scholarship in his mind, not that he knows a goddamned thing about any of it. And it’s not that he’s a particularly malevolent individual. He’s representative of the whole. That’s the mentality that goes into this. This is a book-burning exercise. It’s a stifling of political discourse."
That's awfully rich coming from an individual who once insisted that speech that he doesn't like -- such as Columbus Day celebrations shouldn't be allowed to happen.
In fact, as it turned out, Tom Lucero's desire to vet the course offerings at the U of C had nothing to do with wanting to "stifle political discourse", but rather had everything to do with bringing the institution's budget under control so that it wouldn't have to periodically force tax increases on the citizens of Colorado.
Certainly, these kinds of concerns mean something to an individual like Ward Churchill, who see universities as little more than a platform from which they can force their political views on their students.
(Contrary to popular views individuals like Churchill are actually a minority among university faculties -- often an outspoken and powerful minority, but a minority nonetheless.)
With the exception of a collection of far-left lunatics who seemed to believe that Ward Churchill should have been allowed to forge data, plagiarize and humiliate his insitution at will, most people seem to understand that Ward Churchill is, frankly, an asshole.
For Tom Lucero, campaigning against that asshole might just be crazy enough to work.
At the very least, it's fun.