Sunday, October 22, 2006

Vernon Robinson/Paul Nelson recycled sleazy attack ads

Republican Vernon Robinson is running for the House of Representatives against Democrat Brad Miller with unbelievably sleazy tactics, such as accusing Miller of being gay because he is middle-aged and has no children. Miller responded by pointing out that he is married, but his wife is unable to have children due to a hysterectomy and she suffers from endometreiosis.

The topper is Robinson's attack ad (which has been recycled by Republican Paul Nelson against Democrat Ron Kind in Wisconsin's third district). This ad accuses the Democrat (Miller or Kind) of spending "your tax dollars to pay teenage girls to watch pornographic movies with probes connected to their genitalia," "to study the masturbation habits of old men," and "to study the sex lives of Vietnamese prostitutes."

Of course, there was no vote by either of these Democrats for any such thing. Rather, they voted against taking action to cancel five specific research studies by the National Institutes of Health, on the grounds that it is not Congress' place to make specific decisions about what research the NIH funds. The first study referenced in the advertisement, regarding teenage girls and pornographic movies, is apparently designated by an incorrect grant number in the ad. The second study, NIH grant R03HD039206, was titled "Longitudinal Trends in the Sexual Behavior of Older Men," which examined quality of life effects in older men--it was not specifically a study of the "masturbation habits of old men." This grant was perhaps $50,000 per year over two years, out of the NIH's $30 billion annual budget. The third study, NIH grant R01MH065871, was a proposed study of mental health risks in response to an announced program to do research on particular risk groups that have thus far not received attention from investigators.

You can see both ads and read comments on them (some of the above is derived from comments by Phil T. Bastid) here. A response by the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania which recounts the specifics of each of the studies in question may be found here.

UPDATE (November 8, 2006): Both of these sleazy politicians, Vernon Robinson and Paul Nelson, got defeated by about a 2-to-1 margin.

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