At The Washington Post right now, there's a paid political ad for the 2016 presidential campaign Rick Perry is obviously running -- or at least it reads like a paid political ad. Oddly, however, it's listed on the Post's front page as just another op-ed. It's in the Opinions section. Hard as this seems to believe, the Post may not have even collected payment for this campaign ad -- in fact, the paper may have actually paid Perry for it, under the mistaken assumption that it's a traditional opinion piece. (Somebody deserves to be fired for that mistake.)
Here's what Perry writes. I'm sure, once you've read it, you'll recognize it for what it is, a classic campaign attack ad on a political opponent -- although it begins with the traditional biographical self-promotion of a positive ad (you can practically hear the patriotic music swelling under the opening phrases):
As a veteran, and as a governor who has supported Texas National Guard deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, I can understand the emotions behind isolationism. Many people are tired of war, and the urge to pull back is a natural, human reaction. Unfortunately, we live in a world where isolationist policies would only endanger our national security even further.
That’s why it's disheartening to hear fellow Republicans, such as Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.), suggest that our nation should ignore what's happening in Iraq. The main problem with this argument is that it means ignoring the profound threat that the group now calling itself the Islamic State poses to the United States and the world....
This [group] represents a real threat to our national security -- to which Paul seems curiously blind....
... Paul still advocates inaction, going so far as to claim in an op-ed last month in the Wall Street Journal that President Ronald Reagan's own doctrines would lead him to same conclusion.
But his analysis is wrong. Paul conveniently omitted Reagan's long internationalist record of leading the world with moral and strategic clarity.
... In the face of the advancement of the Islamic State, Paul and others suggest the best approach to this 21st-century threat is to do next to nothing. I personally don't believe in a wait-and-see foreign policy for the United States....
Look, I understand that people regularly write op-eds -- and mainstream newspapers regularly publish them -- for reasons other than the free exchange of ideas. Authors write op-eds to promote books. Interest groups use op-eds to promote their agendas. And, yes, politicians use them to promote their campaigns.
But in the latter category, the fig leaf of idea advancement is usually kept in place a lot more skillfully than in this Perry piece. This piece is a relentless ad hominem attack on the guy some people see as the front-runner for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, by a guy who clearly wants that nomination himself and thinks he can win it.
The Post should have run it as an ad. The Post should have charged money for it. The Post should leave the free advertising for the Perry-for-president campaign to Sean Hannity.
(Cross-posted at No More Mister Nice Blog.)