Off The Record: Congressional cacophony almost over

February 16, 2004|HERB BROCK

Some observations of the contest for the U.S. 6th District House seat, written on the back of an Adelphia channel guide used for channel surfing to avoid the ubiquitous TV commercials by the candidates in the race...

COMMERCIALS SKIP ISSUES... In just another 24 hours or so the harsh and unharmonious sounds of battling babblers will be over. The congressional cacophony of candidates dueling each other in commercials will be silent. The race between Republican Alice Forgy Kerr and Democrat Ben Chandler will be a thing of the past.

To put it in the annoying words of both candidates as they have ended each and every one of their TV and radio spots, I'm Herb Brock and I approve of the end of this race.

Compared to what campaigns are like elsewhere in the country - and to the presidential contest that is shaping up for the fall - the Kerr-Chandler race has been tame. It has not been particularly nasty but, just like so many congressional and presidential campaigns of recent years, it has been negative.


If a voter in Tuesday's election were to base his or her decision just on the commercials and ads, he or she would only know the bad stuff about both candidates. For instance, voters would only know - or, to put it more correctly, would only have heard - that Kerr voted to raise her own pay and pension while in the state legislature and that Chandler is a waffler on taxes and the war in Iraq.

It is true that voters also would know, or have heard, some good stuff about each candidate, or at least what each thinks is good stuff. For example, Kerr has told us she would be a fiscal conservative and Chandler has told us he'd be just as vigorous a crusader against government corruption and for consumer protection as he was as state auditor and attorney general.

But neither candidate has spent much time on TV or radio or even on the stump talking about such little things as the ballooning federal deficit, the controversies over the war, the future of Medicare, the future of tax cuts and other issues that will be on their plates in Congress.

KERR TRYING TO TIE SELF TO BROTHER, BUSH... It's practically a law in journalism - and polite society in general - not to make fun of or otherwise criticize a person's name, even that of a public figure. Attacking a person's policies is fair game because he or she has control over that. But he or she doesn't have control over his or her name.

Here's an exception: Alice Forgy Kerr. It is true that is her name. And she has every right to use her maiden name or to have hyphenated her maiden and married names. Or to call herself Cher Jr. or Madonna II. But methinks she's emphasizing the Forgy in her commercials and ads at least partly to trade on her sibling relationship.

If you haven't figured it out yet, Kerr's brother is Larry Forgy, one of the state's most prominent and popular Republicans. However, it should be noted that as big a shot as her brother has been in statewide GOP circles, he has never won a statewide or regional race.

Perhaps Kerr realizes her brother's less than sparking election record and, to hedge her bets, also is including another prominent Republican in her advertising - that would be President Bush, a person with whom she reportedly shares the same "values." Bush has won a national race and also remains very popular in Kentucky; a recent Courier-Journal poll shows he has a 63 percent approval rating in the state.

As I said, it is not nice to mock a person's name - anyone with a name like mine should appreciate that bit of etiquette - but I've gotten to the point of pulling out hair from my comb-over when I hear one of the million Kerr commercials every day. I hear it so often I'm starting to go nuts: "Hi, I'm Alice Forgy Kerr"... "Hi, I'm Alice Korgy Ferr"... "Hi, I'm Kalice Orgy Ferr"... "Hi, I'm Alice Froggy Kerr."

(Word to Chandler campaign: In order to counter your opponent's annoying emphasis on using Forgy in every ad and commercial, you should have referred to her in your ads and commercials as Alice Kerr.)

AND THE WINNER IS... Ben Chandler. Sorry, Ben, but I'm predicting you to win, and you know how much that will mean to your chances. Remember last November when I said you would defeat Republican Ernie Fletcher in the governor's race and he won by 10 percent?

The main reasons I think you will win is because you are a familiar face, are better known than your opponent, her annoying commercial campaign notwithstanding, and have been generally recognized for doing a good job in the two state offices you held. And it doesn't hurt your chances that the election is not being held in November when, based on recent polls, Republican President Bush likely will sweep the state.

So have fun in Washington, D.C., and remember who said you would be there.

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