Sherrod Brown Doubles Down on His Godwin's Law Campaign Strategy

Not quite two weeks ago Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), one of the most liberal members of the Senate, made waves by releasing an ad accusing his opponent, state Treasurer Josh Mandel, of being the candidate of the “Big Lie.” The “Big Lie,” of course, was a term coined by Adolf Hitler and is associated with Nazi propaganda:

“All this was inspired by the principle–which is quite true within itself–that in the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility…These people know only too well how to use falsehood for the basest purposes. From time immemorial, however, the Jews have known better than any others how falsehood and calumny can be exploited.”
—Adolf Hitler , Mein Kampf, vol. I, ch. X

Josh Mandel is Jewish. His grandfather survived the Holocaust in Poland, while his grandmother was hidden from Nazis by a Catholic family in Italy during World War II, making Brown’s Godwin’s line of attack especially offensive.

At age 34, Mandel is something of a conservative Republican rock star in Ohio. He is a Tea Party favorite, supported by FreedomWorks and Jim DeMint’s Senate Conservatives Fund. He graduated from both The Ohio State University and Case Western University Reserve Law School and then enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves where he served eight years, graduating first in his class from boot camp and Marines Corps Intelligence School. Mandel served two tours in Al Albar Province, Iraq.

In 2003, Mandel was elected to the Lyndhurst City Council. His most notable accomplishment was pushing through a property tax roll-back — the first in the city’s history and one of the only in Ohio history. In 2006, he won a seat in the Ohio House in a 2:1 Democratic-Republican ratio district. The first bill he introduced was a measure to force the state’s pension funds to divest from companies doing business with Iran, which would have made Ohio the first state to do so. He was named “Watchdog of the Treasury” by the United Conservatives of Ohio and was re-elected to a second term in 2008.

In 2010, Mandel won more votes than any other state office candidate and became the Ohio state treasurer, beating his opponent by 14 points. Rumors began to swirl that he could be the future challenger to Brown in 2012.

While Mandel was busy reforming the Treasurer’s office by slashing the budget, earning Standard and Poor’s highest credit rating for the state, and beefing up the state’s investment portfolio, Ohio’s mainstream media outlets, the left-wing bloggers, and Sherrod Brown’s team went to work to paint Mandel as the “Big Lie” candidate, knowing that he would indeed be a threat to their Leftist hero. And so an insidious narrative was hatched.

The excellent site Ohio Watchdog has documented how extensively PolitifactOhio, allegedly a neutral fact-checking organization, has targeted Mandel with their biased ratings:

Earlier this year, most news stories about the Ohio U.S. Senate race … included a reference to Mandel’s supposed troubles with honesty or his specific troubles with PolitiFact, the national fact-checking news organization. … The whole Mandel’s-a-liar narrative traces directly back to the insidious work of PolitiFact Ohio — the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s franchise of the national fact-checking operation — and in particular to the Plain Dealer’s reporter Tom Feran. Feran doesn’t hide his anti-Republican bias, calling Republicans “wingnuts” and “yahoos” on Twitter, cheering President Obama, and sending out a link to an article on “the Cancer of Conservatism.” It’s Feran’s work that supplies the central point of this latest TV attack ad on Mandel: “Campaign Attacks Give Josh Mandel Pants on Fire Crown,” Feran’s July 29 Cleveland Plain Dealer article in which Feran reports on rulings Feran himself made for PolitiFact Ohio. The ostensible point of the ad is that Mandel had been slapped with PolitiFact’s worst rating — Pants on Fire — more frequently than any other politician. Three other articles mentioned in the ad make the same point, that PolitiFact Ohio has often found fault with Mandel. The idea that PolitiFact can tell you that somebody “told the most lies” has been called “meaningless” by PolitiFact’s national editor.

It’s probably helpful to note that Sherrod Brown’s wife, Connie Schultz, was a columnist for the Plain Dealer until she was caught performing campaign-style activities (videotaping Mandel at a Tea Party rally) while covering a story for her employer this past September.

Newspapers and TV stations across the state repeatedly cite PolitiFact as the final arbiter of truth anytime Brown calls foul and sometimes when Mandel’s name is mentioned. The narrative that Mandel is a serial liar shows up again and again in letters to the editor (not to mention the constant drum beat on the leftist blogs, which aren’t even worth linking to).

The NBC news affiliate out of Columbus does its part to help perpetuate the myth in a story so biased it almost seems like satire, describing Mandel as “wallowing in the mud” and “smarmy.”

[Note: The original video from the TV station is unavailable. This clip includes captions from a Brown supporter.]

A recent addition to Brown’s team of useful idiots is Pro Publica, another left-leaning organization masquerading as an independent fact-checker. Bernard Goldberg describes it this way:

Despite the fact that Pro Publica has won two Pulitzer Prizes, it isn’t simply a journalist organization; it has a political agenda – a distinctly liberal one which is funded by liberal money bags….Pro Publica may do outstanding reporting but only when it fits its liberal agenda.  Don’t hold your breath waiting for Pro Publica to go after progressives and liberal Democrats – unless. perhaps, if they’re not progressive enough.

Their tactic on Brown’s behalf in this case  is to imply sinister activities behind what they call “dark money” funding campaign ads supporting Mandel. They are not alleging that anything illegal is occurring. They just don’t like Citizens United in general and they’re taking the opportunity to investigate and castigate a conservative candidate—killing two birds with one stone. No such rectal exam is expected to be performed to discover the source of any “dark money” spent on Sherrod Brown’s behalf. But Brown didn’t miss a beat, joining MSNBC’s attack dog Ed Schultz to rant conspiratorially about Josh Mandel’s “dark money” and the “$17 million being spent against him by the Koch Brothers.”

Brown, who is to the left of Patty Murray and Chuck Schumer on the liberal scale, is desperate to keep his seat. Though the Real Clear Politics average has him at +7, the polling has been inconsistent and Mandel has closed the double-digit lead Brown had enjoyed earlier in the year. Brown constantly whines and moans about SuperPAC money being spent against him in this race. Yet the Sunlight Foundation reports that outside spending against Brown is tiny compared to the amount being unleashed against Mandel (a mere $2.2 million against Brown vs. $4.2 million against Mandel). And Brown’s campaign has outraised Mandel’s, $15 million to $9.9 million, giving him the clear money advantage. But pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. Pay attention to the straw man he’s building.

A quick perusal of Brown’s website will give you an idea of how invested his campaign is in this strategy of painting Mandel as a liar. On the front page alone:

“Can’t be trusted”
“Liar, Liar”
“Most Misleading Attack Ad Yet”

Brown even has references to Mandel’s alleged lying on the page with his Rosh Hashanah greeting. Directly below it is a link to the “Liar, Liar” ad.

Brown is clearly not in the business of defending his record on Obamacare these days. His constant prattling about the auto bailouts that benefited his union buddies in Ohio grows old, and his Chevy Cruz commercial is nothing more than a cheap trick that wasn’t even factually correct. He’s even desperately trying to work out a deal (read: political stunt) to have Tim Geithner administer pensions for the Delphi workers he threw under the bus in the GM bailout—after pouting and sputtering for weeks about Josh Mandel saying it was un-American.

The only strategy Brown has left is the imaginary “Big Lie.” Enter: “Josh Mandel is Lying,” paid for by Brown’s campaign. It’s an entire website dedicated to perpetuating the myth (first perpetuated by the Plain Dealer’s PolitiFact) that Mandel is not truthful. How much lower is the senator going to go before November, especially if the polls begin to turn against him?

Sherrod Brown is an embarrassment to the state of Ohio and the U.S. Senate, not only for his race to the bottom in this campaign, but for his solidarity with the failed policies of Barack Obama. We cannot hand him the keys to his Senate office again in January. Ohio voters… take the man’s keys away before he does more harm!