It never ceases to amaze me how some political zealots will grab at any opportunity to demean and degrade their opponents. The latest example is a result of the horrific tragedy of the Arizona shooting.

Everyone has heard about it by now. A crazed shooter went on a rampage leaving behind dead and wounded, and within minutes political left wingers were hurling accusations at Sarah Palin for her website.

If you haven’t seen the website, too late. It’s down, but being the intense competitor she is, the site had pinpointed Democrat positions around the country the Republicans wanted to take over.

So what was the problem? Seems like the site marked those positions with the crosshairs of a rifle scope.

And so what happened? Zealots seized the opportunity of trample over those wounded and dead to place the blame on Palin and her supporters for influencing the killer to act.

Several right wing media faced the camera and with an holier-than-thou countenance, expressed their concern and regrets that she should have approved such a site.

Politicians around the country have spoken up, saying we should all civilize our rhetoric.

Well, I’ve got news for them. Such inflammatory, irresponsible rhetoric has savaged politics since Fred Flintstone first ran for pooper-sweeper.

In fact, some of it was even more despicable than that taking place today. Last week in an interview with CNN, Nancy Pelosi blamed unemployment on the Bush administration two years into the Obama administration, asserting the Democrats lost the House because of former President George W. Bush’s policies. How is that for irresponsible and inflammatory?

I wish someone would explain that logic to me.

In all honesty, that remark was pure Pablum compared to the flack Andrew Jackson caught in his presidential run. During his military career, he was forced to order the execution of six deserters. In a subsequent political race, an opponent printed up handbills with six black coffins and the accusation that Jackson had deliberately murdered them. On top of that, he was accused of adultery, vilified for running off with another man’s wife, and that wife, Rachel, was accused of bigamy.

You’ve got to admit that sort of mud-slinging is a little stronger than suggesting Obama was not born an American citizen.

Now, Jackson was no saint. During his battle with John Quincy Adams, Jackson’s supporters spread the rumor that Adams, while he was ambassador to Russia, procured an American girl for the sexual services of the Russian Czar. Adams was labeled a pimp and his great success as an ambassador was a result of his service to the Czar.

And then there was Thomas Jefferson who was accused of being a misogynist and of having an affair with a black lady. Ironically, in the decades to follow, the latter accusation was proven to be true, although such interracial practices in that period were much more common than one would believe.

According to Joseph Cummings’ book, “Anything For a Vote,” Thomas Jefferson hired a writer to attack opponent John Adams, Quincy’s father, as a “repulsive pendant” and “a hideous hermaphroditical character that has neither the force of a man, nor the gentleness and sensibility of a woman.”

In a later campaign, Davy Crockett accused Martin Van Buren of wearing women’s corsets, and James Buchanan, whose congenital condition caused his head to tilt to the left was accused of unsuccessfully trying to hang himself.

And poor old Abe didn’t escape the onslaught. He was said to be ape-like because of his lean appearance and beard. And oh, yes, he was also accused of having stinky feet.

In the 1912 campaign, Teddy Roosevelt, wearing his western regalia, referred to William Howard Taft, the sitting President, as “a rat in a corner.” Another rodent accusation was when FDR called Alf London, his 1936 opponent “the White Mouse who wants to live in the White House.”

But the dirtiest campaign of all, says Cummings,’ was Johnson versus Goldwater in 1964.
Johnson, says Cummings, put a subversive group together to demean Goldwater, first by putting out a book under his name entitled “You Can Die Laughing” and then a coloring book for kids with Goldwater dressed in Ku Klux Klan robes.

In addition they spread editorial letters around the country under false names expressing their fear of Goldwater. The group even influenced a well-known financial writer into writing two columns explaining how the stock market would melt down with Goldwater’s election.

The slander campaign ruined Goldwater forever.

So, take the nonsense you read today with the proverbial grain of truth. Dirty politics and dirty minds have always been around, and it ain’t going nowhere anytime soon.