The 10th Judicial District was largely rural, and McCarthy, in his three-month campaign in 1939, visited farmers and their families. He knew how to talk to them about crops and climate. He sent out thousands of postcards showing a little boy holding a baseball bat, captioned: "Let's Play Ball." But more potent than these Currier & Ives methods was his attack on Werner's weak spot. The standard biographical source for lawyers, the Martindale-Hubbell directory, listed Werner's date of birth as 1866, which would have made him 73. As a candidate in 1916, Werner had added seven years to his age in order to seem more mature. But now the deception, repeated in edition after edition, backfired. Joe ran ads in the local papers accusing Werner of lying about his age. Werner produced a birth certificate that showed he was born on July 24, 1872, in Black River Falls, Wisconsin, which made him 66 in February 1939. But he was not as effective in broadcasting his defense as McCarthy was in attacking him. Shortly before the election, Joe ran an ad under the headline: "What About This Age Question?" In April 1939, McCarthy won, by 15,164 votes to Werner's 11,219. Once again, the lesson was: Dirty tricks work. At 30, Joe McCarthy was the youngest man ever elected a circuit judge in Wisconsin.McCarthy's bully-boy strategy of destroying an opponent by fabricating the most outrageous and malicious slanders, half-truths and false accusations imaginable without even a hint of remorse or shame, and how repeating said smears ad nauseum until they become the truth, lives on in our political climate to this day. From Saxby Chambliss tearing down the career of thrice amputated war veteran and then-sitting Senator from Georgia Max Cleland, to Karl Rove using John Kerry's service in the Vietnam War to question his own patriotism, the politics of character assassination serve as a reminder that they work and have gotten others elected.
Which brings me to Donald Trump and the resurgence of the Birther bullshit. Yes, just when you thought this sad and shameful bit of thinly-veiled racism had finally been put to bed by President Obama himself when he released, to the press, his birth certificate, "The Donald" makes his un-inglorious return to the 24-hour cable news circuit whilst shilling for the presumptive Republican Presidential nominee, Mitt Romney.
On Tuesday morning, Trump appeared via telephone on CNBC, where he argued that questions about Obama's birthplace have not been adequately answered, despite Obama releasing a copy of his birth certificate over a year ago.I'm not about to re-hash this matter, mostly because i've pointed out the obvious several times before on this blog. What I will say is that if you're looking for Mitt to distance himself from this nonsense, don't waste your time. He won't, and neither will the rest of the Republican Party. In secret, they know this line of attack is reprehensible and ludicrous in almost every conceivable way. But they're hunting bigger game: the game plan has been to use coded words to paint President Obama as "foreign", or a president "who isn't like us," or "one of us." This line of personal attack is one i'm sure ol' Tailgunner Joe would be proud of.
"Nothing has changed my mind," he said.
Trump was skeptical about a recently unearthed promotional booklet from Obama's former literary agency that erroneously reported the president was born in Kenya. After the discovery of the booklet reignited rumors that Obama is not a natural-born American citizen, the author of his biography quickly came forward and said the mistake was a simple fact-checking error.
Trump, however, was not convinced. "Look, a publisher come out last week and had a statement about Obama given to them by Obama when he was doing a book as a young man, a number of years ago, in the 90s," he said. "Now amazingly, the publisher is 'oh we made a mistake.'"
"[Obama was] a young man doing a book, and he said what he believed to be the truth."
Unsatisfied with Obama's birth certificate, the authenticity of which he said many people have "serious doubts" about, he called for Obama to provide his academic transcripts from Columbia, Harvard and Occidental College.
"A lot of people want to see his college transcripts," Trump said. "They're not looking at his marks, his grades. ... They want to see, what does he say about place of birth. Now, those transcripts have disappeared, nobody seems to be able to get them."