Editorial: The third rail
Touch the electrified third rail of a subway system, and you are dead.
In politics, campaign workers try to push their candidate’s opponent onto the "third rail." What constitutes this "third rail" varies from campaign to campaign—from legitimate yet touchy issues like universal health care and Social Security, to more lurid and distracting sideshows. American voters have become used to this tactic. And now it appears in the staid, quiet First Congressional District of Virginia.
Last week, a conservative blogger posted on the internet some rather lewd party photos of Democrat Krystal Ball, who is running an uphill but otherwise proper, let’s-focus-on-the-issues campaign. Everyone has clothes on, and she is with her then-husband, and all the partiers appear to be having a great time; but, they are not the kind of pictures you can print in a family newspaper.
These photos have caused more interest than the otherwise tepid campaign has inspired to date. Interest, of course, for all the wrong reasons, but that is a microcosm of politics in America today. Some powerful candidates have sunk beneath the weight of revelations much worse than this; and some have survived. Ms. Ball, no matter how worthy her campaign, is likely to be unaffected in this particular race because she had not gained much attention otherwise against the incumbent, well-liked Republican Rob Wittman. He has very properly deplored the posting of Ms. Ball’s party photos.
So this media flurry is likely to subside and be forgotten. But it paves the way for such "dirty tricks" (a throwback term to the Nixon days) to become acceptable in our region; ugh.
We close with two thoughts.
There is indeed a third "rail" candidate in this campaign, G. Gail "For Rail" Parker (that’s how her name will appear on the ballot). An Independent Green contender, she advocates development of mass transportation to ease road congestion and reduce use of energy.
And, if you can find those Krystal Ball photos on the internet and feel the need to look, do so, but remember, in this no-privacy age, when the web is everywhere, it may be pictures of your youthful high jinks that show up next.