Dan Wehmer - Publisher's Pen

Dan Wehmer - Publisher's Pen

Seldom do I watch local television.

When it comes to newscasts, I long for the days of folks like Tony Beeson or Tom Dye. Even though he annoyed me when he was on the air, Ned Reynolds would be welcome in today’s world of mainly hack T.V. journalists who are void of many qualities, typically a personality.

But I watched the local news last week.

And was greeted with an interesting story.

In a nutshell, the story began with our own State Sen. Mike Cunningham, R-Rogersville, whose tenure in the Missouri Senate ends on Dec. 31 due to term limits, discussing the disgust he felt with a “hit piece” mailed by supporters of Robert Ross that targeted Karla Eslinger and Van Kelly.

All three are Republicans seeking Cunningham’s seat in next Tuesday’s primary election.

Those of you who read the Citizen’s editorial last week are familiar with the aforementioned mailer. It was especially tacky. The title set the tone, “Spineless Karla Eslinger and Van Kelly have skeletons in their closet.”

It was sent by the TEAM ROBERT PAC, per the piece’s return address.

Supporters of Ross will explain that he, personally, didn’t send it.

But let’s be honest. That’s like me having Anna tell a customer that I won’t run their ad, then telling the customer that I, personally, didn’t do it; she did it.

Listen, the buck stops somewhere, as President Harry S. Truman used to say.

Citizen bucks stop with me.

This buck stops with Ross.

What upset me about the piece wasn’t the skeleton on Eslinger that, at a glance, looked like a private part of the male anatomy.

What upset me about the piece was that it’s a typical move of a Republican candidate in a primary election — lying about your opponent to win. It’s a staple of the GOP, a party that I personally identify with as a member. If you’re conservative, it’s the only show in town.

However, Republicans love to feast on Republicans.

Democrats learned decades ago not to do this.

In turn, when general elections roll around, Democratic candidates have an immediate edge. Courtesy of Republicans, the playbook for attacks already is written for them.

It isn’t a local phenomenon. As I watched that KOLR-10 newscast last Thursday night, there were several Republican ads that aired for a variety of races. All of them were attack pieces; Republicans devouring Republicans.

The “spineless” attack levied by Ross was very low.

Cunningham was spot on about that.

It insinuated that Van Kelly is pro-abortion and a shill for rich developers. That’s utter nonsense.

I’ve known Van Kelly more than two decades, and there’s not a stronger voice for the unborn than him. And he’s certainly not in the pocket of developers. Kelly is the only candidate I’ve heard pushing for the elimination of the state’s income tax.

The Ross piece said Eslinger wanted to bring the Quran into public schools, then noted she was implicated in a scam at the West Plains R-7 School District that sold credentials at a truck-driving school on campus. For effect, the bonus word “Muslim” was thrown in.

Again, complete fabrication.

Eslinger was a school superintendent for more than a decade and was a darn good one in a profession typically dominated by men. She no more supports bringing the Quran into schools than Billy Graham would. Regarding the alleged truck-driving fiasco, it was Eslinger who inherited that problem and cleaned it up. That’s a fact.

Point is, to me it’s pathetic when people pledge membership to a party, even if it’s a political party, then work their tails off to tear down fellow party members.

Can you imagine if Lions Club members did this to each other? Or members of the Masonic Lodge and Shrine? What if we had church members doing this to one another?

When actual, unembellished, untwisted voting records or differing political stances are pointed out by one candidate toward the other, I’m not bothered.

That’s truth. Apples to apples.

But when political candidates quit discussing the issues their voters actually care about and truly need representation

for in statewide or national chambers, then I’m disgusted.

Just because everyone does it doesn’t make it right.

You deserve better.

Take the time this week and study the candidates on the ballot before you vote.

And when a misleading mailer shows up in your mailbox, toss it or put it to good use starting a fire for your charcoal, while also realizing that local dollars likely didn’t pay to create to mail it, as those big bucks came from urban sources that don’t care one bit about your life in Webster County.

Dan Wehmer is the Citizen’s editor, publisher and owner. He can be reached at 417-935-2257 or via e-mail at citizen@webstercountycitizen.com.

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