A union flyer hitting Democratic mailboxes in Iowa has ended up affecting all three top presidential contenders in the state: It was sent by a group backing Hillary Clinton, attacks Barack Obama and looks like it came from supporters of John Edwards.
The mailing was the product of the political arm of the national American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the public workers' union that is backing Clinton's bid for the presidency.
It criticizes the health-care coverage expansion plan offered by Obama, the Illinois senator, as being "timid" and a "band-aid solution." And it quotes Edwards, a former North Carolina senator, as saying "as many as 15 million Americans would be without coverage" under Obama's plan.
Nowhere in the mailing does AFSCME mention its endorsed candidate, Clinton, a New York senator, who has proposed her own plan that would mandate people obtain health insurance coverage, though she has not given details on how they would be forced to do so.
Obviously, this isn't, by any measure, the worst sort of dirty tricks campaigns attempt, but it is one of the reasons people get turned off by election year politics. Trying to sort through all the muck, nonsense and garbage to figure out what is or isn't true turns people off. They eventually throw up their hands. But it has become typical of elections, especially national ones. I'm not suggesting I have an answer, just an observation.
And just as predictably, we'll hear the Clinton campaign deny it as their tactic and scold the offender - but of course, by that time, the damage is done. You can also count on seeing that gambit played over and over and over and over again by that particular campaign and for the majority of us, it should set off sirens and alarm bells.