by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Though it’s employed quite frequently, the ad hominem attack does nothing to advance a debate. An ad hominem attack targets an opponent’s character rather than addressing his argument. Those who employ ad hominem attacks typically do so when they have no substantive arguments of their own.
Supporters of a controversial Environmental Protection Agency regulation commissioned Democratic pollsters to plot ways to attack the motives and credibility of the regulation’s critics, documents obtained by the Washington Free Beacon reveal.
Aides to a dozen Democratic governors and the Democratic Party’s gubernatorial advocacy arm circulated talking points and political messaging memos on EPA’s new power plant regulations that laid out ways to “sow doubts about our opponents [sic] motives,” in the words of one of those memos.
The previously unreported documents, obtained by the Energy and Environment Legal Institute through an open records request and shared exclusively with the Free Beacon, provide a window into the Democratic messaging machine’s approach to an issue that its own pollsters acknowledge is a hard sell among its target voter demographics.
The Democratic polling firm Hart Research Associates conducted research on voter attitudes about the regulation, which has faced intense criticism since the EPA unveiled its proposed rule last year. Hart found that voters generally shared the concerns of Republican critics of the regulation.
“Research indicates that many voters’ default belief is that electricity bills will go up” as a result of the regulation, according to a Hart talking points memo circulated by an employee of Advocacy Advisors, a political consulting firm that, emails indicate, worked closely with the Climate Action Campaign, an initiative pushing EPA regulations.
“Denying [electricity] rate increases strains credulity with many audiences,” according to the memo.