You mean the ad hominum attacks like..
To me it seemed "Hate Radio" would be a more appropriate description. ?
really shocked that voters would elect someone who's such a poor role model for the children.
It might astonish you to know that Left wing hate speech doesn't feel any more attractive than Right wing hate speech from my perspective. The Senator Elect from Massachusetts did apparently pose for Cosmo a number of years back. Saying that's so is not an ad hominem attack, however, unless it suggests that folks who pose as nude models are de facto unable to formulate an intelligent piece of political comment, and I have too much respect for Jane Fonda to believe such tripe.
I don't know enough about the man to have any idea about whether he is homophobic, irrational, racist, or reactionary. I believe he is an open supporter of the Tea Party folks, though I don't regard that as such a terrible thing; they represent a diverse range of populist points of view to my point of view, some of which I'd agree with, some of which I wouldn't, depending on factors that really are off the subject here. I think Obermann was mischaracterizing them, or was clumping them together in a way that may not have been justified. Nor do I know if Scott Brown supports violence against women and against politicians with whom he doesn't agree. I have heard Mr Beck express violent thoughts about several politicians he has not agreed with, and his accusations are very close to inciting violence, as near as I can tell. Had they been about anybody but a politician, I think he'd have found himself in very deep trouble indeed, so I think that there is a history of this sort of thing that's active on the right at this point in time. I wish it wasn't.
None of these comments by Mr. Obermann, at least that you've pointed out, suggest that the logic and rationality of his opinions should be dismissed without consideration because of his character flaws or potential character flaws. Should any of the other comments be true, beyond being somebody sympathetic with the Tea Party folks, I'd want to consider the quality of his thinking at length in looking at his positions. They still wouldn't mean that his thinking was bad on any particular issue, simply that I would have trouble enjoying his company.
About the reality of the accusations Mr. Obermann made, the only one that I regard as substantiated is that of being the nude model. I find myself somewhat envious of having a history that might include this, and if Mr. Obermann doesn't as well, then he freaking well should., in my opinion.
"Hate Radio" was not an ad hominem attack. Indeed, Radio is a medium and not a person; by definition, an ad hominem attack is impossible because the traslation is roughly "upon the man."
The comment about "role models" might not be recognizable to an old right wing war horse like yourself, but it is instantly familiar to many if not most old lefties as the sort of attack levied against lefties by right wing attack machines. It is the basis of the right wing swear, often fabricated out of the whole cloth, and most often used against lefties, but on occasion used against fellow righties. On one of the occasions Jphn McCain was running in ...I believe it was South Carolina, perhaps two election cycles ago, or three, maybe in 2000 — the dirty tricks section of one of his fellow primary candidates ginned up a rumor that he had some sort of mistress or mistress and a child stashed in the state. It was a complete fabrication, as these things most often are, but it was enough to cost McCain that crucial primary.
One of the things that is occasionally said during these contretemps is that the candidate should resign because they are such a poor role model for the children, whether the story is true or not. You will no doubt remember how this was used against Senator McCain, and how many still try to use it against Senator Kennedy, even now, after his death.
I myself could never run for office. First, because I've never been such a clean cut guy, and second, because I'd get mad if somebody tried to use my past against me, and that's really not a good political strategy as I understand it. Never let 'em see you sweat.
Anyway, I got a chuckle from JM's comment and couldn't for the life of me understand why you got upset. It was emphatically not ad hominem as well, since it was seemed clearly funny and mockingly directed not at Scott Brown, but at Republican Dirty Tricks.
It is good to see you using the term, however, and to be thinking about ad hominem stuff as something that really should be avoided by everybody, not just you. The part about the ad hominem attack that makes it so tough is not only that it involves a smear, but that at base it's anti-democratic, as though people with faults can't have points to make that need to be listened to on their own merits. It's what the country was built on, in a way. No matter who you are or what your past has been, you can have that right idea or contribute that right think that will make things work. Maybe it'll make you money, maybe it'll make things better, maybe not. But you should be heard on the basis of what you have to say.
That's what's so destructive about ad hominem thinking.
My best, Bob Kaven