Stretching Truth, or Campaigning?

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), January 30, 2008 | Go to article overview

Stretching Truth, or Campaigning?


Byline: Bob Susnjara

bsusnjara@@dailyherald.com

On the campaign trail for the 8th Congressional District's Republican nomination, Long Grove's Steve Greenberg says only injury kept him from playing in the National Hockey League.

His playing statistics, however, show his scoring put him 10th on his minor league hockey team in one full season.

In the 10th Congressional District's Democratic primary campaign, candidate Dan Seals of Wilmette has touted his position as an adjunct professor at Northwestern University.

But he doesn't start that job until April.

Are these guys stretching the truth? Or are they outright lying? Political experts say candidates should consider what they say in public or claim in advertising to be part of an application they are submitting to their future employers - the voters. That means they should be factual and accurate.

Kent Redfield, a political science professor at the University of Illinois' Springfield campus, said flagrant misstatements or resume-puffing can be costly to candidates at the ballot box. He said voters are more likely to look in that direction than toward candidates' positions on the issues.

"They understand about people telling the truth," Redfield said of voters. "If it turns out you fudged on some things, that becomes the issue."

Another problem with "stretching," Redfield said, is it can prompt opponents to look for other shaky claims and, if found, pounce on them for political gain.

Redfield and John Jackson, a political scientist and visiting professor at Southern Illinois University's Paul Simon Institute, evaluated the candidates' rhetoric and weighed in on how it could affect voters, who head to the polls Tuesday.

Greenberg on ice

Greenberg, 36, states in his campaign literature he was a center for the Hampton Roads Admirals, a minor league hockey team, and that "only physical injury prevented Steve from playing in the National Hockey League."

Statistically, Greenberg didn't exactly knock 'em dead in the East Coast Hockey League in the 1989-90 regular season, when his 34 total points put him 10th in scoring on the Admirals, at that time an affiliate of the NHL's Washington Capitals. He had two goals and five assists for seven total points in an injury-shortened 1990-91 campaign.

Greenberg said it's not a stretch to say the injury, which he declined to publicly disclose, kept him from the NHL. He said the Edmonton Oilers showed genuine interest in his services for the 1991-92 season.

"My role was as a checking forward," Greenberg said. "I never told them I was Wayne Gretzky. …

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