Poshard TV Ad Sets New Low in Political Ethics

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), October 5, 1998 | Go to article overview

Poshard TV Ad Sets New Low in Political Ethics


Byline: Bill Granger

Glenn Poshard's long-stumbling campaign for governor fell into the ditch over the weekend - but it broke an old record for an offensive campaign commercial that many thought would never be equaled, let alone surpassed.

It is official now from the National Bureau of Disgusting Political Commercials - the latest Poshard TV ad is the worst thing to ever air since the 1964 TV ad for President Lyndon Johnson which depicted a little girl picking flowers moments before she is blown up by an atomic bomb.

The Poshard ad is better than the 34-year-old Johnson ad because it plays off a real tragedy in which six children in one family were killed on I-94 south of Milwaukee when a truck part fell into the roadway in front of their parents' minivan. The parents, from the Mount Greenwood neighborhood on the South Side, were the only survivors of the fire that consumed the van four years ago.

The Poshard ad implies that corrupt licensing procedures in George Ryan's secretary of state's office led to the deaths of the six children:

"Unsafe truckers on our roads. A family has paid a terrible price. Six children are dead. His office riddled with corruption and George Ryan wants to be our governor?"

The Johnson ad, by contrast, only tried to imply that voting for Goldwater for president invited nuclear holocaust and slaughter of innocent children.

The new and ingenious low in state television ads was reached through the good offices of state Democratic chairman and House Speaker Michael Madigan of the South Side. The state Democrats put up the money for the ad and Poshard OK'd it and defended his OK on Saturday, saying Ryan had put out negative ads, too. So there.

Mike Madigan's friend is Joseph A. Power Jr., the lawyer who is now representing the family survivors in the I-94 crash and has filed a suit on their behalf.

He reportedly obtained permission from the Willis family to use the photograph in the ad, though photos of the crash are in public domain. Their suit alleges the trucker who dropped the truck part on the road right in front of the Willis family car was improperly licensed by the state, though an internal investigation by Ryan's office said the driver was not. The Rev. Duane and Janet Willis lost their six kids in the fiery crash. …

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