How To Poison a Well
Glenn Reynolds points to Congressman John Murtha's defense of his aggressive earmarking practices:
“‘If I’m corrupt, it’s because I take care of my district,’ Mr. Murtha said.” And the beneficiaries of pork in his district take care of him.
They take care of Mr. Murtha by providing a good supply of funding for his re-election, which is used to buy advertising and other forms of positive press coverage. So far this has worked.
There is an effective tactic which can be used to reduce the electoral benefit Mr. Murtha can reap from this funding. That is to advertise against his corrupt dealings, and to explicitly and repeatedly note that he uses the money to promote himself. The idea is to create a mindset among undecided voters such that Mr. Murtha's campaign ads will reinforce the idea of his corruption -- to poison the well into which re-election donations feed. For example:
John Murtha calls it "taking care of his district". We call it a corrupt porkfest. John Murtha added hundreds of earmarks to make sure your tax dollars were spent the way his campaign donors wanted. And now those donors will pay for billboards, and radio and TV ads, supporting John Murtha and attacking [insert name here]. They'll pay to make sure you get the message. Because John Murtha is the man they want; because they know he'll represent them, not you.
This tactic is not specific to Mr. Murtha, or to Democrats. It seems it could help to reduce the efficacy of corruption.