The race to replace Kirsten Gillibrand in NY-20’s special election has already employed oppo researchers for both sides, and Jazz Shaw has followed each revelation.  Yesterday, the Albany Times-Union reported on a find by NRCC (which they keep calling the RNCC) from Democrat Scott Murphy’s time at Harvard.  He opined in a Left-leaning campus magazine that the ROTC had no business on college campuses, especially Harvard:

“The values enforced by the military — submission to authority, unquestioning obedience, and a hierarchy of power — are contrary to the University’s values of independence, thoughtful inquiry, and equality for all.”

“Bringing ROTC on campus is not the best way of helping the economically disadvantaged.”

“We, as editors of Perspective, firmly believe all people should have the right to choose whether or not to be in the military, but we believe a university must not sanction a philosophy that is founded on an unquestioning submission to authority.”

The T-U acts as though this is both unrepresentative of the essay as a whole and an out-of-bounds attack on Murphy, and the New York Observer laments the tone of the campaign.  Neither are true, and in reading the entire essay, Murphy’s animus towards the military in 1989 becomes very plain.  He accuses the military of endemic racism as well as claiming that they do not represent true American values.  His editorial strongly implies that the ROTC is just a tool to exploit the poor.

Those of us who pay attention know that most of what Murphy wrote is standard Leftist boilerplate — but he still wrote it and signed his name to it.  It’s much different than plumbing Michelle Obama’s college thesis, especially since Michelle Obama didn’t run for anything and Murphy wants to serve in Congress.  While a college editorial may not reflect Murphy’s thoughts now, the Republicans have a legitimate interest in determining whether Murphy changed his mind over the last twenty years, when he did so, and why.

Jazz wonders why the Observer has its panties in a bunch:

Meanwhile, the New York Observer despairs of the “deeply negative” tone the campaign is taking. They refer to Murphy as “a rich carpetbagger, out-of-touch with the needs of the average voters in the 20th Congressional District,” and to his Republican opponent, Jim Tedisco, as “a hypocritical machine hack.” In reality, their own editorial is the most negative thing I’ve seen in the entire campaign thus far. Have they been watching any of the other elections around the nation for the last twenty years or more?

Researching previously published materials by candidates, asking why Scott Murphy failed to pay his taxes or noting that Tedisco actually lives seven miles outside the borders of the district hardly qualify as rolling in the mud and are fairly typical in terms of opposition research. If the campaign stays with its current level of discourse, it will frankly be one of the most civil I’ve seen in quite some time.

Indeed.  Murphy’s attack on the ROTC was explicitly political, aimed at influencing a policy decision at Harvard and indirectly aimed at opposing the military and its recruitment and training of officers.  Tedisco’s residence touches on his eligibility.  Both issues are perfectly fair game for an election.  Maybe competitive campaigns for Congress have become so rare that the New York media doesn’t remember how they work.