Republican National Committee direct mail fundraising letters that look deceptively like census documents have been the focus of earlier posts here and here. The non-profit news organization ProPublica and the for-profit news organization Politico have also covered the issue, prompting the House of Representatives to go so far as to vote to restrict the practice.
The latest twist on the deceptive direct mail issue, though, comes from the Democratic National Committee. A FutureOfCapitalism reader forwarded a DNC direct mail piece with a stamp that says "USA Nonprofit Org" and an envelope that says in large letters "Registered Documents Enclosed" and "DO NOT TAMPER." It's trying to make it look like a registered letter from the post office, which a recipient would open, rather than a direct mail piece, which a recipient would toss.
Inside the envelope is a letter from Governor Tim Kaine of Virginia: "President Barack Obama requests your immediate response to the enclosed 2010 Presidential Survey." The letter goes on, "The Republican Party has been trying to fight back after their defeats in the 2008 elections and is being aided by the misinformation and hatred spread by the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck. Our nation cannot afford for the Democratic Party to lose momentum."
One of the things I like about direct mail is that it discloses what the political parties say when they think the other guys, including the press, are not watching. When President Obama gave a recent commencement speech at the University of Michigan, he said we all need to listen to different points of view:
if you're somebody who only reads the editorial page of The New York Times, try glancing at the page of The Wall Street Journal once in a while. If you're a fan of Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh, try reading a few columns on the Huffington Post website. It may make your blood boil; your mind may not be changed. But the practice of listening to opposing views is essential for effective citizenship. (Applause.) It is essential for our democracy.
But in the direct mail sent by the DNC he controls, Mr. Obama accuses Mr. Limbaugh and Mr. Beck -- sorry, "the likes of" them -- of spreading "misinformation and hatred."