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Editorial

Should a Politician Respond to Mudslingers or Not?

When the former Governor of Massachusetts and the 1988 presidential candidate of the Democratic Party Michael Dukakis was asked during an important live Facebook interview by Eraklis Diamataris, the Co-Publisher of The National Herald [full transparency, he is my son] if he said he "regretted" that he did not retaliate against George W. Bush’s attacks in that campaign, he said “yes, I regretted it," and advised Joe Biden not to make the same mistake.

The Bush campaign launched an infamous fake-information attack on him, claiming he was a supporter of criminals and thugs, which destroyed the 17% lead Dukakis held in the polls after the Democratic National Convention, ultimately leading to a Bush victory.

Eraklis also asked him if Bush later apologized to him, and he replied "no.”

This lesson was well illustrated in the past by George Stephanopoulos, who worked on the Dukakis campaign and then applied the lessons learned when he was a top aide on Bill Clinton’s campaign. And, as is well known, it paid off.

However, opinions on this issue are divided.

I remember once asking my friend, the late Konstantinos Mitsotakis, why he did not respond to the proven false and infamous accusations that a specific journalistic organization unleashed on him for decades, resulting in the poisoning of a significant portion of the people against him:

“I did not want,” he replied, “to go down to their level. I believed that in the end, people would understand the truth.”

In the end, it was not he – nor his family – who lost, but the country. Today, there are many who say, “if Mitsotakis had governed for a few years, then, the country would be in a different situation!” And that's how it is. Nevertheless, I replied to the late prime minister – and I continue to believe it – that I think it is wrong for public figures not to respond to mudslingers and libelists. Such people exist – and will exist – in every age, and ignoring them does not make them go away.

If honorable men don’t properly respond to their attackers, I believe, the unsuspecting world becomes vulnerable to misinformation. It gets carried away by falsehood and fantasy, leading to erroneous conclusions about politicians and their policies.

So, yes, Biden does well in responding to the unprovoked attacks of his rival, President Trump.

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