Some want sermons; others say leave morals to clergy

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Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean's suggestion that Democrats need to talk more about moral issues in next year's elections is generating a thumbs down in an AdAge.com poll.

But it also generated a heated debate about morality in political advertising-or the lack thereof. "Politics do more to coarsen the culture than producers of TV shows," said Tom Messner, partner in Euro RSCG.

Mr. Dean in a press conference earlier this month said the party needs to talk about moral issues, and in our poll, some suggested it's about time. "Democrats must address the issues that conservatives are yelling about," wrote Gina Miller, VP-director of account services for CBD Marketing, Chicago. "If morality is the backbone of the country, then it's time to grow one."

Chuck McIlhenny, project manager at Clark Productions, Johnstown, Pa., said "Any Democrat that wants my vote needs to discuss morality. That doesn't mean that I need to agree with him/her, but I want to know that as someone who desires to lead, they have actually given consideration to the moral implications of any issue."

Then there are those who side with Gerard Cantor, executive producer at Believe Media in Los Angeles. "Morality handled by politicians or the media is like leaving kleptomaniacs or smugglers to be our bankers and accountants. Let's leave morality to religious leaders, philosophers, scientists and other intellectuals-or the new conservative Supreme Court."

K.E. McCartney, senior research and planning manager at Landor Associates, San Francisco, said the party spends "too much time chasing after the Republicans. When is the party going to sit down and determine what and who they are and then hold firm to it?"

Others maintained that Democrats would be unbelievable pushing a morality message. "The Democrats-especially Howard Dean-don't have a clue about moral values," said Eric S. McBride, director-sales for S.C. Johnson & Son. "This is one more opportunity for them to demonstrate their ignorance of the world around them."

Tom Else, account director of Deutsch Los Angeles, bemoaned the lack of higher values in the political debate on both sides. "Neither Republicans, nor Democrats, operate like the make-believe world of TV's `West Wing.'"

What you say: 52% of respondents to Advertising Age’s online poll believe Democrats should not use morality in their marketing message as Howard Dean has suggested. But the vote was fairly close: Some 48% thought it was a good idea.

Next week’s question is "Are you confused by all the changes in digital TV distribution?" To submit your answer log on to AdAge.com, QwikFIND aao29v

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