WASHINGTON, July 9, 2012 — All’s fair in love and war … and politics. Well, almost anything. Dirty tricks have long been part of the political game by both parties to varying degrees. But everyone seems to agree that the one thing that is not ok is to stalk the candidates as they grocery shop or video tape their family members or take pictures of their homes and post them on the Internet.
Tracking candidates, which is when campaign staffers record or videotape the opposition candidates on the campaign trail and then use their words or actions against them later on, is an age old tactic to trip up the other guy. Remember Senator George Allen (R-Va) and his “macaca” moment in 2006? It ended his chances for reelection.
So both Republicans and Democrats trail each around, capturing every little sound bite. And yes, the candidates of both parties hate it and feel harassed, but it is considered fair game once a person declares his or her candidacy.
But what is out of bounds is the news that Democrats are making videos of workers going to the door of congressional candidates so the address is visible even if the candidate refuses to answer the knocking.
In era of trigger-happy citizens, who express themselves with an itchy finger, this kind of campaign tactics is beyond the pale. Just 18 months ago, a deranged gunman shot Arizona Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Gifffords as she campaigned. So why hasn’t Ms. Giffords’ close friend and the head of the Democratic National Committee Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz or New York Congressman Steve Israel head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee ordered such operations shut down?
To give them the benefit of the doubt, maybe like many of us they only just read about it today in an article by Alex Isenstadt in Poltico, but we have to hope a Stop order goes out swiftly to end this sordid little chapter.
Republicans say they have been “unnerved” by this invasion of privacy and they worry about the safety factor for them and their families. Wisconsin Republican Congressman Reid Ribble said he was followed and videoed as he grocery shopped. But worse, a video of his home appeared “online June 18” for 38 seconds. His wife said she is “creeped out,” adding, “If they so much as put a foot on private property, I will be the first person to call the police.” Other homes have appeared on YouTube with their addresses highlighted.
We can only imagine the outrage that those of us on the Left would register if Republicans were stalking our candidates and their families. And we should be equally outraged when Democrats are guilty of such underbelly tactics.
Yet so far, Democratic spokesmen are defending the strategy. Jesse Ferguson, a DCCC spokesman, defended the surveillance tapes, saying that by exhibiting some of the Republican MacMansions and mansions on the Internet it shows that the average Congressional Republican is out of touch with the American people and “are protecting benefits for millionaires and perks for themselves instead of protecting the middle class.”
True, Republicans are out of touch with the middle class, but this kind of tactic is scary and, yes, creepy, and will backfire with voters. No one likes a stalker, especially in this day and age. Plus there are dozens of way to show that the GOP candidates are out of touch from their voting record to their own words.
Crawling around in the bushes filming candidates’ private lives is not only beneath contempt but potentially dangerous. And needs to be stopped by the Democratic leadership.
To contact Catherine Poe, see above. Her work appears in Ad Lib at the Communities @ WashingtonTimes.com. She can also be heard on Democrats for America’s Future. She is also a contributor to broadcast, print and online media.
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