Monday, July 25, 2016

The Revenge of Donald Segretti

This morning, I am getting caught up on the latest email fiasco, having been absorbed with other things over the weekend.  I mostly want to talk about this from a different angle - the lack of intelligence (smarts, not espionage) that I see from the Democratic party in ordinary interactions - but there needs to be some mention on the "dirty tricks" front.  Here are a handful of questions to consider that occur to me now.

1)  If the people in the party leadership have a preferred candidate (and won't that almost always be the case) will they inevitably be inclined to influence matters in that direction, using fair and unfair practices in the process?

2)  Has the party, in other words, effectively become just another super PAC?

3)  Has the triumph of Fox News, without an equivalent on the left as a bulldog either on an issue or a particular candidate, actually lessened the need for the Republican party to play the dirty tricks game but increased the incentive for the Democrats to do so?

4)  Do the dirty tricks work now, or simply irritate the candidates?  Way back when Donald Segretti was doing his thing, I believe that Muskie got knocked out of the Democratic Presidential campaign because of dirty tricks.  That was in 1972.   Hanging chads may have determined the actual election in 2000, but that was about disqualifying votes, not candidates.  The particular charge from the Sanders campaign about weekend debates seems implausible to me because of social media (or DVR's).  But the perception that this mattered clearly holds. 

Let me turn to the small dishonesty of the Democratic party, which I witness quite regularly.  It is illustrated by the screen shot below, a snip of an email I received on Saturday.

Joe Biden did not send that email.  Putting his name on it is a fraud.  It's a very small fraud, but nonetheless it's a fraud.  This sort of email is part of the normal fundraising apparatus.  In other words, fraud is built into the ordinary business practice.  Does it actually help the DSCC in its fundraising to do this?

I'm a little hazy on the relationship between the DSCC and the Democratic Party leadership, but I have to think that if it wasn't for maintaining fundraising lists, neither would have much raison d'être at this point.  It could be so much different.  Alas, it is not.

This sort of communication could be used for intelligent discussion on the issues - an alternative to the campaign (stump speeches).   They could be well thought through and explain why on that particular issue the voter should want to support the candidate.  Or the message could be about a specific part of the candidate's biography that is relevant for why the candidate is running and would do a good job in office.  In other words, it could be about substance.  This could be done directly, without mediation by a journalist, whose own views invariably impact what is said in the newspaper, magazine, or TV piece.  Further, while there might be immediate reward in putting "spin" on a particular message of this type, if the voters understood that was what's happening, it would backfire.  So, while face to face campaigning would surely not end, virtual campaigning could definitely be extended in this way and it could be quite substantive.

But it isn't happening.  Instead what we get is hype and with the hype there is the fraud I've mentioned. 

You can fool some of the people some of the time. 

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