Saturday, June 21, 2008

An opening salvo from Montana Dems in the war of words

More on the Democrats who attempted to crash the GOP state convention armed with video cameras: they apparently tried more than once, and wondered why they weren't welcomed with open arms. Is it possible that they were trying to cause a scene and get attention? Naw...

Dem party bosses didn't apparently send their sharpest operatives, though. The first would-be party crasher employed by the state party didn't feel up to the task, and even came back with reinforcements in order to overwhelm the GOP with superior intellectual firepower:

“I think this is systematic of Montana Republicans excluding Republicans from the process if you don’t subscribe to their views,” (Kevin) O’Brien said.

Call us sensitive and insecure, but statements like that are just plain "systematic" of how much smarter Dems are when compared to Neanderthal Republicans like us. It just makes us feel uncomfortable to be reminded of our intellectual inferiority.

O'Brien's role with the state Democratic Party is as its communications director (quick, somebody buy that man a dictionary!)

Leaving aside the matter of whether any Republicans were "excluded from the process" -- we've heard nothing to that effect, but maybe the Dems know something we Republicans don't -- we can't resist parsing this out a bit further (it's a quiet Saturday evening, and Republicans don't have much else to do.) Is O'Brien letting slip that he is a Republican who was being excluded from the Republican proceedings? Don't they check references and have people sign loyalty oaths around Dem party central anymore before hiring people?

This same skilled communications director offered another musing to Chuck Johnson, who as always, does a masterful job of just reporting the facts and quotations as they are given to him:

"What’s the old saying? Might beats right.”

Hm. That "old saying" should be pretty well-known to a expert communications director: "might makes right." Unless we're mistaken, the English variant on the concept of vae victus seems to have a rather different meaning from "might beats right," if that actually were an old saying (which it isn't.)

Sort of brings back memories of Al Gore helpfully telling us in a debate with George W. Bush that he wanted to make us an e pluribus unum -- which he helpfully (in that inimitable schoolmarm voice) explained meant, "out of one, many." Little Freudian slip, there.

But back to O'Brien's comments and a little more deep subconscious analysis of his words. He is (did we mention?) the skilled communications director for the party of the intelligent and educated (that's not us Republicans -- as we must with a mixture of shame and humility admit.)

Is he sending out a subliminal message via historical allusion that he expects Montana Republicans to defeat Democrats this fall in a manner that will be reminiscent of the sack of Rome? Someone alert GOP central, there is panic in the Democratic ranks...

Reading such things makes us wonder if perhaps we doltish Montana conservatives perhaps have a fighting chance in the war of words and intellect after all -- hope springs eternal.

That's another "old saying," by the way. (cf. Alexander Pope.) There's probably a copy of "An Essay on Man" floating around somewhere in a university town like Missoula.


Steve said...

Further proof that self esteem is more important than, say, actually accomplishing anything.
I am sure that Mr. O'Brien's mother told him that he was a wonderful speaker. What more would he need to get his job?

David said...

I found it interesting that Jake Eaton called this a "private event." At the one Democratic state convention I covered, people were pretty much able to roam around anywhere and anytime they pleased. Wonder if any of them were Republicans?

Montana Headlines said...

David -- at most conventions, it is pretty easy for someone who isn't registered and paid-up to wander in quietly, minding one's own business, and get into a lot of the events, other than meals that require a ticket.

Judging from other GOP events, that probably would have been pretty easy for an average Joe to do at this convention, as well -- Republican or Democrat.

If you can come up with examples of paid Republican staffers bearing video cameras being given the run of Democratic party events that require registration and fees, then I'll agree that Eaton should have let these staffers in.

The whole thing strikes me as pretty low-class, and I'd say the same thing if it were Republicans honing the "macaca" tactic, and attempting to take it into events where people should be able to have the general presumption that if the person isn't wearing a press badge, then he's a friendly.

It makes me proud to be a Republican that none of our staffers have been pulling this particular kind of gauche nonsense.

David said...

What troubles me is the thought that people not of your party aren't considered "friendly." If I were running a convention, I wouldn't want to be doing anything that I would be embarrassed to have the world know about.

Montana Headlines said...

By "friendly," I mean someone who is not running around with a videocam or tape-recorder looking for "gotcha" moments.

Obviously, since the press is invited and given the run of the place, there really isn't any concern that there would be anything embarrassing.

But keep in mind that the press has certain standards of ethics that they for the overwhelming part adhere to. They will introduce themselves, their press badge is public, and they will generally try to put any remark you make into context. They tend not to report what they hear in eavesdropped conversation snippets -- in no small part because they understand that they have to know the context of the comment and have some sense that a person should have the right to know when he is going "on the record."

I'm really not sure why you would fail to see that there is a difference between a curious Democrat (even an unfriendly one) who registers for an event in order to see what's going on -- and paid political operatives with videocams and tape recorders having the run of a political convention.

These are people who are not going to have an ethical imperative to put a remark into context. If they can happen to capture a public or private statement on tape that can be made to sound bad, we have to presume that they will have it up on YouTube at the time most advantageous to them.

Using the "open meeting" law as a justification is furthermore ridiculous. A convention like this is a time when ordinary folks get to mix and mingle with elected officials and party leaders. It's not a gathering exclusively of the latter. It would seem to dampen the fun for the former if they had to be on their toes to make sure they didn't say something that someone with a videocam might like to record and put on YouTube.

And as a final note, if Democratic operatives should be given the run of a Republican convention, then why on earth should Republicans be expected to pay a registration fee and wear a nametag to get in the door? In which case, not only would the convention not serve the important fundraising purpose that it does, it wouldn't even be able to pay the expenses of putting it on.

What do you think the Republican Party should have done?

Ed Kemmick said...

Are you referring to "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing"?

And I would tend to agree with MH that the GOP was well within its rights to exclude "guests" whose sole reason for showing up was to cause trouble. It seems to me about on par with having comment moderation on a blog.

Ed Kemmick said...

But now I have done "a little" research and find the actual quote is "A little Learning is a dang'rous Thing," and it is from "An Essay on Criticism." Please clarify.

Montana Headlines said...

Ed, it is much simpler than that -- I was just referring to "hope springs eternal," which is from Pope's "Essay on Man."

I didn't realize, BTW, that "A little Learning is a dang'rous Thing" was from Pope -- I would have said off the top of my head that that was a line from Shakespeare. Good thing I didn't try to apply that line, or I would have been a perfect demonstration of its truth.