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September 18, 2012

"SECRET!!!" Romney Tapes as a Litmus Test


David Corn of The Nation, a progressive who presumably believes in the importance of civil liberties and individual rights, is (according to Memeorandum, which is lit up like a Christmas tree with OMG!!! SUPER-SECRET VIDEOS OF MITT ROMNEY SUNBATHING WITHOUT HIS BIKINI TOP!!!11!) having all sorts of fun posting SECRETLY(!) taped videos of a man who, one assumes, was unaware he was being taped and did not consent to their release. Grim, citing a post at NRO, makes a shrewd point:

Every candidate — hell, everybody — simply must assume henceforth that their every word and email, thanks to technology and the Bush administration’s overwrought defensive reaction to 9/11, is being monitored, taped and weaponized, if need be.

As far as "everybody" goes, maybe; but if the NSA is really recording everything you say, they're being remarkably circumspect about it. Elements within the CIA seemed to love to play politics with leaks to the press during the Bush administration, and occasionally even in this administration (for the agency's own benefit, rather than against the President). The NSA may have access to tons of our secrets, but if so they seem to be responsible stewards.

Aye chihuahua, it never ends. Today's spectacular act of Self Beclownment as Performance Art features writers at the National Review blaming blatantly illegal tactics on a Republican president...because as we all know, it was positively unheard of for Democrats to illegally tape Republicans before the Bu$Hitler regime tore up the Constitution and fed it to Barney the White House Terrier:

Florida Couple Are Charged In Taping of Gingrich Call By JERRY GRAY Published: April 24, 1997

The Justice Department today filed charges against a Florida couple who said they had intercepted and recorded a conference call last December among Speaker Newt Gingrich and other Republican leaders.

The Federal authorities in Jacksonville, Fla., announced this afternoon that the couple, John and Alice Martin, had been charged with an infraction, violating the Communications Privacy Act by using a radio scanner to intercept the radio portion of the conversation. It is the mildest criminal charge the couple could face in the case and carries a maximum penalty of a $5,000 fine.

The Government said the Martins had agreed to plead guilty to the charges, and said the couple would cooperate with a continuing investigation into how a recording of the conversation wound up in the hands of a New York Times reporter.

...a NY Times reporter who of course had no idea it was illegal to tap private conversations! For eight years we listened to the Times and progressives fulminate about the horror of our government listening in on our private conversations.

Turns out it wasn't the government we should have been worried about. It was ardent progressives who - apparently - are willing to violate every standard they profess to hold dear if that will help them win an election. And the journalists who enable this kind of illegal and shameless behavior. What's next? A NY Times spread of Kate Middleton's breasts?

The truly sad, if amusing, aspect of this incident is that it's a great litmus test for folks on both sides of the aisle. For conservatives, it's a chance to walk the walk instead of just talking the talk. If you've been wishing Romney would champion your beliefs, now's not the time to go all wobbly just because you're seeing the kind of pushback your more ideologically suspect bretheren predicted a long time ago.

And for liberals, it's an opportunity to show that privacy, individual rights, and respect for the rule of law are ideals worth defending in their own right, regardless of whose party is in power (not weapons to be used for partisan advantage when it's convenient and quickly forgotten when the transgressor has a D next to his or her name).

On May 17, Mitt Romney spoke bluntly at a fundraiser at the home of a private equity executive in Boca Raton. Someone recorded him speaking, and that unexploded digital ordnance lay around the 2012 campaign until Monday, when it erupted under Romney's campaign. Its emergence offers a glimpse at the workings of the contemporary media: Chaotically driven by an anonymous leaker; empowered by ubiquitous recording devices; and competing not just with other media outlets, but with the source him or herself.

... One [tape] was deceptively edited to make Romney appear to be saying he'd been born with a silver spoon.

Ah, what's a little deceptive editing among friends? Or a personal vendetta or two?

"I'm proud of my role in being able to track him down," James Carter, 35, said about the source who took the video. "I'm a partisan Democrat. My motivation is to help Democrats get elected. If there is anything I can find in any race [Ed. Note: even it it was illegally obtained, apparently!], I try to do that."

But Carter also confirmed there is a personal side to the backstory of the campaign video: he was especially motivated, he said, because of Romney's frequent attacks on the presidency of his grandfather, including the GOP candidate's comparisons to the "weak" foreign policy of Carter and Barack Obama.

"It gets under my skin -- mostly the weakness on the foreign policy stuff," Carter said. "I just think it's ridiculous. I don’t like criticism of my family."

The press have much to be proud of this election season. First, 900 pages of "leaked" (euphemism of the week), business sensitive documents from Bain Capital, seized upon avidly by the press regardless of the suspect provenance. Now illegal recordings.

I'd like to think someone - anyone - in the media might possibly speak out against these blatantly illegal and unethical tactics. Kirsten Powers would be the best bet here.

If only there were some public servant whose job it was to enforce the law....

Update: More election-winning illegality!

A college professor has been placed on leave after she allegedly forced her class to sign a pledge to vote for President Obama in the 2012 elections.

The pledge was printed off of GottaVote.org, a website funded by the Obama campaign.

Loyalty pledges? Really???

Posted by Cassandra at September 18, 2012 03:32 PM

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I thought you were going somewhere else with the "litmus test" concept. Apparently some on the right (like the linked NRO piece, and InstaPundit) hear these statements and think, "Wow, this really helps Romney." Some on the left hear them and think, "Wow, this destroys Romney's chances."

What we won't know for a few days is whether the independent voters he was talking about trying to win are swayed positively or negatively. The comments are roughly flattering toward them: they aren't portrayed as part of the 47% of unpersuadables (that number seems high to me, by the way), but working people who can be swayed; they aren't portrayed as haters, but as people who liked Obama but have been disappointed by him.

Will they find that assessment persuasive? I suspect it depends on how much they share the viewpoint that it's dangerous for people to become dependent on government. We'll have to see, though, how it shakes out. In the meantime, insofar as there's an opportunity to speak and be heard, it's always better to sound like you've got a point you want to make than to sound like you're apologizing for what you said.

Posted by: Grim at September 18, 2012 05:10 PM

He doesn't like criticism of his family? His grandpappy was a public figure doing things in the Name of We, the People, and he doesn't like it?


Posted by: La Femme Crickita at September 18, 2012 05:44 PM

As far as the hearts and minds of those in that 47%, I can't help but believe that many are willing, eager and anxious to better themselves should the economy improve. Heck, even GM wants to be freed from gub'ment dependency/ownership.

I hope this election --48 days and a wake up!-- proves me right.

Regarding young Carter's whine about the fact that is the "weak" foreign policy of Carter. The administration of POTUS #39 was a train-wreck, foreign policy included. CWCID: The Camp David accords bought some peace.

But on the whole, many if not most of us hoped to never see anything similar to the days of the Carter administration, ever again. Then came 2009 adding fuel to the 2007 Dem controlled Congress fire.

Posted by: bthun at September 18, 2012 06:18 PM

What's next? A NY Times spread of Kate Middleton's breasts?


I -

Ya know what... that nun with the ruler's still around, I better just walk away from that.

Posted by: MikeD at September 19, 2012 08:50 AM