The strategy is well-known to anyone who’s been in the blogosphere for a while. When confronted with a story that is bad for one side of the ideological divide, its partisans will let silence reign as long as possible and when they can no longer remain silent, will simply change the subject to talk about how the other guy is even worse.
The well-hoed change-the-subject technique is getting a real workout in reaction to the story of a North Carolina Democratic Congressman assaulting a man wielding a camera and shouting an inane question about whether the Congressman supported the “Obama agenda”. From a common-sense perspective, it is just the story of a man who at a minimum clearly lacks the emotional stability required to hold high political office and should probably be prosecuted for assault. But according to some Democratic partisans, the assault is only worthy of a pro forma throw-away condemnation in the rush to the real story — who were the people with the camera? The implication is that if the camera-toting boys were Republican political operatives, then (wait for it) it’s really the Republicans to blame! They caution about “false pretenses” and “edited video”, as if any edited material will suddenly make what we already know — that a Congressman assaulted and mandhandled a young man apparently half his size — less of a thuggish buffoonery.
Yeah. That’s it. As if “ambush journalism” isn’t a right under the First Amendment and a long-standing practice of partisans of both parties equally. Did the people condemning the camera-wielding boys as “shady” (apparently the fact that they are wearing suits is proof-positive that they are part of the evil right-wing conspiracy) have any objection when Virginia Republican Senator had his rising political career short-circuited and sank by his racist words about a videomaker hired to follow him by the Democrats? Did they have any objection when Mike Wallace built a career out of ambush journalism, often in the service of progressive causes? Of course not. When they do it, it is “accountability” and when Republicans do it, it is “shady” and “dangerous”. The double standard is obvious and transparent. It’s even worse because that they insult our intelligence by trying it anyway.
What bunk. Even if the boys were members of the Tea Party hired by Sarah Palin herself to dog the footsteps of this obscure Democratic Congressman, that’s the price of holding high political office. People are going to try to play “gotcha”, they are going to shout inane questions, and they are going to wave cameras in your face. “Intrusive” is what you signed up for, Congressman. If you can’t tolerate it except by lashing out physically, it is time to trade in the House office for a jail cell or a padded room.
And those who are from the same party should be helping expel the idiot from their midst instead of trying to change the subject. You can be sure they will be singing that tune if the next guy turns out to be a Republican. So why not start now?