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Devolvement, again...

by: cycle12

Thu May 07, 2009 at 16:29:45 PM EDT

Well, here we go again, having arrived at a point just about a month before this year's Democratic gubernatorial primary decision on June 9 where some of us have devolved into negative attacks on one or two of our three fine candidates and, occasionally, upon one another.

Have we not yet learned - and do we still not understand - that the slings and arrows used against one of our own become weapons to be employed against our eventual candidate by our real opponents?

It seems to happen every year, and I'm not necessarily surprised by this apparently inevitable devolvement, but I'm always disappointed by it...

No, thanks.


cycle12 :: Devolvement, again...
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Steve, could you tell us what prompted this? n/t

"One person, one vote" died at the hands of SCOTUS, January 21, 2010

Sure, Kathy...
...just read a few of the recent negative exchanges here on this blog and over at Lowell's Blue Virginia to see some current examples of such behavior.  However, to identify any specific candidates, individuals, etc. could place me into the same category, and I refuse to do that.

In 2006, I pleaded in vain with many of the bloggers on Raising Kaine not to do this to our candidates and/or to one another during the final days leading up to the Miller/Webb primary, and many of us can readily recall those destructive, trying times.

But, fear not; this year, we still have 31 days to go before June 9, and things may (probably will) just get much worse by then...

Our invitation should read:  "Here ya go, Republicans; please use these items against us between June 9 and November 3!"

Thanks for asking...


[ Parent ]
Steve, you should check out CobaltVA, too
Between Mike Stark and Kestrel9000, it is a Terry McAuliffe innuendo HateFest.

The Virginia Democrat

[ Parent ]
New Dominion Project, where three of the last four diaries are:

McAuliffe's experience??? where?

Terry McAuliffe, DNC Chairman, Makes $18,000,000 Profit On $100,000 Investment

McAuliffe's Background Check Could Prove a Liability

Then you can swing on over to the unfortunately named "Raising Moran," which should be called, "Kicking McAuliffe," where the top 3 diaries all hammer McAuliffe, or to save time, just head on over to the Oppo Depot.  

The Virginia Democrat

[ Parent ]
But those aren't FP diaries

[ Parent ]
My point exactly
Look at New Dominion Project.  Most of the FP is about polls and analysis of the polls, and other non-controversial stuff, but Aznew prefers to infer anti-Terry hatred to Kenton and wants to talk about three non-FP diaries, all three posted by the same person (not Kenton), as support for his contention that the New Dominion Project is a "hatefest" against McAuliffe.  Examine those three non-front paged diaries and what do we have?  Well, one is a Drudge Report article from January 2002 about Global Crossing, one is a Judicial Watch article posted from another blog (happinessonline) and also about Global Crossing, and the third merely gives the link to the famous WaPo article about Terry's business dealings - the SAME article trumpeted by Blue Virginia and other Terry supporters as showing how very, very qualified he is to be governor.  So, unless those folks are going to admit the WaPo article is actually very negative about Terry, then of the three diaries aznew cited only two of them can be called negative - assuming that negative means that some uncomfortable questions exist about Terry's dealings - and one was actually a positive.  

I took up Aznew's suggestion to swing over the "Raising Moran".  Well, there are indeed articles about Terry on RM. Quel dommage!  How negative of them!  Wait a minute, two of the diaries actually feature news stories about Terry - including the WaPo article which we've just learned is supportive of Terry.  Can't be a negative if it's a positive folks.  One features a story about reaction to the WaPo article, which, much as Terry's supporters would like to call it a positive apparently everyone else thinks is a negative (but is it an unfair negative?).  One is a just-published story from Virginian-Pilot about Terry's Virginia ties.  Oh, but wait, remember, the Terry Mac meme is that no Democrat is allowed to examine these issues now because that would be negative.  No, the fair thing would be to wait until such as Bob McDonnell bring it up in the GE.  More sporting that way.  As to the rest of RM, there are lots and lots of OTHER diaries talking about fundraisers and endorsements and office openings and all the usual stuff one finds at a candidate's promotional blog.  How negative!

Here's the reality.  Terry has absolutely no record in Virginia; therefore, cannot attack the records of either of his vastly more experienced in Virginia politics opponents.  Instead, he features his "positive" message, but he also has many surrogates and supporters whose job it is to shout down anyone who points out that the emperor seems rather scantily clad.  Every time someone asks "Who is Terry McAuliffe?", if they suggest that maybe there's a certain lack of there, there, they're being negative (if you'll pardon the alliterative string).  If we shout "negative, negative" loudly enough, then none of the perfectly legitimate points about Terry's qualifications or lack thereof are addressed.  The message becomes "look at those horrible bullies beating up poor positive Terry."    

[ Parent ]
Once again, Catzmaw
you expose yourself as nothing more than a match in a field of strawmen.

Here is the reality: I just cited those as negative articles, and you, uh, agree that they are negative articles.

I do think Kestrel9000 and Mike Stark's attacks on Terry are absurd, but I did not characterize the diaries at NDP or RM as fair, unfair, or anything else, beside pointing out that they are negative.

And BTW, I don't even support McAuliffe. I really don't give a damn if you want to while away your hours crticizing him. But that is beside the point. You can argue until you are blue in the face, Catzmaw, but this idea that Moran and his minions have not been nasty is simply contradicted by the common experience of every person who has been following this campaign for any time now.

I don't know why I argue with you. It is pointless.

The Virginia Democrat

[ Parent ]
Misery loves company?
Thanks for pointing out even larger problems than those that prompted me to post my original "devolvement" message above.

Yes, I have no doubt that things are perhaps already worse elsewhere than here, but we've still got plenty of time, so don't count us out just yet...

Why is it so difficult merely to state one's support for a particular candidate without denigrating the others and/or their supporters?

And, this year, it appears to me that our three gubernatorial candidates are not necessarily adding much fuel to these negative fires.  I have no doubt that all three of them can handle controversy quite adroitly, but many of their supporters appear to have gone negative toward one another without restraint and without any politically sound reasons for doing so.

Here's what's amusing to me:  I'm supporting A in the primary, but am expecting B to win, yet will work like hell to make sure that C wins the general if he surprises me and takes the primary.

How easy would that be for me to do if I were saying negative things about A, B or C and/or their supporters at this point in the campaign?

I'm a VT graduate, but I didn't major in rocket science, so maybe that's why I can't figure this out...

Now, for those who insist on doing so, please return to your favorite pastime; devolution.

Thanks again, I guess...


[ Parent ]
Too Broad a Brush
I don't think there is anything wrong with negative campaigning in a primary, as long as it has a reasonable basis in fact (with the understanding that those facts and any conclusions drawn will, of course, be contested) and that it is only a part of  a larger campaign that is positive and contructive.

To be, every campaign boils down to two things: Here is why you should vote for me, and here is why you should not vote for my opponent(s).

In our primary, the candidate I support, Creigh Deeds, has taken some hits for his votes on Marshall-Newmann and why we should nominate him this time, since he already lost to Bob McDonnell. Those are legitimate questions, and I believe Creigh has answered them. And they have been brought up repeatedly, on websites, in debates, in comments.

As for Terry McAuliffe, I'll bet not a day goes by that he does not hear the word carpetbagger used in a question to him. If he is the nominee, he will get asked the question everyday. Assuming he gets buried here, perhaps his tombstone should read, "Finally A Real Virginiain."

As for Brian Moran, I don't want to critique him here, as I don't want to spend the day either defending my right to do so or responding to Catmaw's 300 interrogatories, but he has come under his fair share of criticism as well. :)

So, to merely say negative campaigning is bad and a pox on all your houses is a cop out. Much of it is useful in making a decision and perfectly legitimate. Democrats have faults, too, you know, and we need not be afraid of dealing with them.

Some negative campaigning that falls into the other category of unfair, however, in my view has been reflected mainly in the vitriol directed at McAuliffe. Some of it borders on crackpot conspiracy theories, finding some connection of a degree or two between McAuliffe and an unsavory character, and proceeding to inflate that into some ongoing, nefarious relationship. Or the laughable assertion froma  month or two ago that McAuliffe was "immoral" because he believed in the potential for clan coal technology, an assertion that forces us to conclude that Creigh, Brian and President Obama are all immoral on this basis alone.

If anyone has the right to complain in this primary, IMHO, it is McAuliffe, but it hasn't been here at BC or at Blue Virginia, the two blogs you cited in your original post, which have the most unfair in their critiques, which is why I added a sampling of some of the anti-MacAuliffe propaganda sites. It wasn't simply misery loves company -- I was trying to help you make your point.

The Virginia Democrat

[ Parent ]
Point well taken...


[ Parent ]
Now, now, I'm not that bad
Nor can anyone complain that anything I say about McAuliffe is somehow below the belt or some kind of "hate McAuliffe" campaign.  My arguments about Terry's unsuitability have centered almost exclusively around my belief that he's a salesman and a huckster (his word, not mine), and that becoming the governor of a state is not a good way to develop a new skill set.

Quite a few people on this and a few other blogs have made a career out of complaining (perhaps the word is "whining") incessantly that ANY comment to the effect that Terry may not be the best candidate is "going negative" or part of a Moran hate campaign against poor, poor Terry.  THAT's been getting very old, especially when videos and links are posted which allegedly demonstrate their point, and upon actual inspection turn out to be perfectly legitimate commentary on Terry's qualifications for the governorship or not even to contain negative comments at all.  

There is and has been a double standard for some time, in that anything about Terry's connections and business dealings is considered off limits, while the smallest financial questions about Brian (Creigh appears to be immune on all sides from this tactic) are treated with great seriousness and ridiculous extrapolations.  An example? How about the repeated slur on Brian that he has taken donations from Dominion - what one blogger who shall remain unnamed referred to as "huge donations"?  What's the implication here?  That Brian's crooked and in the pockets of Dominion.  Upon closer inspection what do we find?  Well, by the admission of one of Terry's own most fervent supporters Brian Moran has received $2,000 in donations - and Creigh Deeds $2,500.  Now, if we're going to say that a donation from Dominion is an automatic purchase of the candidate's influence, then why have the same people who've trumpeted this about Moran NOT done the same to Deeds?  I'd hazard a guess that the purpose is purely negative, with the intention of imputing corruption to Moran because there is in fact a "hate Moran" campaign out here.  It's just that its proponents are dressing it up and calling it something different.  Lipstick on a pig ... etc., etc.  

The same goes for the savage attacks on Brian for supporting the Wise coal plant, which more than one blogger here has claimed is because it's a Dominion plant and that his opposition to Surry isn't based on his fears of its environmental effects but because it's NOT a Dominion plant.  Sure, that's negative, but no one here is going to admit it because the only one who's allowed to be CALLED negative in this particular blog is Brian.  The SAME people who are advancing these arguments are those who cry foul when Brian's campaign talks about the business dealings which made Terry a very wealthy man.  Brian, of course, is just a public servant and not wealthy by any stretch of the imagination.  He's never been about the money, as anyone examining his long public career would conclude, yet it's permissible to claim he's in it for the money and he can be bought for 2,000 bucks.

Let's just say that from my standpoint a lot of the hysteria and nastiness appears to be emanating from others than Moran.  Many times it's described as a "reaction" to something Moran said or did, but the fact is that it's a more subtle thing, a constantly recited refrain which is aimed at making those who hear the genuine concerns about Terry's candidacy discount them out of hand, without consideration, because they're so "negative."  They are specious and I will point that out.  That oftentimes there is no legitimate answer to my arguments is not the problem.  The problem that the argument was made in the first place.

[ Parent ]
Well, curious if you have any reaction
to this diary:

Most speifically, this:

I was invited by Jesse Ferguson, the Moran communications director, to be a member of a "Bloggers4Brian" e-mail group.  I was able to witness firsthand the vitriol and anger that Terry McAuliffe and anything concerning his campaign stirred in some of Moran's most verbose supporters, from Todd Smyth and Bob Brigham to Jesse Ferguson and others.  I knew that all these people believed in Brian's message, but I strongly disapproved of the way they personally attacked anyone who disagreed with them.

I bring it up because one thing I had always heard in response to the activities of pro-Moran bloggers is that they were acting on their own, without sanction or coordination with the campaign, and the Moran campaign could not be held accountabile for what they did.

But this suggests that is not the case. I do not think there is anything wrong with forming an e-mail group and coordinating activities. But the mean-spiritedness that some have seen in some pro-Moran bloggers appears to have been, if not directed by the campaign, at least coordinated and possibly nourished by it, if Neil is to be believed.

Catzmaw, are you a part of this mail group? Can you confirm or deny his characterization?

The Virginia Democrat

[ Parent ]
I've had a completely different experience
I was invited to Bloggers4Brian a few weeks ago and joined.  In spite of my openly stated disagreement with the way some have approached their advocacy no one has attacked me, I haven't been kicked out of the group, there's been no vitriol, etc., etc.  Just to get this straight, by disagreement I mean not that their arguments are illegitimate, but that the appearance of too much stridency can result in a backlash such as we see in this diary.  I'm a far more experienced debater and advocate than many bloggers and believe in a softer line, one which approaches the issues analytically and without a lot of emotion.  I was invited into the group because I was posting pro-Brian things on my own and with the group knowing that I don't do personal attacks.  I completely disagree with the implication that there's some prescribed way of approaching diaries or, for that matter, any coordination with the Moran campaign.  Everybody is on their own and they all do it the way they think is best.  Is there occasional sharing of ideas or information?  Sure, nothing wrong with that; however, what I've seen is just the posting of poll data or news articles or other things of interest.  NO instructions and NO criticisms for my approach.  If anyone in the group or from the campaign told me to engage in personal attacks or take a different approach I'd withdraw in a heartbeat.  They have respected my decision to do things my way with nary a complaint or cross word.  

I would therefore deny Neil's characterization.  

[ Parent ]
I don't understand your reply
Can you clarify:

1. Was Jesse Ferguson the owner of the group, i.e., did he (or some other official of the Moran campaign) control membership?

2. I would not expect that anyone would force any blogger to act a certain way. Nor did I read this guys post to suggest the nastiness was directed toward anyone in the email group. The question is whether you witnessed the kind of vitriol this diary describes in discussion of supporters of other candidates? Did you witness discussion of whether to launch personal attacks (even if you made it clear you would not do so)?

The Virginia Democrat

[ Parent ]
Actually, he has CEO experience and..
the governor is the CEO of the state.  So, I do not get why you think he needs a new "skill set."  He doesn't.  But the others don't have that kind of executive experience.  besides, he ran the DNC, for goodness sake.  Talk about herding cats.

"One person, one vote" died at the hands of SCOTUS, January 21, 2010

[ Parent ]
sorry, I do not see the double standard
you describe.  There are people who support Terry who have nevertheless been critical of some of his business dealings.   And there are people who oppose Terry who think the attack on Global Crossing is ridiculous, because Terry made a big profit as a venture capitalist -  that's how venture capitalists get rich.  On some investments they hit it huge, and others they lose their entire equity.  Ask Mark Warner about the risks of investment and setting up businesses.

As far as Creigh being immune from criticism, that is also quite off - he has been criticized for, among other things (a) not opposing mountaintop removal; (b) supporting the anti-gay marriage provisions (even as he now says that on this subject he is a work in progress), (c) for some of his positions on guns.   I have heard him attacked by supporters of both Brian and Terry as being too conservative, not progressive enough.  

From the standpoint of all kinds of pollution, it is pretty hard to parse the difference between Wise and Surry, except (a) trhe voting population of Surry is not dependent upon the coal industry, and (b) the ownership difference of the two plants.   Does that mean the only reason for the difference in Brian's position is Dominion's ownership of one and not the other?  Not necessarily, but in a state where Dominion's ability to dominate politicians of both parties it is certainly a legitimate issue to raise.

Just as it is legitimate to criticize Terry for on the one hand saying he takes no money from Dominion while attending a fundraiser organized by a former top executive from that company.

It is possible to offer those criticisms without having to use nuclear weaponry or over the top rhetoric to make the point.   It is possible to compare and contrast without the emphasis being on how bad the other guy is.  And the danger of such negativity is that if your guy has any vulnerability on the issue(s) in question the blowback is usually worse than the original attack as the word hypocrite is applied.

Steve's point was on unnecessary negativity.  On that he and I agree.  That does not mean we oppose all comparisons or reject any questioning of the records of candidates.  But at some point tone is a valid issue, and on this the scales among the supporters of the three candidates is weighed very differently, and as far as the actual words of the three men, spoken directly by them, it is no contest.  That is the reality, whether or not you want to accept it.

And some disclosure, in case anyone has forgotten. (1) I am a proud graduate of the Political Leaders Program at Sorensen, in which we try to learn how not to go too far so that eventually we can work together on behalf of all the people of the Commonwealth; (2) I am supporting Creigh Deeds;  (3) in the piece in which I announced I was supporting Deeds I found it necessary to note that while I personally admired all three men, one campaign had had the effect of making me les favorable towards that candidate -  and that is the campaign of Brian Moran.   I do not retract that statement.  


This is my world and welcome to it

[ Parent ]
Is that where you can stick your criticisms?
We deal in FACTS.

[ Parent ]
some of us have tried to do it within the blogosphere
it has been difficult.  The bitterest battles occur over the least of differences or sometimes the lowest of stakes.  That is, between partisans who are so committed to their candidate of choice that they become blinded to the larger picture.

You will note that in my endorsement of Creigh I talked about the fine qualities of both of his opponents.   And of course Kathy has been doing her "positive" series (and we should be do for one on Terry, which I fear may bring out some of the nuttiness, and perhaps force me to delete inappropriate comments).

It reminds me of some of the worst behaviors of House Republicans in DC since their ascension in 1994.  It is as if we have learned only how to be as idiotic as are they.

This is my world and welcome to it

[ Parent ]
It's a damn shame that that tactic...the Republicans using all the shit thrown by Terry McAuliffe and Mark Penn Hillary Clinton slung at Obama kept him from becoming President, isn't it?
Ask President McCain how sound that argument is.

[ Parent ]
What has stuck in my mind, since this happened when I was young, was the Texas Democratic Primary of 1990.  I mean there were really below-the-belt, nasty attacks against Ann Richards.  I don't think we have reached that level.  But that is a primary process (and maybe I am jaded, oh well).  Look at how contentious the Republican AG race is.  It can be nasty.  And frankly, if the candidate can't handle this, they can't handle the general election.

These arguments and attacks don't especially aid the Republicans, they are the same things Republicans would have brought up anyway.  And if the candidate cannot offer a strong response in the primary, what hope do they have in the general?

apples and oranges only makes fruit salad
Look, I fully support a vigorous primary process.  But I think in talking about two bloggers in particular aznew is focusing on those who think anything is justifiable in taking down McAuliffe.  In the case of Mike Stark, he has made clear that is his purpose, to do whatever it takes to convince people not to support McAuliffe.  Does that justify some of what we have seen from Mike and from others of that ilk in HOW they have gone about it?  Kestrel is a Deeds supporter, but also is firmly dedicated to trying to take McAuliffe down.  The better McAuliffe has performed in the polls the shriller have been the attacks.  

I think it is quite possible to do vigorous challenges within a primary without attempting to paint an opponent and/or his staff and supporters as the spawn of satan.

This is my world and welcome to it

[ Parent ]
Moving in the right direction
Ken, I will not address the assertions and/or conclusions contained in the first paragraph of your comments above, but I find myself to be in complete agreement with your final sentence:

"I think it is quite possible to do vigorous challenges within a primary without attempting to paint an opponent and/or his staff and supporters as the spawn of satan."



[ Parent ]
Build a Bridge, and Get Over It
That is my point.  People are going to be nasty; and you can't control that.  So, what's the sense in fussing over it?  That is giving the instigators the attention they so crave.  And it will happen in every hotly contested primary.  At what point do you just ignore that mess?

As Li Po once said: "We sit here, the mountain and I, until only the mountain remains."

[ Parent ]
Loved that mountain quotation from Li Po, "tx2vadem", and it's worth repeating:

"We sit here, the mountain and I, until only the mountain remains."



[ Parent ]
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