Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Harry Reid's continued slide toward re-election

I realize that things play differently inside the wingersphere, but Sharron Angle's legal quest to keep people from finding out what she believes is so dumb I can't see any angle (pardon the pun) that works for her in this story:
After she won Nevada's Republican Senate primary, Angle's campaign took down most of its website, and later replaced it with a relaunched (and somewhat toned down) version. But the Reid campaign saved the old version, and put up a website called "The Real Sharron Angle," reproducing the old content. Then on Friday, the Angle campaign sent them a cease-and-desist letter, alleging violation of copyrights for Reid having reposted Angle's old campaign literature. [...]

The Reid campaign did initially take down the site, seemingly obeying the cease-and-desist, and rerouted users to one of their other anti-Angle sites. But now they're put it right back up, simply removing the sign-up fields, some formatting and other identifying marks.
I just don't understand any of this. For one thing, nothing on the internet ever goes away. The Internet Archive lets you grab seemingly anything that's ever been on the internet. For example, you can check out Ms. Angle's very first website from 2003, which features a number of links to the same sorts of fringe-y stuff Angle supports now. This is not to discount other backups like Google caching, or even something as quaint as someone just saving the thing as an html file. The moral of the story is that if you put something into cyberspace it's never coming back. Filing a suit won't stop reporters from writing about the site, in any event, and I don't think the voters will agree that any sort of right to privacy should envelop campaign materials. Angle's extreme wingnuttery no doubt helped her capture the Tea Party vote, but she seems to have a curiously old-fashioned conception of what materials stick around in modern politics. And filing a lawsuit against publicizing the website just spurs more interest in it. It makes it look as though the Angle team has something to hide, which will make local media look at it all the more closely. The site becomes more newsworthy than it would otherwise be. It makes the candidate look secretive and somehow ashamed of the extreme views reputed to her (and she thus looks weak), it allows Reid to both look sympathetic for trying to have a fuller debate while also letting him pivot to the question of what else is out there that Angle doesn't want us to see.

This is such a good story for Reid I don't know how he could even screw it up if he wanted to. Angle's best bet would have been to not engage with the story and dismiss it as irrelevant, or to try to find some intemperate quotes by Harry Reid so as to facilitate the sort of he-said-she-said reporting that the news media naturally gravitates toward. She has instead shown why Democrats have been highly enthusiastic about the prospect of taking her on this year. Someone this touchy and incompetent is unlikely to defeat someone as experienced and savvy as Reid. While I have some quibbles with his style as Majority Leader, the guy has managed to go from losing by 20-plus points to being competitive with Angle, and it's hardly over yet.

The Man, The Myth, The Bio

East Bay, California, United States
Problem: I have lots of opinions on politics and culture that I need to vent. If I do not do this I will wind up muttering to myself, and that's only like one or two steps away from being a hobo. Solution: I write two blogs. A political blog that has some evident sympathies (pro-Obama, mostly liberal though I dissent on some issues, like guns and trade) and a culture blog that does, well, cultural essays in a more long-form manner. My particular thing is taking overrated things (movies, mostly, but other things too) down a peg and putting underrated things up a peg. I'm sort of the court of last resort, and I tend to focus on more obscure cultural phenomena.