"The Democratic Party is moving faster and more aggressively than in previous election years to dig up unflattering details about Republican challengers. In House races from New Jersey to Ohio to California, Democratic operatives are seizing on evidence of GOP candidates' unpaid income taxes, property tax breaks and ties to financial firms that received taxpayer bailout money."
So began a Washington Post article published Wednesday with the provocative title, "Democrats Digging Harder Than Ever for Dirt on Republicans."
As one reads Philip Rucker's piece, you can almost feel the entire Post staff wishing for Democrats to produce a "macaca" moment that just might save them from a devastating defeat in the upcoming midterm elections (h/t Glenn Reynolds):
In recent weeks, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has circulated information to local reporters about Republican candidates in close races. Among the claims:
-- That Jim Renacci of Ohio once owed nearly $1.4 million in unpaid state taxes.
-- That David Harmer of California received $160,000 in bonus and severance pay from a firm that got a federal bailout.
-- That Jon Runyan of New Jersey got a legal break in property taxes for his 25-acre homestead by qualifying for a farmland assessment thanks to his four donkeys.
To paraphrase Samuel Beckett, the Post appears to be Waiting for Macaca:
Democratic officials are advising campaigns to hire trackers to follow their Republican opponents to public events with video cameras, ready to catch any gaffe or misstatement. And the Democratic National Committee last week issued a call to the public to submit any embarrassing audio or video of Republicans, as well as copies of their direct-mail advertisements.
Readers should notice that nowhere in this piece was anything about Republicans trying to dig up dirt on Democrats, or any implication that such dirt exists.
Also absent was any criticism concerning this strategy. Instead, the Post seemed to be applauding it while hoping it worked:
Some years you ride the wave, and other years you paddle your canoe," Democratic strategist Paul Begala said. "Democrats, they've got to paddle like hell. So what you do when you're paddling is, as the Republicans seek to nationalize, you localize and personalize."
Localize and personalize.
I guess the Post feels personalize is just fine when Democrats are doing it. Would it be so if Republicans were manning the oars?
Somehow one imagines the picture would be painted with the GOP in that proverbial brown-colored creek: their efforts would be depicted as macaca without the ma.