February 18th, 2012

The candidates and the internet detectives

It used to be that candidates would make stump speeches and have debates, and that was the best guide you had to their intentions if they were to win—that, and their records. The latter consisted of the jobs they’d held and the actions they’d taken, and maybe a few major speeches they’d given.

But it would have been too much work to scour their every public utterance for errors or slips, or something they had said many years ago, before they were presidential candidates, that now could be used against them. Either the record didn’t exist, or it was too difficult to find and study.

But with the advent of the internet it has became a great deal easier. Now there are legions of hired hands, freelancers, and amateurs devoted to just that: the task of catching someone doing something that would turn the public against him/her. No matter if it’s twenty years or more ago, and they say they’re changed; it’s all grist for the gotcha mill.

Obama was more immune from that than most when he was running for president. It’s partly because he was the press’s darling, but it’s partly his own doing. It’s hard to escape the idea that Obama was purposely keeping a low profile and making sure he had as little a paper and video trail as possible, and that the record he did leave was as generalized and innocuous as possible, and that he had complete control of it (his books, for example). Maybe he knew even then that being too vocal or too well-documented could be used to damage a candidate and reveal him/her in unfavorable ways. And of course, the MSM has cooperated in keeping whatever record might exist as hidden as possible, if it could implicate Obama in a way that would reflect badly on him.

It’s a good thing Reagan’s candidacy was before the rise of the internet. Otherwise, we’d have probably been treated to videos of his old speeches praising Helen Gahagan Douglas, back when he was a liberal Democrat, in order to damage his conservative bona fides.

21 Responses to “The candidates and the internet detectives”

  1. Gringo Says:

    It’s hard to escape the idea that Obama was purposely keeping a low profile and making sure he had as little a paper and video trail as possible, and that the record he did leave was as generalized and innocuous as possible, and that he had complete control of it (his books, for example).

    Straight from the horse’s mouth in Dreams From My Father:

    With the exception of my family and a handful of public figures, the names of most characters have been changed for the sake of their privacy.

    Stanley Kurtz, in his book Radical-in-Chief found out that the names of those involved in community organizing in Obama’s book, including those who were community organizing professionals, had false names in Obama’s book.

    But why? I can understand the need to have an old flame anonymous, but to hide the names of those involved in community organizing in Chicago?

    Rather, as Neo states, he did so to protect HIS privacy, so that fact-checkers would have a more difficult time challenging his story.

    Obama’s name-fudging sounds to me like a Bill Ayers addition to the book. Bill Ayers certainly had experience in covering his tracks. And at the least, Bill Ayers did edit the book.

  2. Papa Dan Says:

    It’s clear he’s a marxist and has always been one, from the moment he was born. The most frightening thing about him to me, are these huge unknowns about him (school records, passport, Social Security #, the strange games about his bc). The press doesn’t even try to fill in the gaps, they just laugh at anyone who question’s any of this, and lecture us to put away our tin foil hats.

  3. Randy Says:

    From speeches I’ve heard, Reagan was open about his transformation. As far as I know, his actions post transformation were consistent.

    It would have been troublesome if he spent time explaining why his praise of Douglas was not inconsistent with conservatism.

  4. Matches Malone Says:

    During the 2004 Illinois Senate race the Chicago press aggressively went after his initial opponent, Republican Jack Ryan for video taping Obama’s speeches and activities (essentially doing the job the press allegedly does). That the Ryan campaign indicated that Obama was telling different audiences very different things was not a concern of the Chicago press, which claimed to be concerned with Obama’s privacy. It’s reasonable to assume that much of the press is corrupt.

  5. neo-neocon Says:

    Randy: you wouldn’t have had any trouble even with Reagan’s explanation of how his defense of Douglas was conservative if, at the time of his support, Douglas had been considered the conservative (or even the more conservative) candidate in the race.

    That, of course, was not the case. But in the case of Romneycare (which I’m assuming you’re talking about), it was considered not only the most conservative alternative for Massachusetts at the time, but a conservative option, period. Endorsed by the Heritage Foundation and none other than Newt Gingrich—and still, by the way, the most conservative option of those Massachusetts was considering or wanted at the time. What’s more, Romney vetoed many of its less conservative positions, but his veto was overridden handily and very easily.

    Romney is only defending it at the state level, for Massachusetts. And at that level (including the level of defending federalism), it was indeed the conservative option (and probably still is, if you compare it to what Massachusetts wanted).

    I’ve written about this on this blog quite a bit, with quotes and statistics and links. I don’t have time to re-create all of that here in this comment, but do a search on this blog and you should be able to find it all, if you’re interested.

  6. Curtis Says:

    As probably the worst prognosticator of things political, which means I have nothing to lose, I’m going for broke. Sarah Palin will be the next President of the United States!

  7. M J R Says:

    “As probably the worst prognosticator of things political, which means I have nothing to lose, I’m going for broke. Sarah Palin will be the next President of the United States!”

    And Jack Benny is the Secretary of the Treasury!

    — “Doc”, upon hearing in 1955 that Ronald Reagan is President in 1985. (Back to the Future)

    That was my first (and thus far only) reaction to your prognostication, Curtis! Gutsy, all right .

  8. Curtis Says:

    The prediction is not without some thought and it quite simply is this: If Romney cannot get a simiple majority, the powers that may be might jsut look at Palin as the not-Romney candidate who could possibly win.

    And Palin is positioning herself.

    And who appeals more to those who have eschewed both the R and D party: Sarah, who is actually very socially moderate and, of course, not part of the Beltway elite.

    Then once she wins the nomination, she’d win.

    And what a stroke of genius to distance herself from a flawed system and then capture the prize. My question is, Did she really plan on this?

  9. Occam's Beard Says:

    Obama was purposelykeeping kept to a low profile

    Maybe he The Party knew even then that being too vocal or too well-documented could be used to damage a candidate and reveal him/her in unfavorable ways blow his cover. And of course, Party members inthe MSM cooperated in keeping whatever record might exist as hidden as possible, if it could implicate Obama in a way that would reflect badly on him and thereby impair his utility to the Party.

    There. That’s better.

  10. Curtis Says:

    And the practice has continued:
    Fast and Furious
    Maxine Waters
    Kevin Jennings
    Michelle Obama
    Birth Certificate
    Eriksonian hypnosis
    Annenburg challenge
    No budget

    How many can you list off the top of your head?

    Isn’t it really become time to consider “When in the course of human events . . .”

  11. M J R Says:

    Curtis (7:28 pm),

    I did know where you were going with your President Palin prognostication — a brokered convention, with Palin emerging as the nominee.

    It’s plausible, but in my rarely humble opinion highly unlikely. I don’t think they’d go with her, and if they did, I think the electorate at large would prefer the devil they know to the devil they don’t know (Obama gets four more years).

    Then again, I’m about as good a prognosticator as you seem to be! Mucho cheers . . .

    M J R

  12. Randy Says:


    I’ll grant that Federalism allows options to the states that should be considered off limits to the Federal government, but I don’t understand how mandatory healthcare insurance can be considered conservative. It does not impress me that the Heritage foundation was involved. Perhaps Romneycare was the best that could have been achieved in Massachusetts. But Romney has never demonstrated to me that he is really a conservative on the inside. He seems more like Dole/Bush/Bush.

    I cast my first presidential ballot for Reagan only a few months after turning 18. In the interim, I have watched a succession of Republican presidents hand the left bigger victories than could have been achieved with a Democrat in the White House. In fact, with a little luck from the courts and some legislative success it may turn our to still be true after Obama is gone.

    Don’t get me wrong, I am scared of what might happen with a second Obama administration. But it may just be that he will have his wings clipped if he wins, while conservatives will still be fired up for the next election.

    I am not convinced that Romney will be an enthusiastic standard bearer for conservatism. I fear also that a Romney administration will hand the left some other big thing, like ADA or prescription drugs, trying to convince all the smart folks how nice Republicans can be.

    In short, I’m sick of not playing to win, but instead playing to let the Democrats win slower.

    I really can’t get fired up about that, and I’d just as soon let the other guys win without a fight, than to put up a half-hearted fight that allows our leaders sell us out for titles and estates bestowed by our enemy.

  13. Occam's Beard Says:

    But it may just be that he will have his wings clipped if he wins

    Except for judicial appointments. He can poison the country for generations by nominating legions of crypto-Reds to the judiciary.

    So we’ve got to keep our eye on the ball, and get Obama’s ass out of the White House and back to Chicago/ Hawaii/ Indonesia/ the nether regions/ wherever.

  14. neo-neocon Says:

    Randy: Romney did not want the individual mandate in there as a stand-alone requirement.

    The facts:

    Romney…hated the employer mandate and vetoed the provision that employers of 11 or more offer coverage or face a penalty of $295 per employee. This veto, and seven others aimed at less controversial aspects of the law, were easily overridden by the Democratic Legislature.

    Romney considers the Massachusetts plan needlessly gold-plated; he would have pushed for a much cheaper version that allowed minimal coverage options.

    He believes the Massachusetts health connector, the insurance exchange which the Obama plan would emulate, has created an excessive regulatory burden, imposing too many requirements on what commercial insurers must offer for a policy to qualify as “minimum creditable coverage’’ under the law. His proposal, to require only a bare-bones policy that covered hospitalization and catastrophic illness, was rejected by the Legislature…

    Romney also wanted a way for those of means to opt out of the mandate by posting a bond — essentially a promise to pay for future uninsured health care costs. Critics called it a “fig leaf’’ and Romney concedes that few would have taken advantage — just as only a handful choose a similar option to post a $10,000 bond rather than buy compulsory auto insurance in Massachusetts.

    But the principle mattered to him, and the failure of the Legislature to agree still rankles…

    And as for those on the economic margin, Romney thought that no one, however poor, should get insurance for no cost at all. He advocated a small premium, even a few dollars a month, for the neediest, but the Legislature balked.

    Today, under the Commonwealth Care program, about half of the 160,000 receiving subsidized coverage pay no premium because their incomes fall below certain federal poverty level guidelines.

    “When you give something away that is entirely free, people don’t value it as much as they should,’’ Romney said.

  15. Brad Says:

    Blah, blah, blah, Obama’s a Marxist, blah blah.

    I have not seen yet a single evidence of this assertion anywhere other than he hung out with some people who might be termed Marxists at one time or another. His entire political philosophy seems to be a mixture of identity politics (his “progressive” side) and fascism with perhaps a side dollup of pragmatism thrown in. I’ve yet to see a genuine left wing economic policy be pushed or pursued by the man, and really even if he kept his promises about taxing the rich more after the election (him keeping a promise would practically be a FIRST) I really can’t be bothered to shed tears over our undertaxed financial upper class taking what would surely be a moderate hit. Of course I don’t -for one minute- believe that will happen.

  16. Brad Says:

    I guess I should link to this from Steve Sailer:


    Quote: “So, why would you invest in getting trained (typically, on your own dime), when executives have been boasting to Wall Street for years about how they’ll offshore your future job the moment you start to make real money?”

    This is what happens when you don’t have economic policies that even take your national interest into consideration.

  17. LJ Says:

    I sincerely hope it does NOT go to a brokered convention.

    And I am more than a little uncomfortable with Sarah Palin’s coy hints about riding to the rescue if she’s called on to “help out”. I have always liked Sarah and defended her to others in my family who were less impressed, but I’m feeling a little used and manipulated here on this “Sarah for the win in a brokered convention” stuff. If she did plan for it, I don’t like that. I don’t feel any candidate (even one I like) should “plan” to win that way. I’d feel cheated and as if my voice did not matter.

    Like MJR, I don’t actually think she would win (if she were nominated) and for the same reasons I don’t think Santorum would win – too many folks not on the far right want a candidate who can lead us out of our financial difficulties. That’s neither Palin’s or Santorum’s strength. In that scenario, I believe moderates & indies would stick with the guy they’ve got.

  18. M J R Says:

    WithOUT regard to the merits of the social conservatism issue, I (along with Ron Paul today, I understand) simply do not believe social conservatism positions are a winning issue to defeat Obama in 2012. I think the winning issue is the economy (stupid). Second to that, it’s the economy (stupid).

    That’s even without regard to the fact that I DO agree that unwed mommies and so on are symptoms of an underlying rot that affects even the national economy. But in terms of electability, it’s a loser, and (enough of) the electorate will turn off to it and go with Obama.

    So I agree with LJ, who agrees with MJR . . . is that how it works?

  19. M J R Says:

    A reality-based prognostication . . .

    M J R


    Brokered Conventions and Unicorns
    By Hugh Hewitt
    February 20, 2012

    It is the season for silly predictions about the presidential campaign, and the most absurd of all is that the GOP is headed towards the emergence of a new candidate or a “brokered convention.”

    This first meme got some traction when ABC’s Jonathan Karl quoted an “anonymous Republican senator” as saying that “[I]f Romney cannot win Michigan, we need a new candidate.”

    First, ask yourself if your assessment of this assessment changes with the identity of the senator making it? Of course it does. If we knew the name of the senator this might be the biggest laugh line in many years.

    I don’t doubt for a second that one of the 47 did in fact say this to Karl, but he or she might also have said something completely different to the next reporter down the street, or might be hoping to be the person the convention turns to, or might be providing an old friend copy.

    What the Karl story represents is the Manhattan-Beltway media culture’s obsession with being relevant to a process to which most of them are at best remotely connected.

    Except for the handful that have moderated a debate –or king of the debates John King who is moderating his third this week!—most of the Beltway scribblers just don’t matter, their stories don’t matter, and their speculations don’t matter. None of them forecast the race as it has unfolded and now none of them are willing to write the obvious story that is likely to unfold.

    Romney will win Arizona and probably Michigan. He will do well enough on Super Tuesday and will almost certainly go on to be the nominee. Newt’s campaign is wrecked though not sunk and Rick’s is taking on water. Sure, anything is possible, but the Manhattan-Beltway media elite’s obsession with trying to create drama when most of the drama is done is amusing.

    A “brokered convention” in the Tea party era which is all about participation in politics and an outcry against elites?

    A new candidate able to raise a third of a billion dollars much less three times that much that is really necessary to beating the president in the fall? Donors would flee such chaos, and rightly so.

    The nominee will be one of the three who has won a primary or a caucus to date, and it is overwhelmingly likely to be Romney.

    Rick Santorum’s emergence is a great expression of the importance of the party’s social conservative wing and to a lesser extent its foreign policy elite as Santorum is the most experienced in the field at thinking, reading and talking about Iran.

    But the MSM could not but fall on his convictions about the sanctity of life with the rage and vengeance they have shown. It was in their interest to restrain themselves both for ratings and to bleed Romney, but they just couldn’t. Santorum is an apostate within the political-media elites on the issues of the seriousness of faith, on life in the womb, on the culture of life and on the claims of serious Christianity.

    Elite media is –at best— 10 to 1 opposed to Santorum’s world view. Indeed it is as though he is speaking a foreign language they have never heard before. The Chicago gang may not have wanted them to attack Santorum as they have, but they have been trained by editors and producers for thirty years to marginalize and attack serious social conservatives, so that is what they have done to Santorum, and his numbers have fallen as a result as even GOP voters sympathetic to his world view glimpse the jihad the pro-choice absolutists would wage against a devout Roman Catholic.

    Because Senator Santorum is smart, affable and prepared, he will not have any moments like the proverbial “last press conference” of Richard Nixon, and he will remain a vote draw through to the convention.

    But if you had to bet your house, or even if you just wanted a very secure bet, you’d look at the math and the calendar and recognize that Mitt Romney is almost certainly going to the GOP nominee because he is the candidate best positioned to beat President Obama in the fall, and that is what is driving the GOP electorate more than anything else.

  20. Hope Change Says:

    Hugh Hewitt is in Romney’s pocket and has been since 2008. The idea the Romney is “best positioned” to win in the fall is pretty silly when something like 70% of Republican, conservative, constitutionalist voters don’t want him.

    Newt is planning a Team campaign and Newt is by far the most likely to win in the fall. I believe Newt WILL win in the fall. And then we will restore our economy and our traditional American liberties.

    Please give Newt chance. Newt is awesome. We can do this. All of us.

    HIGH MORALE is a function of knowing what you’re fighting for. Not Newt. Not any candidate. We’re fighting for America.

    Remember “MIRACLE ON ICE”? We’re skating for the United States of America.
 “It’s time for us to begin to play like champions.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_MxHedPMvmY

    Here’s Newt, calmly and without notes, setting forth the plan on energy and a strong American economy. “A WHOLE NEW APPROACH TO AMERICAN ENERGY: RENEWED ECONOMY, MONEY IN YOUR POCKET http://conservatives4newt.blogspot.com/2012/02/newt-gingrich-plain-talk-about-american.html

  21. neo-neocon Says:

    Hope Change: nope, not Newt. You’re in dreamland.

    See this, this, this, this and about twenty other posts of mine.

    One can’t be sure of anything in this crazy primary year, but I’m fairly sure that Newt has already used up his turn as the non-Romney.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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