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The PJ Tatler

by
Bryan Preston

Bio

July 9, 2012 - 10:16 am

Democrats claim to be great believers in the right to privacy, but they do not practice that belief. This year, they are taking the old practice of “tracking,” in which campaign operatives on both sides Flip cam or cell phone record every public moment and statement of the other side hoping for a gotcha, and turned that into full blown stalking.

Wisconsin GOP Rep. Reid Ribble, who said he’s also been followed by a cameraman when shopping for groceries, said the home videos cross a line.

“I feel it’s totally inappropriate,” said Ribble, a freshman facing a competitive race for reelection. “It was disturbing to me that they would put that online. I don’t understand any political benefit that can be achieved with that.”

In Ribble’s case, a clip of his northeastern Wisconsin home appeared online June 18. The soundless video — which lasts 38 seconds — is taken from a car sitting just outside the house. The shot pans across the large home, showing it from several different angles.

DeaNa Ribble, the congressman’s wife, said it is deeply unsettling.

“I’m more creeped out about this than Reid is, just because I’m home more,” she said. “If they so much as put a foot on private property, I will be the first person to call the police.”

We should be clear here: Posting candidates’ home addresses and posting video taken just outside those homes is both overt intimidation and an act that endangers those inside the home. It is not the same thing as posting a Google image of, say, Michael Moore’s home to show that despite his “man of the people” schtick he lives like a lardy king. That sort of thing gets at the man’s hypocrisy. Stalking the family while grocery shopping or sitting outside a candidate’s family home and taking video to post online says nothing about policy and is a message to that family and to the less hinged of the world that if you want to “change the world,” you can start right inside that house. It’s a disturbing trend that shouldn’t be tolerated by either party.

That Democrats are quicker than Republicans to use this tactic is deeply ironic, coming from a party that spent the latter chunk of the Clinton years arguing that illicit relations between a sitting president and his staff subordinate, in the Oval Office, was “private behavior” and off limits to politics. Everything about that behavior was public — the location, the professional power relationship, the character of the elected leader of the United States — everything. If that situation was private, though, surely grocery shopping or milling about one’s own home is private. But this stalking is part of a dangerous continuum of behavior that includes extreme tracking on end, trampling Karl Rove’s yard somewhere in the middle, and convicted felon Brett Kimberlin using donations from various leftists including Teresa Heinz Kerry and Barbra Streisand to harass and threaten conservative bloggers on the other end. Somewhere in all that we have to also include the pie face attacks on college campuses and the antics of Mike Stark, who came close to assaulting Michelle Malkin and me at CPAC a few years back and spent part of 2010 trying to generate false scuttlebutt against Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

If Democrats were a responsible party worthy of anyone’s support and if they really opposed the extreme edge of all this, they would as a group disown and defund those who engage in it. Instead, their campaigns are seeing how far they can go and how intimidating they can become and posting it on YouTube to get around the campaign finance law that they claim to support.

 

Bryan Preston has been a leading conservative blogger and opinionator since founding his first blog in 2001. Bryan is a military veteran, worked for NASA, was a founding blogger and producer at Hot Air, was producer of the Laura Ingraham Show and, most recently before joining PJM, was Communications Director of the Republican Party of Texas.
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