Ed Driscoll

The Macaca Boomerang

Greetings From Minneapolis! I have arrived; the convention may now proceed. Unless of course it doesn’t.

But if it does (and hopefully that means that Hurricane Gustav’s force will have greatly diminished before hitting land), this clip should air on the Xcel Jumbotron in prime time and be referenced by several candidates in their speeches:

Ed Morrissey asks:

This also prompts a question of ethics, which all of us should consider carefully. Should private conversations between politicians get videotaped surreptitiously like this? If so, then perhaps Fowler and many, many others should take better care about having a laugh at the misery of others, even among friends.

Plenty of traditional liberal journalists have turned off the record remarks of politicians and celebrities into major stories. (Which is ultimately part of what earned them their “drive-by media” sobriquet from Rush.) As Roger Ailes noted several years ago:

Jimmy Carter’s famous confession that he sometimes had lust in his heart for women other than his wife was uttered to a Playboy magazine journalist as he was leaving Carter’s home at the conclusion of the formal interview.

And there are numerous additional examples of such moments, a few of which are described in the above link.

But as is its wont, the Internet amps these sorts of moments not up to 11, but 1,100. George Allen’s Senatorial re-election in 2006 was sunk by his “Macaca” gaffe, which was part of a coordinated effort by the left to videotape Republican candidates during every possible appearance (and then some), waiting for any sort of gaffe that could be turned into a YouTube clip and exploited by a friendly news organization such as the Washington Post, which ran over 100 stories on Allen’s gaffe in the space of about less than three months, in which he apparently mispronounced his campaign staff’s nickname of the young mohawk-haired James Webb campaign operative assigned to tape him.

Whatever the explanation, Allen’s gaffe, given massive exposure from the Washington Post and other quarters in the MSM ended his senatorial career, which ultimately lost GOP control of the Senate, and sank Allen’s presidential ambitions. In its wake, Markos Moulitsas of the Daily Kos gleefully wrote:

Every appearance by a top Republican official or candidate should be recorded. Every one of them.

All it takes is one “Macaca” incident to transform a race or create one where one didn’t exist. As the Montana incident blogged earlier today showed, a video can knock out prospective candidates before they even enter.

And this is no longer about finding one big blunder to put on a campaign commercial. It’s about using video and (free) technologies like YouTube to build narratives about opponents, using their own words, at their own events.

A couple of years ago, Jonah Goldberg wrote:

Liberals are geniuses at unleashing social panics because A) it never occurs to them that their motives are anything but pure and B) because they are almost exclusively focused on short term tactics. And yet they are invariably shocked when these moral frenzies come back to bite them.

The “tape ’em all, let YouTube sort it out” philosophy began on the left, but its eventual boomerang was merely a matter of when, not if.