Monday, February 1, 2010

Week of 02/01/2010

Of Bayou-Gate and Gotchas
– by David Matthews 2

It was likened to a “prank”, according to the person caught trying to pull it.

He said he wanted to “catch” the person in question of doing something they denied.

Except that he was the one that got caught, along with his associates.

James O’Keefe III is supposedly compared to liberal filmmaker Michael Moore. He is best known for showing up at certain offices of the liberal community organization called ACORN dressed up as a pimp and asking how he could “legally” set up a brothel using government resources. It embarrassed ACORN officials, it embarrassed liberals, and it made O’Keefe a rising star in conservative and neo-conservative circles.

For his next trick, O’Keefe decided to bring down a member of the US Senate. Specifically Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, whose backroom dealing concerning her support of healthcare reform was already condemned and castigated by conservatives and neo-conservatives.

According to O’Keefe, he just wanted to catch the senator in a lie. Conservative critics claimed Landrieu’s office refused to hear the complaints of her constituents. Her office said that the phone lines were jammed.

But that didn’t explain why O’Keefe’s associates arrived at the Senator’s district office several weeks after-the-fact dressed as telephone repair people to “fix” the phone lines, with O’Keefe recording the whole incident on his cellphone camera. It certainly did little to help his own credibility when he along with the two phony technicians and a fourth member serving as a “getaway” driver were all caught and arrested when someone asked the “technicians” for ID.

What did they expect? Did they honestly expect to simply show up, mess with the phones to pretend to “fix” them, and somehow find “the proof” through a mess of wires that the lines really weren’t busy?

Even O’Keefe himself said after his arraignment that he could have used a “different approach”.

No kidding.

Perhaps Mr. O’Keefe just didn’t realize that people might be just a little bit suspicious and a little extra-cautious when it comes to security, seeing how his conservative and neo-conservatives supporters have spent years getting people all riled up about terrorism and keeping them afraid of their own shadows. Maybe he didn’t realize that he and his four-man crew, complete with a getaway driver, could be mistaken for one of those “bad guys”. Hey, did you know that there ARE Muslims that have blond hair and blue eyes? Not all of the radicals come from the Middle East.

Maybe O’Keefe just doesn’t know political history. Maybe he forgot how a team of men dressed as “plumbers” were caught breaking into a political supporter’s office almost forty years ago and how that scandal ended up with the resignation of a Republican president. Maybe the word “Watergate” didn’t register in his conservative mentality. It could happen. After all, it was long before he was even born. Forty years is almost ancient history to the young generation.

Or maybe he was so caught up in his next big “gotcha” that it didn’t even occur to him just how utterly pointless it really is in the ultimate scheme of things.

Okay, let’s suppose that these “repairmen” did somehow manage to find what they claimed they were looking for. Suppose they DID catch the senator’s staff in a lie about the phone lines. So what? How does this ultimately play out? Congressmen and Senators and even Presidents have been accused of not listening to their constituents for decades. Embarrassing, perhaps, but is it REALLY worth risking prison to prove?

There are a lot of things missing from this pathetic tale of political intrigue that probably will never come out. Even if there were no wiretapping devices on the “technicians”, that doesn’t mean that the visit wasn’t a prelude to that happening. For all of O’Keefe’s boyish “aw shucks we wuz just foolin’ around” explanations, I seriously doubt that he was just there for a one-time visit, nor that he there just to watch his “crew” play dress-up.

Let’s get brutally honest here… it is extremely polite and optimistic to say that James O’Keefe was involved in nothing more than a political prank gone wrong. Even without anything concrete, this whole story reeks of dirty political tricks.

Even more despicable and disgusting is the new claim being made that O’Keefe is a “victim” in all of this. A victim? His supporters and sponsors would have a better chance trying to convince people that John Edwards never fathered an illegitimate child than to paint O’Keefe as a “victim”.

The only thing that Mr. O’Keefe is a “victim” of is his own hype and the hype generated by his sponsors. He is painted as an avant-garde “new media” investigator, in the same way that certain talk show hosts consider themselves to be “broadcast journalists”. But in truth, he is just an old-school political hack; an agent provocateur caught in a plan before it could cause harm. To assess that he is anything more, based on his current contributions to the national arena, is not only an absurd over-exaggeration, but an indictment on just how depressingly low one would value the role and purpose of legitimate journalistic investigation.

O’Keefe does deserve his day in court, along with his political “plumbers”, to address and account for his actions in this matter. Perhaps doing so now will prevent him from becoming the next G Gordon Liddy, and perhaps prevent a future politician from disgracing themselves as they repeat history.

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