I started this story fully expecting that it would end with a caught-in-the-act ass-covering scramble by the DCCC to blame it all on “overzealous trackers” or whatever. Of course the leadership didn’t know its opponents’ homes were being filmed, they’d say. Surely a party that spent weeks demagoging Sarah Palin for using crosshairs on a campaign map wouldn’t go and post video of politicians’ homes on YouTube. They’re cynical, but they’re not that cynical.
But no. Turns out they knew, and they’re totally fine with it.
That ratcheting up of the video surveillance game is unnerving Republicans who insist that even by political standards, it’s a gross invasion of privacy. Worse, they say, it creates a safety risk for members of Congress and their families at a time when they are already on edge after a deranged gunman shot former Arizona Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords 18 months ago…
In [Reid] 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…
“House Republicans have spent this entire Congress trying to hide that they’re protecting benefits for millionaires and perks for themselves instead of protecting the middle class, but we won’t let them keep it secret any longer,” Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokesman Jesse Ferguson wrote in an email.
Democratic officials said placing the videos on the DCCC’s website and YouTube serve a useful purpose, most notably making the footage available to friendly outside groups for use in TV commercials. That way, they don’t violate laws against coordinating with those groups.
Says New York mag, “So it’s creepy and undermining-campaign-finance-laws-y. Impressive.” I’m not posting the vids but you’ll find links at the Politico piece up top if you’re curious. The one of Ribble’s place does indeed look like stalker video, something you’d shoot if you were casing a place; the home itself is nice but not especially large or impressive, which tells you how seriously you should take the “exposing Republican wealth” excuse. (If they’re intent on crude panders aimed at class resentment, they could have stuck with publicizing their opponents’ estimated net worth.) The goal in posting this, obviously, is to intimidate, notwithstanding all the precious rhetoric devoted last January to “tone” after a horrible incident that actually had nothing to do with tone. I’m tempted to accuse them of hypocrisy, but that would require believing that the “tone” nonsense was ever meant as anything more than an opportunistic political bludgeon. Oh well.
Exit question: If you’re hot for ways to attack Republicans along wealth lines, why not do what the media does and gawk at the expensive cars and fine couture at a big Romney fundraiser, none of which you’d ever find at an Obama fundraiser?