back on the grid, and politician accountability

Back from vacation, so regular posting will resume later this week. For tonight, just wanted to throw some quick thoughts out there.

In “don’t miss this” the other night, I pointed to a candidate for Governor in Oklahoma who required event organizers to remove her opponent and her opponent’s aides before she would take the podium at an event to which they had both been invited. This, to me, is an example of behavior that voters should not tolerate, because I think it represents a fear of having one’s views made part of the public record, a fear which I think is dangerous among politicians. Personally, I have no interest in electing a politician who is afraid to make their positions known.

But during the time I was gone, there have been a couple more instances of behavior like this, which I just wanted to quickly point out as examples of behavior among politicians that should worry us. As isolated incidents, these probably wouldn’t be worth noting, but when this behavior is repeated and promoted as a media strategy I think it needs to be highlighted.

Two quick examples from this last weekend:

  • Ron Johnson, running against incumbent Senator Russ Feingold in Wisconsin, refused an invitation to meet with the editorial board of a newspaper from his hometown of Oshkosh, WI, and a debate with Feingold in the same city. From James Fitzhenry, a columnist at The Northwestern (same article linked above):

“It’s not a phenomenon unique to this newspaper. Johnson’s campaign has been careful to keep him under tight wraps, limiting his availability, not releasing his schedule until the last moment, leaving news organizations scrambling to cover events. Most recently, he rejected an interview with Wisconsin Public Television’s “Here and Now,” which offers thoughtful, if a bit dry, reporting on issues. Fewer interviews, fewer chances for a sunspot or creative destruction gaffe that could endanger the slight lead in the polls.”

  • Joe Miller, the Republican challenger that unseated incumbent Lisa Murkowski in the Alaskan Senate primaries, detained a journalist who asked him about accusations that he improperly used borough equipment to candidate for State Republican Party Chairman while working in the Fairbanks Northstar Borough. Not only did he refuse to answer questions about past electoral behavior (which seems very relevant to his suitability for office), but he had the reporter who persisted in asking him questions about it handcuffed and detained for almost 30 minutes. To be fair, Miller claims that the journalist was being belligerent, which is under dispute (Hopfinger disputes Miller’s claim, and says his camera was confiscated and the relevant portion of the video deleted).

Like I said before, I don’t think that these two incidents by themselves would be something to worry about, but when you add to them the O’Donnell campaign’s reluctance to talk to the media, and Sharron Angle’s fleeing from reporters at an event to which she invited them, Rand Paul potentially backing out of a debate because of a negative campaign ad aired by his opponent… it becomes more troubling. The media and debates are the best way for the electorate to learn the positions that their politicians hold, but only if the politicians allow it.

UPDATE: A few more examples.

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