Friday, August 27, 2004

Updated August 27, 2004 at 1:25 pm

Play nice?

Eric Zorn, Chicago Tribune columnist and perhaps one of the founding fathers of the blogger movement [] takes Bill Pascoe, Keyes’ Campaign manager, to task for spinning the Republican Convention’s treatment of Alan Keyes:

“What seems more likely is that Keyes recognized the Monday afternoon speaking slot he was offered as a measly bone – a brief, C-SPAN-only opportunity to yammer in a nearly empty hall --- and that he turned it down in order to discourage comparisons to Democrat Barack Obama's star turn in Boston last month.

The contrasting images would have shown the nation (and any state voters who hadn't noticed it yet) the respective parties' enthusiasm about their respective candidates in Illinois.

Pascoe, the toxicity of whose rhetoric puts even the poisonous Keyes to shame, added that the Democrats gave Obama such prominence because he ‘needed to be pumped up.’"

Certainly, Pascoe, a former Communications Director for the Jack Ryan Senate Campaign, is doing some spinning. But, as Chris Matthews is fond of saying when he closes his Sunday morning show, “Tell me something I don’t know.” In terms of spinning, the Keyes campaign is certainly not the only sinner in the congregation. Perhaps it is time for Eric Zorn to broaden his targets.

More importantly, as Zorn himself notes in a August 25, 2004 blog entry of his, “This election season looks like it's going to be brutal on my cordial relations with conservatives and Republicans...some of the nastiness in these exchanges has been my fault, I admit...I've been rising to the bait more easily than in the past. But the amount and quantity of that bait seems greater than ever...perhaps because Keyes is so far down in the polls he and his supporters feel they must set the rhetoric phasers to stun. They seem to be willing to say anything it takes and trash anyone's good name in order to whip up enthusiasm among their core supporters...Anyway, I suspect I won't be the only one to suffer possibly permanent strained relationships in the next 69 days.”

Although I believe Zorn and the Keyes Campaign seem to have a grudging respect for each other[perhaps more than either knows], it does appear that the two forces have become the equivalent of “enemy combatants,” and there seems to be plenty of toxicity on both sides. Perhaps both sides need to reflect how they got there and what to do about it. Neither lacks for smarts and finesse, when they want to put both to good use.
Jeff Berkowitz, host and producer of “Public Affairs,” can be reached at