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Stop the fucking witch-hunts.

Recently there was a diary that took a dump on Mike Capuano. It was a demand for calls to harass his staff.  It was a call to demand your donations back.  Later a front page diary took a whizz on him as well.

As a constituent who has been watching this pretty closely, I knew these were complete mischaracterizations of Mike's position.  I could tell from the text of the Roll Call article that pieces of different conversations had been fused together to give a certain impression.  

Recently a friend and I were discussing the public option and I said that it was not deceased yet.  He said to me, "I can't believe your aren't more skeptical of them [the politicians]."

I can't believe people aren't more skeptical of the media.
 

How many times have you heard Dem positions misappropriated in the media?  How many times have you seen oddly juxtaposed quotes that imply something completely different than the quotee's intent?  How many times are you going to fall for it?  

And how many times are you going to let it jerk your chain so that you attack our allies?

Let me borrow a phrase from the witch hunt diary:

Now that's the height of political naïvete.

I've been watching YouTube to see if there was any video of Mike speaking to the crowd at the Boston health care rally on Labor Day to reassure the doubters about Mike's position.  Today my search for Capuano turned up something else, though.  Video from FireDogLake of an interview with Mike.  You may watch it here.

It's a long video, I hope FDL will provide a full transcript.  But let me provide a few excerpts.  The transcription is mine, I accept any errors in it and will correct them if clarity is provided.  There was some talking over each other that I had trouble with. The underline emphasis is mine.

Stark: Does the President have the mojo to get it done before the end of the year?
Capuano: I don’t know about that. Yeah, again, it depends what he’s asking.  The mojo to do what?
Stark: Get it done before the end of the year {indistinct}.
Capuano: To do what? If the mojo is to have me accept no public option, then, maybe he does. But not with my vote. If the mojo is to have it done with a good robust public option, he’s got my vote. But I don’t know if we have 218....

In here Stark also asks Capuano if he'll return donations if people demand it later.  Capuano says yes--but only if that's legal.  Turns out that could be perceived as quid pro quo--and may not be legal.  Do you really want to put our allies in difficult legal situations about donations?  Especially when that's been based on frenzied falsehoods?

Later:

Stark: Have you coordinated your statements about triggers with anyone in the leadership or anything like that beforehand?
Capuano: [shakes head no] No. {laughs}
Stark: It wasn’t a trial balloon?
Capuano:  No. God no. I got asked a question by a reporter, they said the President’s thinking about putting a trigger in, I said, "Well, it’s something...{indistinct}..." {Stark interjects}
Stark: There’s a coincidence of you and Sam Farr at the same time?
Capuano: Yeah, my guess is that the reporter probably had something from the President and, it was a DC reporter, so...And I’ve talked to him before.  I don’t remember the conversation, but he probably "Hey the President is thinking about this..." and I say "If the President wants to offer it, I’ll look at it".
Stark: And then Nancy Pelosi came out the very next day talking about it, a triggered public option...
Capuano: I didn’t know that.  I know it now, I didn’t know it then.

You are aware that people are deliberately vague when being questioned by reporters, right?  They need to neither be pinned to a misunderstanding or misquote, nor give away the playbook.  Nor do they know who else was being interviewed and often the context or the ultimate position of their quote in the body of the story.

Knowing what you know know about Mike Capuano, re-read this quote from the Roll Call article that created the drama:

"We’re the caucus that least marches to a unified drummer — that’s not what we do," Rep. Mike Capuano (D-Mass.) said. "I’m serious about increasing access and quality, but that doesn’t mean it has to be a grand slam home run. I’ll take a ground-rule double if that’s what it takes. I’m happy to compromise if that’s what it takes. But compromise is compromise — it’s not rolling over."

It's not rolling over.  I knew that Mike meant he wasn't rolling over on the public option. In fact, Mike is demanding a floor vote on single payer (aka the home run).  I knew it was wrong to ask for the donations back. But the villagers with the pitchforks and torches didn't want to hear it.

It's not clear how this will all play out in the end because everything is still a moving target. I think Mike Stark was convinced that Capuano was going to do the right thing.  And so am I--as I was before, as Capuano's position has not changed.

We need to continue to exert appropriate pressure on parties that need it.  Mike Capuano encourages that. But please consider the strategy carefully.  

I would ask you to please stop harassing people based on media creations of drama, followed by hair-on-fire calls by activists who are misusing their bullhorns on our strongest allies. This is counter-productive. You could actually damage the perception of these people that will hurt us later--on other issues and in other campaigns down the road. Do you really think it makes sense for people to be able to say "72% of DailyKos voted Waxman the most compromised" as this poll asked?  Is that constructive for the progressive movement?  

STFW. Please. Be smart about the strategy.

Originally posted to mem from somerville on Sat Sep 12, 2009 at 07:10 PM PDT.

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