Thursday, June 01, 2006

Is That An Ice Cube On My Neck?

It was bound to happen someday. A blogger at the popular blog site, Connecticut Local Politics, has ratted out another blogger to the FBI.

BRubenstein, who blogs under his own name, took umbrage at comments made by “Senator Harry Reid,” not the bloggers real name, and took the matter up with the Feds. Most bloggers use pseudonyms. Anonymity tends to stiffen the spine, which is why blog sites are a wee bit more freewheeling – some would say more recklessly irresponsible --than, say, the good, grey New York Times.

The fake “Senator Harry Reid” inserted himself, just before the Democrat convention, between the warring camps of Sen. Joseph Lieberman and challenger Ned Lamont, who had received a great deal of support, moral and monetary, from Daily Kos, a blog site popular with Democrat progressives and anti-Iran-war drum beaters.

On May 7, “Senator Harry Reid” dropped by the site and said:

The complete failures of the Republicans in Washington have made America less safe, less secure, and less competitive than ever before.

I haven't been able to devote any time to reading this Kos' blog, although I'm told it is very popular with a certain element in the party. But let me be clear: as the leader of the Democratic Party in the United States Senate, I need Joe to be re-elected. Joe's presence in the United States Senate is essential.

Joe has an unquestionable commitment to the progressive principles that make our Party great, and has told me time and time again of how proud he is of his Democratic Party affiliation.

Mr. Lamont has Kos, Joe has me.

Every best wish,

U.S. Senator Harry Reid, Democratic Leader


If any of the commentators on the site that day supposed they were reading a letter from the real Harry Reid, the estimable Democrat Minority Whip, they kept their supposition to themselves. DeanFan84, not his real name, responded, “Harry Reid-- I hope you know that what you are doing is wrong. I presume everyone will recognize you as one of Joe's lame-ass staffers, but assuming identities is still taboo.” BRubenstein did not immediately respond to “Harry Reid’s” provocation, noting only that, “Lamont needs to grow his ‘center" support’ ...id (sic) love to see a mainstream politician in an ad for Lamont.”

The pseudonymous “Harry Reid” soon launched another unctuous letter:

Dean fan 84, I think you and everyone else knows that I am in fact who I say I am. You can corroborate that by reading the printed letter I sent through the mail to Democratic delegates to your state convention.

But if one needs an excuse to use a name other than one's own, your group's viciousness toward the author of this blog (is Ghengis Conn his real name?) is all the justification one would require.

Mr. Lamont will fail in his bid to unseat Senator Lieberman, because loyal Democrats will rally to Joe's side. This will happen because Joe has an unquestionable commitment to the progressive principles that make our Party great.

Hatred will never be an acceptable basis for our Party to select a candidate, much less unseat a good man, a committed Democrat, someone who has devoted his life to good, principled government.

Hope you are enjoying your weekend.

Every best regard,

U.S. Senator Harry Reid, Democratic Leader


And then “Harry Reid” said this about BRubinstein: “Mr. Rubenstein's hatred of Joe Lieberman, as he just bragged in this thread, is well known and understood for what it is. The ‘Connecticut for Dean’ organization suffered fatally because of it, and hatred of your fine junior Senator does not form the basis of a candidacy that rank and file Democrats or leaders like me can support.”

That dropped anvil would have bruised anyone’s big toe. But if BRubinstein felt the smart, he maintained a dignified and honorable silence.

He bided his time, and then he ratted “Harry Reid” out to the FBI.

BRubinstein claims that the anonymous blogger (aka “Harry Reid”) was being malicious rather than satirical. Remarks made by “Harry Reid” to DeanFan on the Connecticut Local Politics blog site, BRubenstein has said, removes the letters from " harmless satire" to “a deceitful attempt to confer a benefit to Senator Lieberman...” BRubinstein since has identified the benefit: "In this case people were urged to vote at the convention and primary for Senator Lieberman....which is a attempt to convey a benefit." But the clause “attempt to convey” may be taken as lawyerspeak for – “we need not show that the accused was successful in actually conferring the alleged benefit.”

Since BRubinstein is a lawyer and an ardent Lamontist, it seems reasonable to ask him whether he thinks any disinterested reader of “Harry Reid’s” letters would find his disguise so impenetrable as to succeed in convincing otherwise intelligent Democrat delegates who were committed to vote for Lamont at the convention to switch their votes to Lieberman? How many convention delegates, yanked at the neck by the fictitious “Harry Reid,” switched their votes from Lamont to Lieberman? Indeed, how many voting delegates at the convention saw the remarks?

And are there any tip-offs in the letters written by the fake “Harry Reid” that these satires likely were not written by the real Harry Reid? Anything at all? What about the salutation “Harry Reid, Democrat Leader?” Does the real Harry Reid sign his letters, “Democrat Leader?” And would the real Harry Reid know the real BRubenstein from a hole in the ground? Surely, these improbabilities point in the direction of satire.

We bloggers suppose the FBI will be able to figure it all out – someday. In the meantime, did someone put an ice cube down my back? I feel a sudden chill.

UPDATE

A lively discussion of these issues may be found at Connecticut Local Politics.
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