Friday, March 23, 2007

Hillary As “Big Brother.”

Blue State Video has issued a “statement” on the dastardly video that features senator and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in the role of “Big Brother,” the dominant character in George Orwell’s book “1984.”

The popular video assembled by Blue State Video employee Phillip de Vellis at home on his computer, a mash-up of an ad introducing the Apple Macintosh computer, has been making the rounds on the net. Mr. de Vellis may have borrowed the idea for his video from local blogmeister Connecticut Bob (aka Bob Adams), who adapted the commercial to poke some good natured fun at Sen. Joe Lieberman.

Sen. Lieberman, driven from the Democratic Party fold by primary challenger Ned Lamont, has been a disappointment to blogger furies ever since, having lost a primary to Lamont, he refused to go quiet into that good night. Lieberman waged a general election campaign against Lamont, won and thereafter re-emerged in the senate as a “Democrat Independent.”

Lieberman, in fact, survived a blizzard of critical videos, most of which were produced by bloggers who had vowed to send him into retirement. And some of the anti-Lieberman screeds – every bit as vicious as the infamous Barry Goldwater ad showing a little girl being nuked as a result of a successful Goldwater presidential campaign – were unusually wounding. Jane Hamsher, the proprietress of the FireDogLake blog, produced and circulated a mock-up photo of Lieberman and former President Bill Clinton showing the ex-president in Blues Brother sunglasses clutching a Lieberman in blackface. Hamsher was loosely associated with the Ned Lamont campaign.

Anxious to disassociate itself from Mr. de Vellis’ independent and underground activity as an anti-Hillary critic, Blue State Video issued its statement, which reads in part, “Pursuant to company policy regarding outside political work or commentary on behalf of our clients or otherwise, Mr. de Vellis has been terminated from Blue State Digital effective immediately.”

The company notes that “Blue State Digital is under contract with the Obama Campaign for technology pursuits including software development and hosting. Additionally, one of our founding partners is on leave from the company to work directly for the campaign at headquarters.

“However, Blue State Digital is not currently engaged in any relationship with the Obama Campaign for creative or non-technical services.

“Mr. de Vellis created this video on his own time. It was done without the knowledge of management, and was in no way tied to his work at the firm or our formal engagement [on technology pursuits] with the Obama campaign.”

And, of course, Blue State Video wishes Mr. de Vellis the best: “We wish Mr. de Vellis well in his future endeavors.”

No hard feelings there.

One can only imagine the feelings coursing through Hillary Clinton’s network of re-circulated Bill Clinton campaign workers, campaign workers on loan from other prominent Democrats, who wish her well, and bloggers lifted from various sites and recruited to elect as president the candidate featured in Mr. de Vellis’ short video as “Big Brother.”

Would it be presumptuous to assume that much will be made of Mr. de Vellis’ putative connection with Barack Obama’s campaign?

The real problem here – which no one is addressing – is that highly partisan freebooters have become formally detached from political parties and now operate outside the rules governing political campaigning as “masked” partisans, fulfilling a prediction made long ago by the late departed Arthur Schlesinger Jr. that, as political parties deteriorated, politics would fall into the hands of loosly organized political anarchists.

In the past, killer ads used to issue from within the parties. They were easily condemned and used as campaign fodder by politicians under attack. But one cannot unreservedly condemn a producer of an ad who is not formally attached to a campaign – however partisan he may be – without at the same time condemning respectable, putatively independent journalists, however partisan they may be.

The categories – journalist, blogger; campaign worker, independent but partisan ad maker – are in the process of mutating, and the rules that govern political behavior have not caught up with them yet.

It’s a problem.
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