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Saturday, May 22, 2010

When the Rhetoric Does Justice

I've been reading just about everything I could get my eyes on relative to the Tom Corbett Twitter-gate fiasco, and I have to say that there is zero point zero chance the AG is going to walk away with this one unscathed. It was just simply a bone-headed maneuver, and you have to wonder why he pulled this stunt in the first place.

On so many different levels this whole stunt makes no sense.

Politically, you can probably hear the Onorato commercial now: "Tom Corbett, abusing his office by subpoenaing critics...". Now this might please his hard-core fans, but I can't see where it will endear him with the Sam Rorher/Tea Bag crowd, who in theory already don't trust government. The notion of a politician using the court system to intimidate critics should scare the pants off of your average gun-toting, Lilly-white, stars-n-bars waving tea-bagger.

Legally, the notion of anonymous Internet identities isn't exactly settled law to begin with. From what I understand, there isn't necessarily a right to Internet anonymity, but that seems more the case when an actual crime has been committed. When last I checked, criticizing a politician for his official actions isn't exactly legally actionable stuff.

Ethically, this is the kind of "skirting around the edges" stuff that makes young and old shake their heads in disgust. We pay this guy to fight crime, so why is he going after personal critics? In an age where the average politician is viewed in the same light as a used-car salesman in terms of ethics, why reinforce the notion via blatant scare tactics aimed squarely at critics?

Strategically, why do something that your followers...especially those who may blog themselves...would not be able to defend (let alone use offensively)? As noted above, I've read just about every blog I could find on this subject, and I can't find a single person who comes out and defends the AG's actions. At best the AG can hope that folks forget that it ever happened, which isn't very likely.

In the end, the Corbett campaign can hope that this sort of thing will only resonate with hard-core Internet types, news junkies and civil libertarians. Only time will tell if that's the case. One thing is for sure though: many will be watching.

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