Monday, April 09, 2007

Today's RightWing Talking Point: Obama's Ethics

The right wing talkin' point for today: a photo of Obama chatting with his campaign manager in his office "proves" he violated Senate Ethics rules on page 10:

This is part of the GOP "Little Lie" Strategy: when your Big Lies fail, just fire off a thousand little lies, so the weak-minded people figure that something must going on. (Remember when Bill Clinton trashed the White House? Remember when Nancy demanded a bigger plane? Remember when AlQaeda congratulated Democrats on winning in 2006? Remember when Nancy violated the Logan Act? Remember when Obama did a dirty land deal? etc. etc. etc. Paul Krugman explains the strategy in "Sweet Little Lies, April 9, 2007.)

Now in this case, it's obvious the story is a lie; it would be unreasonable for the Senate to pass a rule saying that one of its members can't talk to a campaign manager in his own office. Otherwise, Senators would have to be leaving their offices all the time, just to ask the smallest question. And that's just not gonna happen, no matter which Party is in charge.

So what about the rule on "Page 10"?

Mostly it's about very reasonable limits on taxpayer-funded Senatorial staff. But the Senator is not a member of his own staff, and nor is his campaign member.

What's left: "Contributions may not be solicited on, or for delivery to, Senate property." This has nothing to do with a Senator talking to his campaign manager.

And: "Senate space and equipment may not be used for campaign activities."

That leaves us with the question is: does "campaign activity" mean talking with a campaign manager?

Well, of course you could define it so. But that would lead to unreasonable results:

*The Senator must leave the Senator several times a day to find out his itinerary et

*When the Senator meets constituents,the constituents could not say "I hope you win re-election!"

* And it make moot the rule: "Contributions may not be solicited on, or for delivery to, Senate property." For if a Senator can not TALK about his campaign, he surely can not solicit money about his campaign.

It is clear that "campaign activity" means something OTHER THAN soliciting money, or just talking about the campaign with voters or someone who is not a Senate staffer.

A rule should always be construed in a reasonable manner. "Activity" more reasonably means "event" in this context. Senators can't hold campaign parties in their office; can't offer sleepovers in exchange for funds; can't even hold a Victory Ball there.

But Senators CAN talk about their campaigns with people who are not Senate staffers, as Senators of both parties did for generations.

And the Little Lie is DEBUNKED.

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