It's bad enough that, if current trends continue, the GOP is likely to lose what should be a gimme congressional seat in New York's 23rd district next month thanks to a conservative spoiler candidate. Now sparks are flying between the moderate GOP nominee, Dede Scozzafava, and The Weekly Standard, which backs Conservative Party nominee Doug Hoffman. Attending an event in Lowville, NY, the Standard's John McCormack reports:
After a dinner of turkey, mashed potatoes, and stuffing, Scozzafava fended off criticism that she wasn't as conservative as third-party candidate Doug Hoffman and urged her supporters to vote for her in order to keep her Democratic opponent Bill Owens from serving as a rubber stamp for Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama's agenda in Washington. It was a fairly typical evening--until the speech ended and someone with Scozzafava's campaign called the police. On me.
Scozzafava spokesman Matt Burns told the Politico that McCormack's behavior "shows a complete lack of decency," and seemed to be saying that McCormack was stalking his candidate: "This self-described reporter repeatedly screamed questions (in-your-face-style) while our candidate was doing what she is supposed to be doing: speaking with voters (remember, those who will decide this election?). And then he followed the candidate to her car, continuing to carry on in a manner that would make the National Enquirer blush. I have no doubt he intended to follow her home, too. His actions were reprehensible. Those are the facts."
Standard editor Bill Kristol begs to differ:
I won't allow a desperate campaign to try to tarnish the fine reputation John has built as a fair and accurate reporter -- and, for that matter, a very decent and mild-mannered young man.
As it happens, I was standing near John's desk in the office this past Friday. The phone rang. It was Scozzafava campaign spokesman Matt Burns, who didn't like something John had reported, and started yelling abusively at him the moment he answered the phone. We could hear Mr. Burns ten feet away. I gather Mr. Burns called later to apologize. I suppose John would accept another apology by the Scozzafava campaign. But it really would be better not to start down the road of berating reporters for accurately reporting the facts, or of calling the police when your candidate doesn't like the questions reporters are asking.
It is fascinating to see The Weekly Standard, which launched a famous (and unsuccessful) insurgency against the GOP establishment from the left in 2000, now aligning itself so utterly with insurgents attacking a considerably more conservative GOP establishment from the right. Sometimes, it seems, it's less about ideology than temperament.