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If You Can't Beat 'Em

... impersonate 'em! That, at least, seems to have been the Connecticut GOP's plan:

Twitter, Inc., shut down 33 fake Twitter accounts created by Republicans using the names of Democratic state representatives. The Republican scheme was to send out posts under the Democrats' names mocking the liberal tax-and-spend bastards.

"That's unfortunate," was state Republican Chairman Chris Healy's response when told of Twitter, Inc.'s decision. "I'm not quite sure what the issue is, other than that the Democrats were successful in stopping free speech."

Healy's party may have suffered a setback with the loss of its Twitter campaign, but Republicans are still operating the 33 Web sites they created using the names of those same Democratic lawmakers. As far as anyone knows, this is the first time any state party has used such a tactic to mock its state opponents.

Healy claims that these sites (and the unplugged Twitter feeds) are attempts at satire rather than impersonation, though a glance at page dedicated to Connecticut's House Speaker--shows it to be coy, at best, about its origins.

The gimmick seems awfully likely to backfire, and offers an object lesson in the kind of self-defeating behavior to which parties in the distinct minority (Democrats outnumber Republicans in the state House 114-37) can become prone. Healy obviously thinks the web sites and Twitter accounts are a clever, witty idea--he said of the Dems that "They didn't think of it first, so that's why they're whining"--and so, no doubt, do many of the GOP activists and operatives he deals with. But for moderates in the state, let alone liberals, the "dirty politics" charge will be easy to make, and to make stick.

(via Andrew Sullivan)