18 October 2010

Press or Prat?

Sean Bielat, the Republican challenger to Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA 4th) , was having a small press availability when he was heckled by the boyfriend of Barney Frank.  It seems that Frank’s significant other, James Ready, thought that by hiding behind a camera that he had a cloak of invincibility so he could pester Bielat with jejune grade school taunts.

This is another take on a classic campaign dirty trick.  Senator George Allen (R-VA) was being followed by a young cameraman from the Jim Webb (D-VA) campaign.  Allen tried engaging the dirty trickster by addressing him as macaca.  The Washington (com)Post made this off the cuff comment into a huge issue, which drove down Allen’s voter base and he lost the election by less than 10,000 votes.

The Ready heckling takes opposition agitation to a whole different level.  It is gobsmacking to think that an incumbent is so desperate to send his significant other to engage in such a high profile dirty trick.  It is one thing for a spouse to make a public appearance for the candidate, but it is quite another to have him act as an agent provocateur.

Even though same sex marriage was judicially imposed in Massachusetts in 2004, Frank had not formalized his partnership with Ready.  Still Sean Bielat treated Ready with the hands off deference of a family member.  Had Bielat made an off the cuff verbal misstep, Frank would have used it as a huge campaign issue to save his flailing re-election campaign.

Then consider the content of the boyfriend’s hecking.  Bielat was briefing the press when he gets taunts about “You better get used to it,” by the heckler Ready.  Ready does an in your face critiques of Bielat’s humorous attempts to get back to the press briefing.  Considering the quality of Ready’s argument, the next exchange would be “I’m rubber and you’re glue”.

Frank’s boyfriend was trying to exploit the protections of the press while acting as a puerile partisan prat. If the Lamestream press did their jobs, they would cover this like George Allen’s macaca moment and question this taunting tactic. But somehow this odd behavior does not raise any eyebrows or merit any coverage.

If there is any solace, the 15 term incumbent is having the race of his career against Bielat.  The 35 year old Marine Corps veteran who is challenging Frank is running for a district that Senator Scott Brown (R-MA) won by 53% in January.  And despite being a high profile incumbent Congressman, Barney Frank is consistently polling below 50% in a two person race.  Even in the deep blue state of Massachusetts, Sean Bielat has a good shot at being victorious.  If that happens, the stock of Sylvester the Cat imitators will crater.

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