I remember meeting my first “tracker”. It was at the “Patriot Picnic” at Boom Island Park in 2006. We had then-House-candidate Michele Bachmann and Senate candidate Mark Kennedy on the show. The “tracker” was a surly, scrawny little guy whose demeanor screamed “latté-drinking, Ben Folds-listening, someday-Smart-Car-buying Macalester Anthropology major who needs a crap job real bad”. He put his camera up on a tripod and stood, surly and,oddly, ostentatious in his attempts to remain unostentatious, at the front of the audience tent (it was 101 that day), silently filming everything every Republican said.
It was hard not to mock the guy; every time we went to the audience for questions, I’d ask the poor, sweaty, underemployed little nipper if he had any. “Not at this time”, he’d intone, not breaking his focus.
Mr. Cranky was the first tracker I ever met – but far from the last. The DFL has trackers – either employees, or their de facto employees at “The Uptake” and The Minnesota “Independent” – in attendance whenever a GOP candidate appears in public, taping glumly away. The GOP, naturally, returns the favor. They do it because every once in a while they catch a candidate saying “let’s stick it to those morons in Bemidji” while speaking in Bloomington, and “let’s stick it to those cake-eaters in Bloomington” while speaking in Bemidji.
Of course, now that Mark Dayton is ostensibly getting out of the “tracker” business (at least, on his direct payroll; the Uptake, the Mindy and the rest of the leftyblogs that take their orders from the DFL are still on the job), suddenly “trackers” are the next great crisis in Minnesota politics, according to…Democrats.
“Spotty” from Caulking Tool turns t his crack investigative skills onto the GOP trackers. He complains that the trackers got too close to Dayton. I can see both sides of that one; they do get close. They have to; Dayton mumbles like he’s got a mouthful of garlic toast. There’s no point in “tracking” if you can’t hear what’s being said!
But that’s not really the fun part:
As Dayton points out, and as at least one commenter in the Strib comments affirms [A commenter in the Strib “affirms” it? Why not the guy yelling at his shadow on the 16 bus, while you’re at it? Wow, that’s a stringent standard of evidence! – Ed], it’s the voter intimidation that’s the real problem. Many people simply don’t want to be captured on video and have it appear on the web. It isharassment to keep these people from talking to a candidate.
Democrat voters must be the biggest pack of pansies in the world. It’s one thing that “Bad weather favors the GOP” is truism in Minnesota politics; whatever. But anyone who gets “intimidated” by a 100-pound twenty-something girl with a flipcam needs to face the spirit of guy who charged across Omaha Beach to defend that right to vote, and explain why they are such a bunch of simpering wastes of time and effort.
And remember – the Dems have their cameras in the GOPers’ faces too! And yet you don’t hear us mewling about “intimidation”. And our trackers at least take showers.
But here’s the real fun part; “Spotty” – an adult who blogs under a nom de plume, apparently because he writes things that he doesn’t want associated with his real identity, called his post “Chihuahuas with Flipcams”. And he wrote (with emphasis added):
When he came to DL, Mark Dayton introduced the Republican tracker by name from the stage. The recording of remarks is not the problem here; it’s the intimidation of ordinary citizens.
“Intimidation of ordinary citizens”.
Let’s go back in time to this past April 15. I spoke at the Tea Party at the Capitol Grounds. I met “Spot”, who was wandering around with a camera, a camera guy, and a microphone interviewing people for “The Uptake”, the lefty video hatchetblog.
I was wandering about, talking with people, when the security people came up to me:
…the only problem I heard about involved a reporter from “The Uptake”…Now, [the Uptake “reporter”, who is in fact one and the same person as “Spotty”] interviewed me briefly last year; I never saw his final product, although I was told either his voiceover or his editing really mangled the context of my interview; I wouldn’t know – I don’t watch the Uptake much. I did another standup with him after I got offstage – I figure if he and the Uptake want to [mangle the context of] what I said, it says more about him and them than it does about me. He referred to the people around him as “tea-baggers”; I gently corrected him, but I got a sneaking hunch it was a tell as to “the Uptake’s” overall tone of “coverage”.
But shortly after that, a few of the orange-clad security guys came up to me and said they’d been getting complaints about the Uptake’s crew. I asked them for specifics; they took me to a couple that that said the Uptake’s crew hadn’t identified themselves as a “news” crew that was going to publish an interview online, and that they seemed to be trying to get them to say something stupid, to make them – Tea Partiers in general, it seemed – look stupid. The woman said that the “reporter” seemed to be trying to pick a fight with her, trying to one-up her on her knowledge of issues; “I”m not an encyclopedia, I can’t answer all the questions he has right away”, she said, still visibly exasperated. Her husband, a Vietnam veteran, echoed his wife’s thoughts; “he was trying to pick a fight; he was harassing us”.
Not sure why the years-old tradition of video trackers is suddenly a DFL chanting point. Perhaps Dayton thinks it’s finally the terrorists, come to get him at last?