Trackers vs. Campaign Gatekeepers: Whoever Wins, We Lose

Weigel
Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Aug. 11 2014 6:20 PM

Trackers vs. Campaign Gatekeepers: Whoever Wins, We Lose

98953999-sen-jeff-merkley-speaks-during-a-press-conference-on
Jeff Merkley is allowed to speak on Capitol Hill, because he RSVP'd.

Photo by Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images

On first look, it's campaign tracker gold. Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley, who has put some distance between himself and challenger Monica Wehby, scheduled an invite-only event on Social Security. Some septugenarians found their way to the location. As a tracker rolled film, and Merkley's aide Jamal Raad offered the same apology multiple times, the seniors got angry and split.

Advertisement

"This doesn't impress me, and nor does the campaign," says a protester identified by the Oregonian as Alta Lynch.

"I was planning on supporting him whole-heartedly," says Scott Ingalls, the man in the tie-dyed overalls. "Not now."

"Stump for the other one," says Lynch. "That's what I'm gonna do."

How could a campaign do this? How could it brainlessly kick out a guy wearing tie-dyed overalls, as if he was a Republican plant?

Well ... Alta Lynch, of Scappoose, may not have been a die-hard for Merkley. On her Facebook page, she's shared an article about a Wehby meeting about the VA scandal, a meme about Barack Obama being "engulfed in scandals," and a meme that shames "race-baiters." Luke Hammill reports that Merkley apologized to the shut-out constituents anyway, which would have neutered the story, but for the video. And events like these, where politicians talk to vetted audiences, are hardly unique to Merkley, who supplements them with at least one town hall a year in each of Oregon's 36 counties.

So there are two stories here. 1) Campaigns sound ridiculous when they try to keep people out of events using the language of Kafka bureaucrats. 2) Using this, anyone who wants to embarrass the campaign of the candidate they're not voting for should show up with a video camera.

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Smash and Grab

Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?

Stop Panicking. America Is Now in Very Good Shape to Respond to the Ebola Crisis.

The 2014 Kansas City Royals Show the Value of Building a Mediocre Baseball Team

The GOP Won’t Win Any Black Votes With Its New “Willie Horton” Ad

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

Technocracy

Forget Oculus Rift

This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual reality experience.

One of Putin’s Favorite Oligarchs Wants to Start an Orthodox Christian Fox News

These Companies in Japan Are More Than 1,000 Years Old

Trending News Channel
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 20 2014 8:14 PM You Should Be Optimistic About Ebola Don’t panic. Here are all the signs that the U.S. is containing the disease.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 20 2014 7:23 PM Chipotle’s Magical Burrito Empire Keeps Growing, Might Be Slowing
  Life
Outward
Oct. 20 2014 3:16 PM The Catholic Church Is Changing, and Celibate Gays Are Leading the Way
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I Am 25. I Don't Work at Facebook. My Doctors Want Me to Freeze My Eggs.
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 20 2014 7:15 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 9 A spoiler-filled discussion of "Flatline."
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 20 2014 9:13 PM The Smart, Talented, and Utterly Hilarious Leslie Jones Is SNL’s Newest Cast Member
  Technology
Technocracy
Oct. 20 2014 11:36 PM Forget Oculus Rift This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual-reality experience.
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Oct. 20 2014 11:46 AM Is Anybody Watching My Do-Gooding? The difference between being a hero and being an altruist.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.