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Wag the Blog Redux: Kos's Call to "Tape Everything"

Last week we asked The Fix community whether Markos Moulitsas's (a.k.a. Kos) call to tape every word uttered by Republican officials and candidates was a good or a bad thing for politics. You responded in droves.

Before we get to your thoughts, The Fix wants to point to Republican direct-mail consultant Dan Hazelwood's view:

"This is going to be destructive. People will ask for more gotcha questions. People will seek to spur violent confrontations to get recording. The press will further focus on the trivial. Where will the line end? A candidate eating a meal at a restaurant now is going to be taped?

"We need to tape journalists to prove they are apolitical. We need to tape the tapers to record them conspiring to provoke inappropriate activity. Campaigns need to tape themselves to be able to provide context.

"And none of this advances substance in politics. It advances partisan combat. If there are not clear parameters established and upheld this way lies madness.

"The parameters could be as simple as public events. But not private activity in a public place."

Now to some of the best and brightest responses from The Fix community, as compiled by politics producer Sarah Lovenheim:

"I don't believe that videotaped gaffes, in and of themselves, have the power to destroy a campaign. What these incidents can do, however, is expose the actual individual underneath all the handling and the spinning. And that's a good thing." -- Posted by: Matthew Anton | May 29, 2007 09:16 AM

"My belief is that the "macaca" moment WAS the real candidate which had been carefully hidden from most of the voting public for years. So I vote YES to taping them and catching them in their lies and half-truths." -- Posted by: Richard Taylor | May 29, 2007 09:04 AM

"If KOS really stands for progressive values you should hold everyone accountable, including the Democratic candidates." -- Posted by: Andy R | May 29, 2007 09:06 AM

"Recording and posting whatever is available ... makes the candidate more accessible to people who are less inclined or able to donate the money necessary to see special appearances." -- Posted by: peter | May 29, 2007 09:32 AM

"The job of president is a 24 hour one and every action brings an impact ... [covering candidate events contributes to the] historical record of the country." -- Posted by: Don Libes | May 29, 2007 09:37 AM

"Showing candidates in their true colors will expose the embarrassing slips of EVERYONE, and let the most egregious faux pas of the most secretive and phony politicians bubble to the surface...Let the cameras roll!" -- Posted by: Ryan | May 29, 2007 09:53 AM

"I don't believe the Kos comment was intended either to guarantee accountability or inspire candidates to not be CANDIDates. Rather, he's encouraging Democrats to engage in the same subversive tactics that have worked so well for Republicans for years." -- Posted by: judgito | May 29, 2007 05:22 PM

"How is anyone supposed to develop serious policies if the first time they talk about a subject they are worried that a mistaken sentence could come back to bite them later on?... Kos' plan ... isn't politics, its warfare." -- Posted by: camguy | May 29, 2007 09:35 AM

"... A legion of partisan amateur journalists running around with camera-phones hoping to catch a politician making some politically incorrect remark ... [feeds an] American electorate [that] prefers to make its decisions based on the embarrassing 30-second verbal gaffes and fumbled moments that happen to make their way onto YouTube. " -- Posted by: DCGeek | May 29, 2007 10:24 AM

"I don't find anything wrong with videotaping politicians or candidates during official/campaign appearances-- they are in the public eye and their words are "out there" for all to see and hear.

"However, there should be a line between those moments that are "in public" and moments that are not. Should we tape pols at the grocery store squeezing the Charmin? Or taking their kids to the zoo, or putting flowers on a parent's grave, on the off chance that they'll say something that can be used against them later?" -- Posted by: DB | May 29, 2007 11:57 AM

"Capturing a small misstatement on tape and spreading it via the Internet is petty and doesn't help the political process." -- Posted by: Arjun | May 29, 2007 03:40 PM

By Chris Cillizza  |  June 3, 2007; 11:15 AM ET
Categories:  Wag The Blog  
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Next: The Democrats Debate -- Round 2


In my view, politics of personal destruction works and must be implemented by anyone who wants to be successful in the game. Criminal investigations, lying (if people believes it), bringing up past divorces, other illegal activities and even distorting positions is fair game. In my view, everything from publicly nagging Cheney about his daughter being a lesbian to Guiliani's personal life to John Kerry's war record is all fair game in politics. As the old saying goes: all is fair in love and war. As we all know, politics is war through other means...a coward's means. If a person is a politician by trade, then they are a dishonest, greedy coward. So, why should anyone be concerned that their life is damaged by personally destructive politics? I'm not worried about it!

Posted by: reason | June 3, 2007 9:44 PM | Report abuse

A little late in the day for Dan Hazelwood to criticize destructive campaign practices, after the greatest power grab in the history of the republic employed them so effectively. Just get out of the way while Democrats try to clean up the mess.

Posted by: newageblues | June 3, 2007 8:12 PM | Report abuse

"We need to tape the tapers to record them conspiring to provoke inappropriate activity."

Apparently Hazelwood is actively channeling Nixon.

Posted by: Judge C. Crater | June 3, 2007 5:21 PM | Report abuse

Since video cameras are better and much cheaper than ever, we will all have to get used to the idea that we may be on camera at any time. Cell phone pictures or movies can be posted and have been and if that means that our public figures are being constantly watched, then so much the better for democracy. They are at their worst when allowed to function in secret (that is most of the time...for decisions of any importance.) More copylefted comments at

Posted by: Robert Vogel | June 3, 2007 4:09 PM | Report abuse

Since video cameras are better and much cheaper than ever, we will all have to get used to the idea that we may be on camera at any time. Cell phone pictures or movies can be posted and have been and if that means that our public figures are being constantly watched, then so much the better for democracy. They are at their worst when allowed to function in secret (that is most of the time...for decisions of any importance.) More copylefted comments at

Posted by: Robert Vogel | June 3, 2007 4:08 PM | Report abuse

'Iran has increased arms shipments to both Iraq's Shiite extremists and Afghanistan's Taliban in recent weeks in an apparent attempt to pressure American and other Western troops operating in its two strategic neighbors, according to senior U.S. and European officials.'

from the wapo... funny how the 'officials' have no names, isn't it, in the whole article? if the proof these officials have is so strong, why can't their quotes be atrributitated? what are they afraid of? this is pretty crappy journalistic procedure, kids... you think you would have learned by now...

Posted by: Anonymous | June 3, 2007 3:45 PM | Report abuse

Rudy [G]iuliani is a true American hero, and we know this because he does all the things we expect of heroes these days -- like make $16 million a year, and lobby for Hugo Chávez and Rupert Murdoch, and promote wars without ever having served in the military, and hire a lawyer to call his second wife a "stuck pig," and organize absurd, grandstanding pogroms against minor foreign artists, and generally drift through life being a shameless opportunist with an outsize ego who doesn't even bother to conceal the fact that he's had a h*rd-on for the presidency since he was in diapers. In the media age, we can't have a hero humble enough to actually be one; what is needed is a tireless scoundrel, a cad willing to pose all day long for photos, who'll accept $100,000 to talk about heroism for an hour, who has the balls to take a $2.7 million advance to write a book about himself called Leadership. That's Rudy Giuliani. Our hero. And a perfect choice to uphold the legacy of George W. Bush.

If you think you know it all already, Rudy agrees with you. And if anyone tries to tell you differently, they're probably traitors, and Rudy, well, he'll keep an eye on 'em for you. Just like Bush, Rudy appeals to the couch-bound bully in all of us, and part of the allure of his campaign is the promise to put the Pentagon and the power of the White House at that bully's disposal....

The Paul incident went to the very heart of who Giuliani is as a politician. To the extent that conservatism in the Bush years has morphed into a celebration of mindless patriotism and the paranoid witch-hunting of liberals and other dissenters, Rudy seems the most anxious of any Republican candidate to take up that mantle. Like Bush, Rudy has repeatedly shown that he has no problem lumping his enemies in with "the terrorists" if that's what it takes to get over. When the 9/11 Commission raised criticisms of his fire department, for instance, Giuliani put the bipartisan panel in its place for daring to question his leadership.

While the mayor himself flew out of New York on a magic carpet, thousands of cash-strapped cops, firemen and city workers involved with the cleanup at the World Trade Center were developing cancers and infections and mysterious respiratory ailments like the "WTC cough." This is the dirty little secret lurking underneath Rudy's 9/11 hero image -- the most egregious example of his willingness to shape public policy to suit his donors. While the cleanup effort at the Pentagon was turned over to federal agencies like OSHA, which quickly sealed off the site and required relief workers to wear hazmat suits, the World Trade Center cleanup was handed over to Giuliani. The city's Department of Design and Construction (DDC) promptly farmed out the waste-clearing effort to a smattering of politically connected companies, including Bechtel, Bovis and AMEC construction who didn't bother to protect their employees.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 3, 2007 3:09 PM | Report abuse

What is it with Oklahoman senators? And I thought that nutcase flat earther Inhofe was bad enough...

Posted by: Aussie view | June 3, 2007 2:52 PM | Report abuse

Is Ron Paul too rational for you? Unconvinced by Mitt Romney's commitment to personally fund all abortions? Has Tom Tancredo failed to keep the Mexicans out of your town?

Republican primary voters, meet your new nut: It's Senator Tom Coburn from the great state of Oklahoma! Here are some highlights of Coburn's brave career:

He is very much anti-abortion, but he sort of enjoys sterilizing women without their consent.
Speaking of women, did you know they are much healthier with fake tits?

He boldly stood up for the beloved, innocent insecticide DDT when the libtards wanted to honor some psycho who helped get it banned!

"Lesbianism is so rampant in some of the schools in Southeast Oklahoma that they'll only let one girl go to the bathroom. Now think about it."

--TULSA, Sept. 16 -- A woman who claimed in a lawsuit 13 years ago that the Republican Senate candidate here, a family physician, sterilized her without her consent came forward Thursday to stand by her story, throwing one of the most competitive Senate races in the country into further turmoil.

Her voice shaking at times, Angela Plummer said that while Tom Coburn saved her life during a 1990 surgery to remove a fallopian tube in which a fetus had lodged, she was "stunned" to learn that he had also removed her remaining good tube.

'At a news conference in Tulsa, Angela Plummer says Tom Coburn, a physician and politician, sterilized her without her permission during a 1990 surgery.

Dr. Tom Coburn sterilized me without my consent -- verbal or written -- and I know he's stating that he got oral consent. That is not true," Plummer said at a news conference. "I'm not up here to smear him. I'm up here because I wanted to have more children, and he took that away from me."

'Speaking of doctors, physician-Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), a new member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, was at last week's meeting on a bill restricting class-action suits. "You know," he said, "I immediately thought about silicone breast implants and the legal wrangling and the class-action suits off that.

"And I thought I would just share with you what science says today about silicone breast implants. If you have them, you're healthier than if you don't. That is what the ultimate science shows. . . . In fact, there's no science that shows that silicone breast implants are detrimental and, in fact, they make you healthier."


Posted by: you nutty repugs | June 3, 2007 12:40 PM | Report abuse

'I can confirm, through military and intelligence sources, part of Steve Clemons' account of Cheney's crazed bellicosity regarding Iran. In fact, having just received a second-source confirmation of the following story, I was intending to post it today:

Last December, as Rumsfeld was leaving, President Bush met with the Joint Chiefs of Staff in "The Tank," the secure room in the Pentagon where the Joint Chiefs discuss classified matters of national security. Bush asked the Chiefs about the wisdom of a troop "surge" in Iraq. They were unanimously opposed. Then Bush asked about the possibility of a successful attack on Iran's nuclear capability.

He was told that the U.S. could launch a devastating air attack on Iran's government and military, wiping out the Iranian air force, the command and control structure and some of the more obvious nuclear facilities. But the Chiefs were -- once again -- unanimously opposed to taking that course of action.

Why? Because our intelligence inside Iran is very sketchy. There was no way to be sure that we could take out all of Iran's nuclear facilities. Furthermore, the Chiefs warned, the Iranian response in Iraq and in terrorist attacks on the U.S. could be devastating. Bush apparently took this advice to heart and went to Plan B - - a covert destabilization campaign reported earlier this week by ABC News.

If Clemons is right, and I'm pretty sure he is, Cheney is still pushing Plan A.'

Posted by: | June 3, 2007 12:30 PM | Report abuse

There are many other components of the complex game plan that this Cheney official has been kicking around Washington. The official has offered this commentary to senior staff at AEI and in lunch and dinner gatherings which were to be considered strictly off-the-record, but there can be little doubt that the official actually hopes that hawkish conservatives and neoconservatives share this information and then rally to this point of view. This official is beating the brush and doing what Joshua Muravchik has previously suggested -- which is to help establish the policy and political pathway to bombing Iran.

The zinger of this information is the admission by a Cheney aide that Cheney himself is frustrated with President Bush and believes, much like Richard Perle, that Bush is making a disastrous mistake by aligning himself with the policy course that Condoleezza Rice, Bob Gates, Michael Hayden and McConnell have sculpted.

According to this official, Cheney believes that Bush can not be counted on to make the "right decision" when it comes to dealing with Iran and thus Cheney believes that he must tie the President's hands.

On Tuesday evening, i spoke with a former top national intelligence official in this Bush administration who told me that what I was investigating and planned to report on regarding Cheney and the commentary of his aide was "potentially criminal insubordination" against the President'

Posted by: | June 3, 2007 12:26 PM | Report abuse

'There is a race currently underway between different flanks of the administration to determine the future course of US-Iran policy.

On one flank are the diplomats, and on the other is Vice President Cheney's team and acolytes -- who populate quite a wide swath throughout the American national security bureaucracy.

The Pentagon and the intelligence establishment are providing support to add muscle and nuance to the diplomatic effort led by Condi Rice, her deputy John Negroponte, Under Secretary of State R. Nicholas Burns, and Legal Adviser John Bellinger. The support that Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and CIA Director Michael Hayden are providing Rice's efforts are a complete, 180 degree contrast to the dysfunction that characterized relations between these institutions before the recent reshuffle of top personnel.

But the person in the Bush administration who most wants a hot conflict with Iran is Vice President Cheney. The person in Iran who most wants a conflict is Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Iran's Revolutionary Guard Quds Force would be big winners in a conflict as well -- as the political support that both have inside Iran has been flagging.

Multiple sources have reported that a senior aide on Vice President Cheney's national security team has been meeting with policy hands of the American Enterprise Institute, one other think tank, and more than one national security consulting house and explicitly stating that Vice President Cheney does not support President Bush's tack towards Condoleezza Rice's diplomatic efforts and fears that the President is taking diplomacy with Iran too seriously.

This White House official has stated to several Washington insiders that Cheney is planning to deploy an "end run strategy" around the President if he and his team lose the policy argument.'

cheney is plotting against the president and empowering the iranian clerics. the man is a power-mad lunatic.

Posted by: Cheney's a dangerous traitor | June 3, 2007 12:23 PM | Report abuse

The current U.S. emphasis may be on the surge in Iraq, but there are plans to start drawing down U.S. forces by the beginning of 2008, according to senior U.S. officials with knowledge of the planning.

The senior U.S. commanders in Iraq -- Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno and Gen. David Petraeus -- want the surge to continue until at least December and expect to report enough progress in Iraq by September to justify it, officials told ABC News' Martha Raddatz.

But then a drawdown may begin in February 2008, although each of the two generals supports a slightly different plan.

Plan one, which officials say Odierno is pushing, would start with a drawdown of one brigade (5,000 troops) every month starting in February, with a reduction in troops from roughly 150,000 at present to 100,000 by December 2008.

Petraeus champions a slightly different approach that would cut the troops down to roughly 130,000 by the end of 2008, with further reductions the following year.

In any event, U.S. officials tell ABC News troop levels in Iraq cannot be maintained at the present level, either politically or practically, with the military stretched so thin.

Posted by: generals cutting and running | June 3, 2007 12:17 PM | Report abuse

The WSJ's Peggy Noonan declares Bush a threat to the Republican party: " ... The beginning of my own sense of separation from the Bush administration came in January 2005, when the president declared that it is now the policy of the United States to eradicate tyranny in the world, and that the survival of American liberty is dependent on the liberty of every other nation. This was at once so utopian and so aggressive that it shocked me.

For others the beginning of distance might have been Katrina and the incompetence it revealed, or the depth of the mishandling and misjudgments of Iraq. What I came in time to believe is that the great shortcoming of this White House, the great thing it is missing, is simple wisdom. Just wisdom--a sense that they did not invent history, that this moment is not all there is, that man has lived a long time and there are things that are true of him, that maturity is not the same thing as cowardice, that personal loyalty is not a good enough reason to put anyone in charge of anything, that the way it works in politics is a friend becomes a loyalist becomes a hack, and actually at this point in history we don't need hacks. ..."

Posted by: Anonymous | June 3, 2007 12:14 PM | Report abuse

I have to second Mike's remarks. Republicans have no credibility to even discuss 'destructive tactics' because that is ALL they have used since the Reagan era. Who invented swiftboating? Who thought of Nixon's dirty tricks? Who shut down the legal recount of a presidential election with an unprecended judicial coup? Talk about judicial activism. Who lied us into a war for the benefit of oil companies and profiteers? Who constantly uses the race card to win elections? Who actively tries to erect barriers against minority voting?

What a nauseating phony. Jeez, CC you are more credulous and naive than I can even imagine, to quote Hazelwood with a straight face. His comments are a joke.

Posted by: Cassandra | June 3, 2007 12:11 PM | Report abuse

A Republican strategist decrying destructive tactics that do nothing to advance substance in politics? PLEASE!

After Tom DeLay and Karl Rove got done with their contributions to the American political system, there really wasn't much substance left to salvage.

Cry me a river, Mr. Hazelwood.

Posted by: Mike | June 3, 2007 12:01 PM | Report abuse

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