Thingish Things

Bad Mannered Politics

Written By: William F. B. O'Reilly - Jul• 09•11

There was a rule in college football called the Halo Rule that protected punt returners from getting killed. It requires defensive players to allow a punt returner to actually catch the ball before creaming him. It didn’t just protect lives, it was considered good sportsmanship.  

The New York Times writes today about the Democratic Party’s vast network of trackers – paid young people equipped with every conceivable electronic video device who stalk Republican candidates wherever they go, looking for an embarrassing unscripted moment that can be made into a television or YouTube commercial. Republicans use trackers, too, but not nearly as much.

I am generally nice to trackers when they follow my campaigns. “Just some kid doing his job,” I typically say to young campaign workers irked by the invasion of space. But privately, I want to kick the tracker in his teeth and stomp on his gadgets (the electronic ones too) – not because he may record some silly gaffe, but he because is exhibiting bad manners – bad sportsmanship – in a field that used to have some unwritten rules.

I recently accompanied to an event a high-profile political figure who was attacked, literally, by a crazed radical screaming inane questions with a Flip camera. Security had to drag her away.  But she did not represent the Democratic Party.  She was on the fringe. There is nothing that can be done about that in the electronic age. 

The stalker squad described in today’s Times story, though, is led by an employee of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada.) That something can be done about. Sponsoring that type of activity should officially be considered bad cricket — before it gets worse. 

When a candidate loses on Election Night he telephones the victor and the victor accepts the call.  No matter what.  Family members are out of bounds in campaign hits.  No matter what. Off-the-record communications between campaigns of off the record.  No matter what.

We need a Halo Rule rule in politics.

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  1. Me says:

    Bad cricket? Don’t be forgettin’ your roots, me lad!

  2. Nick says:

    Bad hurling? I think “bad cricket” sounds better. For the record Ireland beat England in the recent world Cup.

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