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June 20, 2007

Oppo

Ana Marie Cox has an interesting post on "not for attribution" and "off the record" press releases. She blames the fact that "the iffy truism that Americans don’t like negative campaigning has never had much of an impact on the actual practice of negative campaigning -- just the desire to avoid even the APPEARANCE of negativity." That's persuasive. I also agree with her, and Karen Tumulty, and (apparently) Adam Nagourney, when they say that "off the record" and not "for attribution" "are agreements journalists make with their sources, not declarations the sources make whenever they feel like it. If you say, 'I want this off the record,' and then the reporter says, 'I want it on the record,' and then you keep talking, well, by most standards, you’ve no one but yourself to blame. Sending out an email with that declaration attached is the same mistake, made virtually."

On a related note, my morning mail came with some useful, if slightly odd, opposition research from the DNC on Rudy Giuliani's record of being a rational spender. This is relevant because Giuliani is giving a speech today on fiscal discipline, where he will apparently argue that he's got it, and if the DNC is to be believed, not mention such factoids as "spending went up 30% under Giuliani as mayor, or by $9.5 billion. Even stopping the tally before costs related to 9/11 finds a 28% increase, or $8.9 billion more in annual spending then before he took office," and "As he left office at the end of 2001, the New York Times wrote that Giuliani himself 'estimated the 2003 fiscal year budget gap at $2.9 billion' for his successor. However, JoinRudy.com brags that Giuliani 'turned a $2.3 billion budget deficit into a multi-billion dollar surplus.'"

This sort of oppo research is interesting for its utter purity. It is
just trying to embarrass Giuliani. Democrats, after all, don't believe that it's a problem to increase spending while in office, or run the occasional deficit in order to fund necessary investments. For that matter, Giuliani, as his record shows, also doesn't believe such fiscal responsibility is a problem. But in order to appeal to the GOP electorate, he's been touting himself as much less financially rational than he actually is. Elections are weird.

June 20, 2007 | Permalink

Comments

The DNC press release shows that Rudy is a lying liar lieface. What's weird about that?

Posted by: bloix | Jun 20, 2007 1:45:27 PM

Ezra, you don't subscribe to the GOP talking point that increased spending is an actual constitutive part of democratic leadership, do you? Its actually *bad* for a politician to increase spending while pretending he isn't increasing spending. Not only, as bloix says, is he a lying liar lieface but he is also failing to account properly for his spending and where it goes. Accountability and good government that do what the people actually want done with their money is the Democratic watchword. Just increasing spending? That is not a Democratic position its a GOP talking point.

aimai

Posted by: aimai | Jun 20, 2007 1:58:44 PM

What exactly is the point of ""not for attribution" and "off the record" press releases"? I thought you released stuff to the press so that they would pass it around. Other than as a jump off point to do your own digging such a release seems to be round file material.

Posted by: Hawise | Jun 20, 2007 2:06:28 PM

If you say, 'I want this off the record,' and then the reporter says, 'I want it on the record,' and then you keep talking, well, by most standards, you’ve no one but yourself to blame.

Perhaps, but if a reporter publishes your quotes and attributes them to you without your permission, which causes you to *never act as a source for that reporter again*, the reporter has no one to blame but herself. And a reporter who continues such practices will likely not have any sources after a while.

Posted by: PW | Jun 20, 2007 2:40:56 PM

She blames the fact that "the iffy truism that Americans don’t like negative campaigning has never had much of an impact on the actual practice of negative campaigning -- just the desire to avoid even the APPEARANCE of negativity." That's persuasive.

Not only is this not persuasive, it's not even coherent.

Which fact is she blaming? What makes that a fact? What did that fact do wrong? Is there a reason she is blaming a fact?

What did that fact do wrong? Can we sue it?

Posted by: jerry | Jun 20, 2007 2:40:59 PM

Ezra, it should be obvious that you can spend money and be fiscally responsible, or spend money and be fiscally irresponsible. I don't know if the DNC item went into any detail on how Rudy managed New York's budget, or if they just said "he increased spending", but whatever he was trying to do he didn't do it particularly well.

It was known during his second term that he had badly overestimated the permanence of the financial/dot-com boom, and he did nothing to curtail the city's habit of granting immense multi-decade tax breaks to any corporation that hinted they might move out of town. He generally cut spending on the same kinds of things the Republicans always like to cut: welfare, public higher education, etc. His only real break with Reaganite practice was to be somewhat aggressive in rooting out corruption - in the private sector (e.g. Mafia garbage haulers) if not in his own administration.

Posted by: Hob | Jun 20, 2007 2:48:50 PM

As I recall, Rudy wasn't especially fiscally disciplined, but thanks to the boom years, it didn't matter for quite a while, and he actually missed the most painful post 9/11 effects (I don't know why the DNC even mentions "pre 9/11" as if it's wildly different - he was practically out the door by then), since the Mayoral election was part of 9/11, and the real fiscal genius appears to be... Michael Bloomberg. Giuliani was also massively abused by George Pataki (part of the reason they hated each other), with upstate vs. downstate interests reaching an especially ugly turn during their shared tenure (Giuliani presided over the loss of the commuter tax revenue for NYC, a huge - and stupid - hit). I'm glad the DNC is attacking him, but I'm not sure they're not just confusing things, because the fact that spending up is not the big problem with Giuliani's fiscal management, I don't think. I think the bigger problem, is that he was no better than his predecessors - all Democrats - who didn't so much manage the city's budget as let it run wild. New Yorkers, though, don't necessarily mind that.

Posted by: weboy (I am not Spartacus) :) | Jun 20, 2007 3:03:16 PM

An Marie can blame whoever she wants, It isn't me or my kin that are giving the powerful the ability to say whatever they want without having to put their names next to it. If these people really treated this like a pact, that would be one thing. It's apparent, however, that just about anyone who wants anonymity ends up getting it. Then they use it to spew propoganda, and these same reporters keep going back to them. At some point, it's obviously intentional and these press organizations have obviously turned themselves into arms of the republican party.

Posted by: soullite | Jun 21, 2007 10:10:23 AM

"Occasional deficits"? Leave out Clinton and the Democrats constantly ran rather large deficits.

Posted by: Adam Herman | Jun 21, 2007 1:43:29 PM

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Posted by: judy | Oct 8, 2007 9:06:03 AM

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