Friday, December 7, 2007


I wrote a column yesterday in which I confessed I was very suspicious about whether the concept of "pro-life" was really meaningful to Congressmen John Murtha and Jason Altmire I pointed out that Democrats who run for Congress in Pennsylvania – especially those outside Philadelphia – had better say they’re pro-life (and pro-guns) if they want to get elected.

After I wrote the piece I came upon comments by Democratic strategist Joe Trippi (the Internet guru of Howard Dean campaign fame). Here’s what Trippi says in The Revolution Will Not be Televised, p. 33:

“I remember working on a [Democratic] congressional campaign in the mid-1980s. We were meeting with the candidate to film a commercial about his views on abortion. . . [Then] the guy casually informed me that he wanted to film two spots.”

“I was confused. Two?”“That’s right. He wanted to make a pro-choice ad, then – as long as we had the crew and everything – just ‘turn the camera around’ and make a pro-life spot.

That way, he explained, he’d have one of each ready when his polling people told him which way to go.”

Trippi adds, “After it was all over, I think we all wanted to go home and take a shower.”

Who was this poll-driven (as opposed to conscience-driven) candidate? Trippi doesn’t identify him by name.Could it have been Dick Gephardt, the congressional power, who also ran for President – and employed Trippi? When Gephardt was a Missouri congressman, he was, like most Missouri congressman, he was a staunch pro-lifer. Later, of course, when he began to contemplate a national office, he switched to joining the Democratic "mainstream" and being pro-choice.

Or could it even have been Al Gore? When he was in Congress and the Senate from Tennessee – a bastion of pro-lifers – he was strongly for what’s called “the sanctity of life.” But when the vice-presidency and the Presidency loomed before him, his own "inconvenient truth" is that he switched his views.

A more interesting question: could it have been John Murtha? As far as I know, Trippi never worked for “The Prince of Pork.” Probably not. And certainly not Jason Altmire who, in the 1980s, was playing high school football.

However, like Trippi’s sleazy candidate, Murtha is very much driven by polls. When the American people were strongly for the war in Iraq, so was Murtha. When the War’s “poll numbers” dropped, Murtha bailed out, calling for “redeployment” of the troops to Okinawa of all places. The early evidence suggests that Altmire is same kind of poll-obsessed individual.

Trippi’s candidate was a slimeball. So, for that matter, is Trippi himself. Notice that he doesn’t say he stepped from the lucrative campaign slot. Instead, literally and figuratively, he took a shower. After reading Trippi’s book, my assessment of him is that he might consider spending the rest of his life in the shower.

People who look carefully at the votes of people like Murtha and Altmire – as I did in previous columns – have a hard time understanding exactly where they stand. The fact is that people obsessed with polls – Trippi’s client, Murtha, Altmire – don’t really "stand" much of anywhere.

Anyway, if anyone knows who Trippi’s pro-life/pro-choice candidate was, please let me know. Until then, I’ll just assume it could have been one of many Democrats.

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