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Sunday, September 10, 2006

Tim OBrien on Michael Brodkorb's Blog


The Blog House: Not exactly raising the tone of political discourse
Tim O'Brien, Star Tribune

Published: September 09, 2006

Back in July, I praised the work of Michael Brodkorb. His blog was instrumental in forcing the mainstream media to cover some valid issues regarding Fifth District U.S. House candidate Keith Ellison. Despite my opinion that he was a GOP party organ, in this case he had provided a public service: Voters had the right to know about the DFL-endorsed candidate's transgressions.

I take it all back. Brodkorb has gone all Drudge Report on me.

To decry the level of political discourse in general -- and both sides are guilty-- is to waste valuable oxygen. But what Brodkorb and his ilk are doing goes far beyond slinging mud. It's character assassination.

Jason Amundsen -- the since-resigned campaign manager for another Fifth District House candidate, Paul Ostrow -- was one of the instigators of the latest onslaught against Ellison. Sending anonymous e-mails that made misleading or outright false allegations to various media organizations -- all of which passed on his bait -- he found a more-than-willing accomplice in Brodkorb, who had spent much of the last six months obsessing over Ellison. In pushing the new slurs, he was sure to always acknowledge that there were two sides to the garbage he was posting -- but never volunteering that he was purposely withholding that second side.

Attacks on Ellison have come from other quarters. Drew Emmer made scurrilous allegations in a newsletter. In June, Kennedy v. the Machine's Gary M. Miller posted a picture of slain Al-Qaida terrorist Abu al-Zarqawi and wrote, "Condolences can be sent to Ellison HQ," his "logic" being that the post "clearly meant to draw parallels to the recently dispatched Al Qaeda leader and the 5th District candidate's shared history of anti-semitism" as a former member of the Nation of Islam. (Question to Miller: President Bush looked into the eyes of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and liked what he saw. Talabani is a supporter of Hamas and Hezbollah, two groups that don't belong to B'nai B'rith. Does that make Bush an anti-Semite?)

Should we be surprised? Probably not. Emmer is a former GOP state Senate candidate. Brodkorb works for Mark Kennedy's Senate campaign and a PR firm that does extensive work for Republicans, and is the chair of the Senate District 38 Republican Party. Miller, as you can tell by the name of his blog, is a party sycophant.

Apparently the Republican Party in Minnesota has decided to make the personal political. And turnabout, I'm sure, will be fair play. I wonder if its decision to make an issue of candidates' personal lives in '06 will be one it regrets in, say, '08.

This isn't an endorsement of Ellison. It's a condemnation of those political operatives -- both paid and unpaid -- who obfuscate and distort. The cost we voters pay is our democratic process.

Vince Foster wrote of Washington before his 1993 suicide, "Here ruining people is considered sport." That apparently applied to some of our Minnesota blogs.

The Net could be a place where important issues are discussed and candidates promoted; this gang sees it as a tool to facilitate defamation.