Sunday, March 19, 2006

My Limit on Scandal Mongering

Discussion of Michael Arcuri's failure to deal with the abortion issue is spreading around the Internet like wildfire this afternoon, and that fire is heating up fast.

As I've mentioned before, Democratic candidate Michael Arcuri's campaign team appears to have deleted a comment on its web site's message board asking about Arcuri's position on abortion, then deleted the entire message board when the question was asked again.

Democrats here in New York's 24th district are beginning to feel mighty uneasy about Arcuri's silence on the issue, given how easy it would be for Arcuri to put a simple statement up on his web site describing his position on abortion. Arcuri is a lawyer, so let's not pretend that he doesn't have his opinions on the subject all worked out.

Yet, there's a limit I have in how far I'd like to see this debate go. Here's a message that was left on this blog not too long ago, to illustrate:

"I could tell you exactly why Arcuri fails to answer that question [about abortion] but it would need to be in a private manner, or you could just call his EX-wife and/or EX-mistress and ask them."


I really don't care if one of the Democratic candidates has had a sexual affair. For that matter, I don't care if one of the Republican candidates has.

We all do stupid things. Everyone, including politicians. The word is that Mohandas K. Gandhi had sexual affairs outside of his marriage. That didn't make him less of a leader.

What I care about in this race is a discussion of the ideals that shape a candidate's public life, and the competence with which the candidate is able to promote those ideals. Michael Arcuri seems to have some high ideals about public justice, and has carried those out in his public life as District Attorney. Les Roberts has some high ideals when it comes to war, disaster preparedness, and public health, and has worked in accordance with his ideas through his adventures working in war zones like Iraq, Afghanistan, and Zaire.

I do fully understand that other people care about the sexual affairs of candidates, and that's one of the reasons I believe it is unwise to reduce the field of Democratic candidates to just one, handpicked by party bosses who live halfway across the country. It's more likely than not that the national and local media would attack any one of our Democratic candidates without mercy if the candidate was found to be having a sexual affair.

I have no way of knowing if this rumor of a past sexual affair involving Michael Arcuri has any basis in reality. It's quite likely that the rumor is baseless, or a half-truth, handed to me by somebody from a rival campaign. I'm not from Utica, and I really don't like to get involved in nagging narratives like this one. I've seen a lot of people inside and outside politics have their lives ruined by sexual affairs, and I would never want to get involved in trashing somebody involved in a sex scandal. They've already got enough pain to deal with.

What would qualify as a legitimate scandal, in my book? Breaking the law without a good cause, like civil disobedience, would probably qualify. Public, rude behavior would also be worthy of note, as would addiction to alcohol or drugs. Still, compared to support for an ill-conceived policy or connection to public corruption, these personal failings would be secondary.

Readers, if you catch me falling from that standard during this campaign, call me on it.

30 comments:

Anonymous said...

If you want real scandel, then research the murder trial of Joseph Smith. He was falsely convicted of murder by Arcuri, all the while Arcuri's office had a conffession by an inmate at Oneida County Jail. Smith ultimately sued and the settled the case for what is somewhere in the range of $250,000. Research the Lawrence Tanoury, Jr. case. Tanoury was fired by Mayor Tim Julian after learning of some scandel at City Hall, and then in conjunction with Arcuri they set him up with numerous criminal charges. Tanoury ultimatel was exonerated of all charges and currently has a 7 million dollar lawsuit pending. Research the Cornell Maye scandel which was huge news a few years ago and even was featured on the front page of the Syracuse Post-Standard...Arcuri was sued personally for this, the judge ruled that Arcuri has immunitty as a DA, however, this is being appealled in the Circuit Court of Appealls in NYC. If Arcuri loses, this will be a precedent setting case which will no longer allow corrupt DA's to hide behind their immunnitty.

Anonymous said...

Will you let us know when you have reached your limit on scandal mongering? Passing along nasty unsubstantiated irrelevant morsels while flamboyantly holding your nose doesn't count in my book. Yea, we know, this is a blog, and you can write what you want. My question is why do you want to write this kind of thing? First Tytler and now Arcuri. By virtue of this blog, the bright lights are on you these days too. Get out of the mud, write what you want but be honest, and hold on tight for whatever's sure to be coming out about Roberts.

24 Independent said...

I let you know my limit, and this is it. Someone already put the information on this blog with a comment, so I decided it would be best to denounce the attempt at scandal-mongering, which I think I did pretty clearly, without attempting to censor visitors to the blog, as I have noted that Arcuri has done.

I denounced it when the anti-Tytler crew came out with ridiculous anti-Tytler rumors too.

My belief is that these things need to wither in the sunlight, rather than be passed around in darkness, as others would prefer it.

Don't you agree with me that these things are irrelevant to the quality of the candidacy, and should be confronted in the open?

Anonymous said...

I would be more sure of you're sincerety if more than half of your post wasn't about sexual affairs while you go on about how you wont do exactly that.

Anonymous said...

All the so-called scandals didn't hurt Arcuri when it came time to be re-elected. Just last year, wasn't it?

24 Independent said...

You can be sure of my sincerity by looking at the body of what I've written here.

While newspapers write almost exclusively about horse race stuff, I write a lot about the details of the issues. That's what I care about.

I also care about an in depth discussion of the ethics of the campaign process. That's why I wrote this article - because I want people to think about these things instead of just having a knee jerk reaction.

If I really wanted to skewer Arcuri with this supposed sex scandal, don't you think I could have done just that, and gotten all moralistic about the importance of moral fiber, etc?

No, I care about the process and I care about the content too much to let a sex scandal dominate this blog, but also too much to neglect a discussion of the ethics of dealing with a sex scandal when it comes out.

Now go back and take a look at the article, and you'll see that I DID NOT spend half of it writing about Arcuri's sex scandal, if there even is such a thing. The first three paragraphs are spent, for example, talking about Arcuri's reaction to the abortion issue, which is, as far as I can tell, an entirely different matter.

I even go to the trouble to praise Arcuri's commitment to the ideals of justice under the law.

There's a difference between restraint and complete censorship. We need to talk about these things at an adult level, but not grovel in them gratuitously. That's what I believe I have done with this article.

At the very least, that's what I aimed to do. If you don't believe that, then there's really nothing I can do to convince you of that.

Anonymous said...

Read your comments, blogger. Read what you let some axe grinding wing nuts post because of your much announced effort to moderate not censor. In these campaigns everything ends up being fair game. We'll hear about families and jobs and conspiracy theories. The question is when do you say no, I won't play and I won't be used. Do you feel good about giving some cretin the avenue to pull Tytler's child into the mix? Mr. Blogger, how about directing just a little of the righteous indignation you've directed at the DCCC toward people who would try to get to Arcuri and Tytler through their families. You won't stop them, but you don't have to go along.

24 Independent said...

I really don't go along with the politician-as-victim argument. People who run for office ought to know that there are going to be a lot of nasty rumors spread about them. Someone who truly has some dirty family secrets who runs for office is either an idiot or doesn't care about people talking about them.

It's like celebrities who complain about paparazzi. Unless the paparazzi get violent or otherwise illegal, I don't have much sympathy for it.

I have had the same experience as a blogger, believe it or not. This isn't the only blog I write, and on some other blogs I've got, people have come after my with some pretty dirty stuff. They're contacted people I work with, sending really nasty messages about me. I've also gotten some pretty scary death threats, along the lines of "we know where you live, and where your son goes to school, and we're going to get you."

For me, that's a natural consequence of putting myself out in the public sphere, even if its just through writing blogs. I try not to let fear of powerful people, or fear of violent people, stop me from writing what I write.

I've even had Islamic fundamentalists hacking some of the web site's I've established, because they don't like what I have to say. A neighbor of mine came to me after that incident, and accused me of endangering our entire village by taking on violent Islamic fundamentalism in my blog. But, what am I supposed to do, shut up just because some people act crazy? No, of course not, and anyone else who enters public life, including running for public office, has to have that attitude.

In fact, I take it as a badge of pride when I receive a threat, or when someone tries to shut down a web site I've got. It means that I'm making an impact, and the people who oppose my progressive values are getting nervous about that.

I expect that Michael Arcuri, with his years of public experience, has about the same attitude, and he's worked through this stuff with family before. Bruce Tytler has been mayor, and seems to have some very dedicated opponents who are willing to say anything nasty about him to derail his political efforts. Les Roberts has been the focus of an immense amount of international attention for the last 18 months, and has dealt with people in the highest positions of power before - National Security Council, Congress, United Nations, etc. If you think that Les Roberts can't handle a little snarky rumor-mongering in the 24th District, you don't understand what he's already been through.

In short, these are big boys, and they can handle it.

My real concern is the impact that obsession about sex scandals and other personal aspects of candidates' lives has on the political debate.

My dream is to have a Democratic candidate chosen because of what that candidate stands for, and what that candidate is capable of doing professionally, not because of the personality of who that candidate is.

A sex scandal is, in my opinion, about as relevant as how well a politician tips his or her waiters at a restaurant. It might be briefly useful as an insight into private character, but it pales in comparison to the importance of public performance.

Yet, I'm worried that voters spend too much time worrying about titilating details like sex scandals. I do not think that is the fault of the people who report on the sex scandals. It's the voters' problem that they haven't learned to discipline their minds to distinguish between glitter and gold. It's also the problem of the political system that rewards candidates for keeping their campaigns superficial when it comes to policy details - just look at Michael Arcuri's superficial comments on health care on his web site if you want an example of that.

Consider that I have discussed, at length on this blog, issues like campaign communication strategy, standards of reporting on the race, voting records, and the war in Iraq. Yet, on one post I spend a little bit of time discussing the implications of someone's attempt to create a sex scandal, and all of a sudden, people are acting as if sex is all that I talk about.

Honestly, I'd feel the greatest joy if people had reacted with anything like the enthusiasm that they have on this one article to the article that I posted a couple days ago about the health care paper released by Les Roberts.

So you're accusing me of trying to ignite a sex scandal? Look at yourselves. I just made a mention of a badly written email, after talking about the abortion issue, and then going on to Mahatma Gandhi.

You're all the one's who are giving this sex scandal information more attention than you gave to health care, or to the Iraq War, or to the article I wrote earlier this week about how Democrats are different from Republicans.

Every day I write about a new aspect of this race, but it seems that commenters like you are only showing up and showing some intense passion when I mention something related to sex. A policy discussion, and none of you are around.

Look in the mirror and tell me why this is the issue that's got you talking, and not alternative energy, or fiscal policy. Michael Arcuri's sex life, whatever it is, is much less important than those issues.

Anonymous said...

Read the HuffingtonPost for some guidance on how to take criticism with dignity and correct mistakes maturely. You asked for comments on your scandal mongering limits but anybody who points out how shabby you've been acting gets slammed. And BTW, anonymous is what I pick because I don't want a Blogger account, but call me Kris if you need a name.

Anonymous said...

Where does the politician as victim argument come from? The assertion being made is blogger as pawn. Blogger as in the limelight and lovin it. Do you think anyone who has run for office, held office, doesn't know that he's fair game? Do you think anyone but the most infatuated of Roberts's supporters reading here doesn't know that you have been humping for Roberts since day one? I don't care what you do or what you say except that you have become the only game in town. Until somebody a bit more saavy and less obvious weighs in, everybody's reading you. So you are the one whose feet will be held to the fire.

24 Independent said...

The politician-as-victim argument comes in when someone pulls the emotional strings of asking me how I feel about helping some cretin pull Bruce Tytler's kid into an ugly scandal - when of course I've done no such thing.

Does Huffington have any advice about how to respond with dignity to somebody who accuses me of humping Les Roberts?

Listen, I write with the assumption that the people I'm writing to are not fragile flowers who are incapable of engaging in a vigorous debate. You want to vigorously disagree with my thoughts and my writing? That's fine, but if I disagree with you, then I'll offer a vigorous rebuttal.

You see, I'm not a politician, and I'm not a journalist. I'm just a guy. I may be "the only game in town" right now, but that's just because I've had the persistence to sit down and write almost every day for almost the last three months about this race.

From very early on, and until very recently, Les Roberts was the only candidate who had any kind of publicly available information about his campaign. As someone who's not a Democratic insider in this district, I don't really engage in the game of rumor that many others are playing with, so, especially when I began this blog, I couldn't really tell you much about Bruce Tytler or Michael Arcuri, except what I could find on the web or in newspapers.

Now, in the course of writing this blog, I've gotten a few additional contacts. But still, I mostly deal with publicly available information.

Les Roberts has been hands down the best candidate at making information about his candidacy available to the public, and so I have had a lot of substance to write about Les Roberts, compared to the other Democrats.

Bruce Tytler's campaign seems to be only available on evenings and weekends, and I've been playing a back and forth game with them for the last month trying to get some kind of phone call or personal meeting with Bruce Tytler. Every time I've thought I had a meeting nailed down, it's fallen through.

Last time I was in contact with the Tytler campaign's press person, he was to get back with me for a time to meet with or talk to Bruce on the phone this coming week. It's been days, now, and nothing.

The contact with the Arcuri campaign has been also much less responsive than I would have expected, though it was good to see Arcuri speak in Lansing, and I think I gave some pretty positive coverage for that speech. Steve Cox has been in touch once, but without responding to my follow-up communication.

So now I see that, although Mike Arcuri has practically no information out about his stands on important issues, and has been publicly campaigning for a little over a week, I'm supposed to believe that the Democratic primary is practically all sewn up?

That raises my hackles.

Seeing the Arcuri campaign delete questions off their discussion forum, and then delete their discussion forum altogether?

That raises my hackles even more.

The Les Roberts campaign has never given me any trouble about meeting with them. Very early in the campaign, before Arcuri had done anything, and before Tytler's campaign had even become anything more than a rumor, I'd been able to speak with the Roberts campaign manager several times, interview Les Roberts on the telephone, and then have several more interactions, with the Les Roberts campaign offering me opportunities to get more information than I had even asked for.

Where was Arcuri at the time? Holding meetings behind closed doors with Democratic insiders, and not even giving out any contact information to the public for his campaign. Look at the contact information now on the Arcuri for Congress campaign web site:

Arcuri For Congress
P.O. Box 8508
Utica, NY 13505

That's it. No email, no telephone, no web form, no campaign headquarters. What, am I supposed to send a letter through the post office, begging for a telephone call?

The Arcuri campaign is clearly not interested in reaching out for contact with ordinary, grassroots Democrats in the District like me.

So, I write about what I can see. Les Roberts gives me all kinds of positive material to write with, and the Bruce Tytler people seem to be trying their honest best, even if they can't quite keep up. But with Arcuri, all I have to write about is what they won't provide, and what they won't do.

On more than one occasion, on this blog, I've practically begged Arcuri campaign people to get in touch with me - and I know for a fact that more than one Arcuri campaign staffer reads this blog.

So, what does that give me to write? Honestly, it bugs me to get accused of "humping" Les Roberts, when in fact, I've been trying for months to get Arcuri just to pay some attention to the online world, and I just keep on getting stood up.

I come into this race with no allegiances. I have not endorsed any candidate, and I still don't have enough information to do so.

I write what I see. If the Arcuri campaign is upset with what I'm writing, they need to give me something more about the Arcuri campaign to see.

Call that transparent? Fine. I am transparent. When I make an endorsement, you'll know it. When I pick a candidate, you'll know it.

I'm not a newspaper. I'm just a regular guy with a nice wife, and two beautiful kids, and raging sense of idealism. Keep that in mind.

Anonymous said...

As a Republican, I just want to say thanks for the great job you are doing to help shred the various Democratic candidates. Your public service should be rewarded.

Anonymous said...

Boys and girls - if candidates for Congess has real skeletons in the closet, why are they running for office?

Anonymous said...

Listen Blogger (or Jon but I don't know you and don't want to presume a relationship that doesn't exist) please take a moment and consider that other peoples' comments here might have some merit. You just mentioned your "nice wife and two beautiful kids." Well I hear your wife is nice to lots of guys, if you know what I mean, and your kids...I hope you get my point. You have been giving space to people whose intent is to hurt people who are not running for office! Will other media do it? Yes. Should you, given your expressed passion for a pure and good outcome? No.
Forgive me for talking about your family, please, but you've made yourself a public figure and it sucks when kids and families are used. The Bush girls and Chelsea Clinton were off limits too. I hope that if you asked Roberts, Arcuri, and Tytler if they would agree that they do not approve of staff or supporters hitting kids and wives that the answer would be a resounding "Yes." Kris

P.S. If the sex comments end, you'll start seeing discussion on substance.

Anonymous said...

The Clintons have taught us some important lessons. If the sanctity of your marriage has been disturbed, it will become a campaign issue. If you lie, as Bill did, the public will figure it out and you will be hurt. If you tell the truth and bear through it, as Hillary did, it will not hurt you.

Anonymous said...

First of all Jon...You are doing the public a great service, because the run of the mill, status quo local media will not report these skeletons in Arcuri's closet. They already have him as the annointed candidate of the Democratic party, and that should alarm us the most.

As for you "Kris", you seem very threatened, and well aware of what this abortion issue is really about. If you want to continue to deny and/or deflect these claims, proceed caustiously. Because you just may induce me to provide the ABSOLUTE concrete evidence of these claims, whether posted here by Jon, or if need be, on a blog created by myself. You will be better served just staying moot on the issue and hope that it blows over. But that is your call, you are the "professional".

Anonymous said...

8:21 a.m Kris here. Are you threatening to spread manure about Mike Arcuri because you don't like me complaining about families and children being slimed? What species of scum sucking invertebrate are you? Your own blog? Bring it on.

Anonymous said...

"Kris"...You asked for it, and whoever you are, Arcuri has you to thank for it. I will cut my nose off to spite my face anytime. NOW, you have challenged me, and I must respond or else I would be a coward. You obviously didn't take my advice of staying moot, therefore, I will post a link when I finish up the site.

Anonymous said...

10:33 am - Kris is probably asking you to "bring it on" because she is a Tytler supporter who doesn't mind a little mud splattered on Arcuri.

Anonymous said...

You may be right, and after cooling down a bit, I've come to realize...I will not allow someone else to control my emotions and therefore will not be starting any stupid site, only to drag a man I don't know's name through the mud. I will stick to the relevant material which is in the first post, which started off..."You want real scandel"...

Let me guess what "Kris'" reply will be..."coward", "you never had any information", "you're all talk"...Well my response is you don't know me too well.

Anonymous said...

4:22, I "ABSOLUTELY" know you better than you think. Where's your tell all blog? You think you know me? You better have proof or see you in court!!

Anonymous said...

Hey Mike, is that you? How nice of you to join us. You will see me in court? That would be a pleasure, because then you would make me prove allegations that otherwise would never be admissable in court. Has it ever occurred to you that I am nothing more than a pawn in a bigger sceem, one which I am willing to play inorder to assure that you get your "just deserts" for your treatment of myself. Remember, it was you that spent all those resources and money to convict me, and in the end, it was I that cashed the check.

However, the claim that you will see me in "court", is just one more example of your incompetance. You are a public figure and open to any public discussion. You better start printing out all of the posts, because I NEVER once stated anything about any "sex scandel", I am talking cold hard facts, about false prosecutions. However, if you feel you have the judges wrapped up enough to allow a complaint to get through summary judement, based on you thinking I have some other information, well then you will force me to prove something I have no interest in proving and it will have to be allowed into evidence.

Thanks again for visiting Mike, and you "ABSOLUTELY" know who I am, so it shouldn't be hard to find me.

Anonymous said...

8:23 am - You don't really think Mike was up at 11:59 pm posting on this website do you? This is still the supporter of another candidate tying to goad you.

Anonymous said...

What a great blog. You recognize a slime attack and bull when you see it. Well done. You recognize a personal issue when you see it. I can guarantee you I am not Michael Arcuri any more than the other poster is Michael Arcuri, far from it. This kind of thing has no place against any of the candidates. It's very Republican isn't it? What's next, Push Polls? I applaud you and would vote for you if you ever ran for anything in this district and I don't even know who you are! We could use some leaders with radar in their heads. Way to go.

Anonymous said...

8:23 I know who you are.

Anonymous said...

Hey Mr. "I know who you are", I am so scared. I think I've proven already that you, your office, and your cronies don't intimidate me. If you are so sure of who I am, come on say it. I have no problem confirming my identity, if you were to actually say it. Also, I will reiterate, its not hard to find me, so come try to set me up again, but this time, don't be a pansy and send one of your incompetent ADA's to try the case, I want you personally.

Now, all BS aside...Shouldn't Arcuri be worrying about one of the biggest investigations Oneida County has seen in decades (the herendious murder of a local hero, Officer Joe Corr) and not playing political games, like running for Congress?

Anonymous said...

All BS aside again the only way Koziol could beat Arcuri is if Arcuri didn't run. The only way Kozioll could be anybody is if they didnt run.

Anonymous said...

3:32...Thanks for the insight, we will wait and see.

Anonymous said...

So why are you Arcuri and Koziol supporters so Oneida County centric? The rest of us aren't voting for a Congressman for Oneida County. Lose the attitude or lose the race.

Anonymous said...

In Oneida county its the way it is like it or not. I will vote democrat no matter what but most of oneida county will vote for their own and that would be meier if a county resident loses the democrat primary. Its funny since meier hasnt exactly burned the world for the county,the place fell apart. Its just the way it is.democrats vote for republicans in Oneida County if its one of their own, they are duped and very into their own. What can I tell you? Theres no way koziel will beat arcuri here no matter what he does hes not that popular, not even close except in his own nitch. you see the nasty stuff here thats what to expect and you know people don't like that stuff. He will just help arcuri if he gets personal like this.