“I am going to post this on the Internet, secretly!” should be up there with, “Iceberg, schmiceberg!” and “I am absolutely 100 percent confident in the integrity of this zeppelin,” in the annals of Famous Last Phrases.
Nothing that happens on the Internet is secret.
This week’s teapot-sized tempest revolved around a fake account created for Scott Brown opponent Alan Khazei, allegedly by Mitt Romney and Scott Brown aide Eric Fehrnstrom. So far, no conclusive evidence has tied the two, but signs of shenanigans are mounting. And it’s worth spending a great deal of time on this! After all, the fake account, @CrazyKhazei, has been busily tweeting for months now, attracting an overwhelming crowd of — 63 followers.
It hardly seems worth the powder to blow it up.
We’re all reconciled to the fact that our president at one point tried cocaine. Well, the Internet is functionally cocaine. In fact, if I had cocaine available at the office instead of the Internet, I would probably accomplish a lot more, and my desk would be cleaner and better organized.
Oscar Wilde likened secret lives to feasting with panthers. Feasting with panthers online is something of a national hobby. “Look, Internet, I’m somebody else!” we say, all the time. “This morning, I was Paul Krugman, and for several exciting minutes I convinced a few blogs that he believed a bigger earthquake would have had a stimulative effect on the economy! That was fun! Tomorrow I had planned to be Maureen Dowd and just post whimsical thoughts that struck me in the shower as though they formed a coherent column, but I doubt anyone would notice!”
But somehow the inalienable right to say stupid things on the Internet has yet to be graven on the tablets of the law. And so we get scandals like this.
After Fehrnstrom sent an account that seemed intended for the CrazyKhazei account from his regular account, the digging commenced. It turns out that CrazyKhazei.com is already registered to Rob Willington of the Massachusetts Republican Party.
My inclination is to say, “So what?”
It would be one thing if this were the Wildly Efficient Attack Campaign that the Brown opponents are already claiming it was. That would be at least a noble way to perish. But it was anything but. Sixty-three followers? That is fewer than I have, and I once live-tweeted the Sound of Music! This is a sad little molehill for anyone to die on. It is a mangled heap of moth-eaten quips and incompetent jabs. “That earthquake you just felt was Cindy Creem endorsing my campaign for US Senate #mapoli#masen.” Boo!
But the tempest seems to be overflowing the teacup. Whoever turns out to be responsible will probably be reprimanded. He may be fired.
At worst, this is a case of private hobbies overlapping malignantly with a public role. “My job is supporting Scott Brown, and oddly enough, my hobby is mocking his opponent!” You can see it easily. It’s juvenile and silly, but it’s hardly more malign than knitting. And it did about as much damage. If he spent his spare time writing angry puppet shows about Khazei and performing them in the public square, we might frown and urge our children to limit time spent around him, but it wouldn’t be decried as a Wildly Efficient And Devious Scheme. Nor should this be.
Scandalous, backstabbing tactics? I almost feel bad for the guy. So much dedication, so little result, and when he’s identified, he’ll be publicly shamed. Should we really be so indignant? At least he was consistent.
Besides, show me someone who says there is nothing incriminating in his browser history, and I will show you someone who is lying.