Digging dirt, digitally
How to ensure that dumb things politicians say get awide audience
One of the houses the Clintons bought when theywere “dead broke”WHEN Bruce Braley, a little-known Iowa Democrat, dismissed Senator CharlesGrassley as “a farmer from Iowa who never went to law school” (a description that fits a lot ofIowa voters), he may not have expected his remarks to be posted online. He should have.America Rising, a firm that conducts “opposition research” on behalf of Republicans, wasdelighted to disseminate his gaffe, since Mr Braley is running in Iowa for an open US Senateseat.
The recording, made as Mr Braley was soliciting donations from trial lawyers, has hobbled hiscampaign.Opposition research is as old as politics itself—Cicero's orations against Catiline, adodgy candidate for the Roman consulship in 63BC, were notably well-informed. But someparties are better than others at “oppo”, as it is now called. Democrats outdid Republicans in2012 thanks partly to the professionalism of American Bridge 21st Century (“Bridge”), whichwas set up in 2010 and is backed by George Soros, a financier, and others. Bridge prepareddossiers on prominent Republicans and sent staffers to film Republican candidates' everymove, waiting to pounce on ill-chosen words.
It worked. Bridge circulated a video of Todd Akin, a Missouri Republican running for the Senate,using the phrase “legitimate rape”. Mr Akin later said he meant “forcible”, not “legitimate”, butthe gaffe probably cost him the election.
O tempora, o mores
For the presidential campaign, Bridge helped to drive a national conversation aboutRepublican nominee Mitt Romney's past in private equity, allowing Barack Obama to benefitfrom bare-knuckle capitalist-bashing without having to roll up his own sleeves. Bridge is nowgearing up for this year's congressional races; it reports raising and spending over 2.6m in thefirst three months of 2014.
After Mr Romney lost, Republican grandees were determined to build a national rival to Bridge.Matt Rhoades, a former Romney campaign manager, joined Tim Miller and Joe Pounder, formerRepublican National Committee officials, to lead the way. They took 100,000 from the remnantsof a pro-Romney campaign fund and more cash from big donors, and set about hiringresearchers and “trackers”.
自从罗姆尼失利后，共和党政要便一心想要为美国之桥树立劲敌，在这一点上，罗姆尼阵营前领导者马特罗迪斯和共和党国家委员会成员蒂姆 米勒，琼 鲍德携手开创了先河，他们从支持罗姆尼的资金余额中拿出10万美元，又向捐助者大量集资，正着手雇佣研究和记录人员。
America Rising hopes that its investigations and ever-expanding store of video footage willhelp Republicans, or at least force Democrats to watch what they say. “Back in the old days,Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu a Democrat could go down to Louisiana and say one thingabout her position on energy, and then go talk to some liberal donors and say another thing,”says Mr Miller.More or less every word a candidate says now lives online somewhere. So groupslike Rising and Bridge can build enormous, searchable databases of their opponents'statements and systematically search for contradictions.
When they find one, they can alert reporters, or sympathetic activists who can then createads or web campaigns exploiting the discovery. Both Rising and Bridge are constantly in touchwith these other groups, coordinating their attacks. The most valuable employee is no longera loyalist willing to trail a candidate for months, but a skilled digital researcher.The two oppogroups are already building cases against possible presidential candidates for 2016.
Bridge has been digging for dirt on New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, some of it relating to atraffic jam on a bridge that his aides are alleged to have caused to punish a mayor who crossedhim. They are also scouring documents related to an investigation of Wisconsin Governor ScottWalker's campaign finances.And of course Bridge and Rising are at war over Hillary Clinton. TheRepublicans have a dedicated anti-Hillary team, are building a video archive of all herappearances, have published an e-Book to pick apart her recent memoir and are postingshareable barbs, such as pictures of two rather grand houses the Clintons bought around thetime when Mrs Clinton said they were “dead broke”. Mrs Clinton's defenders at Bridge havecreated an organisation called “Correct the Record” to rebut Republican attacks on the formersecretary of state.
Over the past decade oppo has turned from an art into a science, with fewer camera-wieldingcollege students hiding behind trees and more staff staring at screens all day, monitoringlivestreamed interviews and campaign events. Both sides dream of upending an opponentwith an Akinesque “gotcha”, but the daily reality is more mundane. On Rising's website, theself-explanatory headline above one video is “Rep. Joe Garcia (D-FL) Picks His Ear And Eats It”.
1.expect to 期许
例句:You cannot expect to like all the people you willwork with.
2.on behalf of 为了…的利益; 代表
例句:Secret Service officer Robin Thompson spokeon behalf of his colleagues.
3.run for 竞选
例句:The vote was seen as a test run for elections to come.
4.allow to 允许
例句:Add a little of the warmed milk and allow to froth a little.