Monday, June 8, 2009

A Brief Personal Comment On The Attack Launched At Creigh Tonight

When I first saw the letter from Omar Samaha and Colin Goddard, first on NLS and later on Blue Virginia, I had mixed feelings. On the one hand, the Virginia Tech tragedy touched both of them in ways that I simply cannot understand, and I cannot and will not sit in judgment of how they, or anyone touched by this or other tragedy, choose to express their profound anger and grief.

On the other, I was bothered by the sense that, even as Lowell and Ben protested they were simply reporting news, they were also exploiting, for the political gain of their chosen candidate, Terry McAuliffe, the anger and grief of these young men. It does not matter that their letter did not say, “Vote for Terry,” because all concerned understood that, given the current state of the race, a vote not cast for Creigh would accrue to the benefit of Terry McAuliffe.

So, even as controversy over the letter the swirled on the blogs and on Twitter, I stayed out of it, unsure of my own sense of the situation. I was struck by how Hokies, in particular, were most upset by the exploitive nature of the political attack launched by NLS and Blue Virginia using this letter.

But new revelations force me to comment.

Challenged on his blog that he was working in concert with the McAuliffe campaign, Lowell wrote:

This didn't come from a "campaign," it came from Omar Samaha and Colin Goddard.


To my knowledge, swear on a stack of bibles and all that, this was sent out independently by Omar Samaha and Colin Goddard, picked up by the Virginian-Pilot, then blogs and NBC12.

But, it turns out that Samaha and Goddard, while sincere in the thoughts expressed in their letter, did receive help from the McAuliffe campaign.

Ryan Nobles at Decision Virginia reports:
However, when I asked Goddard directly about the involvement of either campaign, he confirmed that he had received assistance from Terry McAuliffe’s campaign. Specifically he said the campaign provided he and Samaha with a press e-mail list to distribute their statement. He said the e-mail was supposed to go out Sunday, but an error was made in the sending process delaying it until today.

What a sad way for Terry McAuliffe to end this campaign.

Lowell is a friend of mine, and so I’ll take him at his word that he knew nothing of the McAuliffe campaign’s involvement in this when he swore on a stack of Bibles, but I can only assume that his earlier statements, in the parlance of Watergate, are “no longer operative.”

Beyond that, I won’t compound the sadness of the events that have transpired tonight, and will simply close with Creigh’s comment on this tragic episode:

“My heart has gone out to all of the victims and the families of the Virginia Tech tragedy. There are certain events that happen in our lifetime that are above politics.”


  1. Alan, thank you for the most reasonable and measured response I have seen. Truth be told, I was so angry last night that I couldn't begin to respond to this.

    Oh, I wrote a lot, typed comments furiously, deleted them all before pushing the Post Comment button. I even started to do a post, but it also was far too angry. I am thankful now that I refrained from posting anything. You said it all far better than I could have.

    Unfortunately, the timing of what otherwise was an articulate letter undercut its effectiveness. Of course, it looked like an eleventh hour exploitation of a deep tragedy, even if that was never its intention.

    I noticed, as you did, that nobody was more disturbed by it than other Hokies.

    One of the reasons I held my fire was that I didn't know for sure that McAuliffe's campaign was in any way behind it. But seeing, now, his involvement does not surprise me. I believe the blowback will hurt his credibility further. It gives truth to the suspicion that he is not trustworthy - what happened to the much vaunted "positive campaign" that would not speak ill of any of the other candidates?

    This simply makes him look slick and untrustworthy.

    I am glad that Lowell has pulled back his post reprinting the letter. He has a conscience and the savvy to realize that this was not a note to end a campaign on. Ben, not so much.

  2. Thank you for posting this Aznew. I was one of those angered Hokies. When President Bush used the tragedy to assuage 2nd Amendment single-issue voters, I was incensed. And, this, while I respect the voice of the families of the victims of this terrible tragedy, the way it was reported, by whom it was reported (by virtue of their endorsements of other candidates), it reaked of political opportunism, a final un-answerable jab against Deeds. This tragedy should never be used in such a fashion. And for the McAuliffe campaign to help in endeavor, while giving voice to the pain of victim's families, is most definitely political exploitation, especially given their previous attacks, over the last few days, against Deeds on gun rights. I'm really saddened that this campaign used their voices for political gain. It saddens and angers me. That tragedy affected us all, but as a Hokie, I will never forget that day, my genuine weeping as the news unfolded.

    Admittedly, if this issue had come up days ago, and not the night before Election day, I think the issue would have played out differently ... perhaps.

    Sorry I typed this fast with a terrible head and chest cold. I hope it makes sense.