On Wrestling With Pigs

Since launching the Hayride in its current form almost a year ago, I’ve had a personal policy of trying hard to stay away from squabbling with the purveyors of other political sites, both here in Louisiana and elsewhere. I’ve done what I could to sidestep the fights that sometimes pop up within the blogosphere. And I’m very happy with the results of that decision so far.

So this piece is without question not one I’m happy about writing. I’d strongly prefer not to write it. But seeing as I’m now being made the subject of political rhetoric by the Louisiana Democrat Party today, and seeing as though I now have reporters calling me for comment based on the e-mail blasts that party’s media shill Kevin Franck is firing off with this site as his subject, I’m not sure it’s a good idea to keep quiet.

Earlier this week, we ran a video here on the Hayride which emanated from a speaking engagement Charlie Melancon had in front of a sparse group of hard-core Democrats in Abita Springs on Saturday. The clip we ran had Melancon admitting that incumbent Republican David Vitter, who he’s running to unseat as a U.S. Senator, had taken a 17-point lead on him in the polls and “what he was saying was true. He busted us.”

We never alleged that the 12-second clip on our site was all Melancon said at that speaking engagement. We weren’t aware what else he might have said. Frankly, those statements were newsworthy all by themselves. It takes an absolute fool to think that Melancon, speaking in front of a bunch of partisan supporters, would have just closed his speech after saying of his opponent, “He busted us.”

Of course, Melancon didn’t sit down after uttering that self-immolating line. In fact, as soon as he uttered it his wife chastised him, and he changed his course. The moment of what we’d call candor passed, and he was back into campaign mode…

“…well, what he was saying wasn’t true, but he busted us with his ad. But in less than two weeks of advertising, we got up and we’re back to seven points down from David Vitter. He’s never been over 50 points in the polls. Never. Then when you … when you look at the undecideds and do the crosstabs, the undecideds as they found were mostly Democrats, 80 percent plus. They’re gonna vote for us but we gotta get em to the polls. So where we are right now in the polls once you make the adjustments for the crosstabs is two points down and gaining. He has a soft base of support, leaning support. Any woman that knows anything about David Vitter’s record on women, God help her if she votes for him.”

Of course, what Melancon was talking about is a survey we discussed here Friday – a push-poll done by Anzalone Liszt, the left-wing hack pollster who led Democrats off a cliff on health care last year and whose subcontractor had to pay a fine earlier this year in New Hampshire for illegal push-polling in a Senate race. The Anzalone numbers Melancon’s campaign has trotted out in an attempt to make the public believe the race is close haven’t been corroborated by any other polling in this race.

At the time we published the “He busted us” clip, we hadn’t seen the rest of what Melancon said. We’d publish it again today, because the rest of the segment hardly discredits the first part of the statement. Melancon admits Vitter had put him in dire straits. That he attempts to rebuild his campaign’s narrative by use of a dubious push-poll isn’t really newsworthy; what candidate two weeks from Election Day isn’t going to offer his supporters some reason to hope?

Again, none of the polling in the race outside of that done by Anzalone confirms what Melancon is saying. It’s a flat-out lie that Vitter has never been above 50; Anzalone hasn’t shown Vitter above 50, but lots of other pollsters – some of them Democrats – have. From RealClearPolitics

Most of the rest of Melancon’s claims as he attempts to buck up the faithful are spurious as well.

Let’s remember that the Anzalone poll Melancon says shows him so close to Vitter still gives the incumbent a 49-42 advantage. That 49 percent number is the highest in any of Anzalone’s previous push-polls on that race. That’s a significant fact in analyzing Melancon’s claims.

For example, Melancon might think he can get 80 percent of the undecideds, as 80 percent of them are Democrats according to the Anzalone poll, but his problem is that as many as a third or more of the Democrats polled by the other surveys done in this race are supporting Vitter. And Melancon needs better than 80 percent of the undecideds to have a chance. The RCP average has Vitter above 52 percent, but in the last non-Anzalone poll which had Vitter below 50 – which was the WWL/Clarus survey from back in August that was conducted by Mary Landrieu’s former campaign manager Ron Faucheux – Vitter led 48-36. Take a 48-36 number, throw out the nine other minor candidates in the race (who will in all likelihood combine to poll five percent or so on Election Day) and Vitter only needs 2 of the 16 percent undecided to get to 50.

And of course, if Anzalone is correct and it’s a 49-42 race, and Melancon is able to get 80 percent of the undecideds, Vitter still wins 51-49 or so. Again, that’s without the minor candidates pulling their five percent or so (in which case Melancon’s ceiling is 47 percent and he can’t win).

Eighty percent of the undecideds won’t cut it even under the best of circumstances. So that’s gobbledygook from Melancon as well.

I assume Melancon gets to only being two percent down by applying 80 percent of the undecided to his vote total. I see no other way he could craft such a rosy scenario. And since his campaign hasn’t released the detailed numbers of the Anzalone poll (at least not that we’ve seen), we don’t know whether the minor candidates in the race were included.

Nobody in his camp seriously believes he’s only two points behind. Nobody. And while Vitter’s support might be soft, Melancon is a guy one survey found has a 19 percent approval rating in the congressional district he represents.

As for his statement that “God help her” if a woman votes for Vitter, let’s leave aside how demeaning it is for Melancon to channel Harry Reid’s Hispanic assumptions and instead remember that female voters have been net Vitter supporters as often as not among the polls in this race. Women in Louisiana aren’t interested in scandal-mongering; they’re interested in actual issues which affect them like jobs, economy and deficits. That shows up in poll after poll after poll. Whether it shows up in the Anzalone survey or not, we can’t say. Melancon wouldn’t back up his assertion with numbers and the “crosstabs” he talks about aren’t available for public view that we were able to find.

In other words, what wasn’t on the “He busted us” clip simply wasn’t very interesting. “He busted us” was interesting.

I wish I’d had the entire clip to post on Monday. I posted what we had. But I don’t think the takeaway from that clip would have been any different, and I would have been very happy to conduct on Monday the analysis I’ve just offered above. If you want to see a longer clip of Melancon’s speech, a clip I would have loved to post here Monday, knock yourself out…

If anything, it’s a little embarrassing the way Peachy Melancon has to set her husband straight; he comes off as doddering.

Regardless, yesterday I found myself accosted on Facebook by a left-wing New Orleans blogger, Stephen Sabludowsky of BayouBuzz.com, who said he wanted to “talk to me” about Monday’s article. “I’m here,” I said, and that was it. No further communication. I found that unusual, since Sabludowsky has been bothering me for two months about scoring my permission to reprint content from this site on his. Anyway, this afternoon Sabludowsky posted on his site the following, in relevant part…

Is Charlie Melancon “busted”?

If you were to believe a recent blog post from the pro-Republican activist Louisiana political site called TheHayride, as well as a video and related emails from the David Vitter campaign, you could very easily conclude that Melancon’s bid for Vitter’s US Senate seat would not only be “busted but would be “toast”.

But, if you watch the entire video segment of Melancon’s Saturday Abita Springs speech instead of the  short snippet posted on the TheHayride site that appears to completely distort what Melancon really said during that speech, you could easily believe the very opposite of what TheHayride and the Vitter campaign are trying to convey.  In fact, you just might think that the Melancon campaign has big hopes while TheHayride and Team Vitter are claiming Melancon is on the ropes.

TheHayride blog site is published Scott McKay who appears to be in the business of promoting Republicans and denouncing Democrats at all opportunities, not matter the issue. 

On Saturday, I actually attended and filmed the Tea Party rally in Covington featuring Senator Vitter and the Democrat Abita Springs event featuring Melancon.  I filmed most of Vitter’s speech and all of Melancon’s.

(the full video clip of Melancon’s statements, and a transcript conforming to the material above, follows)

The obvious question is–why did TheHayride video not include the longer and the complete quote?  
Why did TheHayride not use Melancon’s more optimistic statement  “So where we are right now in the polls once you make the adjustments for the crosstabs is two points down and gaining”?

Who shot the video?  The Vitter campaign?  The Hayride?  Someone else?

How did TheHayride obtain the video?  

How did the Vitter campaign obtain the video?

Did TheHayride intentionally not include the entire clip related to the poll issue to make Melancon appear that “Vitter busted Melancon” and that the Democrat was “17 points behind” the Republican incumbent?   

Did someone engage in selective editing and cutting of a video to create a message in sharp contradiction as to what Melancon actually said?

What was Vitter’s campaign role in this video, blog, and email press release package?  How much of the actual video did they see before promoting the truncated version that appeared on TheHayride which segment is certainly very compatible with the Vitter’s campaign story line over the past few days. 

After  Melancon released the survey by a Democratic pollster claiming a seven point difference and not a 17- point gap, the Vitter campaign and others have been on full assualt [sic] attacking the Melancon poll as being bogus.  Out of fairness, the only polls that have put Melancon into single digits away from the frontrunner ever since the Congressman entered the race have been commissioned by Democrats and performed by Democratic-leaning pollsters. 

Perhaps Vitter and his supporters are correct.  Maybe his lead is substantial and that Melancon’s poll results are overly skewed in favor of the Democrat.  One day soon we will discover if Melancon’s efforts to unseat Senator Vitter is indeed toast.  At the longest, we should know the answer on November 2.

But for now, the focus should be on why a video, a blog and some campaign emails being pushed to the public appears to be making hay out of the truth and might be taking the public for a ride.

The putrid third-grade attempts at clever prose aside, the characterization Sablodowsky, who is without question a liberal and has been in the decade or more since he has been attempting to get his struggling site off the ground as a viable source for political news, is attempting to make of me is as a Republican shill. Anyone who reads this site with any degree of intelligence knows that’s far from the truth.

This site is an unabashedly conservative outlet, and as such we’re quite friendly to politicians and news figures who share our philosophy. But conservative and Republican are, as we all know, not synonymous. We’re very often critical of Republicans, including Louisiana Republicans. Sabludowsky does, as it happens, stumble upon a sliver of truth; it’s a rare Democrat who escapes our ire because a Democrat who isn’t interested in vacuuming away our money and freedom is a rare bird indeed.

Do we have a friendly relationship with Vitter’s camp? Sure. We’re conservative, so are they. And they do a very, very good job of reaching out to folks who share their philosophy – as they should.

After all, the reverse is certainly true. Because no sooner did Sabludowsky put out his attack than Kevin Franck, press flack for the state Democrat Party, blasted an excerpt of it to everyone on his list. We’re talking minutes here. That seemed awfully cozy to me. Usually for something to go out that quickly it’s as a result of a “hey, look what I just wrote” e-mail. Since I have neither the ability nor the desire to examine Sabludowsky’s e-mail communications I can’t say for sure that’s what happened; the reader is welcome to draw whatever conclusions he likes.

I’ve suffered through enough of Sabludowsky’s material to know where his allegiances lie, despite his protestations of “objectivity.” He’s a lefty who wasted his readers’ time on Stormy Daniels for the best part of two years prior to her departure from the scene. So it’s not hard for me to draw my own conclusions and surmise that for all the characterizations of me as a Republican “activist” shill, Sabludowsky is just as friendly with the other side. The difference is, I don’t pretend to be anything but a conservative; he feebly attempts to convince his readership that he sits in the middle.

My response to this was to contact Sabludowsky on Facebook and offer him a chance to put his money where his mouth is. I offered him a wager – my title to this site against his title to the one he operates – on the outcome of the Vitter-Melancon race.

Naturally, his response was to refuse the bet. I expected little else. Instead, he repeated the attempts at interrogation he published on his site, as though I’m under some obligation to divulge the source of the “He busted us” clip to him. I noted that since he’d already written his article, essentially using material from our site to pump up traffic on his own (which has been his M.O. for the last two months, as I’ve said), there wouldn’t be any point in my humoring him.

This was the response I received:

go back into your hole like a crab. It would be easier to make up facts there anyway. Nothing like telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. But, if your politics prefer another route, so be it. Your call. See you later.

Like I said, I have little interest in engaging in controversy with other bloggers. And I can certainly understand Sabludowsky’s desperation for relevance; if after more than a decade attempting to get this site off the ground I wasn’t any further along than he is with Bayoubuzz I’d have long since found something else to do. But given that he’s apparently collaborating with the Louisiana Democrat Party in ascribing sinister motives to what we do here, I thought our readers would like to be made aware of the situation.

Hopefully, this is the end of the matter. The old George Bernard Shaw quote applies: “I learned long ago, never to wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it.”

Shaw might not be completely correct, but there are more consequential pigs with whom to wrestle. We’re going to move on to those.

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