The New York Times reports that "trackers" are putting online hours of raw video of Republican candidates. The video will be constantly updated and available here for activists and wannabe political attack dogs to paw through, hoping for a George Allen-type macaca moment. It already has about 80 videos of Giuliani, Romney, McCain and Thompson, including press availabilities, photo ops, coffee-shop visits, and formal speeches.
The Times acknowledges a downside to the tracker trend: "Trackers are part of the reason most candidates are so guarded when they appear in public. You never know who might be watching and what they will do with their video."
The political price we pay in having wooden, scripted candidates is nothing compared to the cultural and spiritual price of this "gotcha" dynamic, played out in all spheres of life. Washington and Lee professor Edward Wasserman wrote in the Miami Herald about journalists who get fired for relatively minor ethics violations. "What's with the vindictiveness, the self-righteousness, the callousness with which media bosses respond to even marginal instances of misconduct?" he asks. He cites a passage from Aristotle about hubris. "We usually understand hubris as overweening pride. But to Aristotle it consisted of inflicting shame or degradation, because 'men think that by ill-treating others they make their own superiority the greater.'"
Editors who are outraged about "plagiarism" may be blasé about bias shown to evangelicals or pro-lifers. And for those not convinced by Aristotle, the Bible says, "Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you." That doesn't mean that we can't judge actions -- but we judge them from the position of fallen people, prone to misspeak.
Those looking for gotcha moments might want to become familiar with another Biblical expression: "He who digs a pit will fall into it."