Nutroots hero makes Dems look bad with sleazy John McCain question; questionable Secret Service reaction
Yesterday former Joe Biden campaign worker and Barack Obama supporter Marty Parrish, at a townhall meeting in Iowa, asked John McCain about a sleazy charge in a recent book that he called his wife a "c--t". The charge appears in a book by Cliff Schecter, associated with Brave New Films, the Huffington Post, and FireDogLake, and the only proof provided is that three anonymous reporters supposedly told Schechter about it. Note that Parrish pretended to be associated with the HuffPost, but doesn't appear to be a contributor there. Whether he was just lying or they had a prior arrangement of some kind isn't known.
However, the most questionable part of this incident is the reaction of the Secret Service. From this:
As Parrish expected, a young male staffer began striding toward him, followed by a Des Moines police officer. They escorted Parrish out of the room and into the hallway, where a Secret Service agent questioned him for about 30 minutes, wanting assurance that Parrish had no intention of physically harming the Republican presidential nominee in the next room... "The Secret Service agent made me promise not to show up at any McCain campaign events in the future," said Parrish. "I told him that wouldn't be a problem - I'd forgotten how boring Republican events are," he added. "McCain had about 300 really old people today. When Obama campaigns here in the fall, there'll probably be 15,000 people of all ages and backgrounds, cheering him on."
By now you've probably figured out that Parrish is pure sleaze. However, the bigger issue is why the Secret Service would react in this way to a question that was non-threatening and appears to have been asked in a non-threatening manner. It was certainly distruptive, but only so in a verbal fashion. We only have Parrish's word that he was warned off future McCain events, and I don't find him overly credible. In any case, if he had said "the c-word" the Secret Service reaction would be even more questionable. Note also that he was passing out flyers with the charge before the event and had, again according to him, recruited some MoveOn members to help him with distribution; a copy of the flyer is at the last link.
If the nutroots/netroots were smart, they'd pursue the Secret Service angle even as they distanced themselves from the question. They, of course, are not doing that. He gets a hero's welcome from the HuffPost at the last link. Several of the comments on the video of the incident (link) think this was a valuable question and think because McCain didn't dignify it with an answer that means it's true. Schechter himself weighs in at FDL (firedoglake.com/2008/05/01/mccain-in-the-membrane).
To a certain extent this will plant a negative seed in peoples' minds about McCain. To a probably greater extent it will help further discredit the netroots/nutroots and the Democrats. Rather than asking legitimate questions about McCain's policies, all they can come up with is sleaze. It may also cause those organizing these events to be more vigilant and, for instance, screen questions or questioners beforehand and thus have an impact on those with legitimate questions about policy.
UPDATE: Almost three hours after I posted this, Cliff Schechter came back with "McCain Has Questioner Tossed From Event By Secret Service" (firedoglake.com/2008/05/02/mccain-has-questioner-tossed-from-event-by-secret-service) stressing the Secret Service aspects rather than the c**t aspects. Odd! BTW, Parrish was "speaking truth to power".
UPDATE 2: Most of this post is more heat than light, but it does have a copy of the press sign-in sheet. Parrish signed in first and the author of the HuffPost link above signed in fourth, implying that they didn't arrive there at the same time but at the very least Keith Dinsmore from the HuffPost knew that someone else from his organization was there and indicating some possible form of collusion. And, John Gibson interviews Parrish here, going into the George Soros links and basically eating him alive.