Dirty tricks are a natural part of politics. In fact, dirty tricks might be the most interesting part of politics. Without the backstabbing, lying, and character assassination, it would be nothing but subcommittee assignments and farm-subsidy debates.
Nobody recognizes the fundamental importance of dirty tricks more than campaign operatives. Hell, they live for that stuff. So crying foul when something bad happens to your guy - as opposed to something bad that you personally inflicted on the other guy - just reeks of bad form.
Rudy Giuliani's presidential campaign team (about six years in the making now, let's be honest) was guilty of this last week, when a 140-page internal campaign document was leaked to the press and was soon splashed on New York City tabloid covers.
Staffers responded by whining that a (presumably very politically inclined) airport baggage handler had pilfered the document during a campaign trip, photocopied it, and then returned it unharmed.
What? Even if true, this Tarmac Thief Theory doesn't qualify the campaign for any sympathy. If they had argued that Hillary Clinton had somehow scored a moonlighting job as an airport employee to pull off the heist, then maybe. But the notion of an amateur Watergate burglar working as a professional luggage-tosser is just a bit too bizarre to strike a chord with the public.
Giuliani's best response would have been to stick his chin out and boldly mutter, "Yeah, I'm divorced and lacking donors. So what, jerks? Don't make me call Kerik on you."
PR Play Rating:
3. On the right track