Elizabeth Warren and the Cab Driver
American politics have always been rough and tumble. Civility is not a requirement. Technology has given politicians more scope in their invasive campaigning techniques. The candidate tracker is such a feature. Today's campaigns assign a tracker to follow the opponent from event to event with an audio/video recording device to record their every move. They hope to capture embarrassing moments, or in some cases, perhaps create such moments. Paparazzi-like confrontations are a risk of the trade.
Both Massachusetts candidates for the Senate, incumbent Scott Brown (R) and challenger Elizabeth Warren (D), use trackers. On 26 August a tracker from Senator Brown's campaign was tracking Ms. Warren at an event in Oak Bluffs, Martha's Vineyard. After the event, Ms. Brown and her companions entered their vehicle, a large SUV owned by Martha's Vineyard Taxi, Morgan Reitzas (The Boss). Mr. Reitzas was the vehicle driver.
Mr. Reitzas then confronted the tracker as shown in the linked video.
The video speaks for itself. This essay concerns the reactions of the candidates more than the incident itself. See the Boston.com article "GOP tracker pushed while filming Elizabeth Warren; campaign blames cabdriver" by Noah Bierman.
Nate Little, executive director of the Massachusetts Republican Party, issued the obligatory statement of outrage in which he erroneously called the driver a member of the Warren campaign. Mr. Little also stated that Ms. Warren witnessed the assault. There is no direct evidence to support this claim.
Julie Edwards of the Warren campaign is quoted in the Boston.com article as saying:
The person featured in the video was not a member of the Elizabeth Warren for Massachusetts staff. He is a cab driver. Elizabeth did not see what happened. The photographer has a right to film in public locations, and the campaign had allowed him to film the entirety of Elizabeth's event. The confrontation was wrong.
Ms. Edwards has captured the voice of Ms. Warren as befits a good staff person. Consider the subtext behind "He is a cab driver." The impression given is that the cab driver, as would be expected of a little person who was not a Harvard professor, was unknown to Ms. Warren.
Poor Ms. Warren, hoisted on the petard of verifiability again. See the picture of Mr. Reitzas with his left arm around Ms. Warren's waist and his right arm around the waist of her husband, Bruce Mann. It was taken near the Gay Head Cliffs with the distinctive red-brick Gay Head Lighthouse in the background. Not necessarily evidence of a deep and lasting friendship, but at least that of a previous acquaintanceship. Mr. Reitzas' Facebook page is currently unavailable.
To the best of my knowledge, there has been no further communications from the Warren campaign on this matter, nothing on the original incident, no explanation of the Gay Head picture, and no position on the Town of Oak Bluffs possibly stripping Mr. Reitzas of his license to drive a cab.
On the other hand, Senator Brown, on hearing of the possibility of Mr. Reitzas losing his license, sent a letter to the Oak Bluffs Board of Selectmen urging them not to punish Mr. Reitzas as he is a family man dependent on his job for his livelihood.
The mean Republican shows empathy and the compassionate Democrat is silent.
Mike Johnson is a concerned citizen, a small government conservative, and a live-free-or-die resident of New Hampshire. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org