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Dustup

If you haven’t noticed, a new an essentially anonymous blog called Maryland Politics Blog has been peddling a story about Queen Anne’s County Central Committee Member Andrew Langer and his involvement in Pelurapalooza. The new blog, however, has refused to reprint Langer’s response to his alleged involvement in this story. So Andrew asked me to post the response publicly, and here it is, unabridged and unalderated:

From: Andrew Langer
Subject: Re: 15 west st post
To: “Maryland Politics Blog” <marylandpoliticsblog@gmail.com>
Date: Saturday, August 1, 2009, 11:33 AM

Dear Sir or Madam:

While it is gratifying to know that my name is generating hits for your website, it is unfortunate that a story so riddled with errors is responsible for them.

I don’t know who you are. I don’t know your motivations for making such allegations. I can’t verify your sources in any way, shape, or form.

What I do know is this. I am not 15WestSt@gmail.com. As was pointed out by someone else, I wasn’t even IN the meeting at issue (I was kicked out when the meeting went into executive session).

The e-mail doesn’t match my writing style. Please take a look at my blog: http://langrrr.blogspot.com. In it, you’ll see a host of examples of how I write. This e-mail you discuss contains no em-dashes, no en-dashes, there’s no comma in the first sentence (I’m big on commas). The piece isn’t nearly as wordy as I’m prone to writing. It’s also not in my writing cadence (yes, I have one).

It’s this last point that is most important – you might be thinking that I’d try to mask my writing style. Were I someone who was inclined to write under a pseudonym (more on this in a moment), masking one’s writing cadence (which is more about rhythm than style) is incredibly difficult to do. A number of anonymous authors have been unmasked through such analyses.

As for writing under pseudonyms or anonymously, it’s not something I do – and I’ve written about my philosophy of this:

http://langrrr.blogspot.com/2005_09_01_archive.html

“One of the things I look askance at is anonymous or pseudonymous criticism. Now, I know that one of the hallmarks of a free society is the ability of someone to criticize someone else from behind the mask of anonymity. But it always seems that the most ill-thought, most base, bad-intentioned, insulting, and untrue critiques come from those writing anonymously or pseudonymously.

“When I used to write on Usenet, I developed a fan base, as I’ve mentioned (and I use that term facetiously. I do not mean that these people were actual fans of mine). Some of my “fans” indeed did use their real names, but several of them wrote under pseudonyms. More often than not, these pseudonymous posters fell into that category of writing base, insulting, non-germane, and outrageously untrue things.”
—end quoted material—

I stand by the things that I write–and do so by attaching my name to them.

What’s more, having had friends who have been dinged by this in the press, I have a maxim I stand behind: never put anything in e-mail that you wouldn’t want seen in the pages of the Washington Post.

Now, I am, as a rule, incredibly cautious about with whom I place my total political trust–who I give counsel to, who I offer my political analyses to. An e-mail like this, from me, makes no sense.

As to your allegations regarding my motives:

1) That I have, “long been a Pelura supporter, not necessarily because he thinks Jim is doing a good job, but because he sees his own influence directly attached to Jim remaining in office.”

On what basis do you make either assertion? Conversations with unnamed individuals? I find it hilarious that one anonymous blogger can claim something based upon conversations which may or may not have occurred.

I don’t know what “influence” you think I have. I was honored, and completely surprised, that Jim Pelura appointed me Chairman of this commission. But he did so not because of any fealty that I may have demonstrated to him, but to my professional background and my conduct as an activist within the party.

Understand this–I approach the work as a party official professionally, as I have been taught to do by some tremendous mentors (part and parcel of this is not spreading around anonymous e-mails, for instance). This means dealing with issues seriously, thinking strategically about the party’s current status and its future, and approaching the business of the party in a goal-oriented manner.

That this approach has gained me allies across the political spectrum within the party is a testament not to me, but to the wisdom of my teachers. Their lessons have worked – not my ambitions (more on this in a moment).

2) “Mr. Langer views Chris Cavey and Chuck Gast as threats to his own future goals. “

I do? Please enlighten me as to what these future goals are–and just how either Chuck or Chris are threats to them!

If you’re going to do serious political journalism, then you might consider actually asking the subject of your story to comment on the allegations you are prepared to make.

This, to me, was the most insulting of the allegations that you were going to make. I don’t view people as “threats” – and not out of some arrogant self-image. I view people as allies – and I count Chris Cavey and Chuck Gast among them. They are two party activists who have demonstrated a desire to work hard towards party victory, the greatest determinant of people you can “count on” (an important trait in my book)

People who can’t be counted on aren’t threats. They’re simply unreliable.

Now, there are people who stand opposed to what you might believe in. But they’re not “threats” either. They are people with whom you work to try and find common ground (as another mentor of mine taught me, people with whom you are in agreement on 80% of the issues aren’t 20% your enemy).

Chris, Chuck, and I share a common goal – party victory. And I don’t see either of them as threats to that. If you’re talking about something more specific, do elucidate me: Party chairman? Senior officership? Again, I don’t see any conflict among the three of us which would give rise to a “threat”.

3) “Why would he attack Mike Pappas in the email, well at that time it was thought that Charles Lollar and Mike Pappas would be battling in the 2010 gubernatorial primary.”

Considering that I knew on that Saturday morning that Charles wouldn’t be running for Governor in 2010, this defies reality.

The reality is that I like and respect Mike Pappas greatly–and, in point of fact, had a conversation with him about his race for Governor just after that

And again, I don’t view people as “threats” – Mike Pappas may have been a potential opponent, but he wasn’t a “threat”. That’s a shade of politics that I simply don’t play – if you’re going to learn anything about me, it’s that I don’t practice the politics of personal destruction when it comes to inter-party races. I believe it leaves the party damaged. It’s counsel I’ve given time and time again to candidates – part and parcel of my “judo school” of politics beliefs.

If Charles had run for Governor, we would have focused on Martin O’Malley, not Mike Pappas. At the end of the day, especially in such a short window between primary and general election, alienating your opponent and your opponent’s supporters is the surest way towards defeat (cf. Maryland’s 1st CD, 2008)

That’s why I’m concerned. It’s not just that I don’t write anonymous e-mails. It’s not just that the 15WestSt e-mail is so poorly written as to make such an allegation an insult to my writing abiliy. It’s that you presume to look into my motivations as a party activist, and because you don’t know me at all, you have no idea as to the reality of who I am. And you therefore leave people with this complete misimpression of me.

Who are you do to that? And you don’t even have the courtesy to contact me before making such allegations? I mean, you claim to have contacted a number of people who “confirmed” your story, but you didn’t even have the wherewithal to contact me, even for a denial?

As I said, as gratifying as it is to know that I can generate hits for your site, it’s really too bad that the story couldn’t have been more accurate. Or accurate at all.

Sincerely,

Andrew Langer


(Crossposted)






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