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Robocall controversy dies for lack of interest

February 28, 2011
  • Tim Rowland
Tim Rowland

So this is how Robogate is to end? No answers, no resolutions, no closure? And more importantly, no “someone we all know being dragged away in handcuffs” scenarios?

Shucks. I guess it will just go down as one of life’s unanswered questions, like why the trees never seem to move in the wind when you’re riding in the car.

At issue was a dirty political trick, a last-minute robocall attacking former Washington County Commissioner Kristin Aleshire, accusing him of being a machete murderer, child mauler, seal clubber and puppy strangler — in other words, of being a Democrat. The attack-points themselves made no sense, and from a moral standpoint even Richard Nixon thought it went too far.

The semi-literate script itself seemed to be written by someone with no more than a fourth-grade education, leading some to speculate that it must have been the work of an elected-office holder.

But we will never know for sure. The case was referred to the Maryland prosecutor’s office, but the prosecutor’s office has a strict written policy stating that it will neither confirm nor deny whether or not it ever does any actual work, or merely spends its day lying on a sofa and collecting paychecks.

Probably it figures that it cannot be bothered with anything that happens out here, because justice is for rich people and we don’t have enough of them to make it worth their while. If this had happened in Montgomery County, heads would have rolled.

Or maybe it really was a nothingburger — in the words of Sen. Chris Shank, just “a series of unfortunate mistakes” (in formal legal terms, this is known as the Lemony Snicket defense).

And emphasis on “series:” The material shouldn’t have been placed with the robocall company; Republican Central Committee members can’t figure out how to read their own e-mail; phone calls weren’t followed up; people couldn’t remember whether they were or weren’t members of the committee; the hired phone folks proved to be too rambunctious.

That’s some fun stuff. And I don’t think most people, including myself, would have a problem with it, except — well, I guess there’s no delicate way to say it, but ... here we have multiple, multiple instances of what can only be interpreted as gross incompetence, and this is the braintrust behind the people we elected to public office to represent us.

Lord, are we in trouble. I’m not proud of this feeling that I have, but I almost wish it had turned out to be a crime and not just innocent stupidity. At least criminal intent takes a modicum of brains.

I assume he’ll never see it, but this Republican Central Committee statement blaming “a passive communications company affirmation process” would be enough to make a saint cry. What in the world does that even mean? A passive communications company affirmation process? Did anyone bother to think before they came out with that one?

And it gets better. A former committee member claims that she did not see the repeated e-mail correspondence from the robocall company asking if the call was a go. It would be interesting to know her thoughts on the matter, but according to press accounts, she “didn’t return a phone message” seeking comment.

Well, I would guess not. If you can’t figure out the “Get Mail” function on your e-mail program, what chance does an answering machine have?

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 6997, or via e-mail at timr@herald-mail.com. Tune in to the Rowland Rant at www.herald-mail.com, on antpod.com or on Antietam Cable’s WCL-TV Channel 30 at 6:30 p.m. New episodes are released every Wednesday.

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