Despite having had a rough ten days or so, Republican candidate for Arkansas Attorney General, Leslie Rutledge, has kind of come through unscathed to this point. I mean, at the end of the day, the voter-registration issue did not really matter, and the coordination of a campaign ad with a SuperPAC is probably little more than a bump in the road. Both might eventually come back to haunt her, but neither is the kind of thing that, on its own, would doom a campaign.
What could effectively destroy her campaign, however, is if the emails from her days at the Department of Human Services contained something really damning. For example, what if those emails included a message written in an overtly racist patois, mocking a family that had come seeking legal help and, upon receiving that help, decided to give thanks in prayer?
Um…”Do Not Rehire” was a good call, I guess.
UPDATE (3:44PM):I’ve seen a couple places refer to this email as a forward. That’s not exactly accurate. This is an email where Rutledge copied and pasted a message from someone else, (apparently) added the first line about “it finally happened,” then sent it out. Small difference? Perhaps. But there’s definitely a difference between mindlessly hitting forward and copy-and-pasting something into a brand new email before you send it, especially when you add a comment at the beginning.
UPDATE (6:45PM): Oh, look, Rutledge has responded via Jason Tolbert. In the Predictable Excuse Olympics, it would get 10s across the board (except from the persnickety Romanian judge, who gives it an 8). In terms of factual accuracy, however? A 3 at best. Take a look:
This is just another desperate attempt by leftist bloggers to attempt to misattribute someone else’s words to me. As was obvious from reading the email, I simply forwarded without any comment something written by Judith (Gardner). Any questions about the content of the email should be directed to the author. These same liberal bloggers have attempted to paint me as, among other things, secretly pro-choice, not eligible to vote in Arkansas and now a racist. I would expect these kinds of silly attacks to continue from the Democrats desperate to hold onto this seat. In spite of these baseless attacks, I remain focused on my message of protecting Arkansans from those who seek to do them harm.
Yeah…no. As mentioned in the previous update, she did not “simply forward” this email, because this is not a forward. It is a copied-and-pasted message. Which means, she literally selected all of the text from a separate message, clicked “New Email” on her email client, pasted the text into that message, addressed it to four coworkers at DHS (at 10:19AM on a workday, no less), and then typed the following subject line: “True story and email from a friend of mine…she works d’town with battered women, etc.” Nor did do this “without any comment;” even if she did not write the first line of the email text, her subject line provided context for where the story came from. Maybe she didn’t comment, “LOL @ the poor people who needed help!,” but minimizing her role in spreading the message and providing context is disingenuous at best.
Much more importantly, however, even if we were to all pretend like she did “simply forward” the email — so what? How is passing along someone else’s racist remarks appreciably better than writing them yourself, unless you pass them along in the context of “look at what this terrible person wrote?” What if the email had been more directly racist, rather than an unfunny, hackneyed attempt at humor? She apparently thought the message was interesting/funny/important enough to pass along to other people; why does the fact that she didn’t write the original make her decision any less gross?
Additionally, this attempt to minimize her owns actions ignores something larger about the email. The racism was only the ugliest part of an already terrible statement. Even if it hadn’t been written the way it was, it is still an email wherein Judith makes fun of people for being so appreciative of what she had done for them that they wanted to than her in the most honest way they knew how – prayer. I’m not even religious and the idea of mocking someone for that strikes me as grotesque. Rutledge is a self-professed Christian, but she found the whole thing humorous enough to pass along.
I guess, in her world, not all prayer is created equal, and only the kind that she approves of is worthy of protection. Maybe someone can ask her exactly where that good prayer/bad prayer line is, just in case someone wants to send her another email in the future.