“Gotcha politics” usually refers to the idea of catching a politician saying a few ill-chosen words which are then taken out of context and used against them relentlessly. Lanny Davis — special counsel to President Bill Clinton and friend of President George W. Bush — wrote a book about this whole subject called “Scandal: How Gotcha Politics is Destroying America.”
However, if the speaker meant what he or she said, or it wasn’t recanted or taken out of context, it can hardly be said to be gotcha politics. So riddle me this: Over the weekend, it was reported that Jon Huntsman criticized many of his rivals for things they had said recently. He poked fun at Rick Perry for questioning humans’ impact on global warming and referring to evolution as a “theory that’s out there.”
He criticized Perry for suggesting that Ben Bernanke would be acting “treasonously” if he took certain monetary actions with which Perry disagreed. He scoffed at Michelle Bachmann’s suggestion that her presidency would see the return of $2 per gallon gasoline. And finally, he claimed it would take an afternoon to cover all of what he described as Mitt Romney’s flip-flops. To all of this, Thomas Wright, chairman of the Utah State GOP, uttered nary a word charging Huntsman with employing “gotcha politics” against his rival GOP field.
Yet last week…
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