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Inoculating the herd

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Apparently a couple of Michigan tea party legislators who were having an affair decided that the best way to handle the eventual revelation of their liaison would be to smear one half of the happy couple with a fake email, claiming he had been caught having sex with a male prostitute. The idea was this false claim would then “inoculate the herd” (their political supporters) when the true claims became known, since a straight up affair would seem positively benign by contrast.

State Rep. Todd Courser planned the distribution of a fictional email alleging he had sex with a male prostitute in a bid to conceal his relationship with Rep. Cindy Gamrat, according to audio recordings obtained by The Detroit News.

Courser, a Lapeer Republican, said on one recording the email was designed to create “a complete smear campaign” of exaggerated, false claims about him and Gamrat so a public revelation about the legislators’ relationship would seem “mild by comparison.” . . .

A now-former House aide recorded Courser in mid-May directing him to send Republican activists and operatives an email that would appear to be from an anonymous political enemy that said Courser had been “caught behind a Lansing nightclub” having sex with a man.

During the May 19 meeting, Courser instructed Graham to send rank-and-file Republicans across Michigan what he called “an over-the-top story that’s obscene about me.” It was designed, Courser said on the recording, to “inoculate the herd” — an apparent reference to Courser and Gamrat’s followers in the tea party movement.

“It will make anything else that comes out after that — that isn’t a video — mundane, tame by comparison,” Courser, a married father of four, told Graham.

“I need a controlled burn,” said the lawmaker, who used the term three times during the meeting.

I haven’t had any coffee yet this morning so I don’t want to leap to any conclusions, but this strikes me as a less than optimal way of handling this sort of thing.

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