Who says Republicans don’t respond quickly to change?
A blog item posted Wednesday by the Hamilton County Republican Party chairman has ignited public outrage, but how much is genuine and how much is political opportunism is hard to tell.
While writing about the defection of Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter from the Republican Party to the Democrats, local GOP Chairman Alex Triantafilou posted a photograph of a bald Specter from when he underwent treatment for cancer alongside a photo of the “Dr. Evil” character from the Austin Powers movies.
Almost immediately, some commenters criticized Triantafilou for using the images side by side, calling it offensive and insensitive. A few hours later on Wednesday, the photos were gone with the word “censored” over the space. Later that night, that was replaced with a photo of a grumpy child.
After the item was picked up by various media outlets — including The Columbus Dispatch, ohio.com, phillyburbs.com, the Democratic Underground, Fox News and The Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Web site — it was removed early today, and no trace of it remains on the GOP’s site.
Notably, the wide dissemination occurred after the Hamilton County Democratic Party and some local Democratic officials began publicizing it. Local Democratic Party Chairman Tim Burke quickly pounced on the incident Wednesday.
In a press release, Burke wrote, “It is particularly disappointing … that the Hamilton County Republican Party would stoop so low as to ridicule Sen. Specter by using a photo of him hairless and clearly suffering from the effects of chemotherapy during his bout with cancer. It is just that kind of insensitivity to the plight of real people that is causing the Republican Party to lose so many of its previous followers. If the Republican Party continues to run to the right, the far right, the Democratic Party is only going to grow in strength.”
Triantafilou originally defended the item on his blog, calling it “silly.” On The Cincinnati Enquirer’s Politics Extra blog Wednesday evening, he wrote, “The only person who should be offended is Dr. Evil — we compared him to a political opportunist who used the GOP to further his own means and bailed when it was politically expedient. Mr. Burke and his liberal friends need to relax.”
Today, Triantafilou called the entire matter a “distraction."
Who wants to place a bet that Triantafilou makes Keith Olbermann’s “Worst Persons in the World” list tonight on MSNBC’s Countdown?