Opposition Research

Campaigns aren’t for the thinned skinned or the faint of heart. Though a great deal of time must be devoted to craft a message and to pump up your candidate, tearing down your opponent is just as important. There are some who would argue that destroying the other guy is actually more important.

Where does one find the fodder for negative ads and whispering campaigns? The process is called Opposition Research. Are there skeletons in your opponent’s closet? What doesn’t he want public? What grain of truth can be stretched and twisted into something ugly and damning? This job is full time work for some hacks. There are some politicians who owe their jobs to their willingness to say or do anything to get elected.

This isn’t necessarily right or wrong. It just is. Since no one is perfect, there has to be something that your opponent would just as soon keep private. But when you run for public office you forfeit your right to privacy.

I caught a vendor cheating me. Even a small business such as mine has to buy or lease products and services from any number of companies. Some of these companies have surprised and disappointed me even though I entered into the contracts with care. There have been sins of commission. And there have been sins of omission. This was both. The contract had a clause tucked away on the back page that contradicted our verbal agreement. Worse, the vendor lied about it when caught.

This discussion and resolution, a check was written to our business to make us whole, occurred last October through December. At this point, all is forgiven if not forgotten. We are still working with the vendor and may continue into the future. Our sales rep checks in on a regular basis to make sure that everything is still OK.

Rebecca, the sales associate, stopped by for a visit last month. It was on the 28th just before I left early for the beginning of Rosh Hashanah. I didn’t have a lot of time to spend with her. She wanted to talk. Reviewing my file prior to our meeting, she realized that there might have been more than just smoke and she asked what really happened last fall. I told her. I mentioned that her employer didn’t resolve the issue until he realized that he didn’t have a choice. She agreed and then quoted this blog.

Yes, this blog. Sitting in my file was a copy of the June 7, 2010 post Hiding In Plain Sight where I discussed my willingness to embrace total openness. The vendor had either engaged in opposition research or someone else, with a different ax to grind, had shared the post with him. Watching my rep squirm, I could see how creepy she thought it was for her employer to be collecting copies of this blog.

I, on the other hand, am slightly flattered and curious. It does seem a bit odd that they would have a post pre-dating our discussions by four months sitting in my file. What other posts are they printing and re-reading?

And if it was sent to them, I am left to wonder who is promoting this blog and is he/she qualified to be my agent. It all sounds rather political, doesn’t it?