by David Safier
When I was writing at Blog for Arizona, we had two regular and very prolific anonymous commenters on many of our posts, Thucydides and Falcon9. It's looking very much like they're both the same person, and that person is Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal. Bob Lord began hinting at this on BfA awhile back, but he has a post up today where he writes,
Okay, for the few of you who have not figured this out yet, by all indication our friend Thucky [Thucydides] is John Huppenthal, the Superintendent of Public Instruction, which is the fifth highest elected office in the state.
We BfA bloggers suspected both Thucycides and Falcon9 might be Huppenthal for some time. The more we read over the hundreds of comments — yes, hundreds of comments — the more it looked like it was true. Today at the end of Bob's post, commenter Thucydides came pretty close to admitting it. Talking about Bob's use of the term "troll" in the post, Thucydides wrote,
Who is the blog troll? All of my posts take policy seriously. I bring ideas and evidence to the marketplace. All of the columnists on this blog, mostly you, have dipped in the blog troll pool more deeply than I ever have.
The commenter continues, expounding at some length, but he doesn't distance himself from the allegation that Thucky is Hupp. I suppose he has some implausible deniability left, but not much.
I need to say before I go further, this isn't a condemnation of anonymous posters. This country has a long and honorable tradition in this area that goes all the way back to the Federalist Papers, where the writers used pseudonyms. It's a perfectly fine thing to do. But using a handle to defend or praise yourself is something else entirely. It's a much despised web tactic usually referred to as sock puppetry. And for someone in public office to be foolish and compulsive enough to ramble, sometimes semi-coherently, about a number of topics on a number of websites, including both liberal and conservative sites . . well, that's strange and disturbing behavior, to say the least.
I've been on the receiving end of many, many comments from Thucydides and Falcon9 since 2011, including a few since I moved over here to The Range. (Actually, Falcon9 has been commenting on The Weekly since 2010, long before I arrived here).
Many of the comments I've received defend Huppenthal, talking about him in the third person:
Huppenthal made three observations . . .
Huppenthal has never said that more money wouldn't help . . .
There was more of a nuance to Huppenthal's comments than put forth in this commentary . . .
The weirdest of all the defenses of Huppenthal came on posts I wrote about his support for Common Core, or as it's been renamed in the state, Arizona College and Career Ready Standards. Hupp has held meetings praising the standards all over the state, usually fighting against stiff right wing opposition. In a comment on one of my posts, Thucydides praised the standards in Huppenthal's name.
Huppenthal appears to be making the point that the standards are great. It is the associated materials that are controversial.
A reasonable defense, though it would be more honest for Huppenthal to make it in his own name. But then, in a comment on another of my posts about Common Core a few weeks later, Thucydides wrote,
Huppenthal doesn’t love it, he hates it. He is just stuck with it.
Some of the comments can get pretty nasty and personal. Falcon9 ended one by writing,
You guys are frequently scum, but this article makes you a special form of scum: evil scum.
In another comment, he wrote,
You have to be kidding me. how stupid and perverted are you?
I'll end with my all time favorite Falcon9 comment. I wrote a post about Secretary of State Ken Bennett venturing into birther territory. My last paragraph began,
Ken, a word of advice. You're no good at this batshit crazy stuff.
Falcon9's complete response was,
“bat shit crazy stuff”!!! Its in Obamas book, Obama said he was born in Kenya!!!! If this were a Republican, you would be going nuts demanding those college records.
If this were a sitcom, his next line would be, "Did I just say that out loud?"