Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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March 5, 2009

MISSING THE POINT OF 'DIVERSIONARY TACTICS'.... The recent talk about Rush Limbaugh filling the leadership vacuum atop the Republican Party has been rather unpleasant for GOP leaders on the Hill. They don't want to agree with the right-wing blowhard (which would alienate mainstream Americans), but they don't want to denounce him, either (which would anger the party's unhinged base).

And while the party mulls its options, Limbaugh keeps talking, Democrats keep egging him on, and Republicans keep apologizing for making the talk-show host angry.

Today, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) has a Washington Post op-ed with a new response: all of this talk is intended to distract the public.

In the first two months of 2009, the Democratic Congress and the White House have spent more money than the combined cost of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and the response to Hurricane Katrina. After they doled out taxpayer dollars at such a blistering pace, the instinct of many inside the Beltway is to do what's most convenient: desperately try to change the subject by creating straw men -- called "the party of no" -- to rally against.

And in a carefully calculated campaign, operatives and allies of the Obama administration are seeking to divert attention toward radio host Rush Limbaugh, and away from a debate about our alternative solutions on the economy and the irresponsible spending binge they are presiding over. This diversionary tactic will not create a single job or help a single family struggling in today's economic crisis. And that is where our focus should be.

President Obama has said that we must change the way Washington operates in order to address the unprecedented challenges of today. I hope that those inside and close to the administration begin heeding his advice, because the change-the-subject campaign they are employing is the oldest trick in Washington's book. This isn't about the leadership of political party officials or the influence of radio hosts. It's about the need for both parties to work together toward real solutions to end this recession and put Americans back to work.

As a matter of politics, that's not a bad pitch. Republican lawmakers, the argument goes, want to talk about policy, and all of this Limbaugh stuff is just trivia. The Republican Party, appearances notwithstanding, is desperate for seriousness in policymaking.

But from a substantive perspective, Boehner's argument is kind of silly. For one thing, Democrats aren't responsible -- at least not solely responsible -- for elevating Limbaugh into the role of de facto Republican leader. It's the result of a combination of factors, including his gift of self-promotion and the GOP's interest in kissing his ring.

More importantly, though, I don't think Boehner fully appreciates the point of "diversionary tactics." As the Minority Leader sees it, Democrats don't want to talk about their economic policies, so they're talking about Limbaugh.

But here's the follow-up question: why would Democrats be reluctant to talk about their economic policies? Americans like the Democrats' economic policies. The policies make sense, especially when compared to Republican rhetoric about spending freezes, tax cuts, deficit reduction, and a balanced-budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Put it this way: with Democrats enjoying a huge advantage on economic policy in the midst of an economic crisis, and with the GOP's economic agenda coming straight out of the Hoover playbook, what possible incentive does the majority party have in mulling "diversionary tactics"? Why engage in a "change-the-subject campaign" when your side is winning the most important economic debate in generations?

Steve Benen 11:10 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (40)

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Comments

John Who?

Posted by: Greg Worley on March 5, 2009 at 11:02 AM | PERMALINK

They can complain all they want, but the point of this is to show the rest of America just how extreme the core Republican Party is. Rush is unpopular with non-Republican America for a lot of good reasons, chief among them is that his worldview is abhorent to most of America. BUT, he is loved by Republicans precised because his worldview matches their own.

It's not a side show ... this is a very essential fact that Americas need to know. A vote for a Republican ... even a "centrist" Republican like the ladies from Maine ... is a vote for an extremist far right party.

Posted by: Cool on March 5, 2009 at 11:03 AM | PERMALINK

Beautiful. The charge of "diversionary tactics" is itself a diversionary tactic. In other words, they are attacking the dems for something that the attack itself is an example of.

Irony isn't just dead, it's been obliterated under hundreds of multi-megaton nukes.

Posted by: jimBOB on March 5, 2009 at 11:03 AM | PERMALINK

He's a Republican. His lips are moving. Whatever the hot air coming out of his mouth forms into words is meaningless except in his alternate reality of sparkle-ponies and endless tax cuts.

There is no reason to listen to any Winger at this point. They have nothing to say that pertains to anything in the real world.

Posted by: SnarkyShark on March 5, 2009 at 11:05 AM | PERMALINK

Those of us with a memory longer than that of a goldfish remember when the Republicans were proud of being "the party of no". The fact that not a single House Republican voted for the stimulus bill was proof they were back in the saddle. And now it's a strawman ginned up by Democrats?

Posted by: noncarborundum on March 5, 2009 at 11:07 AM | PERMALINK

Boehner's not upset that Obama is distracting the public. He's upset that Obama is keeping the Republicans distracted with all of this infighting. Boehner's crying the Obama isn't playing fair because he's forcing republicans do deal with a kerfluffle in their own house rather than allowing them the breathing room to spew dishonest anti-Obama talking points on cable news.

Posted by: Tyro on March 5, 2009 at 11:08 AM | PERMALINK

John Boehner (R-Ohio) has a Washington Post op-ed with a new response: all of this talk is intended to distract the public

Careful, I don't think your Leader approved that message.

Posted by: Kevin on March 5, 2009 at 11:08 AM | PERMALINK

The Democratic tactic is done to brace themselves against the claim that they are not being bipartisan. Almost no Republicans voted for the stimulus, which some people painted as an Obama failure. That news story will not go away--there will be plenty of partisan votes this year--and the competing explanations for it will be that the Democrats are not reaching out enough and that the Republicans are loony. Democrats need to push the loony story, and they should be grateful that the Republicans are making it so easy to push.

Posted by: reino on March 5, 2009 at 11:09 AM | PERMALINK

"This diversionary tactic will not create a single job or help a single family struggling in today's economic crisis. And that is where our focus should be." - Bonehead

Then why do you keep talking about Rush Limbaugh? Why can't you Republicans contribute something to the dialogue that doesn't have to be blessed by Rush? If you want in the conversation then say something. On the other hand, if we can get all your talking points from Rush, why do we need to listen to you? Get it?

Posted by: Markozilla on March 5, 2009 at 11:11 AM | PERMALINK

"...divert attention away to radio show host ...." Careful, Mr. Boehner. The way you write almost sounds like a criticism of Mr. Limbaugh. And we all know what that means. You can grab your ankles, can't you?

Posted by: Geg Worley on March 5, 2009 at 11:14 AM | PERMALINK

Reading this and David Brooks's article from Monday, I'm left with the impression that the GOP leadership are simply frightened of Limbaugh. He is indeed rather frightening (imagine him in a brown uniform), which is why his negatives are so high with the broader public. Limbaugh knows he is powerful and is enjoying himself, but doesn't realize that, by grandstanding and emasculating the rest of the leadership, he's harming the cause he claims to believe in. As someone else wrote, pass the popcorn.

Posted by: davidp on March 5, 2009 at 11:20 AM | PERMALINK

Of course, what really destroys whatever shred of logic there is to Boehner's argument is the substance of what Rush and the leaders are themselves saying.

Obama doesn't want to debate opposing ideas? The whole point of making a big deal about Obama and "the Party of No" is that they HAVEN'T proposed alternatives. They merely rejected his attempts at compromise. I agree that this makes political sense, but it's just further evidence that the GOP has no intention of revisiting any of its positions on the issues.

I wonder how long before it becomes conventional wisdom in Washington that the losing party in an election is the one whose ideas must be followed, 'cause that's where they're pushing us.

Posted by: Paulk on March 5, 2009 at 11:20 AM | PERMALINK

Has John Boehner read Bill O'Reilly's book, "Culture Warrior?"

Conservatives have a patent on diversionary tactics.

Posted by: pj in jesusland on March 5, 2009 at 11:32 AM | PERMALINK

The selection of Sarah Palin as McCain's VP candidate last year, and the content of Palin's ensuing campaign, was a stark admission by the Republican Party that all they have left is Rush Limbaugh's Ditto Heads -- the weak-minded, ignorant, mean-spirited, lunatic-fringe extremist base of the Republican Party.

That's the one and only reason that Sarah Palin was selected, and appealing to that group was the sole focus of her campaign.

The Republicans have alienated every other sector of the electorate. Ordinary people are no longer bamboozled by the lies and BS that the Republicans have used for so long to cover up their true agenda, which is to enrich and empower their rich and powerful corporate white-collar crook cronies and financial backers at the expense of the American people. The only ones who are still falling for the Republicans' BS are the utterly brain-dead, terminally brainwashed dregs of the Ditto Heads.

That's why the Republicans are so terrified of angering Limbaugh. They need him -- because they need the votes of his Ditto Head zombie army to win elections.

But Rush Limbaugh doesn't need the Republicans, and he doesn't care whether or not they win elections. He only cares about sitting on his big fat ass, collecting even bigger and fatter paychecks, for reading the corporate-sponsored scripts that are handed to him each day. And he can do that just as easily with Democrats in power -- indeed, he can probably make more money from inciting hatred of Obama than he can from cheering on hero-worship of George W. Bush.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on March 5, 2009 at 11:33 AM | PERMALINK

Um, am I missing something here? Was it President Obama that went on the airwaves and said he wanted Limpballs to fail?

From what I can tell, the President has been quite busy fixing the mess that 30 years of trickle down Reaganomics has left us, and I just can't recall ever hearing him take the time to focus on an AM talk radio show host.

Will someone please tell the RepubliFUCKS that it was RUSH THAT STARTED THIS?!?!?!

Posted by: citizen_pain on March 5, 2009 at 11:38 AM | PERMALINK

DavidP said - He is indeed rather frightening (imagine him in a brown uniform)

Limbaugh even looks like a reincarnation of Ernst Rohm. http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/8/8b/Rohm.jpg/220px-Rohm.jpg

Posted by: Michael7843853 on March 5, 2009 at 11:39 AM | PERMALINK

Republican ctiticism of Democrats or liberals is ALWAYS projection.

"I know you are but what am I?" is the only sane response.

Posted by: esaud on March 5, 2009 at 11:40 AM | PERMALINK

This "distract the public" nonsense is the new talking point among the right. Gingrich said the exact same thing on The Today Show this morning.

They're projecting again. Straight out of the Republican Party playbook:

Step 1: Deploy the dirty tactic.

Step 2: Project the dirty tactic onto the enemy.

Posted by: CJ on March 5, 2009 at 11:40 AM | PERMALINK

So, diversionary tactics are bad in Rupublikkerland now? Do they know how they've been operating for the last 30 years?

It's incredible! Point out their hypocrisy, and they just double down on it. Jon Stewart ridiculed O'Reilly (the author of "Culture Warrior") for making this point the other night, and so the not-de-facto Minority Leader publishes the same argument in the WaPo?!? Does "The Big Lie" really work in America??

Posted by: short fuse on March 5, 2009 at 11:46 AM | PERMALINK

Ernst Limbaugh

Posted by: Michael7843853 on March 5, 2009 at 11:47 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin - For one thing, Democrats aren't responsible -- at least not solely responsible -- for elevating Limbaugh into the role of de facto Republican leader.

The Democrats aren't responsible - at all - for elevating Limbaugh. They are just pointing out how ludicrous it is that the GOP is apparently being run by a talk show host. An unelected entertainer.

I just think that now that Limbaugh is a public figure and political leader, maybe we can see the results of his drug-related court cases. It would be in the public interest for this information to be known, wouldn't it? Maybe President Obama can release that information in lieu of a debate.

Posted by: Wapiti on March 5, 2009 at 11:48 AM | PERMALINK

My eyes stopped when I read that Boehner wrote: "Democratic Party". Wow, he added the "ic"! Now if they all would only say it correctly.

Posted by: Hannah on March 5, 2009 at 11:50 AM | PERMALINK

I am old enough to remember that when Democratic politicians penned these solem op eds decrying a lack of 'seriousness' in the political process, it did exactly nothing then too, buptkiss.

In fact, it is just another sign that the elected Republican members are simply incapable of managing the reality they live in. There is a political argument to be made and Limbaugh is making it for the conservative side and republicans need to decide if they like it or want to say something else. No amount of commentary from journalists or tut tutting in op eds is going to change that.

For the first time in my life the Democrats/liberals have a better political kernel (for lack of a better term) than the Republcan/conservatives, and it is something to see.

I look forward to the 'centrist' democrat budget objectors getting steamrolled from the left. Then we will really confirm this trend.

Posted by: Northern Observer on March 5, 2009 at 11:50 AM | PERMALINK

"Kevin" - sorry, Steve.

Posted by: Wapiti on March 5, 2009 at 11:50 AM | PERMALINK

RE: Ernst Limbaugh
Hilarious!
Although I have to say I think Hermann Goering bears a better resemblance.

Posted by: citizen_pain on March 5, 2009 at 12:03 PM | PERMALINK

Ooops, forgot the link

http://www.holocaustresearchproject.org/holoprelude/images/Hermann%20Goering%20delivers%20a%20speech%20ibn%20Weimar.jpg

Posted by: citizen_pain on March 5, 2009 at 12:05 PM | PERMALINK

Also, I would think the success of CNBC and others depends on having a large audience that's invested in the market, so that they have a reason to watch every day. They don't have an incentive to provide honest reporting or opinions, they always want you to invest. The whole network is a giant conflict of interest.

Posted by: Allan Snyder on March 5, 2009 at 12:15 PM | PERMALINK

Oops, my 12:15 was meant for the CNBC/Daily Show post below. Sorry.

Posted by: Allan Snyder on March 5, 2009 at 12:17 PM | PERMALINK

Be nice or Boneher will cry.

Posted by: The Answer WAS Orange on March 5, 2009 at 12:24 PM | PERMALINK

The party of 'personal responsibility' doesn't seem to understand that if they just shut up about Their Royal Lardness, there would be no issue. I don't hear Dems talking about Rush, per se. What I hear is Dems ridiculing repubs for racing to kiss the guy's ring.
This dust up isn't about Rush, it's about the repubs behavior toward him. There's a difference.
It's a silly sideshow, to be sure. But, it's one of republican making. And they did it all by themselves.

Posted by: JoeW on March 5, 2009 at 12:30 PM | PERMALINK

I'm left with the impression that the GOP leadership are simply frightened of Limbaugh.

Of course they are. When Limpballs speaks badly about someone he is echoed by the rest of the far right media types and intense pressure is put on whomever he attacked.

Consider this exchange last night on CNN. Anderson Cooper was stunned that Paul Begala would actually attack Limpballs "right here on TV". Begala, of course, responded that he would attack Limpballs on TV, in a house, with a mouse, in a box, on a train ... etc. Cooper just couldn't get over it -- because he knows that if HE attacked Limpballs he'd be screamed at by CNN execs worried about their ratings and have his email flooded by rabid freepers.

Every country's populace has a built in minority with a propensity towards facist violence. Limpballs is the leader of that minority in America. The Republican Party has catered to that as the "base" in order to win elections. That's why they are afraid of him.

Posted by: Cool on March 5, 2009 at 12:30 PM | PERMALINK

Limbaugh is a dick.

Posted by: David Bailey on March 5, 2009 at 12:31 PM | PERMALINK

I can only hope that Rush starts advocating Ayn Rand, all the ditto heads read Atlas Shrugged collectively (those who can't read can get the book on tape), and decide to move to central america to refound Jonesboro. Hey, I guy can dream can't he?

Posted by: Scott F. on March 5, 2009 at 12:58 PM | PERMALINK

I just love this idea that Obama is trying to sneak his massive spending program by us. I mean he basically campaigned on the idea that he was going to spend a shitload of government money to get the economy moving again, and he won, so that's what he's doing. With this big secret campaign of secrecy that includes all kinds of diversionary tactics like holding press conferences to talk about the budget and posting all the details at whitehouse.gov.

And by the way, Rush Limbaugh and Hermann Goering have the same birthday. I happen to know this because it's also my birthday.

Posted by: Stephen Stralka on March 5, 2009 at 1:21 PM | PERMALINK

Just hurts the Democrats engaging in petty nastiness instead of governing. We just had two years of nasty campaign partisanship, and people are waiting with bated breath to see some results from Obama on the economy. They don't care if lib insiders get a charge out of baiting Rush Limbaugh.

It's the economy, stupid.

Posted by: Luther on March 5, 2009 at 2:25 PM | PERMALINK

You write: "It's the result of a combination of factors, including his gift of self-promotion and the GOP's interest in kissing his ring."

"Kissing his ring"? So that's what you call it.

Posted by: CMcC on March 5, 2009 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK

with Democrats enjoying a huge advantage on economic policy in the midst of an economic crisis, and with the GOP's economic agenda coming straight out of the Hoover playbook, what possible incentive does the majority party have in mulling "diversionary tactics"?

Exactly.

The Democrats should be paying no attention whatsoever to Limbaugh. That they are paying so much attention, indeed arguing with him, suggests some sort of pathology, or perhaps just a lack of confidence in themselves. Perhaps they are trying to "divert attention" from the fact that there is so little agreement among Democrats about what to do next?

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on March 5, 2009 at 3:55 PM | PERMALINK

The Democrats should be paying no attention whatsoever to Limbaugh.

Thanks for the concern, Marler. Your obviously disingenuous advice suggests that the Democrats questioning whether Limbaugh speaks for the Republican Party is precisely the right move.

That they are paying so much attention, indeed arguing with him, suggests some sort of pathology, or perhaps just a lack of confidence in themselves.

Projection again, Marler? What attention are the Democrats paying? They're just wondering whether Limbaugh speaks for the Republican Party. The arguing is going on between Republican officials who suggest that Limbaugh doesn't, Limbaugh castigating them on air, and the Republican officials offering a contrite apology. Don't blame us if Republican after Republican confirms what we already know about Limbaugh, moron.

The Republican pathology is by now too obvious -- thanks in part by your own demonstrations of bad-faith bullshit here -- but that Republican officials can't stand up to that facist blowhard shows an unmistakable lack of confidence in themselves.

And I'm loving it, Marler. The GOP can have the 20% dead-ender Limbaugh fans and dishonest shitheads like you who carry water for them. We'll take the overwhelming majority who reject the disgusting, dishonest diatribes of the
Republican Party.

Jackass.

Posted by: Gregory on March 5, 2009 at 5:22 PM | PERMALINK

That they are paying so much attention, indeed arguing with him, suggests some sort of pathology, or perhaps just a lack of confidence in themselves.

If anyone was still in doubt -- the answer is always projection. Always.

Posted by: Mnemosyne on March 5, 2009 at 5:43 PM | PERMALINK

by the way, boner's opening sentence, "In the first two months of 2009, the Democratic Congress and the White House have spent more money than the combined cost of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and the response to Hurricane Katrina," isn't true....it doesn't really mean the "cost" of the iraq war, just what people think has been spent, so far [and doesn't include the 76 mil that bush decided to slip over to the obama administration]..there's additional money bush committed not included either...there's lots of costs to come....besides, to even get close to boner's argument, you have to include the tax cuts in the stiumulus bill as being money "spent." that's an obvious fail...

one of the fact checking sites debunked this after mitch mcconnell said it at cpac....link is evading me...sorry

Posted by: dj spellchecka on March 5, 2009 at 7:55 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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