Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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April 20, 2009

DELAYED OUTRAGE.... This seems to happen with increasing frequency lately. Something rather mundane relating to President Obama will occur late in the week; the weekend will go by with minimal excitement; and the president's Republican opponents erupt on Monday with rage and disgust.

This flap over the president shaking hands with the president of Venezuela at the Summit of the Americas follows the pattern. The picture of the two heads of state was taken and distributed on Friday. On Saturday, some newspapers ran it, but it didn't generate much in the way of excitement. On Sunday, it drew some limited discussion on the Sunday shows, but it hardly qualified as a legitimate political "controversy."

But today, it's all the rage. If the handshake was such a damaging development, one that undermines U.S. prestige and interests, why did it take a few days for Republicans to get so upset?

The same thing happened a couple of weeks ago. President Obama spoke early on a Friday in Strasbourg about the United States "renewing our partnership" with Europe. Obama's remarks, which acknowledged errors on both sides of the Atlantic, were aired live to a national television audience on a Friday morning, and weren't considered controversial.

Seventy two hours later, on Monday morning, Republicans were outraged that the president "apologized" to France for American "arrogance." Fox News could talk about little else.

If Obama's comments were so insulting, why did it take nearly four days for the GOP to notice?

This probably isn't any great mystery -- Republicans are likely just delaying their manufactured outrage because they know weekends are a slow news period -- but it seems like a new twist on an old game.

In the Bush years, the ol' gang perfected the art of holding bad news until late on a Friday afternoon to generate as little attention as possible. In the Obama years, the same gang is perfecting the art of holding tantrums until early on a Monday morning to generate as much attention as possible.

These guys can't govern, but they sure know how to work a calendar.

Steve Benen 4:05 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (39)

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And I'm sure it does them a world of good with the 25% of the voting population that give a rat's patootie what they say. Yawn.

Posted by: Steve LaBonne on April 20, 2009 at 4:04 PM | PERMALINK

Outrage dejour.

Why don't these folks admit that they are sore losers?

Chavez may be a jerk, but Obama's savvy enough to possibly smooth out some rough edges simply by making a simple human act of goodwill.

What would the GOPs prefer? A fist? A raised middle finger?

Get real.

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on April 20, 2009 at 4:07 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe he should have given Chavez an impromptu shoulder massage...

Posted by: Kreniigh on April 20, 2009 at 4:10 PM | PERMALINK

What would the GOPs prefer?

A permanent rethug majority, no regulation of anything ever, a top tax rate of zero and the attendant infinite receipts. And a pony.

Posted by: DFH on April 20, 2009 at 4:12 PM | PERMALINK

"Work the calendar?" More like punk the media -- but then that's easy.

Posted by: Greg Worley on April 20, 2009 at 4:13 PM | PERMALINK

GOP operatives call Rush et al and say, "Hand me down my talking points." That's what causes the DeLay (pun intended).

Posted by: Vincent on April 20, 2009 at 4:17 PM | PERMALINK

"If Obama's comments were so insulting, why did it take nearly four days for the GOP to notice?"

Because absent real outrage, the republicans need 3 days to figure out how to spin it into outrage, aka how to manufacture the talking points

Posted by: Darwin on April 20, 2009 at 4:19 PM | PERMALINK

Are you ready for some football?

This is about as exciting as pretending Texas is going to secede from the Union. Yeah right.
What's next?
Is some republican going to claim global warming is caused by cow farts?


Posted by: koreyel on April 20, 2009 at 4:19 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe they have their meeting to decide on the outrage du jour on Saturday, disseminate the talking points Sunday pm and then they are ready to erupt on Monday.

I really don't think it is spontaneous, nor is it genuine. It is orchestrated, choreographed tantrums.

Posted by: Mimikatz on April 20, 2009 at 4:20 PM | PERMALINK

To be fair to Dubya, although his administration used the "take out the trash" concept of the Friday press dump excessively, it certainly predated him by years if not decades.

For example, the West Wing's fictional version of this activity aired on January 26, 2000.

Posted by: howie on April 20, 2009 at 4:21 PM | PERMALINK

If Matt Lauer et. al. weren't covering the hand shake this morning, they might have had to devote more time to the torture memos.

Posted by: Danp on April 20, 2009 at 4:23 PM | PERMALINK

Rage is quite the fashion it appears--often without rhyme or reason.

Posted by: Insanity on April 20, 2009 at 4:23 PM | PERMALINK

The Republicans seem to be akin to the junior officers who greeted their new commander in the field, one Ulysses S. Grant by telling him incessantly what they thought Bobby E. Lee was up to, and why their thoughts about Bobby Lee were dictating their strategies to date. Gen. Grant's retort to his junior officers is worth noting, and the modern Republican party would do well to heed it:

Grant admonished his assembled officers by telling them it didn't matter what they thought Bobby Lee was doing, it only mattered what they thought they were doing, and if they were spending all their time focused on Bobby Lee, no strategy of victory for the Union could be devised and executed successfully. Yes, the Republican leadership in the early 21st century is made up of nothing more than "junior" officials, and until they offer us their plans, their effectiveness to influence public policy will be increasingly diminished. -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on April 20, 2009 at 4:25 PM | PERMALINK

Surely you can't expect them to do this on a weekend! These are all god-fearin' Christian folk, weekends are spent in contemplative prayer with their loved ones (the straight ones, of course) and studyin' the bible. You communist, socialist, aetheist, Muslim liberals wouldn't know anything about that. You probably spend your weekends doing hedonistic unamerican stuff like barbequeing meat, watching baseball and making apple pies. Well, what you can fit in between the gay orgies and mandatory abortions, of course.

Posted by: Northzax on April 20, 2009 at 4:26 PM | PERMALINK

What really chaps my behind is the fact that the MSM falls all over each other covering the Rethugs fake outrage every Monday.
We should have a moments silence for the death of the fourth estate. They ceased to exist a few years back but seem to not even want to cover stories in a fair approach. MSM is nothing but puppets on the strings of corporate America

Posted by: redrover on April 20, 2009 at 4:26 PM | PERMALINK

Bravo! Northrax laughed my ass off.

Posted by: Gandalf on April 20, 2009 at 4:34 PM | PERMALINK

I think the other reason for the 3-4 day reaction lag is that even they have outrage fatigue and need the weekends to rest. On top of that Obama doesn't ever really seem to rest so they need to pace themselves. Their hyperbole is already cranked up to level 10 and Obama hasn't even finished his first 100 days. It really must be exhausting. I know I'm certainly tired of it.

They're looking more and more everyday like the party that cried wolf-- only there isn't any wolf.

Posted by: zoe kentucky in pittsburgh on April 20, 2009 at 4:38 PM | PERMALINK

Don't you remember the daily memos that Fox News would send out on what they need to focus on? This has every mark of that same pattern.

If it was a bottom-up, grass-roots reaction, then it would happen throughout the week, including weekends.

Since it is a top-down, corporate-driven reaction, then the song sheets go out at one time, and everyone starts singing the same tune. For all we know, they're polling for the biggest response to keywords before they announce the new direction.

It's hard to say who is starting these memes, and who is echoing them, but it hardly matters. They will keep trying out memes until they get a winner, like Whitewater or a blue dress.

Real outrage is visceral and uncontrolled; it can happen at any time. This is corporate: the establishment trying to cripple a popular president, using every means at their disposal. They want to keep their power, and he's in the way. It's not personal.

Posted by: Travis on April 20, 2009 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

GOP brain team.

1. Watch Obama do presidential things.

2. Keep track of visceral reactions to Obama's presidentiality.

3. Listen to Rush. Hone in on the rage.

4. Go public with OUTRAGE over Obama's presidential actions of several days ago.

5. Call Fox news to thank them for keeping the light of reason alive.

6. Beat wife. Scream at kids. Get drunk.

7. Repeat steps 1-6.

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on April 20, 2009 at 4:43 PM | PERMALINK

I don't know how well these clowns can manage even a news cycle considering how long it took them to figure out what Teabagging really meant and why lots of people were laughing at them.

Posted by: Former Dan on April 20, 2009 at 4:47 PM | PERMALINK

If Obama's comments were so insulting, why did it take nearly four days for the GOP to notice? -- Steve Benen.

Everyone knows that delayed gratification is much more potent and satisfying than the instant variety. It's like losing virginity -- wait till you're married, and it'll taste much better.

Posted by: exlibra on April 20, 2009 at 4:47 PM | PERMALINK

To quote the Bard:

It is a tale told by an idiot; full of sound and fury, signifying nothing". . .

Posted by: DAY on April 20, 2009 at 4:50 PM | PERMALINK

The "delay" is equal to the time until Limbaugh and other right wing doltifiers take to the airwaves on Monday to bloviate about things that happened since the last time they had the opportunity to spew.

Posted by: Brian Oregon on April 20, 2009 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK

The GOP is still operating like the general public is apathetic and uninformed to the Amoeba level, which has generally been the case during the many fat years.

We are square on into the skinny years and the public is actually using their fat heads for something other than hat racks. That's the real skinny behind the failed faux outrage.:)

Posted by: Mr. Stuck on April 20, 2009 at 4:58 PM | PERMALINK

I do believe the GOP has become Cartman incarnate. Selfish, stupidly arrogant, and the answer to everything (including "what should Obama have done to Chavez?") is "Kick them in the nuts!"

Posted by: jeff on April 20, 2009 at 5:13 PM | PERMALINK

As others have noted, I don't think this is strictly scheduled for Monday rollout. Rather, it's on a rolling three-day time frame.

Day One: Comb the video/audio files to select snippets suitable for outrage manufacture;

Day Two: Roll out top candidates for outrage selection via Rush, Drudge, et al.;

Day Three: with outrage topics selected and audience tested, hammer them home until the MSM picks up manufactured outrage, and disseminates on your behalf.

Outrage manufacture is now complete.

Posted by: brewmn on April 20, 2009 at 5:19 PM | PERMALINK

What's the president supposed to do at a diplomatic function: spit on Chavez's shoes? Yeah, that'd really smooth things over.

Posted by: Charity on April 20, 2009 at 5:23 PM | PERMALINK

Short answer: real outrage happens immediately and if reasonable, to many people at once. Fake outrage takes time and effort to invent, polish and schedule for co-ordinated dissemination.

Posted by: tanstaafl on April 20, 2009 at 5:24 PM | PERMALINK

"These guys can't govern, but they sure know how to work a calendar."
Steve, you are getting very clever at pithy, snarky little smacks at the enemies of the common good. Kudos. Kevin was OK with that too, but I think you've surpassed him in effective zinginess.

Posted by: Neil B ♪ on April 20, 2009 at 5:33 PM | PERMALINK

6. Beat wife. Scream at kids. Get drunk.

Fixed to reflect a true GOPer:

Cheat on wife with expensive hooker while denouncing prostitution. Scream at one kid; kick the other out of the house for being gay. Get drunk and then drive; crash car and/or hit someone and then blame it on the immigrant housekeeper.

Posted by: electrolite on April 20, 2009 at 6:12 PM | PERMALINK

Message to MSM:

1)Please stop covering FOX topics. Your acting like FOX is a legitimate news outlet. Just because their covering some ridiculous topic dejour on a 24 hour loop doesn't mean that anybody but their dittoheads gives a crap.

2)Please stop hiring FOX pundits to "inform" us of the latest controversy drummed up by FOX News. If I wanted to listen to FOX pundits, I'd simply flip the channel over to FOX.

3)I know it might be too much to ask, but could you please cover topics at a depth deeper than a 1st degree burn? Another novel idea, maybe use professionals that understand topics rather than the same old know-nothing blowhards. Just asking.

Posted by: palinoscopy on April 20, 2009 at 6:15 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, this kind of stuff goes over phenomenally well with the true believers, just check out the comment section of this idiotic AP article ("Obama gores foreign policy ox").


What's bizarre is the the political calculation of the Republicans on the question Steve LaBonne asked: How do they think they will break out of the 25% ghetto with this kind of stuff?

Posted by: SRW1 on April 20, 2009 at 6:20 PM | PERMALINK

The GOP remind me of a guy who got drunk and then crashed his car into my mine, killing my wife and kids and crippling me...and then when I get out of the hospital and begin rehab he starts criticizing me for my facial hair choices. Is it too much to ask for a tad bit of perspective from the MSM?

Posted by: Cioran Sellars on April 20, 2009 at 6:47 PM | PERMALINK

I think it's as simple as the GOP lacking a central command, i.e., the White House. For eight years, attacks were orchestrated from the office of Karl Rove. The word went forth, the players knew their assigned roles, and presto! instant outrage. It's simply tougher nowadays for them to coordinate things.

Posted by: JL on April 20, 2009 at 7:24 PM | PERMALINK

To whomoever said the current GOP = Cartman.

That is bucketloads of awesome.

They really are Cartman-- excel at namecalling, angry at everything, proudly ignorant, mistake feeling superior for being superior, always pushing to be the center of attention, irrational hatred of hippies, comically arrogant and are generally irritating to everyone around them. The only thing they're missing is the alien anal probe.

Posted by: zoe kentucky in pittsburgh on April 20, 2009 at 8:14 PM | PERMALINK

Remember when the media wouldn´t cover friday news dumps on monday because it was "old news"?

Clinton rules.

Posted by: inkadu on April 20, 2009 at 8:16 PM | PERMALINK

What's the president supposed to do at a diplomatic function: spit on Chavez's shoes? Yeah, that'd really smooth things over.

A real man like Bush would have...um...not shown up at all? (Because that is the true GOP position of strength and confidence-- ignoring people.) Or shown up and asked if he wanted to take it outside? Seriously, I'd love for someone to ask all the GOP babies what Bush would have done.

Forget teabags, we should start mailing them pacifiers.

Posted by: zoe kentucky in pittsburgh on April 20, 2009 at 8:21 PM | PERMALINK

Forget teabags, we should start mailing them pacifiers.

Zoe Kentucky, man i think you may have just started something. Start a site, sign me up lets get this going. What better way to shut up the cry babies

Posted by: timbertom on April 20, 2009 at 9:05 PM | PERMALINK

I guess if Obama had thrown his shoe at Chavez, the Republicans would have been happier.

Posted by: Lee on April 20, 2009 at 10:39 PM | PERMALINK



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