Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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December 21, 2009

THE SCANDAL THAT SLIPPED THROUGH THE CRACKS.... In an early-Saturday vote, the Senate approved a massive Pentagon spending bill, including funding for U.S. troops that was due to run out. The final vote was 88 to 10.

But in the story that went largely overlooked late last week, Senate Republicans attempted to block the vote on troop spending, entirely because they hoped it would cause a delay that could derail health care reform. GOP lawmakers were, in fact, quite candid about their motivations. "They are prepared to jeopardize funding for troops at war," Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said. "If Democrats did that, there would be cries of treason."

But Republicans did that anyway. Tom Schaller recognized the political opportunity.

Not only are Republican senators threatening to block funding for the troops. Not only are they doing so under cover of night. Not only does this go against all of the soft-on-defense attacks the GOP has launched against Democrats since, oh, 1968.

But some Republicans openly admit they are doing it.

If President Obama and Senate Democrats cannot turn this into a holy shit storm of criticism, there's something wrong with them. This is a breakaway dunk for Lebron James. This is a tipped pass headed straight into the cornerback Darrell Green's hands, with nothing but an open sideline between him and the end zone. This is a fat pitch down the middle to Albert Pujols on a full count with the bases loaded. This is my beloved Alex Ovechkin with the puck on his stick and an open net in front of him.

As you may have noticed, this did not happen, and Republicans are not the slightest bit embarrassed by their behavior. If you're thinking that Dems just aren't especially good at capitalizing on these kinds of opportunities, that's because the party's track record has been discouraging at times.

But in this case, Democrats deserve credit for at least trying. Less than a day after Republicans tried to block military spending, the DNC unveiled a 30-second ad on the subject, which has reportedly begun airing on the cable news networks.

"How far are Republicans willing to go to protect the insurance industry and block health reform?" the ad asks. "Far enough to deny funding and equipment for our troops in harm's way. Republicans are so desperate to block health reform and protect their special interest friends that they delayed funding for our men and women in uniform. Then they voted against it. Tell Republicans to stop playing politics with health care. And to stop playing politics with our troops."

The White House pushed the story, too.

Why wasn't this a bigger deal? I suspect timing had a lot to do with it -- the ad was unveiled as all kinds of health care-related developments were unfolding, and on the same day as the conclusion of international climate talks in Copenhagen. The Senate GOP's misconduct just got lost in the shuffle.

Steve Benen 10:50 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (28)

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Comments

It's not surprising that the Dems poll numbers are dropping. When it comes to responding to all the lies from the republicans and their minions, the Dems are inept.

Posted by: edr on December 21, 2009 at 10:57 AM | PERMALINK

One word answer: IOKIYAR

Posted by: Radha on December 21, 2009 at 11:00 AM | PERMALINK

The Democrats do not have a broadcasting scandal sheet like Fox. What doesn't make it to the papers and cable channels, does not exist, regardless of reality. Also, Democrats aren't normally outraged by Republican behavior like this, considering it normal for the species. The outraged folks of America (see ACORN) are the right wing, which would never indict their own party for such behavior.

Let's compare David Vitter and Eliot Spitzer, for example. Spitzer resigned in shame. Vitter plods on, lying and indulging in moral pontificating. Or our boy, Newt.

Posted by: Mudge on December 21, 2009 at 11:04 AM | PERMALINK

And it also happened at the beginning of a major snowstorm in the Washington area that soooooooo inconvenienced journalists they couldn't possibly notice anything else was happening.

Who are the ten people who voted "no?"

Posted by: jpeckjr on December 21, 2009 at 11:06 AM | PERMALINK

The Senate GOP's misconduct just got lost in the shuffle.

Something tells me that if the roles were reversed, this wouldn't have been "lost in the shuffle". FOX News would cover it as their lead story de jour, and the rest of the MSM establishment would be compelled to follow suit. That and Republicans wouldn't just make a half-hearted attempt with a WH blog posting and a 30 second ad. They would be trumpeting this "treasonous playing of politics" in unison and to the exclusion of everything else. Period.

Democratic, fail.

Posted by: oh my on December 21, 2009 at 11:08 AM | PERMALINK

Could it be that the MSM is a wholly owned subsidiary of corporate America that has a vested interest in preventing a progressive/democratic agenda, so as to ensure future exponential profits at the expense of the entire human species?

Posted by: citizen_pain on December 21, 2009 at 11:11 AM | PERMALINK

NAYs ---10
Barrasso (R-WY)
Burr (R-NC)
Coburn (R-OK)
DeMint (R-SC)
Enzi (R-WY)
Feingold (D-WI)
Johanns (R-NE)
McCain (R-AZ)
Sessions (R-AL)
Thune (R-SD)

Other than Feingold, this is still a golden individual opportunity to go after some of these Senators, especially John McCain and Burr in NC!

Posted by: DBaker on December 21, 2009 at 11:16 AM | PERMALINK

"Why wasn't this a bigger deal?"

A) The dumbocraps are a bunch of wimps who are afraid of offending the rethugnican party.

B) The corporate media is a wholely owned subsidiary of the rethugnican party (or is this reversed).

C) Everyone assumes that it is just a bunch of crybaby progressives talking about it (and they are the only ones that Obama and the DLC are not willing to compromise with).

D) Only reich-wing complaints get air time (whether true or made up).

E) All of the above.

Posted by: SadOldVet on December 21, 2009 at 11:17 AM | PERMALINK

Why wasn't this a bigger deal?

Simple. It doesn't fit the villager narrative frame of "Democrats weak on defense, hate our troops."

Posted by: Jennifer on December 21, 2009 at 11:20 AM | PERMALINK

Stories gain traction, in large part, when they run counter to type, when they juxtapose conventional expectations with reality; when planes crash, when preachers have sex scandals, that sort of thing.

Part of the problem now is that Republicans have defined themselves down to the point that, among the chattering classes who cover them, they no longer need to make sense, to act responsibly, to avoid acting like fools, etc. This has been a good tactic, deliberate on their part, as they are now never called on what the say or do.

Plus, their disgraceful behavior is just part of the D vs. R lens through which political journalists view all human activity. So, blocking troop funding is just Republican boys being boys, bickering with those Dems, just the sort of thing that the likes of David Gregory think is politics as usual. No story there.

Posted by: jrw on December 21, 2009 at 11:21 AM | PERMALINK

Who are the ten people who voted "no?"

Posted by: jpeckjr on December 21, 2009 at 11:06 AM |

That's what I'd like to know. It's a given they're Republicans, and if our media wasn't so dysfunctional, their names would be all over the teevee.

Posted by: electrolite on December 21, 2009 at 11:21 AM | PERMALINK

Why wasn't this a bigger deal?

The same reason that Al Franken got lambasted for supposedly cutting off Lieberman or why the media did not go after the Senators who voted against the so-called Franken amendment - Franken is not "serious."

If you want any kind of indication of how the Beltway works, see this post from Media Matters about "Reliable Sources." http://mediamatters.org/blog/200912200010

John McCain, however, IS a serious guy. Why? They keep on asking him back on Sunday morning shows, so he must be "smart," as well.


Posted by: DBaker on December 21, 2009 at 11:24 AM | PERMALINK

Yeah, that's right, the GOP's misconduct just got "lost in the shuffle."

Come on, Steve -- it's not in the narrative for the GOP to engage in misconduct.

Why are you making excuses for the Mouse Circus?

Posted by: karen marie on December 21, 2009 at 11:28 AM | PERMALINK

Could it be that the MSM is a wholly owned subsidiary of corporate America that has a vested interest in preventing a progressive/democratic agenda...

You mean like the 60 vote super-majority that doesn't seem to require any media inspection so long as the Dems are in power?


Posted by: Aye koreyel... aye on December 21, 2009 at 11:28 AM | PERMALINK

True, the media is corrupt. True, Republican hypocrisy is 'Dog Bites Man.'

But the Dems just have to get better at overcoming that. Yeah, they made a couple of stabs at getting the story started, but they should know by now you have to try a lot harder than that sometimes. Did big-name D's submit op-eds to national newspapers? Or each D in Congress to their local newspaper? Did any left-side 527s run ads? Did each D on a talking head show find a way to work it in? Did they send talking points to Olbermann and Maddow and Cafferty and Stewart? Did Pelosi and Reid call a press conference?

Want to make a story stick? Do ALL of the above. Repeatedly if needed. Otherwise don't claim you are trying but the media/snowstorm/holidays got in your way.

Posted by: zeitgeist on December 21, 2009 at 11:43 AM | PERMALINK

When the lofty ambition of the right wing rises* , it rises to the tune of mutually assured destruction . This catchy tune may be bought singly , or with the entire album of nihilism for only one soul per copy . You have to pay to play , and it only costs you the dignity that only gets in the way of shamelessness .
* No longer confused with Putin's head (special thanks to S Palin)

Posted by: FRP on December 21, 2009 at 11:54 AM | PERMALINK

only nixon could go to china

Posted by: Confuscious Say... on December 21, 2009 at 11:56 AM | PERMALINK

It won't stick, because it plays against the deep rooted image of the GOP as the military gung ho party. (And gee, why would that be?) Who gets most huffed up over 'supporting the troops' anyway? Mostly conservative leaners, who are fine with political ploys to stall health care.

Posted by: al-Fubar on December 21, 2009 at 12:00 PM | PERMALINK

This is no surprise. As I've said for almost a decade now, if the press doesn't cover it, it didn't happen. Period. The media - this "liberal" media - is a disaster for America's education as to the games of politicians, in this case (and almost every case), conservatives. The nation is lost without a vital, neutral and aggressive press and we have none....

Posted by: BigRenman on December 21, 2009 at 12:08 PM | PERMALINK

Why wasn't it a bigger deal?

The Liberal Media strikes again.

Posted by: victory on December 21, 2009 at 12:19 PM | PERMALINK

Mudge and Citizen Pain beat me to it, Steve. Why are you letting the media off the hook here? We're talking about the same media that gave the Balloon Boy multiple-day coverage.

Posted by: T-Rex on December 21, 2009 at 12:36 PM | PERMALINK

The Dems need to come back with this in a big way in the upcoming campaign and hit every Republican incumbent with it, not just the ones who voted nay. DCCC campaign spots should just be the tip of the ice berg. Every Dem politician who gets invited on cable news shows should push the story relentlessly and when on FOX push the IOKIYAR storyline. Some research will come up with hit pieces that FOX personalities pushed when Dems voted against Defense appropriations for principled reasons and they can point to the fact that this time it was done for pure political gain.

Assuming that the American public is not just plain stupid it should resonate eventually.

I know...I know...don't ass u me...

Posted by: majun on December 21, 2009 at 12:40 PM | PERMALINK

Don't underestimate the Republican advantage of having a "news network" as their propaganda organ.

Fox News would be all over such a story if the Dems were slighting the military, and the other networks would pick up on the story.

Fox is silent when the Republicans are slighting the military and the other networks remain in their usual stupor.

Posted by: km on December 21, 2009 at 12:50 PM | PERMALINK

In the world of political discourse, this type of stupid doesn't have a shelf life. A composite ad of a whole rash of Rethug obstructionism needs to be compiled and run in the heat of the 2010 campaign. Over and over and over and over again until these thugs become so livid they implode.

Posted by: Chopin on December 21, 2009 at 12:58 PM | PERMALINK

A 30-sec. ad should only be a very small part of a massive and targeted response. Every Democrat who gets in front of a mic should immediately hit on this point when discussing HCR. They should call out Republicans BY NAME as craven hypcocrites and demand a explanation for playing politics at the troops' expense.

I'm not holding my breath.

Posted by: bdop4 on December 21, 2009 at 1:05 PM | PERMALINK

When are the MSM, the citizens of the USA, and many Democrats going to realize the traditional Republican party is dead. We have been dealing with a Fascist Criminal Enterprise begun during the Reagan administration. They have adopted Hitler's and Joseph Goebbels "Big Lie" propaganda and repeat it over and over to brainwash the American citizen, and use the dastardly tactics of Joseph McCarthy to smear their opposition. Their record has shown them to be totalitarian, corrupt, and incompetent. Wake Up America!

Posted by: ghostcommander on December 21, 2009 at 2:09 PM | PERMALINK

Don't be so harsh on Democrats. Republicans are ready and willing to scream "treason!" at any disagreement by Democrats with their stated policy. But reasonable, intelligent people know that these disagreements aren't even disloyal to the U.S., never mind treasonous.

I like to think that Democrats, and liberals in general, are reasonable and intelligent people, and thus it is not in our nature to scream treason at mere political disagreement. The Republican attempt to derail health care through defense spending is cynical, sure, but not treasonous.

Posted by: Jim G on December 21, 2009 at 2:19 PM | PERMALINK

Hello. And Bye.

Posted by: evedaferE on March 1, 2011 at 4:17 PM | PERMALINK
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