Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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March 4, 2010

WHEN THE RNC STOPS BEING POLITE, AND STARTS GETTING REAL.... As outrageous as Republican rhetoric can be when party officials are speaking into a microphone, it's even more jarring to learn what they're saying when they think no one is listening. Ben Smith had this major scoop yesterday:

The Republican National Committee plans to raise money this election cycle through an aggressive campaign capitalizing on "fear" of President Barack Obama and a promise to "save the country from trending toward socialism."

The strategy was detailed in a confidential party fundraising presentation, obtained by POLITICO, which also outlines how "ego-driven" wealthy donors can be tapped with offers of access and "tchochkes."

The presentation was delivered by RNC Finance Director Rob Bickhart to top donors and fundraisers at a party retreat in Boca Grande, Florida on February 18, a source at the gathering said.

The party's fundraising presentation suggests the Republican National Committee thinks its own supporters are idiots. All the party has to do is exploit contributors' "fears," and expect the checks to come rolling in.

And to stoke those fears, the RNC's message to these dupes includes telling them that contributions to Republicans will help "save the country from trending toward socialism!" One slide in the presentation refers to U.S. leaders as "the Evil Empire," with a picture of the president as the Joker from Batman, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as Cruella DeVille, and Senate Majority Leaders Harry Reid as Scooby Doo.

How did such a document reach the media? It wasn't leaked: "The 72-page document was provided to POLITICO by a Democrat, who said a hard copy had been left in the hotel hosting the $2,500-a-head retreat, the Gasparilla Inn & Club."


Republican officials are, not surprisingly, scrambling to downplay the significance of the fundraising presentation, and hoping to distance Steele from the humiliation. But the damage appears to have been done -- when we peak behind the curtain, the Republican National Committee has no respect for its own supporters, and fully admits that it has little more than cheap and baseless fear-mongering to offer.

DNC Communications Director Brad Woodhouse said in a statement, "If you had any doubt, any doubt whatsoever, that the Republican Party has been taken over by the fear-mongering lunatic fringe, those doubts were erased today.... It's no wonder the RNC reacted with alarm when they learned the American people would see this presentation. This revealing document proves what the Republican party has long denied. But now, by their own admission, the express strategy of the Republican party is not to offer new ideas, but 'fear.' Republicans can no longer deny that they are peddling fear when they are literally selling it as their path back to power."

Steve Benen 8:00 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (44)

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"The party's fundraising presentation suggests the Republican National Committee thinks its own supporters are idiots." How about that? - the RNC is finally right about something.

Posted by: N.Wells on March 4, 2010 at 8:04 AM | PERMALINK

This is all well and good, but will Cokie Roberts or Mara Liasson bring it up? This is small potatoes compared to the WH social secretary not being enough of a spear-carrier, or whatever it is they called her. Because, "some say..."

Posted by: Cataphract on March 4, 2010 at 8:12 AM | PERMALINK

"All the party has to do is exploit contributors' "fears," and expect the checks to come rolling in." It'll work too. Fear-mongering works like a charm on anyone whose entire life is driven by fear anyway.

Posted by: azportsider on March 4, 2010 at 8:15 AM | PERMALINK

finding the playbook (accent on "play" what with the cartoon character necessities) will always reveal that politicians are grifters...

but there is a pathetic sadness to this one...

consistent with the shame any american can feel at the likes of mcconnell and boehner and steele and hatch and grassley and president john mccain and the rest of them.

whatta country!

Posted by: neill on March 4, 2010 at 8:17 AM | PERMALINK

Looking forward to the hours of fair and balanced coverage this will get on Fox News.

Posted by: Monty on March 4, 2010 at 8:22 AM | PERMALINK

Could 72-page document have been a 'plant', left behind on purpose in order to have the Dems waste valuable time and effort 'exploiting' the benefits of such a find; only to have the Repubs publicly, and loudly refute it as a counterfeit document created by the Dems?

Posted by: Bill on March 4, 2010 at 8:23 AM | PERMALINK

The RNC clearly doesn't give a damn about reality, just illusions.

Fear mongering is an ancient tactic, done since the dawn of history.

What the democrats need to do now is exploit this reality and show

fortitude to carry out their reality-based agenda.

The Rebublicans don't deal well with reality.


You betcha.

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on March 4, 2010 at 8:23 AM | PERMALINK

Just pointing out that the other party is crazy isn't going to save the Dems. I voted for change NOT Bush's status quo.

Posted by: par4 on March 4, 2010 at 8:26 AM | PERMALINK

Unfortunatly, this will probably work for them. They will indeed get a lot of contributions from the idiocracy, and as usual they won't be held to account by the media, which will continue to worship "bipartisanship."

Posted by: Virginia on March 4, 2010 at 8:27 AM | PERMALINK

Scooby Doo? Evil? WTF

Posted by: phi6 on March 4, 2010 at 8:32 AM | PERMALINK

Fear = negro in the White House. That's the slime they're really dishing out.

Obviously, they're playing to a very select group of people and they're guessing, and planning, that that group will turn out in force at the pols. This election will come down to voter apathy. If Democrats don't bother to vote, then the Republicans will make huge gains courtesy a handfull of people.

Posted by: SaintZak on March 4, 2010 at 8:33 AM | PERMALINK

The most telling part of the Politico story was actually buried on page 2 -- quoting a "major Republican donor" as saying that the RNC's relations with major donors are "'disastrous,' with veteran givers beginning to abandon the committee," and pointing out that the average gift to the RNC last year was $40.

Remind me again why conventional wisdom says 2010 is going to be a big year for the GOP.

Posted by: jvwalt on March 4, 2010 at 8:34 AM | PERMALINK

When I saw the Obama/Joker picture on MSNBC.com this morning, I thought it had to be from the Onion. As batshit insane as the repubs have become, their attack 'humor' is never this pre-adolescent. They appear to have gone from 12 year olds to 6 year olds.

Posted by: JoeW on March 4, 2010 at 8:34 AM | PERMALINK

Unfortunately I think their supporters are too stupid to believe it. All they have to do is come up with a story, any story to explain it away and they will bite.

Posted by: SW on March 4, 2010 at 8:36 AM | PERMALINK

This week Glenn Beck has been feeding his viewers a steady stream of McCarthyism: Communists in the White House.

Using superficial bits of history/fact he is setting out to convince those with an 8th grade understanding of the world that we are about to become a socialist and/or communist nation.

Obama as the Joker plays to this audience.

Posted by: DAY on March 4, 2010 at 8:42 AM | PERMALINK

No problem for republicans. Their taxation and socialism frame will carry them through any little dust up like this. Thirty second sound bites mask or erase years of shit like this.

Posted by: lou on March 4, 2010 at 8:45 AM | PERMALINK

Tell me again which side of the political divide is elitist and thumbs its nose at the masses.

Posted by: Northern Pike on March 4, 2010 at 8:46 AM | PERMALINK

Even Mourning Joe was shocked , shocked I tell you.
It must be embarrassing to be a Republican.

Posted by: john R on March 4, 2010 at 8:50 AM | PERMALINK

But, but, but . . . NPR spent all morning feeding me a steady diet of fear stories about how I should be very afraid for my future, cuz I am not saving enough, and college costs and girls are getting raped in college because they drink too much, and my expensive insurance plan is going to be taxed, and how little old Republicans are so concerned about our fiscal future and just want to help. Honestly, NPR is rapidly becoming a complete tool. Looks like Bush's burrowing technique worked pretty well. I told them I am no longer interested in giving them any monetary support.

Posted by: Scott F. on March 4, 2010 at 9:08 AM | PERMALINK

SW is right. To the rank and vile conservatives out there, this won't mean anything at all. See, this is what's called "evidence." And hard evidence that refutes the leadership's party line can't possibly be real. There's just no way.

Posted by: chrenson on March 4, 2010 at 9:14 AM | PERMALINK

This document needs to be scanned and posted on the web, stat.

If anyone has a link, please post it ASAP.

This needs to go viral.

Posted by: bdop4 on March 4, 2010 at 9:19 AM | PERMALINK

Never mind. Sometimes I should have a cup of coffee before posting and remember to click on those weblink thingies.

Here's the link:

Posted by: bdop4 on March 4, 2010 at 9:24 AM | PERMALINK

For the last 30 years (and especially since 9/11), the motto of the rethugnican party has been (without apologies to FDR):

"We have nothing to fear, but the loss of fear itself."

That the rethug party has nothing to offer beyond fear and hate does not seem to diminish the love affair that the Villagers and the corporate media have for them.

What policy positions do the rethugs actually have that go beyond cutting taxes for the wealthy?

Posted by: SadOldVet on March 4, 2010 at 9:35 AM | PERMALINK

Interesting. Amongst other definitions for "tchochkes," Wikipedia spews forth:
"Leo Rosten, author of The Joys of Yiddish, gives an alternate sense of tchotchke as meaning a desirable young girl, a 'pretty young thing.' Less flatteringly, the term could be construed as a more dismissive synonym for 'bimbo.' These usages are not common outside of Jewish circles. The term (in the form tzatzke, with a tsade instead of teth-shin) is sometimes used in modern Hebrew as a slang word equivalent to 'slut.'

Is the Republican Party trying to attract wealthy donors by offering them bimbos?

Posted by: josef on March 4, 2010 at 9:39 AM | PERMALINK

I must relate my experience in conversation yesterday with a seemingly intelligent, middle-aged neighbor. After 20 minutes of normal getting-to-know-you chit chat, revealing that I work in educational publishing, she made the odd remark that "textbooks are all being rewritten to promote socialist/communist views." She then went on to say that she didn't know my political views, but "THIS GUY is determined to ruin America, turning it into a socialist country." When I adamantly disagreed, she told me that "Rush Limbaugh has never been wrong about a President!" After expressing my disagreement, I abuptly ended our conversation. Once I calmed down, I realized that the newest version of Republican smear and fear through misinformation and mischaracterization is working. Then I got home and saw the Politico piece. Is it just that I've been paying more attention or are is the Republican Party totally without shame?

Posted by: Carol All on March 4, 2010 at 9:49 AM | PERMALINK

Carol: Is it just that I've been paying more attention or are is the Republican Party totally without shame?

Actually it's this: The Republican Party is without shame and succeeds because no one in their grasp has any intention of paying attention. If Rush says it, they believe it. That's all the attention they need.

Meanwhile, in the last year there's been so much alarming out-front crazy [Tea Baggers, town hall meetings with guns, etc.] and behind-the-scenes crazy [gun and ammo hording, militia building, etc.] that it is impossible to watch the slow march of the progressive movement and keep track of the Tasmanian Devil conservatives at the same time.

And I have a perfectly innocent run-in like yours with your neighbor weekly. Back away slowly.

Posted by: chrenson on March 4, 2010 at 10:01 AM | PERMALINK

The RNC demonizes everyone's favorite great dane?

What douchebags.

Posted by: 2Manchu on March 4, 2010 at 10:12 AM | PERMALINK

Idiom alert: "Peak behind the curtain," huh? That suggests you're hallucinating.

Posted by: Rand Careaga on March 4, 2010 at 10:17 AM | PERMALINK
Amongst other definitions for "tchochkes," ... a desirable young girl, a 'pretty young thing.'

Josef, no, that's silly. Despite my deep disdain for the RNC, I am 100% certain they are not using a rare, alternative meaning of tchotchke to signal that they're getting young hotties for their contributors. Among other things, they can't afford it. (heh).

They're using it in the more typical fundraising sense: you send us $10, we send you some plastic piece of crap that costs us $0.25 that says No-bama or some damn thing. Everyone from NPR to the RNC does this; it is unremarkable.

Posted by: Rathskeller on March 4, 2010 at 10:22 AM | PERMALINK

Geez, that's some kinda steep JPEG squashing applied to the RNC Powerpoint images. Parts of it are unreadable for all the compression artifacts. Did they save the file to a floppy or something?

Posted by: Rand Careaga on March 4, 2010 at 10:23 AM | PERMALINK

SaintZak says: "This election will come down to voter apathy. If Democrats don't bother to vote, then the Republicans will make huge gains courtesy a handfull of people."

This observation is absolutely correct. The elections this November will be determined by Democratic voters, not Republican voters. We KNOW the Repubs--responding like Pavlov's dogs to the fear/Rush is always right/negro socialist in the WH bullshit--WILL be there on election day.

We know the Repubs will be there but will the Dem voters? The Dem senator in my state, Blanche Lincoln, is doomed (though, IMO, she's no real loss to the Dems) partially because every Repub in the state's going to vote against her.

Only the Dem voters can slow the tide of Repub victories in November. If they stay home out of apathy then, yes, the Repubs will make huge gains this November. Will passing health care reform be enough to get Dem voters to the polls?

Posted by: Catcher on March 4, 2010 at 10:44 AM | PERMALINK

What's truly sad is that it's considered a newsworthy revelation that the GOP consciously uses fear to motivate an army of idiots. The discovery of this slide show is about as shocking as discovering that my pencil falls when I drop it.

Posted by: Jon on March 4, 2010 at 10:50 AM | PERMALINK

Is the Republican Party trying to attract wealthy donors by offering them bimbos?
Posted by: josef on March 4, 2010 at 9:39 AM

One word: Palin

Posted by: * on March 4, 2010 at 11:05 AM | PERMALINK

Remind me again why conventional wisdom says 2010 is going to be a big year for the GOP.

Because there is a very real chance the Democratic base and many independents will stay home in November. If healthcare goes down (and the odds are running better than 50% that it will) a lot of the Dem base will shrug their shoulders and say 'nothing changes'.

It's no longer enough for Democrats to say 'we're not Republicans'. They have the White House and the Congress. They need to start doing things for their base. They need to start acting. If base stays disengaged, then Democrats are in for a VERY bad year.

The smaller the turnout in November the more power the Teabaggers and their ilk will have at the polls. Like it or not, fear motivates. And will come out in force.

Posted by: thorin-1 on March 4, 2010 at 11:19 AM | PERMALINK

So who does Michael Steele believe himself to be, that he and his staff are free to look down on the Republican rich and wealthy and manipulate them like tools?

What kind of a personal agenda or circle of friends would give rise to such egotism?

There's like 4 different mini-parties in the GOP: the fracturing teabaggers, the arian elite, religious right, the corporate owners.

The only common demoninator to hold this mess together IS fear. It certainly isn't God. And much of what they claim to fear is so absolutely laughable; the climate? Please. Gays? Please! Non-white presidents? Their "fears" show only a shallowness of character grown in a nation of spoiled abundance.

As a Dem in AL I find the overwhelming conservative fear is basically this:
Someone else might get more than me!

Posted by: * on March 4, 2010 at 11:22 AM | PERMALINK

From the Politico article:

Manipulating donors with crude caricatures and playing on their fears is hardly unique to Republicans or to the RNC - Democrats raised millions off George W. Bush in similar terms - but rarely is it practiced in such cartoonish terms.

Again with the false analogies and comparisons. I defy Ben Smith to put forward a single example of the officially recognized DNC, not "Democrats" generally, doing anything approaching this level of disgusting, below the belt activity.

These antics will get a total of two minutes discussion on the TeeVee. More than half of that two minutes will be about how MoveOn.org did something similar to Bush, so the Democrats don't have clean hands on this either.

Posted by: Winkandanod on March 4, 2010 at 11:35 AM | PERMALINK

[Idiom alert: "Peak behind the curtain," huh? That suggests you're hallucinating.]

Uh, what? Do you really not understand the reference to 'The Wizard of Oz'?

Posted by: Shade Tail on March 4, 2010 at 11:44 AM | PERMALINK

I sure hope that those Republicans who are on SS, and Medicare understand that the Republicans want very badly to dismantle those programs.

They won't repeal them they'll just do to those "socalist" programs what they are doing to Congress, they will make them disfunctional so that the people who rely on them will allow them to be "Fixed" untill they become nonexistant.

Posted by: Marnie on March 4, 2010 at 12:25 PM | PERMALINK

For once I agree with the Republican National Committee. I think their supporters are idoits too.

Posted by: J. Frank Parnell on March 4, 2010 at 12:55 PM | PERMALINK

@Shade Tail (Do you really not understand the reference to 'The Wizard of Oz'?): Oh, I caught that just fine. It's the substitution of "peak" for "peek" I was remarking upon. The latter means to take a surreptitious look at something. Used as a verb, the former means (or meant, back in the day) to experience the maximum effect over the course of an hour or so of a once-popular ergot alkaloid, or so I'm (cough) told.

Posted by: Rand Careaga on March 4, 2010 at 1:32 PM | PERMALINK

For me, the biggest take from this is that it shows that Republicans AREN'T going to attack Democrats for having a "Do Nothing" Congress, as many here inist they will; but rather, are planning to gloat about how THEY'RE the reason nothing's getting done in Washington and how this is a good thing. Basically, Republicans will spend most of the year reminding people why they should vote for their opponents.

For anyone interested, I wrote more about this here:
Republicans: Their Own Worst Enemy

Posted by: Doctor Biobrain on March 4, 2010 at 2:34 PM | PERMALINK

@Rand Careaga: Re: peak vs. peek
Thank you!!! I was starting to think I was the only one who noticed.

Posted by: walterstricia on March 4, 2010 at 7:13 PM | PERMALINK

Notice how they're going with the ol' "bad apple" defense? A few rogue staffers cobbled this tripe together... oh then nevermind, that's OK.

Posted by: GP on March 5, 2010 at 11:02 AM | PERMALINK

Hello, I am just pondering what is the rarest bird which you have spotted and where abouts was it? Not been into bird spotting for long, but those are probably the greatest moments.

Posted by: Elvis Riske on January 14, 2011 at 8:32 AM | PERMALINK



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