Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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June 19, 2010

GOP STEPS ON ITS OWN 'SHAKEDOWN' TALKING POINT.... It's hard to see how Wednesday's meeting at the White House could have gone much better. President Obama met with BP executives, told them how it was going to be, and BP quickly agreed. The result: a $20 billion pot of money that will bring much-needed help to workers, businesses, and families who've been victimized by a devastating oil spill.

The Republican response was quick: the relief fund is outrageous. The matter, the GOP said, should have been resolved in the courts. Obama pressuring BP on Americans' behalf was evidence of a "shakedown" and "extortion," which might have even been "illegal." How dare the president step up to secure needed funding for struggling families and small businesses in the region. The nerve. Hell, one key Republican official even apologized to BP for Obama strong-arming the oil giant into setting the money aside.

Yesterday, though, the Republican message seemed to shift a bit, at least in some corners. What was initially deemed an outrageous presidential abuse turned into a GOP idea that Obama shouldn't take credit for.

Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), for example, issued a statement yesterday implicitly arguing that there couldn't have been a shakedown, since BP intended to put $20 billion into the escrow fund before the White House meeting. "The true outrage," Franks said, "is that this was never the President's idea at all."

It wasn't just Franks.

On Thursday, Rep. Anh "Joseph" Cao told me that he pressed BP on the fund idea a month ago, inspired by the example of Exxon after its 1989 spill off the coast of Alaska. And on Friday I talked with Ray McKinney, another engineer, who is running for Congress in Georgia against Rep. John Barrow (D-Ga.). McKinney stressed that there was no serious disagreement about the escrow issue, and said Democrats were concocting a political debate when all that mattered was making BP pay and investigating the disaster.

First, there was considerable disagreement about the escrow issue, since the entire Republican establishment quickly rose up to trash the agreement, loudly and publicly.

Second, this new message completely invalidates the first. Simultaneously, we have Republicans saying Obama extorted the money out of BP and that BP agreed to the payment before Obama walked into the room. The president's efforts were scandalous, some Republicans are arguing, but the effort was a GOP idea.

Can't anybody here play this game? Just pick a message and go with it.

Steve Benen 12:25 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (30)

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Yeah, right, the GOBP of all parties wants to let the lawyers haggle over it for years and years with them getting most of the money and the rest of us, late or never ... yet the Recorplicans ostensibly favor arbitration etc. over those slimy legal vultures yadda yadda ... (Well, they do when employees and customers are required by clauses to go that route, but not if corporations would be the beneficiaries instead.)

And keep calling them BPublicans (maybe better choice than ReBPublicans but BPee-blicans sounds even better with added verbal verity and "piss on" element; as I again indulge my snarkological OCD ...)

BTW I heard Faux Noise had settled on a way to scam this (beyond just editing Barton out.) What are they up to, I don't watch.

Posted by: Neil B on June 19, 2010 at 12:34 PM | PERMALINK

Does it really shock anyone?

The majority of Republicans opposed the stimulus, yet were only more than happy to take credit for money going to their states and districts.

John Boehner called HCR "armageddon", then gave Republicans credit for part of it's provisions.

Posted by: 2Manchu on June 19, 2010 at 1:02 PM | PERMALINK

These guys are hilarious!

We go from:

"BP & the Fed should pay." to

"No wait...BP should be held to account...but we ain't raising that stinkin' cap." to

"BP should pay, by they were extorted and shook down by the Thug from Chicago." to

"We're so sorry BP." to

"No we're not." to

"Damn it, it was our idea!"

They are screwed on this issue, no matter what. The wild-eyed based is not budging, neither are the talkmeisters. Polls show the escrow account is popular. There is no way out of the box.

Posted by: sue on June 19, 2010 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK

Wouldn't it be fun if Obama were to ask Jindal if he'd prefer no escrow fund?

Posted by: Johnny Canuck on June 19, 2010 at 1:12 PM | PERMALINK

If you wanted proof that the "shakedown" talking point is nothing more than Atwater code for "ni#### ni#### ni####," this is it.

Posted by: Dr. Squid on June 19, 2010 at 1:22 PM | PERMALINK

They keep getting themselves deeper. I am still waiting for them to explain how this was a "natural disaster."
The longer this stays alive the better.

Posted by: hornblower on June 19, 2010 at 1:25 PM | PERMALINK

"It's a flagrant abuse of executive power and a tragedy....and besides, we thought of it first!!!"

With messaging like this from the GOP, the Democrats might survive the midterms after all.

Posted by: biggerbox on June 19, 2010 at 1:40 PM | PERMALINK

Wouldn't settling things in the courts require, um, ... trial lawyers? Who, are we have been told repeatedly by - - which party was it ? Oh, yea, the Republicans - who think trial lawyers are the root of most evil ??

THere will be plenty of lawsuits for years: Anadarko suing BP; families of the dead and injured workers; Halliburton suing BP; BP suing Halliburtion; LA suing BP: Jindal suing Michelle Obama for the hell of it ....

something tangible, effective and fast - which the present administration will oversee. Hmmm could it be, gasp! the R's don't want a president to succeed ??!!!

Posted by: bigtuna on June 19, 2010 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK

So it doesn't bother you *at all* that Obama acted illegally? Because he did, you know.

If you have evidence of an illegal act, post it.

There is nothing at all binding parties to litigation to use of the court system. If an agreement can be reached outside the court, that is perfectly legal, and in many ways preferable. The courts are the arbitrator of last resort when a compromise or agreement can't be reached.

Posted by: sue on June 19, 2010 at 1:55 PM | PERMALINK

The don't have to be consistent. They just throw mud, the media repeats, and people get angry.

Posted by: dems lose on June 19, 2010 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

So it doesn't bother you *at all* that Obama acted illegally? Because he did, you know.

Well, now we know the new for now Conservative Talking Point - it was illegal because we said so and we know it had to have been illegal because conservatives said so and conservatives are never wrong and have I mentioned that I'm a conservative? Aren't I wonderful?

Meanwhile, in the world that contains reality, we had to deal with the dumb from pundits (Bob Reich, no less) complaining that the President "informed" BP of their obligations, as opposed to "directed" or "ordered". Well, yeah, because it really would have been outside his authority if he ordered it. He didn't.

So the talking points are now, it was illegal, even though it was BP's idea, meaning it wasn't illegal.

No wonder Conservative = Loser.

Posted by: Dr. Squid on June 19, 2010 at 1:58 PM | PERMALINK

I don't think anybody here, including Steve, have any standing to give advice to the GOP on messaging.

According to you folks, you're smarter than them and the public likes your policies more.

Yet they seem to be able to always get their way, even with a minority.

Posted by: Observer on June 19, 2010 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

Another thing that drives me nuts about the great "Technology" at work trying to plug the gusher,,,

from what I've seen there are several ROVs with an unknown number of robot arms.
The only tool I've seen at the end of every arm is nothing more than a vise grip type gadget.
No screw driver fingers, special grippers or other particularly useful tools.

Just a bunch of stupid lobster claws.

Posted by: cwolf on June 19, 2010 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

"Solved in the courts?" Uh, wouldn't that qualify as a "junk lawsuit?" Just wondering.

Posted by: Art Hackett on June 19, 2010 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK
Can't anybody here play this game? Just pick a message and go with it.

Of Course, you just throw a steaming pile upside the wall - then bake what sticks + what slides off, feed it to the "small people" follow them till they drop that crap, pick it up & recycle again.

Posted by: cwolf on June 19, 2010 at 2:22 PM | PERMALINK

The Repub approach boils down to Goldilocks.
Everyone else, especially Dems, are always too strong or too weak but Repubs are always just right.

Posted by: JimK on June 19, 2010 at 3:07 PM | PERMALINK

Well, I meant "but not if it would disadvantage corporations instead.) I think there were good rebuttals to "Obama acted illegally" but was it necessary to delete that comment? In the interests of free speech and courtesy to commenters to at least see what's going on, that should be done only under great duress or OT status.

Observer, one reason they can get their way is the nutty supermajority rules, another is the mass misinformation campaigns waged by Faux and not pushed back by the SCLM as should be. But if well-meaning, intelligent people like you (?) will never vote for BPublicans, that would sure help.

Posted by: Neil B on June 19, 2010 at 3:34 PM | PERMALINK

Anyone seen the commercial where the young student gets her 'notice' in the mail for being accepted to college?

First take (mom &daughter hear): "I just got accepted into one of the best colleges in the country!"

Second take (dad hears) : "I just got accepted into one of the mose expensive colleges in the country!"

First take: Democratic Party & Independents
Second take: Republican & Libertarian Teapots

Posted by: mommadona on June 19, 2010 at 4:00 PM | PERMALINK

observer, perhaps you failed to, uh, observe that the affordable care act passed despite your insistence that the gop always gets its way with its fantastic messaging.

plus what neil b said about supermajority rules, which have nothing to do with messaging....

Posted by: howard on June 19, 2010 at 4:28 PM | PERMALINK

Humans are absurd
the world is insane
yet liberals keep trying
to make sense of the game!

Posted by: Bruce the Philosopher on June 19, 2010 at 5:06 PM | PERMALINK

BtP, you have a point - people are motivated by creepy subrational narratives and anyone working for public interest and the reality-based-community has to deal with that reality.

Posted by: neil b on June 19, 2010 at 5:10 PM | PERMALINK

Howard, it has everything to do with messaging. Their message gets out to the public, Dems run scared and then the Blue Dog dems do what the Repubs want.

From running the Supreme Court to removing regulations to eliminating the estate tax to killing the stimulus bill to blocking Obama nominations, the GOP is mopping the floor with the Dems.

Is there a public option or single payer about to come into being? No.

In baseball terms, the score's like 22-1; please don't celebrate a half victory. They're killing you guys.

Rather than tell each other how smart you are, you should be asking how come they're winning then figure out a plan to stop them. Pretending you're better won't help.

Posted by: Observer on June 19, 2010 at 5:19 PM | PERMALINK

OT but I hope nobody will mind, since it's great news (and I can't wait till tomorrow, since I'll be away from the 'puter for a week):

Posted by: exlibra on June 19, 2010 at 5:46 PM | PERMALINK

Heh, now BP is complaining that they *weren't* shaken down (by the MMS.) Off the Dish:

BP Admits It Does Not Follow Federal Law

In response to a U.S. senator’s questions in a letter, BP said it never follows a federal law requiring it to certify that a blowout preventer device would be able to block a well in case of an emergency. The inquiry stemmed from a hearing in May into the Gulf oil spill from the explosion and fire which sank the Deepwater Horizon rig. But, at the same time, the British oil giant blamed the federal oversight agency, Minerals Management Service, for not asking it to comply with the law.

Sully muses:
So: a citizen with full knowledge of the law need only obey it if the regulator specifically asks. If they don't, the citizen is blameless. Really? Now, I'm not excusing the MMS here. What I'm noting is the absence of any core civic responsibility by BP.

Posted by: neil b on June 19, 2010 at 6:12 PM | PERMALINK

Just another example of Republicans reading a script written by their puppet master without considering what the "message" of the message will actually be to the voting public at large.

Then 24 hours later realizing what the "message" was, becasue the internets tell them what it was, and having to back track from it without offending their puppet master.

At least the not-MSM is holding up the mirror for them to see themselves. That hasn't been happening with the MSM since at least the Nixon days.

Posted by: Marnie on June 19, 2010 at 9:31 PM | PERMALINK

"They keep getting themselves deeper. I am still waiting for them to explain how this was a "natural disaster."
The longer this stays alive the better.'

Because it is the "natural" result of egrigous professional incompetence and deliberate negligence.

Posted by: Marnie on June 19, 2010 at 9:37 PM | PERMALINK

Here's a message: Gimme some mo' dem shakedowns.

Posted by: NealB on June 20, 2010 at 12:05 AM | PERMALINK

observer, you are very confused here: super majority rules in the senate are the only reason for the supposed victories you claim.

messaging has nothing to do with it: if it did, the republican party would be much more popular than it is.

Posted by: howard on June 20, 2010 at 12:44 AM | PERMALINK

Today's Republican Party: If you can't dazzle 'em with brilliance, baffle 'em with bullshit.

Posted by: Out & About in The Castro on June 20, 2010 at 1:26 AM | PERMALINK

Of course the test will be to ask Cao or McKinney or Franks or the next one if they think Rush was out of line to call it a shakedown. Somehow I think all their arms are too short to box with Rushbo...

Posted by: dennis on June 20, 2010 at 3:13 AM | PERMALINK



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