Political Animal


May 11, 2011 1:15 PM House GOP freshmen conveniently forget 2010

By Steve Benen

A wide variety of House Republicans, especially freshmen in competitive districts, heard from their constituents over the recent two-week break, and discovered that voters aren’t impressed with the GOP plan to end Medicare. Yesterday, they gathered to deliver a message to Democrats: Stop making us look bad by telling the public about our agenda.

A group of House Republican freshmen, tired of getting hammered on Medicare, is leading a fresh protest against Democrats’ tactics on the senior citizen health care program.

Rep. Adam Kinzinger sent a letter to the White House Tuesday signed by 41 of his classmates “calling on President Obama to end the ‘MediSCARE’ tactics,” according to a release today.

This is amusing for a couple of reasons. The first is that the whining about “scare tactics” continues to be foolish. If Dems were lying and engaging in demagoguery, then Republicans would be right to call them on it. But the criticism of the GOP plan from Democrats and the left has been accurate — the point is to simply let Americans know what Republicans intend to do.

If the GOP’s Medicare proposal is frightening the public, the problem isn’t with Democratic rhetoric; it’s with the Republican plan.

But the other angle to keep in mind is recent history. In 2010 — just last year — many of these same freshmen managed to get elected by using wildly misleading attack ads accusing Democrats of hurting seniors and “cutting” Medicare.

In other words, those who suddenly find themselves deeply troubled by “MediSCARE tactics” are in Congress today because of “MediSCARE tactics.”

This was not entirely lost on the GOP freshmen at yesterday’s press conference, and some of the Republicans in attendance said they want to “wipe the slate clean” and “hit the reset button” now that they’re in office.

Well, isn’t that convenient.

It’s as if Republicans hit Democrats with a baseball bat, over and over again, for about a year. Now that Dems, bloodied and bruised, have managed to get their hands on a bat, they’re hearing Republicans proclaim, “Let’s all agree that hitting people with bats is wrong.”

Nevertheless, the GOP whining on this suggests the Democratic message — which, unlike the GOP’s attack ads from last year, happens to be accurate — is causing some real headaches for the Republican Party.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.


Post a comment
  • c u n d gulag on May 11, 2011 1:22 PM:


    'Hoist by your own REtards!'

  • kevo on May 11, 2011 1:23 PM:

    Don't these Freshman Tea Partying Republican House Members know that in the good ol'USA you get as good as you give!

    Oh, poor us, after hoodwinking the American public the last time out, this time the truth is coming back at us, so help us President Obama (and we'll trash you later)! These groveling Republicans are an embarrassment to our political heritage!

    Mealy-mouthed undeserving ingrates - that lot over there in the House that doesn't know its ass from a political hole in the ground! -Kevo

  • Alrighty Then on May 11, 2011 1:24 PM:

    Good. Now that the smell of blood is in the water, it's high time to start attacking these assclowns on Medicaid as well. Let the Teatards know that rationing Medicaid will cause little Susie to have a hissy fit when she finds out she's moving into her brother's room to make space for Grandma.

  • hells littlest angel on May 11, 2011 1:24 PM:

    "How long must this go on?" he asked. "This enmity between our peoples..... this hatred... this animosity... this spitting in shoes and pissing in cokes?"

  • Ron Byers on May 11, 2011 1:29 PM:

    Harry Truman used to say that he didn't give Republicans hell. He just told the truth and Republicans thought it was hell. Give 'em hell, Democrats. Give 'em hell.

  • martin on May 11, 2011 1:31 PM:

    It's really just an intellectual property issue. Republican trademarked "MediSCARE" and are just asserting their ownership rights. It's only fair. And besides, what other intellectual property can they claim?

  • Danny on May 11, 2011 1:31 PM:

    Tell them to call back when Joe Biden have accused Paul Ryan of a nefarious plot to put Beau in front of a Death Panel.

    Tell them to call back when Dennis Kuchinic busts into the Meet the Press studio, interupting Dick Cheney torture pitch, with the exlamation: "You Lie!", and the Williamsburg Armory makes a high speed sniper rifle engraved with that quotation in honor of the congressman.

    Tell them to call back when congressional democrats huddle up for a messaging strategy session and on the recommendation of Frank Lutz decides to attack the Ryan Plan as a "Fascist takeover of american health care".

  • jlt on May 11, 2011 1:34 PM:

    Like they did not hammer the President on this Healthcare issue for 2 years but want a pass on their on tape recorded behavior! Right... Hypocrites!

    Need the results of their behavior in full page ads across the nation and on the MSM..daily!

  • Caffeind on May 11, 2011 1:38 PM:

    Someone needs to tell these jackasses (apologies to pack animals everywhere) that if your side was the one hanging politicians from the other side in effigy, cutting gas lines to people's houses and placing coffins on the front lawns of politicians private residences, they sure as hell don't get to whine about having the truth told about them, so they can shut the fuck up.

  • MarkC on May 11, 2011 1:43 PM:

    > It’s as if Republicans hit Democrats with a baseball bat, over and over again, for about a year. Now that Dems, bloodied and bruised, have managed to get their hands on a bat...

    By your analogy, the Democrats don't have a bat as much a copy of the Republican's public "plan to hit seniors with a bat." And the Republicans are calling the publicizing of that plan "hitting Republicans with a bat."

    It's even more bat crazier.

  • blondie on May 11, 2011 1:45 PM:


  • danimal on May 11, 2011 1:49 PM:

    To repeat myself from an earlier thread: When they're whining, we're winning. Keep the pressure on!

  • jsacto on May 11, 2011 1:54 PM:

    This echoes a comment I make frequently to a number of my more politically-blindered friends, that if Republicans were somehow forced to ONLY be able to run on their actual ideologies and actual intentions, not a one would ever be elected again.

    And to ice the cake, they would have the chutzpah (or stupidity combined with a lack of self-awareness) to actually commit to paper a plea to "stop telling people what we're actually up to, you're hurting our election prospects with the too-easily duped." Unreal.

  • Victory on May 11, 2011 1:55 PM:

    Dear fellow students,

    Just because we love shoving the weaker students into their lockers doesn't mean we would like you to do it to us.

    Thank you,

    GOP Freshmen.

  • slappy magoo on May 11, 2011 1:59 PM:

    I feel like I'm on a Sunday morning talk show, talking about how this helps Republicans :) But I can see how they'd think this is win-win. If Dems cave (as they're traditionally prone to do), Republicans will go back to having the upper hand to which they're accustomed in a battle they have no intention of playing fairly to win. If Dems stand their ground, the Repubs can whine, like the pusses that they are, that the Dems are somehow aren't playing fair, and the media is complicit enough to carry that water. There will be 3-to-1 ratios of GOPs to Dems on Sunday morning shows explaining how the Dems are turning this into a street brawl, which is SO unbecoming for the Congress, and whatever happened to civic public discourse? At that point, some Dems will probably waver and admit that they're being men ol' meanies to the poor widdle party of rich white dudes, and those that don't apologize will be further demonized...as will the cowardly Dems who cave, because as the Republicans will tell you whenever they're winning, politics ain't beanbag. When they're losing, it IS beanbag and you're not playing fair, and mommies must be called to punish you, but when they're winning, all's fair.

    This tactic will only worse if a: Dems continue to stand firm with the message that they have been and always have been trying to save seniors and the only thing they're sorry for is that their message was muddled during the 2010 elections, but no more. And b: If any Dem starts to stray from that message, they need to feel the heat. They need to know that this is a dealbreaker from the party, from those prone to sending money, from the unions, from everyone. Start to admit that maybe the Republicans have a point, either on the privatization issue OR that Dems could be nicer about their claims, and risk being a pol without an island.

  • T2 on May 11, 2011 1:59 PM:

    These TeaParty freshmen look in the mirror and see this headline:
    "TeaParty incumbent defeated"

  • Coinspinner on May 11, 2011 2:05 PM:

    Absolutely priceless. Dems, you clearly need to double-down on this, I'd up the rhetoric to insane levels.

  • DAY on May 11, 2011 2:07 PM:

    Waaah! Waaah! Mommy, mommy, no fair! Those Democrats are hitting me with FACTS!"

  • Maude on May 11, 2011 2:09 PM:

    Maybe they should try and go for the Triple Crown.
    Medicare, Medicaid and then Social Security.
    They lost on Medicare.
    The freshmen Repups told on the Dems. They said the Dems were being mean to them. After what Obama did to Ryan in his speech, why do they think he'll back down?

  • jjm on May 11, 2011 2:10 PM:

    First of all, few Democrats 'caved' (this meme originated when they had to placate Blue Dogs over ACA).

    But if they have not been hammering Republicans until now with ads, etc., it is because they very intelligently did not 'take the bait' on every ludicrous claim and action the GOP has taken over the last few months, and bided their time. If they had, it would sound to the public like a 'he said/she said' set of cacophonous bickering, just like on the news shows.

    Instead, Democrats have simply allowed the GOP to expose themselves and their completely incoherent plans for all to see. And they are getting worried.

    With good reason.

    No one has to hit them; they hit themselves already.

  • Thomas Beck on May 11, 2011 2:22 PM:

    As Budd Schulberg writes, you can't eat your brother and have him, too. You can't act like a brute, then the first time you get it in the belly, holler "brotherhood." Although, obviously, IOKIYAR.

  • Han's Solo on May 11, 2011 2:22 PM:

    Ya'all are missing the BEST part of this: The Teabagger's didn't, "Deliver a message to Democrats," they sent a letter to Obama!

    Don't you get it? They could have sent a letter to House Democrats. They didn't. They asked Barack Obama to make the mean congressional Dems be nice. They could have sent a letter to THEIR leadership, but they apparently have NO confidence in their leadership so they didn't bother.

    Let me paraphrase the GOP whiners, "Daddy, every time I hit them they hit me back! Make them stop defending themselves so I can hit them more!"

    As one poster on TPM said, "Obama's response should be-LMHBSMKAO. 'Laughing my half black secret muslim kenyan ass off.'"

  • mellowjohn on May 11, 2011 2:24 PM:

    as tina fey (channeling sarah palin) said last saturday night, "i hope the lamestream media won't twist my words by printin' them verbatim."

  • exlibra on May 11, 2011 2:28 PM:

    Rep. Adam Kinzinger sent a letter to the White House Tuesday signed by 41 of his classmates “calling on President Obama to end the ‘MediSCARE’ tactics,”

    To *Obama*??? "Daaaddyyyy... he's mean to me, make him stop!" Do they even realize how immature that makes them sound? That's not "freshmen"; that's preschool. They ought to be put in Head Start, pronto.

    I'd love to see Obama give them the same response he used to give to his girls when they were squabbling. I bet he didn't just tell them to kiss and make up before he got to the bottom of who did what to whom.

  • Lord of Swamp Castle on May 11, 2011 2:29 PM:

    "Let's not bicker and argue over who killed who - this is a happy occasion!"

  • bigtuna on May 11, 2011 2:35 PM:

    30 sec spot

    "Rep. Adam Kinzinger and 41 of his classmates sent a letter to President Obama asking him to tell other democrats to change their truth telling. This was one week after Osama Bin Laden was killed by a highly trained group of American heros. In the words of President Obama .... 'We have more important things to do.'

    Man up, republicans. "

  • TR on May 11, 2011 2:37 PM:

    Oh, they're scared? Good, let's double down on this line of attack.

  • ManOutOfTime on May 11, 2011 2:42 PM:

    Man they have the waaaa-waaaa-waaambulance on speed dial these days! Tell me again why everyone things Repugs are macho daddies ... ? It's all sissy indignation and hurt fee-fee's with that crowd ... !

  • ameshall on May 11, 2011 2:42 PM:

    Dear Rep. Kinzinger:

    Thank you for your recent letter. I'm truly sorry that your constituents don't like your vote to replace Medicare with a voucher program, and that you didn't get the hero's welcome in your district that Paul Ryan promised. I wish I could rescue you from your own political mistakes and the mean Democrats who are exploiting them, but I'm too busy ramming through my socialist agenda, imposing government-run health care, administering death panels, doctoring my birth certificate, palling around with terrorists, directing U.S. courts to apply Sharia law, and plotting with union leaders on how to steal the next election. If you're looking to erase all memory of the vote you cast to end Medicare, I suggest you consult with the experts at Fox News. They are veritable magicians when it comes to revising history.

    With warm regards,
    Barack Obama

  • rrk1 on May 11, 2011 3:29 PM:

    I really find this new site format unpleasant and off-putting. What the hell is the point of this CAPTCHA nonsense? Is it meant to discourage comments? It certainly has discouraged mine. I can't read half the code, and it isn't worth my time to enter it repeatedly to get it right.

    Onto the topic.

    Recently my congressman toured his district and I was invited to a 'community leaders' (I'm an elected official) session with about twenty other people from my area. Aside from being an obvious freshman (Democrat) and still learning the ropes, he was questioned about why the Democrats don't have a stronger message. His answer was basically, "We're trying." That's hardly reassuring. The lack of message has been the problem for the past two years both for the Democrats in congress and Obama. The Rethugs have controlled the message brilliantly, and largely still do. The Dems have just let them.

    Obviously the freshmen Rethugs don't understand that their sense of entitlement to rule wasn't ordained by god, Moses or Jesus Christ. Letting the Rethugs condemn themselves out of their own mouths is a good tactic, but it really does have to be orchestrated better. One can only hope, but right-wing money (Koch Inc.) is likely to swamp the public discourse as we get closer to 2012. I'm not confident the Dems will hang in there and give as good as they've been getting.

  • Ron Byers on May 11, 2011 3:36 PM:

    The Media take these clowns seriously why?

    I love the sound of whining Republicans in the afternoon. It is the sound of victory.

  • John R AKA Mr. Serf Man on May 11, 2011 3:42 PM:

    Death Panel ...Death Panel , Socialized Medicine, Facist takeover ...Pot meet kettle

  • rob on May 11, 2011 3:44 PM:

    My comment on the plight of the Republican frosh:


  • edr on May 11, 2011 3:54 PM:

    I believe it was Adlai Stevenson who said " I'll make a deal with the Republicans,If they will stop lying about us we'll stop telling the truth abouit them".

  • max on May 11, 2011 6:13 PM:

    That's why they call them freshmen. Most of them were welcomed back into their districts the way the Iraqis welcomed us in 2003. Good luck in 2012 with that Ryancare vote boys and girls, and don't forget to duck.

  • Dan on May 11, 2011 7:27 PM:

    The real cherry-on-top is that the GOP is asking the Dems to call a truce... on *Medicare*. In case you've been asleep for the last 40 years, the GOP party platform has been "abolish Medicare" since the day Medicare was passed. You wouldn't know that from 2009-10, because they cynically positioned themselves as Defenders of the Faith (hey, whatever it takes to get into office, right?).

    And now they are reaping the whirlwind: the problem with getting elected to power as a Republican on promises of protecting Medicare is that your party leadership will inevitably try to end Medicare when they do get power. Say what you will about the Dems, but they won't try to do *that*.

    As painful as 2009-10 was, the Dems should be happy that the GOP pushed Medicare to the forefront of discussion. The whining GOP freshman cannot feign ignorance of the importance of Medicare after (dishonestly) demagoguing the incumbents over it for 18 months.

  • JohnJay60 on May 11, 2011 9:36 PM:

    I really need some interviewer to ask Republican politicians: Do you believe Ronald Reagan was correct in calling for the abolishment of Medicare? If yes, why? If no, what part of Reagan's philosophy do you believe was incorrect and what other parts of Reagan's philosophy, if any, do you disavow?

  • SFAW on May 12, 2011 1:01 AM:

    Steve -
    The baseball bat analogy is very similar to something Mark Jurkowitz said many years ago. (Although in his case, it was regarding whites complaining about "reverse discrimination".) The key difference re: Jurkowitz is/was that he had the Repug-equivalent screaming "No fair!!" when the trod-upon finally get some licks in.

    Frankly, I would not be that upset if a number of Dems were to explain to the Repugs about "enthusiasms".

  • Kathryn on May 12, 2011 7:52 AM:

    Caffeind and Ron Byers thanks for giving me two laugh out loud moments this morning and slappy magoo, you should email your thoughts to Debbie Wasserman-Shultz Fla.D immediately. The new head of the Democratic Party (Wasserman-Shultz) is good on T.V., smart, hardworking and she would benefit from your clear thoughts.

    The sight of those GOP babies on Rachel's show last night pleading their case or civilty to POTUS was a Saturday night skit that needs no editing. They all appear to range between 15 to 18 years of age, emotionl age 12.

  • Texas Aggie on May 12, 2011 10:25 AM:

    “I have been thinking that I would make a proposition to my Republican friends… that if they will stop telling lies about the Democrats, we will stop telling the truth about them”.
    — Adlai E. Stevenson

  • slippy on May 12, 2011 11:24 AM:

    The whininess of the GOP is staggering. Their pleas for civility are falling on deaf ears. This is the party that assaulted Obama on a 24x7 basis for being a Kenyan Manchurian candidate. He has proven, repeatedly, that he was the right man for the job.

    He got bin Laden. He pulled our economy back from a cliff. The GOP has just snickered on the sidelines like a bunch of rowdy teenagers who need their asses kicked with a square boot. Screw them. There is no "reboot" button. THE GOP WANTS TO KILL YOUR GRANDMA AND TAKE HER MEDICARE AWAY.


    I will NEVER EVER EVER EVER stop saying this.

  • manapp99 on May 12, 2011 12:09 PM:

    "This is amusing for a couple of reasons."

    True. Not the least of which is Benen seemingly does not know how the game of politics is played. He calls himself a political animal however more accurately would be a Democrat Cheerleader.

    Cool for him though to have his own cadre of sycophants that make him feel like a real reporter of political issues.

  • Marko on May 12, 2011 1:30 PM:

    @manapp99 - contrary to what you might see on "other" blogs, Steve will call out Democrats when they deserve it. And he doesn't pull any punches with them, either.

  • joe on May 12, 2011 1:56 PM:

    very insightful, democrats right, republics wrong. Thanks for clearing that up.

  • Marko on May 12, 2011 6:06 PM:

    @joe - in just about every one of Steve's posts, he provides links to back up his arguments. So you don't have to take his word for it. And if you have a specific issue with any of the facts presented, please present your case.

  • jlgg11 on May 13, 2011 12:57 PM:

    Those Republicans are still complaining about $500 billion in "cuts" to Medicare while secretly supporting those very same changes in the Ryan plan. They are telling current seniors "no changes" when they know that that is untrue. A "bold" and "honest" plan? Think again.