Political Animal


May 18, 2011 10:35 AM Pouncing on a myth

By Steve Benen

Prominent Republicans, especially those on or eyeing the presidential campaign trail, are pretty busy folks. They could check the accuracy of stories before pouncing on them, but caring about facts is a time-consuming luxury that Tim Pawlenty and Sarah Palin can’t afford.

Likely GOP presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty on Tuesday added to already widespread criticism of healthcare reform law waivers, calling the practice an example of “crony politics.”

“Another example of really crony politics or crony capitalism, if you’ve got the right connections, the right lobbyists, the right interest group, you get your special deal, and the rest of us get our wallet out, and that’s in the tax code, it’s in earmarking, and now you see it in ObamaCare,” he said on Fox News. […]

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) on Tuesday reacted to a report that many businesses received waivers in House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) district, saying it was “Unflippingbelievable! No, wait, it is believable …. Seriously, this is corrupt.”

“Seriously, this is corrupt”? Seriously, this is ridiculous. If Pawlenty and Palin had just spent a little more time checking reality, they wouldn’t be repeating nonsense.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) played no role in the process by which health care waivers were granted to a number of businesses in her district, according to the company that actually requested the waivers on behalf of its clients.

Flex-Plan Services, a third-party benefits administrator based in Bellevue, Wash., made the formal applications for waivers from President Barack Obama’s health care law, said it founder, Hilarie Aitken.

“I don’t tend to vote Democratic, but I feel bad for Nancy Pelosi,” Aitken told HuffPost. “She’s really being thrown under the bus here. It has nothing to do with her at all. This was just a political power play. The way that they are shaping this — that the minority leader, Nancy Pelosi, [is behind] all these waivers being granted, and how could she do this — it’s all slanted and wrong.” […]

In actuality, Aitken explained, the high percentage of waivers is the byproduct of local law rubbing against the new national legislation.

In all likelihood, the fact that the conspiracy theory is wrong is probably irrelevant when it comes to GOP rhetoric. In this case, Pawlenty and Palin, among others, jumped on a bogus story before it was debunked, but given what we’ve seen, they probably would have pounced on this anyway. The important thing is to attack, not to tell the truth.

And if recent history is any guide, the accusations will now be treated as credible, simply because prominent figures are making them. Going forward, most major outlets will tell the public about “health care waivers, which some believe have been subjected to partisan corruption…”

It’ll be false, but by injecting the nonsense into the political bloodstream, it’ll be in the discourse anyway.

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 18, 2011 10:38 AM:

    You know, I'm usually against guns, except for hunting.

    But this time, I'd gladly give them a semi-automatic the next time they want to shoot their mouths off.

  • June on May 18, 2011 10:40 AM:

    The GOP slogan now and forever should be "If You Love Liars, Vote Republican."

  • davidp on May 18, 2011 10:55 AM:

    This is an excellent example of Rove's Law, i.e., create confusion by loudly accusing your opponents of your own worst sins.

  • walt on May 18, 2011 10:58 AM:

    Republicans play politics like fans watching a football game. Every play is do or die. Every call against the other team is a cause for celebration and every call against their own is something approaching evil. How do you talk reasonably to fans? You don't unless you change the subject to something other than the game itself. Politics is a deadly serious game because their team, the white team, is fighting for survival. They have no other way of approaching this issue except blood sport.

  • Danp on May 18, 2011 11:06 AM:

    Republicans play politics like fans watching a football game.

    Oh, I don't know. I think a lot of them act like they've been hit in the head a few too many times with hockey pucks.

  • stormskies on May 18, 2011 11:07 AM:

    This is from Crooks and Liars. Look what the corporate media is doing now ... talk repiglican / corporate media evil .. lies/ delusions .. and this is what the American public is being subjected too


    Chuck Todd suggests Obama wants to raise debt ceiling for the sake of his personal fortune

    By Heather
    Chuck Todd not only decided to take a cheap shot at the Obama's this morning on MSNBC, but also managed to trivialize just who would be harmed if the Republicans continue their hostage taking on the debt ceiling.

    TODD: The Obama's are millionaires according to new financial disclosure forms released yesterday. The forms show the President and First Lady Michelle Obama hold assets between $2.8 million and $11.8 million and are you ready for this? Almost all of their investments are in T-bills. So nobody would be hurt more by the debt ceiling not being raised than the President.

    Really, Chuck? No one else would be hurt more? If the Republicans put us into another recession or worse yet a depression, I think there are going to be a lot of other people who will come out that a lot worse than the President of the United States. I think somehow the Obama's would manage to recover. I can't say the same for the millions of people who are just getting by now and for whom it might mean life and death if our country's economy gets thrown into a tailspin.

  • Ron Byers on May 18, 2011 11:55 AM:

    I have a friend who recently paid $1000 to attend a private Newt event. Boy am I going to have fun with him today.

    By the way I can't read the Captcha. I don't think anybody can. It looks like physician writing.

    I knew I couldn't read the captcha. Another try coming up.

  • Ron Byers on May 18, 2011 11:59 AM:

    How do we get Todd to retract his statement. Better yet how do we get Todd fired. His comment was not only a cheap shot at Obama, it trivialized the pain that would come with a default. It demonstrated just how clueless Chuck Todd really is. He needs to go to work for Fox. He isn't smart enough to work for MSNBC.

  • Kathryn on May 18, 2011 12:27 PM:

    Todd's comment is beyond the pale, I am honestly shocked that he made it and he should retract immediately, firing is fine too. To trivialize the debt ceiling and intimate that a personal wealth concern by Pres. Obama is a consideration for the President is inexcusable. Savannah is tons smarter and extremely even handed, never did trust Chuck, thought he was a closet rightie.

  • FRP on May 18, 2011 12:32 PM:

    During the period before the conservative self identified "Adult" aspirational ambitions , Father Coughlin , the drive to save our precious bodily fluids , "I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice ! And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue !" , and Saint Reagan on the forerunner to Medicare legislation "you and I are going to spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it once was like in America when men were free." etc , all came and went up until Whitewater .
    Whitewater allowed adult talent to narrate to our conservatively identified children , defenseless children , those age old grim tales meant to keep defenseless minds from engaging matters which were above their station . Now that adults have taken the initiative and are narrating tall tales to , so called children , the weights and cares of adultiness has an ever growing responsibility to cull outrageous propaganda , then returning them and our precious youth , to morally acceptable childish tales . "Christ being a liberal" , culture being born and built on the back of the previous generation , truth is beauty and beauty is truth , these and other awful tedious nonsense which not brings pain to adults everywhere , but has been rumoured to make a certain celebrated baby cry .

  • Vince on May 18, 2011 12:41 PM:

    Me thinks this is more projection going on on the part of Republicans. When you are the party of rampant cronyism you see cronyism everywhere.

    Also, when your actual policies are wildly unpopular you have to lie about them and/or your opponents.

  • Kathryn on May 18, 2011 12:41 PM:

    Don't you have to wonder what it would take for Hilarie Aitken of Flex Plan Services to vote democratic? Obviously money interests Trump (pun intended) morality.

  • Ed Drone on May 18, 2011 2:03 PM:

    "If Pawlenty and Palin had just spent a little more time checking reality, they wouldn’t be repeating nonsense."

    Oh, now, you know they don't give a rat's ass if it's true. "Checking reality" is for chumps! Attack, attack, and whine when caught in a lie. That's their method, and it works, Goddammit!


  • Mark-NC on May 18, 2011 3:38 PM:

    "If Pawlenty and Palin had just spent a little more time checking reality, they wouldn’t be repeating nonsense."

    More like, they checked reality and decided it doesn't help their propaganda - so they just lied as usual.

    And they know they can do this because of the total absence of a MSLP.