Thursday, November 21, 2013


Jonathan Weisman and Sheryl Gay Stolberg of The New York Times seem surprised:
The memo distributed to House Republicans this week was concise and blunt, listing talking points and marching orders: "Because of Obamacare, I Lost My Insurance." "Obamacare Increases Health Care Costs." "The Exchanges May Not Be Secure, Putting Personal Information at Risk." "Continue Collecting Constituent Stories."

The document, the product of a series of closed-door strategy sessions that began in mid-October, is part of an increasingly organized Republican attack on the Affordable Care Act, President Obama's signature legislative initiative. Republican strategists say that over the next several months, they intend to keep Democrats on their heels through a multilayered, sequenced assault.

The idea is to gather stories of people affected by the health care law -- through social media, letters from constituents, or meetings during visits back home -- and use them to open a line of attack, keep it going until it enters the public discourse and forces a response, then quickly pivot to the next topic.

For a House more used to disarray than methodical game plans, the success so far has been something of a surprise, even to the campaign's organizers.
(Emphasis added.)

What's so surprising about this? What does the House GOP's utter failure at governing have to do with the party's ability to crank out a relentless propaganda spew?

There's disarray in the Republican-led House in large part because Republicans don't give a damn about governing. The act of governing (or governing-by-tearing-down) to which they've devoted most of their energy recently was an impossible effort to repeal Obamacare. They can't defeat it, they won't negotiate on altering or improving it, and they won't put aside futile attempts to repeal it in order to accomplish the real governing tasks for which they're paid. They don't care. They don't believe that governing is their job. They don't believe it should be anyone's job. They don't believe in government.

Propaganda? Now, there's something they do believe in. The decline of the Republican Party as an institution devoted to governing has not been accompanied by a decline in messaging and propaganda skills. Attacking liberals and Democrats, and the ideas and accomplishments of liberals and Democrats, is what Republicans see as their number-one priority, as they have for many years. It's what they care about most. So they keep their propaganda skills at a high level, and they devote as many resources as possible to propaganda efforts.

They do this because they want to win power -- power for its own sake. Oh, sure, there are a few things they want to do: make the rich richer, punish the have-nots. But even the latter is largely in the service of their permanent campaign to demonize Democrats (in this case, by directing voters' anger against the perceived beneficiaries of Democratic policies). They don't really seem to care about the policies they enact where they're in power on, say, abortion or union pensions or minority voting rights, except to the extent of hoping that what they do turns voters against Democrats and/or ensures that more Republican than Democratic voters will cast ballots. It's all about winning for the sake of winning.

So of course we have this:
A 17-page "House Republican Playbook" walks members through "messaging tools" like talking points, social media tactics and "digital fliers"; details lines of attack; offers up a sample opinion article for local newspapers; and provides an extensive timeline on the health care law and an exhaustive list of legislative responses that have gone nowhere.
And this:
A message of the week is presented to the Republican members at the beginning of each week, Ms. McMorris Rodgers said. A "Call to Action" email chain distributes relevant breaking news. A new website,, is collecting anecdotes from each member.
Of course the thing they're most excited about is the opportunity to disseminate more propaganda:
But Republicans are already looking ahead to next year, when they expect a raft of new issues as people start using their new health plans.

"We're trying to stay as agile as we can," said Brendan Buck, a spokesman for Mr. Boehner. "We know what issues are coming. We know what the consequences will be. We can't say when they will pop exactly, but we're prepared to talk about them."
For D.C. Republicans, this is literally all that matters.


Unknown said...

The fact that this is in a newspaper, with absolutely no asides as to whether any of this is true, or helps the country in any way - sorry, I'm still young and impressionable enough that this blows my mind. Especially coupled with, as Balloon Juice pointed out, a story in the same newspaper about how terribly divisive and partisan it would be for the Democrats to blow up the filibuster for appointments. A news story, mind you; not an editorial.

They've so internalized the Republican narrative that they don't even know they're doing it at this point.

Ten Bears said...

Propaganda as "news" is one of the fourteen characteristics of a Fascist, a Nazi, state.

No fear.

Anonymous said...

It's not just winning for the sake of winning that matters to DC Republicans. They also do believe in governing. The sort of "they don't believe in anything and only want to win and bash liberals" hysterics that people trot out miss what's actually going on.

Washington Republicans believe the purpose of government is to prevent a tyranny of the majority, protect the rights of the individual over the wants of the mob, and to protect economic liberty. If these values end up working for the greater good that's fine, if they cause pain and suffering for some oh well.

Where Democrats see life saving regulations Republicans see environmentalists wielding the government as a weapon against an earnest businessman. Where Democrats see a welfare state keeping people out of poverty Republicans see the masses weaponizing the government to rob an upper class to small to defend itself.

What Democrats see as governing Republicans see as the angry mob using the government as a weapon of retribution and social engineering. It's terrifying to them. So for Washington Republicans anything and everything is on the table to combat what they view as an existential threat. What Democrats see as destroying the government Republicans see as disarming a violent abuser of his weapon, or at least fighting back against them.

Democrats saw a Democratic president win a reelection. Republicans saw a violent drunken abuser come driven home again with his friends egging him on.

If you want to know why the press, media, and business gives Republicans a pass on the crazies and the social whack jobs they all look down on... the truth? The press, media, business... they all view Democrats as a mob of angry abusers weaponizing the government against them as well!

Victor said...

Conservatism exists to grift money from rubes.

FOX, Rush, and Drudge, among others, are their willing propaganda are.
The MSM is an unwitting one.

The Republican Party is Conservatisms political and theatrical arm.
They perform for the rubes in comedies and tragedies, to milk more money from them.

Conservatism is a grift.
And a highly successful one.

Ten Bears said...

The Retards may indeed want to protect the tyranny of a majority, but The Constitution eas written to protect the majority from the tyranny of a minority. The Retards and the Tea Baggers are in fact a tyrannical minority who can only "win" by cheating.
No fear.