We’re in the post-partisan portion of the campaign now, didja notice? I did.
If you pay attention as I have, then like me you’ve noticed the righties are all strangely on message these days about liberals being the hyper-partisans in the room. Weird, isn’t it? After all the GOP obstruction and Tea Party demands to not compromise? Now all of a sudden the party of folding like a lawnchair has become the party of non-compromising ideologues? How’d that happen?
It’s as if they all got bundled off to Crazy Uncle Frank Luntz’s Wingnut Boot Camp in the Adirondacks somewhere, and now they’re home showing off the beaded necklaces and keychains they made on arts & crafts day.
Indeed, I saw the perfect example of this new messaging on Friday night. If you don’t watch Bill Maher’s Real Time, give praise to the great and glorious YouTubez which enables me to share this moment with you.
The conversation was between Glibertarian fool Nick Gillespie of Reason TV, failing in his attempt to appear “reasonable” and independent, and MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow. The first thing you’ll notice is Gillespie’s annoying habit of dominating the airtime and talking over everyone, which he did throughout the entire show, and which is something else they teach you at Crazy Uncle Frank’s School For Aspiring Right Wing Pundits. “Don’t let the liberal talk, they might say something people actually agree with!”
Here Gillespie accused Maddow of being a liberal hack, saying “you will always take the side of a Democrat over a Republican.” When she demurred his response was, “Oh yeah? Prove it! Name one Republican you’d favor over a Democrat! You can’t, can you? A-HA! Told ya so! Hackity-hack-hack-hack!” As if part B of his sentence in any way related to part A. It was the craziest thing I’d ever seen, like, “Hey hippie, I made up this stereotype about you now PROVE I’m wrong!”
Here’s the video, posted by someone (obviously a Glibertarian non-partisan, because they refer to Rachel Maddow as a “rabid raccoon”). You will see my analysis is not far off the mark:
I’d like to thank Nick Gillespie for giving us this great window onto the New Conservative Message. Let me say: it’s a pretty message, but you’ve got a few kinks to work out. Still, as election day nears, we will be hearing more and more of this, I guarantee it. Why? It’s simple: the Republicans are trying to appeal to independent voters now. That means Republicans have to pretend to be the reasonable ones, and frame Democrats as the rigid ideologues who put party affiliation before country and common sense. Etch-a-Sketch, bay-beez! Republicans do everything with mirrors, and whenever they accuse the left of something you can be damned sure they’re doing it themselves.
So, be on the lookout for more of this kind of messaging because you’re going to see a lot of it. Want another example? On Sunday morning The New York Times published Campbell Brown’s ridiculous attack on Planned Parenthood. It was classic Etch-A-Sketch-ing, because Brown’s entire point was that Planned Parenthood isn’t sufficiently “bi-partisan.” This at a time when Republicans are so rabidly anti-reproductive rights, they’ve accused the Girl Scouts of being the “tactical arm of Planned Parenthood.” Yes, by all means, try compromising with that.
Brown’s last op-ed appearance in the Times was to accuse President Obama of insulting women. I guess ensuring our reproductive healthcare gets treated equally with men’s penis pills insults her. I happen to think it’s awesome. Crazy, I know. Though the Times doesn’t mention it anywhere, Brown is married to Dan Senor, a Fox News contributor and advisor to Mitt Romney. You’d think that would be information worth mentioning on Brown’s op-ed pieces but, sadly, no. BTW, the Planned Parenthood piece quickly got a thorough debunking from several sources (here’s one if you’re so inclined), sparing me the trouble.
Brown’s piece was just another version of Gillespie’s argument: you just don’t like Republicans, dirty hippie! You’re a rigid partisan who refuses to compromise! David Brooks did it too, and on PBS no less — a perfect outlet for a message targeting “undecideds” and independents. Oh, they’re clever little SOB’s aren’t they?
This is a classic schoolyard argument (“Am not!” “Are too!” “AM NOT!” “ARE TOO!”), which takes the conversation away from what Republicans have done and shifts it to who Democrats are. This is a trap Democrats all-too-easily fall into (even Maher and Maddow stepped into it briefly, saying “See, here’s this Republican thing here we agree with,” which is what they want you to do because it legitimizes their Democrats-as-rigid-partisans position).
My advice to Democrats and liberals of all stripes is to not do this. Do not legitimize the Republican framing of Democrats. Do not let them change the conversation away from what Republicans have done to who Democrats are.
Instead, I would ask Republicans why, if they are so bipartisan, they have abandoned every one of their own positions once Democrats embraced them. If Democrats are so rigidly partisan, then why pray tell did we adopt your insurance mandate idea? In 1993 there were 20 Senate Republicans who co-sponsored the HEART act which had an individual insurance mandate as a key provision. Three of those Republicans — Orrin Hatch, Dick Lugar and Chuck Grassley — were still in the Senate when the Affordable Care Act came up for a vote. They vociferously opposed the very same individual mandate in “Obamacare” which they themselves had co-sponsored in 1993. Indeed, in December 2009 Senate Republicans voted in lockestep, calling the individual mandate unconstitutional.
How come the end of life counseling which Republicans called “Death Panels” was perfectly fine when it was part of the 2003 Medicare prescription drug bill? Republicans like Grassley voted for it then. What changed? Why, when it was included in the Democrats’ ACA legislation, did it suddenly become “Death Panels” which must be opposed?
If we’re the hyper-partisan ones, then why are Republicans running away from their own free market ideas like Cap And Trade? Why was it fine when Republicans were in charge, and cap-and-tax now that Democrats have come on board?
These are questions that need to be answered, every time some Nick Gillespie type wants to accuse Rachel Maddow of not liking Republicans. The answer is, I loved your ideas for the individual mandate. I loved your ideas for end of life counseling. I loved your cap and trade idea. When did you stop loving those things?
Or, I didn’t love these things but I came on board and accepted them to get done what needed to be done. Now you don’t like them? Why not? When did you stop loving your own ideas? How does that make me the partisan, when I supported your ideas and you now run away from them?
It’s in what we do, not in who they say we are.