Bad At Politics: A rationale for scandalmongering

Now They're "Bad at Politics"

by digby

Just the other day when the mindless Villagers realized that their favorite shiny new non-scandal turned out not to be based on anything illegal, they immediately turned to the next rationale. Here it is in its full glory:

A series of recent missteps just keeps getting worse for Barack Obama’s political operation, already under fire from inside the party for losing its golden touch.

The second-guessing of the White House political shop — which is coming in part from top House Democrats — was sparked anew late Wednesday by news that the White House tried and failed to coax another Democratic Senate candidate out of making his race by dangling administration jobs in front of him.

In a possible repeat of the Joe Sestak episode in Pennsylvania, insurgent U.S. Senate candidate Andrew Romanoff of Colorado said deputy White House chief of staff Jim Messina reached out to him — with a wince-inducing e-mail that is now public — with three possible jobs in September 2009. Obama wanted to keep him out of a race against Sen. Michael Bennet, the White House’s favored candidate.

Taken together, the Sestak and Romanoff cases suggest a White House team that is one part Dick Daley, one part Barney Fife.

This part's really funny:

Trying to put the fix in to deny Democratic voters the chance to choose for themselves who their Senate nominees should be is hardly consistent with the idea of “Yes, we can” grass-roots empowerment that is central to Obama’s brand.

Yeah, they're very concerned about Obama's image of "yes we can" grassroots empowerment. In fact they found it so odd that they forgot to write more than a passing sentence until the Republicans started spooning the scandal into their open mouths. Are we to assume that the GOP s similarly concerned about Obama's grassroots "yes we can " image?

I happen to be one who does think the party establishment should stay out of primaries, but I'll take a wild leap and assume that never occurred to 99% of Villagers until they read this piece.

Aside from their deep concern about the DFH's and Obama image, the other rationale they've generously given themselves for their obsession with a practice that wasn't a scandal until five minutes ago, is much more revealing:

And bungling that fix is at odds with the Obama team’s image — built around the likes of Rahm Emanuel, David Axelrod, David Plouffe and Obama himself — as shrewd political operatives who know the game and always win it.

So not only is the administration shrewd and cynical where it should be idealistic, it isn't shrewd and cynical enough. Tough gig.

Obama's "grassroots" image --- or the idea that people get offered jobs in Washington --- is hardly something anyone has ever shown the slightest concern about before. This second critique is the one that really animates the villagers. It's the losing that puts the blood in the water and gets the sharks riled up. GOP chum is just what they needed to go into a feeding frenzy.

The press will always give themselves an excuse to follow a pre-digested storyline fed to them by the GOP. And some of those excuses individually will even make sense. Good reporters will be content to uncover facts and then move on. But the phenomenon that allows these manufactured scandals to take off is a willingness by the press to be led along by the nose and then finding a way to rationalize their behavior as the Politico has done here. They have moved beyond the original question of illegality which justified their probe. Virtually no one can find anything illegal or even unusual in what happened. So now it's a "political" problem. That's all it takes to keep it running until it either peters out on its own or they manage to find a hook to require official intervention.

If the Republicans take the House next fall, there will be no necessity to find hooks because they will turn themselves into a full time scandal generating machine. And the Politico won't even have to justify its coverage --- it will be the official business of the US Congress and the full time assignment of the DC press corps. Everybody's just flexing their muscles and getting into shape for the Big Show. Can you feel the excitement? I knew that you could.

Update: Jamison Foser has more.