This talking point has been kicking around since the day the IRS scandal broke but usually it bubbles up in the context of some GOP member of Congress babbling about impeachment. This is the week, I think, when liberals start pushing it independently of that. It’s time to go on offense, if only to distract from the fact that IRS employees have begun to point fingers. Now that an appropriate period of respectful pretend-concern about Scandalmania has passed, they can resume following their standard messaging that all Democratic failure are ultimately caused by, or at least overshadowed by, larger Republican ones.
I saw Chris Cillizza’s item about overreach early this morning plus a couple of lefty random blog posts along the same lines and tweeted half-jokingly that the Meme Of The Week had already been set bright and early on Monday morning. I didn’t know the half of it:
Follow Karl’s links — especially the first one, where you’ll find this DNC memo from Friday entitled — ta da — “Memo: The Month of GOP Overreach.” David Plouffe, always ahead of the curve, tweeted the same point vis-a-vis Benghazi last week; Cillizza noted in his post that Plouffe also touched on it yesterday on ABC. Ron Fournier has a new piece up about overreach at today’s National Journal and this NYT piece, contrasting the GOP pursuit of scandal with the noble Democratic goal of legislation (specifically, the Gang of Eight’s terrible amnesty legislation), has whiffs of it. Even MSNBC Republican Michael Steele is chipping in. Here’s lefty Greg Sargent, observing/encouraging a “media backlash” in action:
Again: The goal of Issa and others here is to create an atmosphere of scandal, with the deliberate aim of obscuring the importance of the details of the actual scandals themselves (as Rep. Mike Rogers has now helpfully revealed). But there does seem to be a real media effort underway in some quarters to point out that that the smoke coming from the GOP smoke machine doesn’t mean there’s necessarily any fire there. That’s a far sight better than the 1990s, when scores of reporters would eagerly clamber aboard their shiny red fire truck to chase even the thinnest wisp of smoke whenever Republicans told them to.
Some people on Twitter are trying to draw a straight line from Friday’s DNC memo to today’s overreachapalooza but I’m skeptical. Why assume that like-minded reporters need written prompting from the DNC to start pushing this? They’re liberals exasperated by a flurry of scandals on a Democratic president’s watch; they’ll start whining about Republican “overreach” eventually whether they’re lobbied to do so or not. Frankly, I doubt even sympathetic media people pay attention to the parties’ dreary official talking points. If anything they’ve read has inspired them to push this, it’s more likely to be the lefty blogs they consume than some party apparatchik’s meme memo. Plus, don’t underestimate their personal pique at Issa for being the Republican face of oversight. His crack yesterday about Carney being a “paid liar” plus Plouffe’s roundhouse about Issa being some sort of car thief and suspected arsonist (both groundless) was probably all the urging that was needed to move this week’s political-media conventional wisdom from “the IRS behaved inappropriately” to “Issa and the GOP are out of control.” As Cillizza noted, to his credit, polls show that the public doesn’t agree. But give these guys time; they’re just getting started.
Update: Via Newsbusters, a textbook example of what I’m talking about. Wish I’d seen it when I was writing the post. AG Conservative notes that it’s the same nonsense the media pulled after Benghazi, grumbling about Romney’s statement on the attack as a way of not covering the attack itself.