Thursday, September 10, 2009

RW Mascots: News from the Big Sleazy

Sargent: Palin Invokes 9/11 To Attack Obama

Sarah Palin, private citizen, responded to Obama’s speech on her Facebook page late last night with the usual mix of bluster and aggrievement, claiming Obama’s rebuttal of her “death panel” falsehood demonstrated a lack of “civility.”

But here’s the nugget from her response that jumped out at me. She suggested Obama “demonized” victims of the “war on terror” and specifically invoked 9/11 to do so:

Finally, President Obama delivered an offhand applause line tonight about the cost of the War on Terror. As we approach the anniversary of the September 11th attacks and honor those who died that day and those who have died since in the War on Terror, in order to secure our freedoms, we need to remember their sacrifices and not demonize them as having had too high a price tag.

The implication is that Obama is “demonizing” victims of the war on terror — 9/11 victims included — by saying war has financial costs. Palin interprets this to mean that Obama is saying that terror victims have “had too high a price tag.”

For sheer creativity, that one easily rivals the death panels. But that aside, didn’t anyone tell Palin that you’re not supposed to invoke 9/11 to launch political attacks? Isn’t that the sort of thing that would typically gin up lots of media outrage? Maybe now that she’s a private citizen she thinks the rules are different for her, or something.

  • Aravosis adds:
    Perhaps it's time for someone at the White House to impale this woman. Or would they like to spend the next month debating whether Obama dissed 9/11 victims last night? Yes, Palin is a nut. And she's also the nut who started the "death panels" lie that dogged Obama for a good month because he refused to go nuclear on her and those promoting her bs views.
Friend Bob says: Joe Wilson's opponent in SC is ROB MILLER. Send him money! His website is backed up, but you can contribute at actblue. You won't be the first, and don't be the last! Get Joe Wilson back to South Carolina to stay, and for good! You can't call MY President a liar during a joint session of congress!
  • Defeating the man who yelled "liar" at Obama: Goodbye Rep Joe Wilson
  • McIntyre (Daily Kos): Fight Joe Wilson's "Lies" - Help out Rob Miller

    Up until today, Joe Wilson was just another anonymous Southern Republican troglodyte Congressman, unknown to all but the poor people of South Carolina and the most serious horse race junkies.

    Today, he's the hyena who disgraced himself, his party, and the House chamber by screaming "you lie!" like an 8 year-old during the President's eloquent speech on the most critical challenge facing our nation.

    There's something we can do to let Joe Wilson know what we think of his childish approach to a serious problem -- we can help out Rob Miller. Rob is an Iraq War vet -- a Marine who came back to South Carolina to try and restore dignity to South Carolina's Second CD, where Joe Wilson was selling out the district by voting for unfair trade deals and corporate giveaways. Despite being a relative unknown, being outspent by a substantial margin, and a general Republican lean to the district, Rob came within just 8 points of knocking Wilson off in 2008. And we're lucky to have him running again.

    Rob's a fair trade Democrat who supports the Employee Free Choice Act. He's a breath of fresh air for a state that desperately needs new leadership. And we can help him tonight, as the nation sees what an immature loser his opponent is. Let's chip in to help Rob -- with early financial support, and with the notoriety Wilson has brought on himself, we've got a chance to help send Joe Wilson packing -- and to bring maturity and decency to South Carolina politics.

  • WSJ: Joe Wilson’s ‘You Lie!’ Provides Fund-Raising Boon for Opponent

    “Despite being a relative unknown, being outspent by a substantial margin, and a general Republican lean to the district, Rob came within just 8 points of knocking Wilson off in 2008. And we’re lucky to have him running again,” DailyKos wrote.

    While Wilson’s outburst has provided a wave of unwelcome attention—his official congressional Web site remained crashed this morning—his South Carolina district has been reliably Republican. George W. Bush won 60% of the vote there in 2004, and John McCain won over Barack Obama by nearly ten points, 54%-45% in 2008.

Aravosis: Joe "That's a lie!" Wilson's allies claiming PTSD
Or something akin. Oh puh-lease.
John Cole: Obama’s Fault

James Joyner explains how it is Obama’s fault Joe Wilson yelled out during the address:

While Wilson’s frustrated cry was inexcusable, however, it’s at least understandable. After all, Obama was indirectly calling him a liar. And being untruthful. From the speech:
    Some of people’s concerns have grown out of bogus claims spread by those whose only agenda is to kill reform at any cost. The best example is the claim, made not just by radio and cable talk show hosts, but prominent politicians, that we plan to set up panels of bureaucrats with the power to kill off senior citizens. Such a charge would be laughable if it weren’t so cynical and irresponsible. It is a lie, plain and simple.

    There are also those who claim that our reform effort will insure illegal immigrants. This, too, is false – the reforms I’m proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally. And one more misunderstanding I want to clear up – under our plan, no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions, and federal conscience laws will remain in place.

This, incidentally, was the from the prepared remarks, not off-the-cuff flourish. The president was deliberately poisoning the well, claiming that his opponents are dishonorable and ill-intentioned.

Kind of an awesome set of rules the President gets to work with. If you point out that people have been lying about death panels for the last few months, you are “poisoning the well.” If you don’t point it out, people believe it and the rumors and lies keep spreading.

Here on planet earth, the people who actually poisoned the well would be the ones who have spread all these BS rumors and lies. Not the guy standing over the well saying- “Hey. There is poison in there. Don’t drink it.”

Ostensibly, the Republican response to President Obama's health care speech was delivered after the address to a joint session by Rep. Charles Boustany (R) of Louisiana.

But as a practical matter, the de facto GOP response came about 40 minutes into the president's remarks. He explained, "There are ... those who claim that our reform efforts would insure illegal immigrants. This, too, is false. The reforms -- the reforms I'm proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally."

It prompted Rep. Joe Wilson (R) of South Carolina to interrupt the speech, heckle the president, and shout, "You lie!"

There are a few important angles to this. The first is substantive. When Wilson accused the president of lying, Wilson was, in fact, lying. Even in Congress, facts should matter, and the right-wing Republican wasn't just obnoxious with his idiotic interruption, he was also wrong.

The second is personal. Joe Scarborough, a former Republican member of Congress, said, "Whoever shouted out that the president was lying is a dumbass." John McCain denounced Wilson's outburst as "totally disrespectful." While right-wing blogs were thrilled, Republican lawmakers have been entirely unwilling to defend Wilson's behavior.

The third is contextual. President Obama couldn't have been more magnanimous last night, highlighting a plan that "incorporates ideas from many people in this room tonight, Democrats and Republicans." He made frequent references to Republican lawmakers and even George W. Bush. Obama even talked up medical malpractice reform. It was in this context that Wilson decided to lash out? As Gail Collins noted this morning, "Let me go out on a limb and say that it is not a good plan to heckle the president of the United States when he's making a speech about replacing acrimony with civility."

The fourth is practical. While Dems have been divided of late on policy specifics, they were unified last night -- they loved Obama and they hated Joe Wilson. Indeed, I've seen reports that Wilson's Democratic opponent next year, Rob Miller, suddenly saw a wave of new campaign contributions in the wake of Wilson's conduct.

It's striking that Wilson, unable to find any support from his allies, quickly apologized. He said his emotions got the best of him, and issued a statement that said, "While I disagree with the president's statement, my comments were inappropriate and regrettable. I extend sincere apologies to the president for this lack of civility." He spoke directly to White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel last night to express his regret.

But the damage has been done. Indeed, Wilson's outburst is an almost perfect summation of 2009 -- President Obama appears big, Republicans appear small. Democrat show class, Republicans act like children. One side is serious, one side is shrill. The White House says something true, Republicans lash out with falsehoods.

To be sure, Wilson is a buffoon, from whom very little is expected. He's hosting Glenn Beck minions at his office this weekend, and is a reflexive, right-wing clown masquerading as a congressman. He embarrassed himself, his party, and his institution last night, but it's unlikely Wilson actually cares whether he's a disgrace or not. Bruce Bartlett noted this morning, "He's become the new Sarah Palin of the Republican Party, where one's popularity is in inverse proportion to one's stupidity -- the stupider a Republican is these days the more popular he or she becomes."

What will be interesting to see if there are any real consequences. There's been some talk of censure, or demanding that Wilson deliver a formal apology to the House itself.

  • from the comments:

    Wilson tweeted that he was going to do this on Tuesday. This was planned. His apology is as false as his outburst was last night. Denouncement is not good enough, he should be removed from office.

    Posted by: SGeorge on September 10, 2009 at 9:17 AM
The big sleazy Sept. 9: The Nation's Washington Editor Chris Hayes joins Rachel Maddow to look at sleazy tactics employed by health care reform opponents as exemplified by Sen. David Vitter, R-LA, and contrasts the conservative hype with actual American opinions on health care reform.
Towards the end of his speech last night, President Obama reminded lawmakers that when we reach the point at which "we can no longer even engage in a civil conversation with each other over the things that truly matter," we lose more than just "our capacity to solve big challenges. We lose something essential about ourselves."

Congressional Republicans would have benefited from hearing the remarks, but they chose not to listen. Instead, they brought some of the Tea Baggers' town-hall tactics to the House. Rep. Joe Wilson's (R-S.C.) outburst was the most notable, but it was part of a larger GOP trend.

The national debate, already raw for years, had coarsened over the summer as town hall meetings across the country dissolved into protests about "death panels" and granny-killing. Guns were brought to Obama appearances. A pastor in Arizona said he was praying for Obama to die.

But even by that standard, there was something appalling about the display on the House floor for what was supposed to be a sacred ritual of American democracy: the nation watching while Cabinet members, lawmakers from both chambers and the diplomatic corps assembled.

Wilson was only the most flagrant. There was booing from House Republicans when the president caricatured a conservative argument by saying they would "leave individuals to buy health insurance on their own." They hissed when he protested their "scare tactics." They grumbled as they do in Britain's House of Commons when Obama spoke of the "blizzard of charges and countercharges."

In truth, right-wing politicians behaving like children isn't nearly as important as the substantive debate. But therein lies the point: if House Republicans aren't prepared to bring credible ideas to the table, the least they could do is show some decency and pretend to be adults.

I don't want to exaggerate the significance of this. I care far less about GOP lawmakers acting like ignorant buffoons and far more about GOP lawmakers thinking that Americans have too much insurance and Medicare should be privatized. Their conduct, however, does say something interesting about their maturity, their character, and how they're approaching this debate.

What's more, as Alex Koppelman noted, there are the political implications to consider: "All of it will serve to reinforce the impression, which reform supporters have been working hard to create and spread, that Republicans have gone around the bend, that they're more interested in attacking Obama than in reaching across the aisle to work on reform. And it makes Obama look calm, bipartisan and presidential."

DemfromCT (DK): The Speech: Insta-polls

Mark Blumenthal (excerpt of more point) noted how little we learn from an insta-poll of a Presidential speech:

  1. Instant response polls measure only speech-watchers. While the methodologies vary, the most important thing to remember that these surveys aim to sample only those who watch the speech and, as such, are are not intended to represent the views of all Americans. The pollsters will hopefully provide some before-and-after comparisons of the speech audience -- showing how viewers felt about health care reform before and after the speech -- but those comparisons will involve only the sample of speech viewers. Thus, no one should take any of the numbers they see tonight and make comparisons to full-sample results from previously surveys of all adults or all "likely voters."
  1. The audience is usually skewed toward the President's fans. Remember, not all Americans watch presidential addresses. Out of roughly 113 million television households in the U.S., between 52 and 63 million watched the debates last fall and roughly 53 million watched President Bush's address on the economic crisis last September. Those are huge audiences, but plenty of Americans still tune out.

In this case, CNN (full .pdf) notes:

18% of the respondents who participated in tonight's survey identified themselves as Republicans, 45% identified themselves as Democrats, and 37% identified themselves as Independents.

So, what he had was a real chance to address indies. And here's what was posted at

The first on my radar screen comes from CNN of a survey of people who watched the speech (update: full results now posted). Candy Crowley says, not surprisingly, that the sample "skews heavily Democratic, we think that the Democratic sample in this flash poll is 8 to 10 points higher than in the general population."

  • 72% say yes, Obama clearly stated his health care goals, 26% say no.
  • 56% had a very positive reaction, 21% somewhat positive, 21% negative
  • Support for Obama's health care plans jumped 14 points among speech viewers: from 53% in favor to 67%

Democracy Corps has an overnight poll lays it out (click for larger pic):

Obama’s Speech Moves Swing Voters to Support Reform

Significantly, Obama’s speech played well across the political spectrum. Traditionally, voters from the opposite party of the president tend to score consistently low and to create huge partisan divides in these dial tests. That was not the case with Obama’s speech. With just a few exceptions, Republicans held solidly around 50 and even exceeded 70 percent favorability during parts of the president’s speech, giving particularly high scores to Obama’s remarks on not adding a penny to the deficit, creating a health care exchange, protecting Medicare, and reforming medical malpractice. While Republicans in the audience may have viewed this as a partisan speech, those outside of the room clearly did not.

Obama helped himself last night by going over the heads of the media and his brain-dead opposition (the visuals of Joe Wilson's Billy Crystal/Carol Kane's Princess Bride imitation - Liar!! - went over very badly, as did Eric Cantor's texting) directly to the Amercian people.

Good start. It'll take three days of traditional polling to put this in context, so check back on Sunday and beyond.

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