“GOP Fights Back Over Criticism of Limbaugh,” ran the headline in today’s Washington Post. “White House Is Accused Of Cynicism, Hypocrisy.” The accompanying story was written by Howard Kurtz and was an epic example of building a “conflict” around partisan talking points, which are accepted at face value instead of being treated as self-evident political spin.
Kurtz’s latest effort was highly similar to a campaign piece he wrote last year in which Steve Schmidt, John McCain’s top campaign strategist, complained bitterly (in an exclusive interview with water-carrier Kurtz) that the news media was “on a mission to destroy” Sarah Palin and that the McCain camp was in the middle of the worst media “feeding frenzy” that Schmidt had ever seen. Kurtz dubbed Schmidt’s banal and self-serving remarks as “extraordinary and emotional” and expressed amazement that McCain’s man had “talked openly about his frustrations.” Stunning stuff, indeed.
Now, Kurtz has again found angry Republicans, this time Senator John Cornyn, who calls the White House’s attacks on Limbaugh an “outrage” that “reeks of hypocrisy coming from a president who campaigned against these very cynical political tactics last fall.” House Minority Leader John Boehner is also upset; he’s “accusing the White House of cynicism.” In another shocking discovery, Limbaugh says he is mad too, comparing his treatment at the hands of White House ruffians to Richard Nixon’s “enemies list.” (The Nixon White House, as described in a memorandum written by John Dean, was examining “how we can [secretly] use the available federal machinery to screw our political enemies,” whereas the only impact of the Obama administration’s open attacks on Limbaugh thus far have been to double his dwindling ratings.)
Is the Obama administration actually being cynical in attacking Limbaugh and seeking to exploit this “feud” for political purposes? Of course it is — this is politics, what else is new? The Republicans do the same thing all the time, as one would expect. As noted in the Kurtz piece:
Mark McKinnon, a top adviser in President George W. Bush’s campaigns, acknowledged the value of picking a divisive opponent. “We used a similar strategy by making Michael Moore the face of the Democratic Party,” he said of the documentary filmmaker. “That’s why we gave him credentials to cover the 2004 convention and then turned the spotlight on him.”
Were Cornyn and Boehner outraged about that? Was the media?