If Republicans say it, it must be true

Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza credulously passes along some GOP health care spin, never thinking to question whether maybe -- just maybe -- there's some artifice involved:

Republican lawyers warn Democrats of "deem and pass" consequences

Less than 24 hours after House Democratic leaders floated the idea of using a parliamentary procedure to avoid a recorded vote on the Senate health care bill, a group of Republican lawyers -- including the legal counsels for the Republican National Committee, the National Republican Senatorial Committee and the National Republican Congressional Committee as well as high profile campaign attorney like Ben Ginsberg of Patton Boggs and Cleta Mitchell of Foley & Lardner -- penned an open letter making clear that such a tactic would not make Democrats immune from attacks on the bill in the fall campaign.

Citing an assertion from Rules Committee ranking member David Dreier (Calif.) that "a vote for the rule is a vote for the Senate bill," the group wrote: "We believe it is accurate to state in public communications that the effect of a vote for any rule illustrated in [Dreier's memo] is a vote for the Senate bill and all of its provisions." Put simply: Republicans believe that House Democrats using the "deem and pass" maneuver in no way prohibits GOP candidates and party committees from attacking them for "voting" for the Senate legislation.

So, Republican lawyers, citing a Republican member of congress, say Republicans can say in public communications (that's a reference to television advertising; each party frequently tries to get television stations to pull the other's ads over disputed claims) what the Republican member of congress says. How very nice and circular. And predictable. Oh, and ... meaningless. It probably won't surprise you to learn that the legal counsels for the RNC, NRSC and NRCC don't get to decide this question. That's up to television stations and their attorneys.

Unfortunately, Cillizza didn't include any indication of whether lawyers not in the employ of the GOP agree with the assessment. Or even any response from Democratic lawyers.

Cillizza continues:

The letter along with House Republican leaders' vow to force a vote on the use of "deem and pass" is a reminder that GOPers believe the health care bill -- no matter the outcome of the vote later this week (or weekend) -- is something close to a silver bullet for them in the coming midterm elections.

Actually, it's a reminder that GOPers seem to want people to believe that they believe the health care bill is something close to a silver bullet for them. And, at least in this case, they got their wish.

How would Republicans behave if they believed health care was "something close to a silver bullet" for them? Pretty much they way they are behaving right now. (Or, perhaps, by laying low to encourage Democrats to walk in to their trap.)

But: How would Republicans behave if they believed health care could become a silver bullet for them, but would be much more likely to do so if there was a widespread belief that it would? Pretty much the way they are behaving right now. By thinking he can read the GOP's minds -- and concluding that their public statements are a sincere representation of their inner thoughts -- Cillizza plays right into their hands.

(Note that I'm not saying Republicans don't sincerely believe health care is their "silver bullet." I'm saying we don't know what they "believe," and that Cillizza's assumption that he does makes that outcome more likely. It's an assumption, by the way, that requires assuming that Republicans are offering Democrats sincere campaign advice, which seems more than a little unlikely.)

Posted In
Health Care, Health Care Reform
The Washington Post
Chris Cillizza
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