GOPers Long-term Strategy to Win November Elections Backfired Big Time Friday

I don’t know if as Chris Mathews believes, that history was made Friday when President Obama challenged the House Republicans at the opening of their two-day caucus retreat. I do know that although it marked another step in the long-term GOPer strategy to win big in November, it marked a huge misstep. When they drew up their strategy after realizing that Obama was going to be the 44th president, they never dreamed they would screw up their second step. The initial step was for all Repugs to pledge a no desertion oath then spend the first year of the 111th Congress saying and voting “No” to everything, only offering vague, simplistic proposals they knew the Dems couldn’t accept while riling up ignorant, vulnerable Americans with lies and propaganda.

Then at the right moment, the second step (which turned out to be Friday) where they would hypocritically profess that all along GOPers have been denied a seat at the table and their many excellent ideas were viciously being ignored. The Mantra for this step: “So, if the President and the Dems are finally willing to listen to us, we can work together. It’s wrong to call us the Party of No. We tried hard but just were shut out. We just didn’t want big, socialized government to take over. We are the wounded heroes who will fight for the right ideas. We have a new Contract for America.” Then for the third step to win the November mid-term elections big, the uncompromising GOPers would say, “We tried but those misguided, socialist Lefties, including the President, just won’t see the light. You the voter, have no choice but to save America from historic debt by voting for Republicans who have the new ideas that will work for you not Washington and bring this tragic, wasteful spending to an end.

When the Repugs saw how much Obama’s favorable ratings were falling and how little the weak-kneed Dems were fighting back, they saw a great opportunity to launch the second step and were so giddy with anticipation, they agreed Thursday night to a White House request that TV could cover the sporting event live of Obama stepping into their House to serve him the coup de gras. They even invited their immediate family to join them to watch the slaughter. (Here is the speech and Q&A session along with the transcript.)

You would think these geniuses would have learned from his campaign and first year in office that they had invited a very knowledgeable, intelligent and skilled politician who might be prepared for their attacks and would fight back smiling often to ease the pain for the family members watching their loved ones being stabbed in the heart over and over.

MSNBC’s two-hour special Friday night (see end of this post for all the links) shows some of the best excerpts from the lame attempts by the Repugs to trap Obama and then discover they were the ones in the trap as overly confident leader of the event Mike Pence learned from the first question launched at the President. Fox News covered this event live and when early on they discovered how bad it was going for their co-horts, they stopped the coverage and started talking about what they hoped viewers would have witnessed in a vain effort at damage control. Luke Russert, son of Tim who in this MSNBC report (at the 6min point) right after the event, said a participant told him that it was a big mistake letting the cameras roll.

Take a look at this exchange, the last of the afternoon, with Rep. Jeb Hensarling from Texas and how Obama made him look like the fool he is. No Repug after that exchange decided to continue the lost fight. Prior to Jeb, Marsha Blackburn had at length explained how all her good health reform ideas were being ignored. I would like to have seen her face when when Obama said he had read her ideas well before the booklet was handed to him today and that some had been embraced and some embraced with caveats. He then proceeded to explain that the ideas in the Dem bills were pretty similar to those proposed by Howard Baker, Bob Dole and Tom Daschle two years ago, “pretty centrist ideas.” Obama told her, if you listened to how you Republicans framed the debate you would think I was proposing some Bolshevik plot. You’ve given yourself very little room to negotiate with us because you have demonized us so much to your base.

Chris Mathews at the end of that segment made an excellent observation, sometimes he succeeds, that Martha was a hypocrite because from the beginning of the Bush 43 administration, she and her colleagues had ample opportunity and power to implement all of her ideas and did nothing. “That is how Republicans always do things whether it is with Truman, Clinton or Obama. They never offer anything when they are in power.”

Before the KO/Rachel,/Chris Special, Alan Grayson on the Ed Show expressed the frustration that most progressives have with Obama when he said that although the president had done everything he could to achieve bipartisanship, he has been too accepting and nothing has gotten done. “I was beginning to think that the President was suffering from the Stockholm Syndrome because he has let himself be held hostage for a year now.” I understand and share Grayson’s frustration, but Obama since his 2004 Convention speech made bringing blue and red states together the basis of his message for change. He had to show he had made every effort. When I watched Grayson which I love to do, I agreed with him because I hadn’t watched Obama’s performance yet. We were wrong considering the Repugs made the huge mistake of allowing Obama into their den and the sleeping bear woke up and roared, roared in a skilful and professorial way that should scare the hell out of the Repugs if they are smart enough to realize it, which I doubt they will.

Below the Special links are other links evaluating the climatic event. Watch, read and enjoy unless you are a RWA or hardcore contrarian.

MSNBC Two-Hour Special Covering the Most Important Segments 15:31 7:36 9:35 1:23 3:45 12:00 5:26 7:41 7:21

Now’s the GOP’s Time to Strike “Republicans need to do what the Democrats seem unwilling or incapable of doing, and that is to dramatically change their approach.” (Did Obama wait until just the right time to strike a dagger in the heart?)

GOP Solutions Booklet for America finally being released with copy handed to Obama Friday

Obama talks to House Republicans in Baltimore in rare, televised debate

Obama rumbles with House GOP

The President Obama we voted for: I’ll let a smart friend explain why Obama beat the GOP and won back his base, at least for a glorious day by Salon’s Joan Walsh Her friend Mike Madden’s post

Obama Dominates at Republican Retreat: Obama engages GOP House leaders in a lively Q&A on their turf — and wins. If only U.S. politics were always this unscripted.

C-SPAN likes idea of regular Obama-lawmaker exchanges


  1. cocktailhag says:

    Admittedly, it was Obama at his best. Would that this had happened sooner. I’m sensing that the GOP is now, like Wile E. Coyote, about to order something from ACME, to catch that road runner once and for all.
    I would love to see the FOX coverage….. GG’s hilarious metaphor about watching the 2008 elections on FOX: “It will be like attending the funeral of someone you’re glad is dead, and everyone else is in deep mourning.”

  2. mikeinportc says:

    I saw almost all of it . As soon as it was over, Fox called on Karl Rove for expert analysis . He started off saying that Obama wasn’t concilliatory enough . I didn’t hear the rest of it , as I was too busy laughing, trying not to spew/choke on my drink, while reaching for the remote.

    GOPers : “They say we don’t have any ideas.We have lots of ideas! Yaddayaddayadda..” Over & over & over.
    Me : Lots of ideas? Yeah, and they’re almost all bad.
    Even with the potentially good ones, they can almost never resist the urge to screw with it, to gain some advantage for themselves, or their sponsors.

    • dirigo says:

      That’s all they can do: keep trying to get the current President of the United States to genuflect to the minority.


      Who won?

      • cocktailhag says:

        That’s the point I daily tear out my hair trying to make. YOU LOST, YOU IDIOTS! And then they get one more Senate seat and declare another landslide for themselves. It drives me to drink. More than I already do.

        • dirigo says:

          However it happened this time (and it’s happened before obviously; both sides have played this game), the rush to madness since last January, where the fatuous importance of the senate filibuster has been the fulcrum on which an entire year has been wasted (pretty much as far as the health plan goes), has given these pipsqueaks more influence than they should have had, given the election results.

          The minority has been shown every respect when you look at it (you don’t have to be in the tank for Obama to say this), and they act as though they have more power than they have a right to claim at the moment.

          Obama’s not showing enough respect?

          Apart from jerking around with the filibuster, these guys are just jerking the president. They are not serious negotiators.

          • cocktailhag says:

            And it was even worse when they were in power… Remember how they forced the Democrats to meet in the basement, and loudly lorded their “permanent” majority every chance they got? Win or lose, they’re still sore.

          • dirigo says:

            Yes, they are poor losers. It’s clear in their behavior, and it’s not flattering.

            Back to the possibility of some more “hot baseline shots” – I’m looking forward, somehow, to some future image of more presidential “serves” where a half dozen or ten of these sharpies stumble around, waving their rackets, yelling at each other to “hit the damn ball”!

          • dirigo says:

            A retort to the little princes …


  3. mikeinportc says:

    To use an analogy from tennis, he may be able to make the Republicans look more foolish for a while by hitting these really hot “baseline shots.”

    It would help if Hapless Harry would do his part, and make them actually get up and filibuster.

  4. avelna says:

    Do you suppose that any of the Senate Dems watched his performance and learned anything from it? Be nice if they grew some balls.

  5. dirigo says:

    Can’t see Republicans agreeing to this format again, anywhere, any time, on any media venue.

    In performance terms, they all looked like bit players.

    It was something borrowed from the Brits. Can you imagine any of these bozos trying to get their legs in the House of Commons, where Oxford-style debating is the rule?

    Once this embarrassment sinks in, after their heads snap back at the horrible playback, they’ll realize how cruel the camera was to them this time.

    They need one person who can actually go toe to toe with this president, either now and toward the mid-terms, or after that, heading toward the next general election.

    I’d like to know who that might be.

    Right now, they’re all small, and, in basic debate terms, Obama was able – despite Pence handing over his “book of ideas” homework – to reinforce that by portraying them as a blob of negation for an entire year.

    Considering the problem of the “narrative,” as has been discussed for a while …

    … it may be Obama is on to the notion that wonk won’t work with the confused voters who may be “voting against their interests,” but engagement, using plain speech and unassailable facts, will.

    The use of the question time format was unusual, and a bit of a gimmick, but Obama’s approach from now on should be much more interesting.

    To use an analogy from tennis, he may be able to make the Republicans look more foolish for a while by hitting a few hot “baseline shots.”

    Where are the Republican “Oxford” debaters?

  6. Denise says:

    Hag, I’m glad you watch all this crap so I don’t have to… I’m close to being back to my ballerina self, unwilling to vote, or care for that matter what is happening. All my apathy came creeping back to me as I sat loathing the smug republicans at the State of the Union address, and feeling my hopes for change fading away.

    By the way crows are very smart, and perhaps you could train them to bring you some shiny coins dropped in the park. Seven dollars is not as much money as it used to be…

    • cocktailhag says:

      Are you going to start eating chocolate cake and french fries, too? Will you need to stock up on Fabulon and false eyelashes again?
      I feel the same way, and must have sensed it when I started this blog AFTER Obama won. I knew there would be plenty for a hag to bitch about. It’s a well-known fact that when Republicans win, they get a sports car and a pair of hookers, and when Democrats win, we get a savings bond. Seems to be the way the cookie crumbles.
      Actually, the Q & A was one of perhaps four relatively heartening events that have occurred since Obama became President, for me anyway. Not that that’s saying much.
      I haven’t seen the crows lately…. I think they’re up to something.

  7. retzilian says:

    Obama did a fine job yesterday and it would be great if every voter available watched that exchange. However…I’d really like to see him conduct the same style forum – on camera – with progressive Democrats. I have a few questions for him – like why isn’t Gitmo closed, why we aren’t out of Iraq yet, why none of the torture issues were addressed by our justice system, why the public option was OFF the TABLE from day one, why he capitulated to Joe Lieberman.

    Etc. etc. ad infinitum ad nauseum.

    I’m of the same mind as many who are nearly beyond disillusionment right now; which accounts for my loss of interest in politics these days. I have to admit that yesterday’s event was riveting.

    • Ché Pasa says:

      I’d really like to see him conduct the same style forum – on camera – with progressive Democrats. I have a few questions for him – like why isn’t Gitmo closed, why we aren’t out of Iraq yet, why none of the torture issues were addressed by our justice system, why the public option was OFF the TABLE from day one, why he capitulated to Joe Lieberman.

      Bingo. I watched the Thing with the Rs today, and he was fine, more than held his own, yadda yadda, but what do you expect, nobody ever thought he was stupid, and the Rs are simply outclassed.

      But I kept thinking why is he bothering with these stooges? Is he a Republican? What’s the point of “dialoguing” with people who aren’t on his side and won’t be no matter what he says?

      On the other hand, he’s got a shitload of ‘splainin’ to do to get right with the Progressive Caucus. So why aren’t we seeing that? If he’s gonna do Question Time, then let him do it with people who are ostensibly on his side and want to hear something positive for once.

      Is that so hard?

  8. sysprog says:

    How will Obama’s performance on Friday be perceived by a nation who believe pro wrestling is real and the moon landing was fake?

    Those few ignorant swing voters even aware of the performance on Friday have probably concluded that he was “lecturing” and telling lies.

    Look at what happened after the SOTU speech on Wednesday night.

    On Thursday, said that Obama expressed some highly questionable opinions and made some dubious predictions, but Obama didn’t say anything that was factually false in the SOTU speech.

    (If you click above, also check out how Governor McDonnell slipped invisible ellipses into his Jefferson quote, deleting words and dishonestly twisting Jefferson’s clear meaning.)

    (For which, McDonnell will suffer no criticism from anybody that matters.)

    Today (Saturday), a survey was released . . .
    . . . showing that most Republicans AND MOST DEMOCRATS didn’t believe Obama when Obama said that taxes were actually cut last year.

    The actual facts are summarized here:,,id=204335,00.html

    . . . and, as directed by the IRS payroll withholding instructions (one of the items in the above web page), most people in the USA had an increase in take home pay, starting in March 2009, because of the tax cuts, and yet the American voters – - evidently – - don’t remember that, and people (even MOST DEMOCRATS) believe the TV and Radio commentators who accused the president of telling lies about everything, including tax cuts.

    Not only are most Americans not reality-based, but they don’t even remember what was in their own pay envelopes, ten months ago.

    And according to this (see below) story, the good people of Tennessee will do their best to make sure that our newest Americans are also not reality-based.

    • Ché Pasa says:

      They don’t think they got a tax cut because it was almost invisible. If they managed to hold on to jobs at all.

      Yes, taxes were slightly reduced for most working people during 2009; but for many, other deductions, like health care costs, went up and there was no net pay increase to notice. There could have been a net reduction. That’s what happens when deductions are at best reduced $7.50 a week. At the same time, households were facing increasing pressure from rising interest rates and fees on credit, from increasing prices of some food items, from still volatile gasoline prices, from utility and local and state tax increases (in California, sales tax went up 1%, as an example.)

      And I know some people who now owe income taxes for last year because withholding rates were reduced too much, especially if there was more than one worker in the household.

  9. sysprog says:

    Lawrence Lessig :

    In an interview two days ago, Watts said, Here’s the problem with Washington: “If you are explaining, you are losing.”

    If you are explaining, you’re losing.

    It’s a bumper sticker culture.

    - – Lawrence Lessig, 08/15/2002, at the Open Source Convention

    • cocktailhag says:

      I’d say that the dems have some “splaining” to do, then.

      • sysprog says:

        Not that you have to explain when you lose.

        But that, conversely, the act of explanation, in Washington, is self-defeating.

        If you’re trying to do something that actually requires explaining (like for instance, Krugman’s “three legged school” that the White House seems to have now abandoned) then, to win, the other side doesn’t need to refute you explanation.

        They need only quote bumper stickers.

  10. The wingnuts took quite a beating last week. My quess is they’ll retreat into their “It’s all because of the bad reporting by the liberal media” mode.

    I like your observations on Obama’s Baltimore smack-down.

    • rmp says:

      I notice that since Dylan Ratigan started his show on MSNBC in the morning and now at 4pm ET, that some of the other daytime “talent” are getting tougher. Dylan will really go after someone if he feels they are dodging the question. The problem with the other “talent” is they are not doing any research or have insufficient knowledge to recognize when their guests are blowing smoke or telling lies.

      The headline on the Alternet link I included makes a really important observation, “If only U.S. politics were always this unscripted.”

  11. sysprog says:

    Just make a mental picture of foie gras (fatty liver) and Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) and you’ll always remember that gras (and the feminine form, grasse) means fat or fatty.

    A coup de gras (or a coup de grasse) would be a splat of fat.

  12. Casual Observer says:

    Re: Spence, I particularly enjoyed how he had to read his “question” out of a book. So long it was, so packed with tedious talking points and gotchas, he couldn’t keep it straight himself, unless he read it verbatim.

    It was truly a pathetic sight.