Dirty Tricks by Reince Priebus and the RNC
April 26, 2012
Before the ink dried on former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s coronation as the GOP’s official nominee, 40-year-old Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus launched his dirty tricks campaign against President Barack Obama. Priebus was naďve enough to grant access to RNC’s war room where twenty-thirty-forty-something PR hacks whip up nefarious tales about Barack and the Democratic Party. Given today’s 24/7 news-cycle, media outlets are hungry for red meat, titillating stories capable of hitting the headlines. When Reince’s team contacts its media sources with the “big tip,” the media laps it up like hungry dogs. Today’s red meat involves routine presidential travel during an election year, transformed now into a campaign finance scandal. GOP’s No. 1 attack dog Priebus beseeches his Obama-bashing friends in the GOP House to investigate.
Cable and network news viewers are treated to daily stories highlighting egregious administration corruption, not by credentialed investigative bodies but by a partisan witch-hunt team led by Priebus and his trained hacks at the GOP. Priebus has the added ammunition of a GOP-led House, more than willing to discredit Obama at an instant’s notice. Priebus’ letter to Comptroller General Gene Dodaro of the Government’s General Accounting Office [GAO] makes good headlines but consider the source. “On behalf of the American taxpayers, I am writing to call your attention to a cases of misuse of government funds,” said Priebus in an open letter. Dodaro should write Priebus back to say making false claims is like filing false criminal charges and reports in cases of domestic manipulation or retaliation. Priebus should be told that the GAO takes seriously false political claims.
Priebus knows that merely making the allegation against the president sticks with some voters. Telling lies forcefully and consistently enough eventually get absorbed into the RNC’s dedicated dirty tricks campaign. Whether the allegations are true or not matters less than White House attempts at self-defense. Before the GAO or GOP-controlled House wastes more taxpayer money on phony investigations, they need to consider the person filing the charges. Priebus, as RNC chairman, is commissioned with the job of discrediting the president. Dodaro needs to look carefully at the source. Filing false charges also needs to be investigated, even where Priebus makes valid points. “One might imagine that if this were genuinely a government event, he might have stopped in an non-battleground state like Texas or Vermont,” said Priebus complaining about Obama’s travel to North Carolina, Colorado and Iowa.
White House officials dismissed Priebus’ charges citing normal travel schedules in an election year. Remarking about Obama’s trip to Florida, the 40-something political operative said “it was low on substance that would benefit the population at large,” raising doubts about Obama’s travel schedule. Obama’s White House travel duties are indistinguishable from campaign stops highlighting the president’s agenda in various venues. “This week’s travel has been part of the president’s official responsibility to get outside of Washington, D.C., hear from students, and discuss stopping interest rates on their loans from doubling in July . . . “ said White House spokesman Ed Schultz. Whether the president kills two birds with one stone or not, he has a right to advance his political agenda. Putting the White House on the defensive accomplishes Priebus’ goal of keeping Barack off-balance.
Instead of reacting to the RNC’s charges, the White House should point out that the one filing the charges has a dog in the fight. Political hacks aren’t paid to get out the truth, they’re paid to discredit the president, hoping to score more points for GOP nominee Romney. “Understandably, much of your time may be currently occupied investigating the lavish Administration Vacations,” quipped Priebus. But taxpayers “are cheated by their government,” urging the GOP-led house to investigate. “This speech was high on class warfare, slogans and campaign-style rhetoric,” said Priebus, questioning the content of Barack’s recent speeches in Florida, pushing for the “Buffet Rule” to increase taxes on millionaires and billionaires. Priebus sees everything the president does as political. No matter how partisan, even Congressional zealots must show restraint about investigations.
Dirty tricks by Priebus and the RNC should not obscure the fact that the mud has already begun to fly at the president. Congressional officials should not be dragged into presidential food fights. When Priebus speaks, Congressional officials must know the source before they get sucked into phony investigations. Incumbents have wide latitude how they spend taxpayer dollars to advance their agendas, including reelection bids. “When there is political travel, we follow all the rules and regulations that all other administrations have followed,” said Schultz, defending White House actions. All the White House really needs to say is that they expect election year shenanigans, including phony charges between now and November. “We’re not going to get hot and bothered by RNC stunts . . . “ said Obama’s chief strategist David Axelrod, calling attention to the dirty tricks already in the works.
About the AuthorJohn M. Curtis writes politically neutral commentary analyzing spin in national and global news. He’s editor of OnlineColumnist.com and author of Dodging The Bullet and Operation Charisma
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