Chris Matthews had GOP Strategist John Feehery and Democratic strategist Steve McMahon on Hardball Thursday night to discuss how Darrell Issa (R-CA) is overreaching in his Obama scandal mongering, and how the GOP told him basically to shut it.
But it doesn’t look as if Darrell is going to heed their advice, since he went whining to Politico about how mean President Obama is to “vilify” him (try not to laugh). And Republicans are showing alarming signs that they are just as capable of denial today as they were during the 2012 campaign.
CHRIS MATTHEWS: GOP leaders are concerned that the sometimes unpredictable chairman (Issa) could jeopardize the biggest gift handed to them in months, public outrage over the IRS scandal, combined with questions over Benghazi. They think issa should stop personalizing the scandals by insulting Obama and his aides and focus on the facts.” and are they right to be concerned? That’s our big question.
JOHN FEEHERY (GOP): … Issa has driven a lot of stories effectively. When he says Jay Carney is a liar, he makes the story about him. He has to keep on the straight and narrow, keep it straight to the facts and not make this about him.
STEVE MCMAHON (DEM): John summarized it perfectly correctly. He’s more like Burton than the responsible subcommittee chairman John was describing. The problem for the Republicans, the reason they smacked him down, this is how brands are made. The Republican Party is trying to run a campaign in 2014, and if they become known as the overreaching parties, the party that is known for coarse insults, it’s not going to go very well for them.
JOHN FEEHERY (GOP): There’s an art form to this. Some of the work they’re doing is kind of dull. For Darrell Issa is really good at actually getting the media attention and pushing the story forward. The problem is when you go over the top, and when you kind of promise more than the story has. So that’s why you have to really have some good lawyers and stick to the facts, keep driving it forward.
Darrell Issa is good at getting media attention to drive the Republican narrative that President Obama is not a strong leader, that he’s ineffective. That is Issa’s job, and he screwed it up when he called Carney a liar. He also screwed it up when he again accused the White House of being less than truthful on key subjects and refused to apologize for his Carney attack while speaking to Politico, “Issa added that ‘the White House has tried to vilify me rather than getting into the facts.'” (Issa thinks he can get away with this by saying “White House” instead of “Obama”.)
You can see the problem with Issa. Darrell Issa thinks he can sell himself as the victim of President Obama, while he is accusing the White House of being a liars with zero proof.
Brash, obnoxious, classless car thief Darrell Issa is a wildcard for Republicans, but this is what they get for choosing to depend on someone with such obviously bad judgment to drive their narrative. Who else would have taken the job to lie and point fingers constantly, when they themselves have a criminal background? You’d have to be densely arrogant to do that.
Politico noted that Republicans are worried about Issa destroying their Obama destruction strategy:
GOP leaders are concerned that the sometimes unpredictable chairman could jeopardize the biggest gift handed to them in months — public outrage over the IRS scandal, combined with questions over Benghazi. They think Issa should stop personalizing the scandals by insulting Obama and his aides and focus on the facts.
While the strategists were going back and forth, the Democratic strategist reminded the Republican strategist of the results over Republican overreach when they went after Clinton, and the Republican strategist blurted, “That’s not what happened!”
If you want to know why Republicans keep banging their head into the same Overreach Wall, it’s because once again, they believe their own spin:
STEVE MCMAHON (DEM): Think before you speak. Remember, it was Dan Burton who pushed the committee and pushed the impeachment hearings to the point where the American people rejected the Republicans, the Republican leadership, and Newt Gingrich–
CHRIS MATTHEWS: He was the guy accusing the Clintons of murder, wasn’t he?
STEVE MCMAHON (DEM): Accuses the Clintons of everything. He was the beginning of the overreach for the Republicans that culminated in an impeachment hearing and resulted in Republicans losing seats and Newt Gingrich being gone.
JOHN FEEHERY (GOP): That’s not actually what happened. 2008 they lost the majority.
STEVE MCMAHON (DEM): I’m talking about 1998.
JOHN FEEHERY (GOP): 1998 they kept the House. They lost 52 seats.
(That’s what Steve said. So why is John arguing? Because the GOP strategist doesn’t like to remember the fact that overreach cost them 52 seats in 1998.)
STEVE MCMAHON (DEM): They lost Newt Gingrich.
JOHN FEEHERY (GOP): They lost Newt Gingrich. They kept control of the House. I think the bigger point here is that you need, and Greg Walden is exactly right. I talked to Greg Walden about this. You need to be careful on these explosive allegations. If you mishandle them, they’ll explode in your hand.
The Republican Party realized that Darrell Issa was making things personal against Obama and his staff, and that people generally like Obama (while loathing Congress and thinking Republicans to be extreme obstructionist). The GOP thinks they have “winners” in the IRS scandal and Benghazi (notice that their “winners” are always dramas and scandals, and never policy ideas), and they don’t want the ethically challenged Darrell Issa to mess it up, so he’s been kicked out of the public eye until he can get it together.
Republicans are eying their big prize of making Obama look incompetent, and they don’t want some brash car thief to destroy things for them. They’re so close, and it only took them five years!
Surely if they paint Obama as incompetent, no one will remember that they drove the economy over the cliff and into a deep recession with reckless spending and deregulation, starved children while giving the rich another tax break, lost the mantle of national security experts to Obama, fought against jobs for Americans and killed basic infrastructure rebuilding, stuck it to veterans again and again, never even tried to find Osama bin Laden, spent the last five years trying to regulate a woman’s uterus while actively seeking to restrict freedom from gays, minorities, and immigrants…..
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.