Get ready for the "Great Distractions Election of 2012". At least that is what many on the right are referring this campaign season to. We have already had Hilary Rosen's attack on Ann Romney, Seamus "Gate", the breathless reportage on the pecadillos of the Secret Service....the list goes on and on. All of these distractions are, according to Jonah Goldberg, the "faux outrage" is being used to bash the GOP. Now that it has been turned against them though.....
t's going to be bait and switch for as far as the eye can see.
That's how it looks now that the smoke has cleared after the recent "Mommy War" skirmish over Democratic operative Hilary Rosen's comment that mother of five Ann Romney had "never worked a day in her life."...
...And besides, the whole episode was a "distraction." That was the quasi-official line almost the moment Rosen's comments caught fire. It was a "manufactured controversy." NBC's Chuck Todd, easily one of the best political analysts in the mainstream media, responded to the spat by proclaiming: "Welcome to the world of the shiny metal object. A person no one agrees with has ignited a manufactured controversy."
Way over on the left, the editor of The Nation, Katrina vanden Heuvel, said on ABC's "This Week": "I think this whole debate has been a distraction. The issues we should be talking about are equal pay, combating rising health-care costs for families, and sick payday leave for women. And these are issues that the Republicans oppose."
In fairness, Todd and vanden Heuvel are right, at least about the spat being manufactured. The Romney campaign smartly pounced on Rosen's comments as a way to turn the tables on the Obama campaign, which had been banging the war drums on the entirely phony "Republican war on women" ever since the entirely manufactured Sandra Fluke controversy.
Fluke, recall, was the Joan of Arc of free birth control who wasn't invited to testify at a congressional hearing about the Obama administration's effort to force religious institutions to pay for medical services that violate their religious teachings. A 30-year-old activist who picked Georgetown because she wanted to fight Catholic policies from the inside, Fluke was a ringer, and the Democrats wanted to use her to distract from their deeply unpopular plan to bulldoze religious liberty.
When Rush Limbaugh went overboard mocking Fluke's arguments to the point where he suggested she was a "slut," the Democrats leapt into action. So did the mainstream press. Fluke became a national martyr, treated with kid gloves by nearly every outlet. The same Katrina vanden Heuvel who mocked the "distraction" of Hilary Rosen anointed Fluke a "profile in courage" who "speaks for millions of women who won't allow Rush Limbaugh to silence their voice with his vile viciousness."
The Democratic Party raised millions off Fluke from the ginned-up controversy. Limbaugh was denounced in Congress. Allegedly pro-free speech left-wing celebrities started demanding the FCC permanently censor Limbaugh by revoking his broadcast license. After all, Limbaugh had tried to "silence people that are speaking out for women," in the words of Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.).
Funny how all of the "distraction" and "manufactured controversy" talk starts when Republicans are benefiting from a distraction.
President Obama has a good reason to distract the electorate.....he has nothing to run on. The vast majority of the electorate wants his signature legislation (ObamaCare) overturned, unemployment stubbornly remains over 8% with the number of people who are unemployed but no longer collecting assistance driving that number up closer to 20%, high gas prices, inflation causing the cost of everything to goup...all these things are leading some pundits to equate President Obama to former President Carter and his record of futility.
Goldber concludes with the latest shiny object to distract the media.
And let me say a word in defense of distractions. Elections are about what voters want them to be about. Rosen's comments, for instance, may have been hyped by the Romney campaign, but the hype wouldn't have mattered if the comments didn't resonate with the public.
My complaint isn't about distractions, it's about the press's tendency to treat controversies that help Republicans as "distractions" and ones that hurt Republicans as Very Serious Issues.
And the pattern continues. This week, the Romney campaign is rightly distancing itself from some idiotic comments by rocker Ted Nugent. On cue, Andrea Mitchell -- who seems to cover Republicans like they're from some foreign land, oddly fitting for NBC's "chief foreign affairs correspondent" -- is happily distracted by the story. When Bill Maher, HBO's criminally unfunny and obtuse jester (and million-dollar Obama super-PAC donor) says something idiotic, it's a meaningless distraction.
It's nothing new, of course. (Jeremiah Wright and Bill Ayers were preemptively deemed "distractions" by the media.) But it is annoying.
And that is what this campaign will be all about - distractions. Any distraction to try to get voters to focus on anything other than their day to day economic misery will be fodder for team Obama. While it worked 4 years ago, I suspect that it will not work so well this year because THIS year Obama has a very visible record.