On Wednesday, Republicans on the House Oversight Committee taking part in Cohenpalooza did a decent job of protecting the president. They employed the time-tested tactic of changing the subject and attacking the messenger. This was a move used to perfection by the Clintons in the ‘90s. The GOP wields that sword less deftly than Bubba did.
Some Dems, like drooling race hustler Dem Rep. Rashida Tlaib, helped Republicans in that switcheroo. She did so by ridiculously implying racism because GOP Rep. Mark Meadows, one of the sharper members of the entire House, happened to invite a black female Trump supporter, and HUD official, to the hearing. The slow-learning Dem claimed the woman was just a racist prop. As an argument, even as a jibe, that dog won’t hunt. It insults an accomplished black woman and hurts the Dem message by association with the mere charge. Thanks, Rashida. We owe you one.
But strangely and more interestingly, as former U.S. Attorney and NJ Governor Chris Christie has pointed out, GOP committee members did little to address the substance of the charges Cohen made against the president. Perhaps they just thought the best defense was a good offense. The better bet comes down to two other options because, like Meadows, there are more than several thinking Republicans on that committee.
The first is that they believe there is no defense, that the president is probably guilty. They’re trying to distract and make the best out of a bad situation. Possible for some of the members, but not enough to explain the wide silence on the main charges.
The other more likely explanation has to do with our old friend the White House Comms shop and its chief, former Fox News head, Bill Shine. Every GOP member of that committee should have gone into that hearing with talking and rebuttal points on the accusations against the president. The fact that they obviously did not, or ignored what was given to them, does not speak well for White House comms. Sure, a little water muddying and subject changing are nice for style points and diversion. However, as Christie noted, some are intelligent enough to look past the fancy footwork and wonder what the devil is going on.
If the Dems suffer from ideological imbalance, which they surely do, then we suffer from lack of message coordination and political media expertise on the part of the same communications staff who gave us the teleprompter speech debacle of the recent past.
If this isn’t remedied, especially going into 2020, it’s going to make an already tough election fight even harder and possibly unsuccessful. After that, we’ll really need to change the subject.