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The Morning Plum

* Another distraction from the economy: Again and again, the White House has tried to showcase its achievements on the economy, only to have unforeseen developments hijack the storyline and force White House officials to spend days dealing with non-economy-related fallout even as the midterm elections creep ever closer.

That happened last week with the Shirley Sherrod mess. And this week, the Wikileaks document dump raising new doubts about the Afghan war effort will do the same, chewing up more precious time. And let's face it: No matter how grim the prognosis for the war is in these documents, the economy, not Afghanistan, will decide the midterms.

* The leaks will embolden anti-war Dems on Capitol Hill, and, as Michael Shear notes, will intensify pressure on Obama to answer whether "the rather negative assessments call into question the president's December 2009 strategy shift."

* And as Michael Scherer adds:

The Wikileak dump is certain to accelerate the feeling, both around the country and here in Washington, that the war effort isn't sustainable for much longer. And right now, the biggest secret of all, the one no one is leaking, is whether Barack Obama agrees.

* Also: Brace yourself for another argument over whether the media put our national security at risk by publishing the docs. But: Obama aides may have privately praised The New York Times's handling of the affair.

* Still another distraction: House Dems will spend the next few days talking about Charlie Rangel, rather than about jobs, jobs, jobs.

* Finally! The New York Times delivers a stand-alone piece on how the Sherrod mess may have damaged the credibility of Breitbart and right wing media.

I'm not sure why The Times says it's an "open question" whether the right wing media's credibility gets damaged by this kind of thing. But I'm glad the piece focused on the right, rather than on "both sides." And it remains astounding how few media figures will come out and state the obvious about the Sherrod affair's real significance.

* E.J. Dionne amplifies the case: No, both sides don't do what Breitbart and Fox do.

* Amid all the good-feelings at Netroots Nation, Senator Ben Cardin says Obama failed to persuade the public that the Gulf spill was about our larger dependence on foreign oil and only made it about one company's collosal screw-up.

* Raul Grijalva expands the case for bringing the public option back from the dead, labeling so-called "deficit hawks" who oppose it "hypocrites and "phonies."

* The scaled-down energy bill is expected to be introduced in the Senate today, and Republicans may still oppose it, even though it's a shell of its former self.

* The White House was shrewd to let Rachel Maddow showcase Obama's accomplishments in his videotaped message to Netroots Nation.

* Al Franken's message to the left:

"No matter how frustrated you are, you can't check out now. We have seen what happens when Republicans take control of Congress with a Democratic president and it ain't pretty."

* Also in the above link: Indefatigable scandal hunter Darrell Issa redoubles his vow to bring "vigorous oversight" to the White House. Translation: Subpoena orgy, baby!

* And Colorado Senate candidate Ken Buck gives voice to the eternal Republican lament about the Tea Party:

"Will you tell those dumbasses at the Tea Party to stop asking questions about birth certificates while I'm on the camera? God, what am I supposed to do?"

Here's a suggestion, Ken: Clearly state that birtherism is insane, and that anyone who continues trafficking in it is delusional and should shut up immediately, for the good of your party and the country.

What else is happening?

By Greg Sargent  |  July 26, 2010; 8:22 AM ET
Categories:  2010 elections , Climate change , Foreign policy and national security , House Dems , Morning Plum , Political media , Senate Dems , Senate Republicans , Tea Party  
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Next: Journolist flap shows conservative media conspiracy, not liberal one

Comments

Question for commenters: Did you all like the weekend open thread? Should we make it a regular feature?

Posted by: Greg Sargent | July 26, 2010 8:29 AM | Report abuse

First, been busy moving so didn't have chance to see weekend activity.

Second, it's salutary to read the two columns in the Times this morning from Krugman and Douthat and note how Douthat utterly refuses to make even the slightest allusion to the decades-long PR campaign (and the billions spent) from the energy industries to undercut and derogate global warming science. It is a truly pathetic performance from him as a journalist and as an honest person.

Posted by: bernielatham | July 26, 2010 8:43 AM | Report abuse

Also...big kudos for Dionne (and whoever else involved if his headline was written by another) on the use of "propaganda" in describing what FOX is up to. It's about bloody time that the proper term was applied in bold and loud chorus.

Posted by: bernielatham | July 26, 2010 8:46 AM | Report abuse

And...hoping that we folks on the left will get a grip and recognize the wisdom of Al Franken's advice to Netroots. Suicide doesn't look very noble to those left around who have to clean up the mess.

Posted by: bernielatham | July 26, 2010 8:52 AM | Report abuse

Finally, Greg, h/t on pointing to the distraction phenomenon getting in the way of a broader appreciation of this administration's historic accomplishments (all achieved in the face of unrelenting opposition and serious national problems requiring attention). Partly this has been a matter of bad luck, as always for any administration. But we won't understand the full picture here if we fail to grasp how the right has managed, quite purposefully, to fill the media space so that such coverage and recognition are impeded.

Posted by: bernielatham | July 26, 2010 9:00 AM | Report abuse

I thought the weekend thread worked great, Greg. Hope you enjoyed your time off.

The Dionne article was great and I'm particularly happy that he singled out the WaPo's ombudsman over the New Black Panther's ridiculousness.

Posted by: schrodingerscat | July 26, 2010 9:02 AM | Report abuse

Bernie -- agreed -- filling the media space is exactly how to put it. White Houses always have to deal with the unexpected but the strategy to make noise on the right nonstop is clearly a major factor.

And shrodingers I noticed that calling out of the ombud too. Great stuff.

Posted by: Greg Sargent | July 26, 2010 9:32 AM | Report abuse

Bernie -- agreed -- filling the media space is exactly how to put it. White Houses always have to deal with the unexpected but the strategy to make noise on the right nonstop is clearly a major factor.

And shrodingers I noticed that calling out of the ombud too. Great stuff.

Posted by: Greg Sargent | July 26, 2010 9:32 AM | Report abuse

Bernie -- agreed -- filling the media space is exactly how to put it. White Houses always have to deal with the unexpected but the strategy to make noise on the right nonstop is clearly a major factor.

And shrodingers I noticed that calling out of the ombud too. Great stuff.

Posted by: Greg Sargent | July 26, 2010 9:32 AM | Report abuse

Greg, I thought the weekend thread was a success. Thanks for giving it a try. Hope you had a good weekend, and enjoyed some time to unplug. That's always a good thing!

Posted by: suekzoo1 | July 26, 2010 9:33 AM | Report abuse

Open thread was good although I was busy most this weekend sitting in a pool trying to keep cool and there wasn't any WiFi there so my surfing was at a minimal.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | July 26, 2010 9:58 AM | Report abuse

TPM runs down the straw poll results from Netroots.

The winner of the GOP presidential nomination is none other than Sarah Palin with 48%.

What I found most surprising is that the majority approve of Obama's handling of his job...32% strongly, 51% somewhat..with 13% disapproving somewhat, and the remaining 4% disapproving strongly. (I expected him to fare much worse.)

http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2010/07/its-a-landslide-netroots-want-sarah-palin-to-run-for-prez.php?ref=fpb


Posted by: suekzoo1 | July 26, 2010 10:03 AM | Report abuse

Greg, I always value your Sunday talk show review, but you need a break. The weekend thread is a good solution.

Posted by: KathleenHusseininMaine | July 26, 2010 10:14 AM | Report abuse

mike, I saw your reply on the Webb op-ed on the weekend open thread. Thanks.

A member of my extended family wrote his PhD dissertation back in 1980 on the chronic poverty of the Scots-Irish in Appalachia, and concluded back then that targeted affirmative action based on need rather than race could be effective at ending cycles of hardship as well as having a harmonizing effect on racial issues. He's light years to the left of Jim Webb, so it's kind of interesting that they come to compatible conclusions.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | July 26, 2010 10:22 AM | Report abuse

"In a recent interview with the right-wing Christian Zionist Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry, neoconservative pundit Daniel Pipes shared his view that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should threaten to use nuclear weapons against Iran as a means of “applying pressure” on the United States."

Remind me again, why Iran should not develop Nuclear Weapons?

Daniel Pipes, urges Israel to let the USA know that they are willing to attack Iran using Nuclear Weapons, in order to stop Iran from developing Nuclear Weapons.

Do you get that folks. Pipes just admitted that Israel already has Nukes, and he has no problem with them using them against a country that does not have them. If I were such a country, that sort of threat would make me sure as hell want to get my own nukes, in order to scare off any country that is willing to use nukes against me.

http://www.danielpipes.org/8667/interview-with-the-friends-of-israel-gospel

"DP: If Iran gets a nuclear bomb, it changes the dynamics - not just in the Middle East, but worldwide. If the Obama administration has in mind to do something, it's not about to broadcast it. So we don't know. But I'm not optimistic. But I also would not conclude at this date that the Iranians will get the bomb. There is still pressure that can be brought.

EMQ: Can sanctions really accomplish anything?

DP: I don't think so. I don't think sanctions have any value beyond window dressing. I don't think agreements have any value. I don't think threats have any value. It boils down to whether we accept the Iranian nuclear program or we destroy it.

EMQ: How should Israelis feel about this?

DP: I think it's realistic for the Israelis to attack and do real damage. Now, what constitutes success, I'm not exactly sure. There are many, many questions. If I were [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin]Netanyahu, I would say to [U.S. President Barack] Obama, "Why don't you take out the Iranian nukes? Or else we will And we will not do it by trying to fly planes across Turkey and Syria or Jordan or Saudi Arabia. We will do it from submarine-based, tactical nuclear weapons. You don't want that; we don't want that; but that's the way we can do this job for sure. You do it your way so we don't have to escalate to that." That would be a way of applying pressure. There are so many details which I'm not privy to. But that would be my kind of approach if I were the Israelis."

Posted by: Liam-still | July 26, 2010 10:47 AM | Report abuse

*Senate Strips Funding For Legal Settlement To Black Farmers From War Bill*

Five months after President Obama announced a $1.25 billion settlement for black farmers who faced overt discrimination by the USDA in the eighties and nineties -- and several days after the Sherrod case brought the issue up again -- Congress again refused to authorize the money.

http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/2010/07/senate_strips_funding_for_black_farmers_from_war_b.php

Pretty amazing...

So we have an openly racist Senate and a complicit racist media and it's only going to get worse. This country is so screwed up it's not even funny.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | July 26, 2010 10:47 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, Ethan, screwed up. No doubt about it.

TPM Exclusive: Steele To Hold RNC Event -- Co-Starring Andrew Breitbart

"Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele has a party fundraising event coming up in August that is scheduled to feature a very special guest: Conservative media activist Andrew Breitbart, according to a copy of the invitation exclusively obtained by TPM.

The fundraising event, billed as an "Election Countdown," will take place from August 12-14 in Beverly Hills, California, and will also feature other politicians such as California Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, and Nevada Republican gubernatorial nominee Brian Sandoval. Steele and Breitbart are scheduled to co-headline a welcome reception on the first evening, August 12."

http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2010/07/steele-to-hold-rnc-event----co-starring-andrew-breitbart.php?ref=fpa

Posted by: suekzoo1 | July 26, 2010 10:52 AM | Report abuse

sue, Irish need not apply signs was pretty a pretty common occurrence for years in the U.S. Many of them were driven into poverty and depending on where they settled, ie those who settled in Appalachia, never really got out of it. Then, when racial affirmative action came about, many who just so happened to be of the same race that discriminated against black American's were all poorly lumped into the same bucket. So, you've got some who are benefiting without having endured any hardship just because of where they come from and those that are being discriminated against just for being of the same race, which many of whom, were also discriminated against.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | July 26, 2010 10:54 AM | Report abuse

POWER + MONEY + SEX = GOP

"Washington is abuzz with rumors of late-night partying and of House Republicans inappropriately hanging out with female lobbyists," Roll Call notes.

"But not everyone was taken by surprise. Minority Leader John Boehner has been working behind the scenes to address the issue for at least the past year and a half. The Ohio Republican has had private conversations with several lawmakers asking them to curb their inappropriate behavior."

New York Post: "While there's no evidence of anything more than friendly flirtatious behavior, the lawmakers have been told to keep partying to a minimum in this midterm election year."

http://politicalwire.com/archives/2010/07/26/boehner_warns_of_unseemly_behavior.html

Does anyone care that the Republican Party thinks and acts like a bunch of juveniles?

NOPE!

NOBODY CARES!

Posted by: Ethan2010 | July 26, 2010 10:55 AM | Report abuse

From Politicalwire.com


"Boehner Warns of Unseemly Behavior"

"Washington is abuzz with rumors of late-night partying and of House Republicans inappropriately hanging out with female lobbyists," Roll Call notes.

"But not everyone was taken by surprise. Minority Leader John Boehner has been working behind the scenes to address the issue for at least the past year and a half. The Ohio Republican has had private conversations with several lawmakers asking them to curb their inappropriate behavior."

New York Post: "While there's no evidence of anything more than friendly flirtatious behavior, the lawmakers have been told to keep partying to a minimum in this midterm election year." "

....................

Shorter Version.

Biggest Boehner Warns About Late Night Republican Boners!

Posted by: Liam-still | July 26, 2010 10:58 AM | Report abuse

All, my latest on the Journolist "conspiracy":

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/plum-line/2010/07/journolist_flap_shows_conserva.html

Posted by: Greg Sargent | July 26, 2010 11:08 AM | Report abuse


sue, Irish need not apply signs was pretty a pretty common occurrence for years in the U.S. Many of them were driven into poverty and depending on where they settled, ie those who settled in Appalachia, never really got out of it. Then, when racial affirmative action came about, many who just so happened to be of the same race that discriminated against black American's were all poorly lumped into the same bucket. So, you've got some who are benefiting without having endured any hardship just because of where they come from and those that are being discriminated against just for being of the same race, which many of whom, were also discriminated against.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | July 26, 2010 10:54 AM

...................


You are conflating two different sets of; Irish In America; Historical Issues.

Those who settled in Appalachia were mostly Scots-Irish; people who had been removed from Scotland, in the Highland Clearances, and moved to Northern Ireland; in what was known as The Ulster Plantation.

The English Ruling Class cleared the Highlands(ethnic cleansing) in order to take over those lands, and use them for grouse hunting grounds, etc.

They doubled down, by moving those people to Ulster to usurp the indigenous Irish people of that province.

Those Scots-Irish did not have the No Irish signs posted against them, because they were Protestants.

Those signs were posted against the later wave of Irish Catholics who were fleeing from the Potato Crop failure. It was not a famine, in the true sense of the word, because there was plenty of grain, meat, etc still harvested in Ireland, during the Great Starvation, but it was collected by the British Agents, and all shipped out to England, instead of having it distributed to the poor share croppers, who had been forced to live off potatoes alone, and pay the rest to the usurper absentee English Overlords.

Posted by: Liam-still | July 26, 2010 11:13 AM | Report abuse

thanks for clearing that up ethan. I didn't realize the irish that settled in appalacia were mostly scots Irish.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | July 26, 2010 11:18 AM | Report abuse

They've admitted to their cynical strategy of saying no to everything that would help the economy.

They've admitted to deceiving the American public on "complicated" bills.

They've admitted to inappropriate cavorting with female lobbyists.

They've admitted to attacking NAACP because the NAACP called out racist elements in the Tea Party.

They've admitted that they want Obama to fail and that they wanted HCR to "break" the President.

They've admitted that they don't want any limits at all on corporate donations in elections.

WHERE THE F__K IS THE MAINSTREAM MEDIA'S REPORTING ON THE GOP?

It's here:

*GOP lawmakers optimistic about 'no' votes*

A disgraceful puff piece that says nothing. America is going to be totally and completely screwed if the GOP wins power and there's not even so much as a hint at what they WANT to do and HOW they intend to get there. I say again, this country is so screwed up it's not funny. I still have high hopes for Obama and the Dem agenda, but given the extreme views of the GOP and the fact that they will be gaining seats, if not control, America is probably well beyond repair at this point. THANKS GOP! THANKS PATHETIC MEDIA. Heckuva job. It should be fun being a former superpower.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | July 26, 2010 11:21 AM | Report abuse

Greg,

I don't know if you caught this, but over the weekend one of the best and most direct Breitbart smackdowns came from Mitch Albom over at the Detroit Free Press....

http://www.freep.com/article/20100725/COL01/7250472/In-the-Sherrod-controversy-do-shoot-the-messenger

Much stronger than the NYTimes piece.

Posted by: elscott | July 26, 2010 11:39 AM | Report abuse

The White House and Democrats in general should stop responding to anything other that the economy.

Create a sliding scale for responses to other subjects - one line for minor, 2 lines for medium, etc etc. Whatever is asked, toss out those one or two lines, then pivot to the economy. Point out that in poll after poll, the economy totally dominates the public's attention, and that's what you're focused on.

Just keep doing it, don't stop. While they can work on multiple things, the messaging should always focus on the economy and creating jobs.

The media will groan, but eventually they'll have to cover it. And when the message starts getting through, that Dems are focused on the economy, then it will also be easier for the electorate to see the GOP obstruction that's holding back our recovery.

Posted by: TheBBQChickenMadness | July 26, 2010 12:16 PM | Report abuse

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