There are two ways to approach chairmanship of the Republican and Democratic National Committees. The current RNC chair, Reince Priebus, avoids the spotlight and focuses on managerial tasks. His name has been added to the spelling-check libraries of ten thousand word processors, but the man himself remains enigmatic.
The other approach is to enter the media arena as a full-contact political combatant, a kind of “super-candidate” who carries the banner of the entire party into rhetorical battle. Priebus’ predecessor, Michael Steele, played it that way. The results were… mixed. Steele’s high-profile stumbles during media appearances had a more lasting impact, especially given the media’s entirely unsurprising eagerness to immortalize them, but he gave some really terrific speeches, too.
Now we have Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz as the head of the Democratic National Committee, and Steele fades into history before the onslaught of the most powerful gaffe machine ever unleashed upon a major party.
“What about Joe Biden?” you ask. “What is he, chopped liver?” I don’t want to sell Crazy Joe short, but he’ll never do the kind of damage Debbie Wasserman-Schultz does. He has a kind of lovable goofiness that will only become terrifying if President Obama’s health takes a turn for the worse. By contrast, Wasserman-Schultz is a nasty piece of work, as vicious as she is dense. That makes her a gift from heaven for the Republicans.
DWS came onto the national radar screen by announcing that the term “ObamaCare” is somehow a “disparaging reference to the President of the United States,” which she insisted members of Congress should be forbidden from using. “Is it a violation of the House rule wherein members are not permitted to make disparaging references to the President of the United States?” she asked. This saddled eager liberals with a talking point that makes them look like simpering ninnies whenever they bring it up.
Once she was installed as the DNC chair, Wasserman-Schultz promptly accused Representative Paul Ryan of setting what would “literally be a death trap for seniors” with his Medicare reform proposals. You may be tempted to excuse her on the grounds that she might not understand what the word “literally” means, but she made her meaning clear in numerous subsequent interviews. She said on MSNBC that seniors “will not survive” if Ryan’s plan is implemented, and when a CNN host asked if she really meant the Republican budget would jeopardize the very lives of the elderly, she said “that’s exactly what I’m suggesting.”
This was only a couple of months after the great Democrat cry for a “new tone of civility,” to replace the old tone of bloody hatred Republicans supposedly created by using certain symbols on electoral maps. It also forced various liberal pundits to awkwardly call for her to apologize, since they had spent years sobbing over the unfairness of Sarah Palin’s “death panels” assessment of ObamaCare.
It also set up Wasserman-Schultz for destruction by a cheerful Paul Ryan, who is at his best when his adversaries sink into ridiculous hyperbole:
DWS is also big on pushing the meme that anyone who wants to cut compulsory taxpayer support for Planned Parenthood is eager to kill women. When the Weekly Standard’s John McCormack asked her if pro-life Democrats were also soldiers in her “war on women,” she initially tried denying that any Democrats voted to defund Planned Parenthood. Bear in mind that she’s still a sitting member of Congress, and she whipped the vote she’s lying about.
McCormack gently pointed out that in fact, ten of her Democrat colleagues did vote against Planned Parenthood funding, including the guy who tried to pry the House Minority Leader’s chair from Nancy Pelosi, the famously pro-life Health Shuler of North Carolina. This prompted the following amazing response from Wasserman-Schultz:
“No, they’re not, because if you, when I declare someone, when I make a broad statement like that, I look at the balance of somebody’s–where their priorities are, the balance of their record. And so one individual isolated vote here and there does not make you anti-woman.”
In other words, if you’re a Democrat, you can’t be bad, no matter what you do. Thanks for shoring up that Republican talking point, Debbie!
She followed up by trying to deny the Democrat votes against Planned Parenthood existed again, and mumbling that “she’d have to check” when McCormack wouldn’t let her get away with it. Stay strong, Heath Shuler! The DNC chair will eventually consult her files and figure out who you are.
Just yesterday, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz decided to tear into Republicans who criticize President Obama’s fantastically expensive bailouts of GM and Chrysler by claiming that “if it were up to the candidates for President on the Republican side, we would be driving foreign cars.” The Hill checked, and discovered she owns a Nissan, whose license plate includes her initials. It takes a special kind of magic to transform yourself into a complete laughingstock with such a dopey little talking point.
Who knows what DWS is like in person, when she sets politics aside? She’s a breast cancer survivor, and that’s a battle I hope she wins hands down, should her mortal enemy return for another beating. She really needs to work on her public persona, though. Her approach embodies everything wrong with American politics today, using mindless and hateful rhetoric to short-circuit the serious discussion of issues that won’t go away just because Democrats trick us into ignoring them. The Debbie Wasserman-Schultz style of politics is bad for America, but she’s the best DNC chair the GOP ever had.