Hardball

| Fri Dec. 3, 2010 12:17 PM EST

From First Read:

Democrats don’t play political hardball as well as Republicans do: Want another example of how Republicans play political hardball better than Democrats do? Just look what happened after yesterday’s House vote extending only middle-class tax cuts. We noticed only a few Democratic press releases accusing Republicans of voting against tax cuts for 98% of Americans (and thus accusing them of raising these folks’ taxes). If the shoe had been on the other foot, however, Republicans would have mercilessly pounded Democrats for weeks — if not months. The recent Charlie Rangel and John Ensign stories are instructive here, too. Republicans were relentless that the news of Rangel’s wrongdoings never got dropped. On the other hand, Democrats essentially gave up on Ensign’s woes. And lo and behold, it now looks like Ensign is no longer a Justice Department target. And Rangel's been censured on the House floor. Republicans just play the political message game better than Democrats do.

Maybe a reluctance to play hardball is the issue here. But there are at least two other things involved. The first is simply that Republicans believe their own PR more than Democrats do. When Republicans get hysterical about something, it's genuine. They really believe, way down in their self-righteous little hearts, that they're speaking God's own truth, no matter how ridiculous it is. And it shows.

The other, though, is the media itself: Democrats have long since learned that the media just flatly won't pay attention to ridiculous stuff from them, but they will from Republicans. Republican fervor is contagious, and conservative media has an agenda setting power that liberals just can't match. So why bother?

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