In the matter of Hurricane Katrina, there was plenty of blame to go around beyond the valid criticisms of the Bush administration. The local authorities in New Orleans delayed ordering an evacuation until it was too late. The deplorable Governor Blanco had no problem making a swift decision to hire a political PR consultant, but she dithered for a critical 24 hours on her willingness to accept the federal troops offered by President Bush at the direct request of Mayor Nagin. Part of the anti-Bush narrative was related to the Iraq War, that there “weren’t enough troops” to send to Baghdad on the Bayou because they were all overseas. The larger part of the narrative was that Bush was dumb, incompetent, and above all prejudiced against minorities. The media/Democrat Party’s control of the narrative was pretty effective.
Today we see what appears to be a similar story line about Republicans and Tea Party types who oppose Obamacare. They allegedly assaulted Democratic members of Congress, spitting on one, and hurling vile racial epithets at others. Pundits from the New York Times and elsewhere quickly branded these Obamacare opponents as racists. There’s only one problem — the name-calling evidently never happened. In the era of ubiquitous video recording devices and YouTube, it’s a sure bet that any such yelling of racist epithets would have appeared on the internet within nanoseconds, and for good reason: what a PR bonanza for the supporters of the President and his initiative. One commentator reviewed four separate videos of the events that recorded none of the offensive words (though one fellow shouting “kill the bill” seems a bit questionable on the saying/spraying issue). There are additional elements of the initial story that now seem fishy as well, including one congressman’s appearing to distance himself from some of the accusations. Some in the right-wing media seem to think that the objective of the encounter of the congressmen and the protesters was to provoke the disgusting outburst they claim took place — we don’t know about that.
What we do know is that this narrative line, that opponents of the President’s and Congress’s policies are racists, has gotten very, very old and tired. No doubt many on the Left genuinely believe this about conservatives, but perhaps there’s also a bit of projection at work as well. In any event, the chosen media-Democratic Party narrative appears extremely unlikely to work this time. Not only do the vast majority of Republicans think that the haughty way the Congress and the President passed the bill was an “abuse of power,” but 58% of independents do as well. Smears that are false and that smear a majority of Americans are a losing strategy.