Prominent Washington correspondents are accusing President Obama and his aides of knowingly stretching the truth on issues like the so-called women's pay gap just to create controversy and keep issues -- and the president -- relevant.
Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus kicked off the attack last week when she blasted as “demagoguery” the administration's tactics during the pay gap debate. “The level of hyperbole -- actually, of demagoguery -- that Democrats have engaged in here is revolting,” she wrote.
CBS White House Correspondent Major Garrett then weighed in this week in his National Journal column. He revealed that the White House has a name for it's deceptive tactics: “Stray voltage.”
Basically, it’s an effort of creating a controversy for the sake of having a controversy to put an issue before the public and make the president’s position prominent. He wrote that the administration’s made-up claim that women earn 77-cents for every man was “stray voltage in action” because it created a food fight over the 77-cent figure, allowing the White House to strike at GOP foes.
Garrett has written about the tactic before, crediting Obama senior advisor David Plouffe with coining it. “The theory goes like this: Controversy sparks attention, attention provokes conversation, and conversation embeds previously unknown or marginalized ideas in the public consciousness. This happens, Plouffe theorizes, even when—and sometimes especially when—the White House appears defensive, besieged, or off-guard,” he wrote.
His column was followed by Slate's John Dickerson who called the process trolling. He wrote:
“Under this approach, a president wants the fact-checkers to call him out (again and again) because that hubbub keeps the issue in the news, which is good for promoting the issue to the public. It is the political equivalent of ‘there is no such thing as bad publicity’ or the quote attributed to Mae West (and others): ‘I don't care what the newspapers say about me as long as they spell my name right.’ The tactic represents one more step in the embrace of cynicism that has characterized President Obama's journey in office.”
Once Dickerson’s column came out, the National Republican Senatorial Committee pushed out a release Thursday also noting the criticism. “How desperate is the White House to maintain control of the Senate? Desperate enough to reduce the president to trolling,” they said.
The public must be seeing what the reporters are too. Our Charles Hoskinson posted a story Thursday about a Fox News poll finding that 61 percent believe Obama lies at least some of the time on important issues.Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.