Republicans are very good at talking off the same talking points, and echoing one central message -- it's why you see conservatives of all stripes repeating the same basic lines, whether on Fox, right-wing radio, or mainstream newspapers. The messages are all coordinated from the top -- the party carefully crafts what it wants to say to the American public, and then echoes that. Usually, this machine is used to package some dishonest lie in populist, popular sounding rhetoric. But now, Republicans are using their machine to tell ordinary Americans to do what Vice President Cheney once told Sen. Patrick Leahy (D) to do: go f*** yourself.
Consider the actions at the top that likely got this new Republican message going: before and during the Katrina disaster, President Bush and Cheney refused to promptly postpone their vacations, and Secretary of State Condi Rice went shopping for shoes and then to a Broadway show, even as her own agency was mismanaging the international offers of aid to flood victims. That "go Cheney yourself" message has subsequently been translated into just another one of the Republicans' full-on political message campaigns, much like, say, the GOP's dishonest Swift Boat message campaign of the 2004 election. We now see party operatives, pundits and politicians applying the "go Cheney yourself" message to every single pressing issue. And there is simply no way such consistency is an accident coming out of today's well-oiled Republican Party apparatus:
GOP TELLS NEW ORLEANS' DEAD TO GO CHENEY YOURSELF: The Associated Press reported that over the weekend, Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) - the third ranking GOP Senator - actually blamed the dead in New Orleans for their plight. He said the government should create "penalties on those who decide" to not evacuate a hurricane zone - even though many of the people who didn't leave New Orleans were unable to leave because of financial or transportation obstacles. Santorum nonetheless continued on, saying people should just "understand that there are consequences to not leaving."
GOP TELLS KATRINA VICTIMS TO GO CHENEY YOURSELF: Instead of sympathizing with the plight of thousands of homeless victims of the hurricane, Barbara Bush laughed at them. She told National Public Radio with a chuckle that "because so many of the people [harmed] were underprivileged anyway" the disaster "is working very well for them."
GOP TELLS RESCUE WORKERS TO GO CHENEY YOURSELF: The Salt Lake Tribune reports that when hundreds of firefighters from across America gathered to offer their help to victims on the Gulf Coast, the White House kept them cloistered in Atlanta, listening to lectures. Even as state and local officials begged on TV for help, and even as people were starving and drowning, the administration seemed only interested in itself. As the paper noted, it did allow a team of 50 firefighters to be "ushered onto a flight headed for Louisiana in order "to stand beside President Bush as he tours devastated areas."
GOP TELLS MEDIA TO GO CHENEY YOURSELF: With journalists eager to report on the disaster in New Orleans, the Bush administration actually started blocking reporters' access to the city. The message to the media was clear: if you are interested in telling America about what happened, go Cheney yourself.
GOP TELLS AMERICAN CONSUMERS TO GO CHENEY YOURSELF: As oil companies now rake in the biggest profits of any companies in American history, top Republicans are claiming America just can't do anything about the situation, even as Democrats introduce legislation to address the problem. For instance, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger – a man with strong ties to the oil industry – claims "he had no authority to regulate" gas prices. Worse, he said price gouging is "just one of those unfortunate things." Then he "urged Californians to drive less and consider carpooling" even though the San Diego Union Tribune noted Schwarzenegger "has famously promoted gas-guzzling Hummers." Media Matters shows how Schwarzenegger is now getting help from the right-wing media.
In some ways, we shouldn't be surprised by this GOP message campaign, even after the disaster on the Gulf Coast. After all, the Bush administration actually told its own Army Corps of Engineers chief to go Cheney himself when he warned them in 2002 that Bush's budget cuts to infrastructure could lead to Katrina-like disaster.
Still, the intensity of the message is incredible, even by GOP standards. And thankfully, as this CNN clip shows, at least some locals on the Gulf Coast are getting pissed, and telling the administration to go Cheney itself. Let's hope that's the kind of backlash (sans profanity) that starts to develop nationally against an administration and a Republican Party that is now openly ignoring the American public it is supposed to be serving.