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I had an awfully bumpy ride to the airport on Monday.  I dropped my car off at the dealership for service and they had their shuttle driver take me to Portland International.  I frankly don’t know how this guy keeps his job because from the minute I got into the car he was screaming along with right-wing radio.  He was the prototypical angry white male that Team Rove have built their empire upon, and he enthusiastically trumpeted every absurd GOP meme that came over the airwaves.  I don’t go hinky easily but when he took a rather rural road that I didn’t recognize I swear I had my cell phone out and I was calling John Amato.  I really wasn’t excited about being Rita Cosby’s encore to Aruba.

Then suddenly the right wing radio host started in on some vague corruption story and the guy lost all his steam.  He just muttered "they’re all a bunch of crooks, nobody represents me, not the Republicans or the Democrats."  And from then on, every story that came up on the radio was met with the same scorn — "they’ll just rip me off…all they care about is stealing…they just want to get their hands on my wallet." He quite seamlessly wove it into every narrative that came on the radio thereafter (without any help from the wingnut host I didn’t recognize, needless to say.)  He turned a completely jaundiced eye toward every story they tried to spin him; there was no traction whatsoever.

As I fled the car with all good haste upon arrival at the airport, I was struck with two things:  one, this guy represents the base, the people the GOP needs to mobilize in November.  No amount of war drum-banging is going to get him off his tuffet; he may hate Muslims and liberals and gays and women and Democrats and Cindy Sheehan but what he really hates is getting ripped off.

From Harry Reid this morning: 

President Bush Turned Record Budget Surpluses into Record Deficits and Debt.  When President Bush took office, he inherited a unified budget surplus of $236 billion, the largest in American history, and surpluses were projected for years to come.  These surpluses quickly disappeared under the weight of his budget busting tax cuts.  By 2002 the unified budget deficit was $158 billion.  Last year, the deficit reached $318 billion, higher than in any year before President Bush took office, and is likely to grow to well over $350 billion this year. When President Bush took office, the total national debt was $5.7 trillion.  The Bush Administration was forced to ask Congress to raise the debt limit four times, most recently to a limit of almost $9 trillion.  [Office of Management and Budget; Congressional Budget Office; U.S. Department of the Treasury, Bureau of Public Debt; Senate Budget Committee]

The second thing that struck me is that turning this guy around is going to be a real uphill battle and combating his incipient apathy is going to take everything the GOP has got.  Since the odds that Republicans will stop stealing between now and November are about as good as my chances of waking up tomorrow in the body of Liza Minelli, they’ve got to convince him that being a crook is not the purview of the Republican party.  The facts are being remarkably uncooperative on this front, as is the Administration’s bete noir, Patrick Fitzgerald whose office just obtained sweeping convictions against former Illinois GOP governor George Ryan.  

No they are going to have to rely on people like Steno Sue Schmidt to stuff the truth and slant the facts to make sure Democrats wind up with corruption cooties just like Repubicans, despite the fact that they have little power and were excluded by design from participation in the GOP crime syndicate.  And they will have to invoke the help of many other journalists to keep the big "R" away from the names of all the invitees to the indictment ball.  From Media Matters (via Atrios ):

On April 17, numerous news outlets — including NBC, CBS, NPR, and Fox News — covering former Illinois governor George Ryan’s conviction on corruption charges failed to mention that he is a Republican. Time magazine went a step further, omitting Ryan’s Republican affiliation while reporting that "the current administration of Democrat Rod Blagojevich is also being investigated."

I have concluded two things.  One is that Ken Mehlman is going to need a lot of help from cooperative journalists to pull off this sleight-of-hand, and we are going to have to be rather vigilant at calling out those who give him aid and comfort.

And two, I will be taking a cab from the airport.