Lautenberg’s Priorities – Who Done It?
In an effort to get to the bottom of how Republican lawmakers obtained talking points urging them to use the tragedy surrounding Ms. Terri Schiavo for political gain, United States Senator Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) today asked the top Republican and Democrat on the Rules Committee to conduct an immediate investigation.No politics involved here, just another example of Frank Lautenberg working hard for the people of New Jersey. We hope the Senate gets to the bottom of this crisis. We wonder what Lautenberg will say when the source proves to be a Democrat dirty trickster.
Media reports suggest the anonymous talking points (attached) were circulated on the floor of the Senate chamber.
"Those who would attempt to influence debate in the United States Senate should not hide behind anonymous pieces of paper," wrote Lautenberg in his letter (attached) to Senators Trent Lott (R-MS) and Christopher Dodd (D-CT). "In light of this troubling incident, I am writing to request that the Rules Committee conduct an investigation of the attached document, its source, and how it came to be distributed."
Meanwhile, the memo's contents deserve a second look. It is alleged to be a "talking points" memo, and some of its entries are consistent with that description. But other entries--the very ones that reporters and Democrats are pointing to as significant--do not. A reader named Andrew makes the point very well:More here, here and here.
I used to work on the Hill too, and have worked in journalism and public relations. That so-called GOP talking points memo obtained by ABC News is perhaps the most poorly worded TP memo ever written.
The whole purpose of a TP memo is to provide compelling arguments to officials to use when addressing the media and public. And these arguments are usually presented in descending order of effectiveness.
Are we to believe that two of the most compelling talking points in favor of the Schiavo legislation are that: a) "the pro-life base will be excited" and b) "this is a great political issue" and "a tough issue for Democrats"?
Are these the sorts of things that a Hill staffer would suggest a senator mention to reporters when questioned about this matter?
So, to sum up: The memo itself contains no clue as to its origins. That in itself is suspicious; the memo's contents are hardly appropriate for an anonymous communication. The fact that the memo appeared in Senators' offices (or, for that matter, at ABC News) proves nothing, as anyone, including a Democratic dirty trickster, could have distributed it.
Mike Allen of the Washington Post says he knows something he can't tell us, but his only argument for why the memo is authentic--some Senators had it--is silly. Further, the content of the memo is highly suspicious. Why would anyone mix political strategy points--the ones the Democrats want to talk about--with talking points for Senatorial argument? A competent staffer preparing a talking points memo wouldn't do that, but a Democratic dirty trickster would.
Update: Michelle Malkin posts on Lautenberg’s demands