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Speaker Boehner wants some RW media love
(Larry Downing/Reuters)
Earlier in the week, when Speaker John Boehner's debt "plan" was circling the drain, even among members of his own caucus, a major effort was undertaken to put a fresh coat of lipstick on the pig.

A key cog of that reclamation strategy was to turn key components of the conservative media into advocates for the plan (emphasis mine):

With little or no Democratic support for the GOP plan, Boehner and his top lieutenants had to battle their own party on two fronts.

First, Boehner was hauling members who are undecided or leaning “no” into his Capitol suite for one-on-one meetings, using the time-honored tradition of his office to twist arms and win votes. Boehner had “made progress,” but the CBO scores threw all that progress into doubt.

And outside the Capitol, the top Republican leaders engaged in a PR campaign to win over conservative interest groups and opinion-makers.

The Republican leadership has privately reached out to conservative TV personalities like Sean Hannity and Brit Hume, and Wall Street Journal editorial page editor Paul Gigot, National Review’s Kate O’Beirne, Stephen Hayes of The Weekly Standard, David Brooks of The New York Times, George Will, Laura Ingraham, Mark Levin, and groups such as The Heritage Foundation, among others, have all heard from Republican leadership, including Chief Deputy Whip Peter Roskam of Illinois.

Whether or not the arm-twisting of House colleagues by the leadership will bear fruit is still a bit of a wild card, given we are still waiting for a vote.

However, there can be little doubt that the effort to massage the right-wing press yielded a bountiful harvest.

Consider this hedging endorsement on Wednesday, courtesy of the Wall Street Journal:

Strangely, some Republicans and conservative activists are condemning this as a fiscal sellout. Senator Jim DeMint put out a statement raking the Speaker for seeking "a better political debt deal, instead of a debt solution" (emphasis, needless to say, his). The usually sensible Club for Growth and Heritage Action, the political arm of the Heritage Foundation, are scoring a vote for the Boehner plan as negative on similar grounds.

If the Boehner plan fails in the House, the advantage shifts to Harry Reid's Senate plan.
.But what none of these critics have is an alternative strategy for achieving anything nearly as fiscally or politically beneficial as Mr. Boehner's plan. The idea seems to be that if the House GOP refuses to raise the debt ceiling, a default crisis or gradual government shutdown will ensue, and the public will turn en masse against . . . Barack Obama. The Republican House that failed to raise the debt ceiling would somehow escape all blame. Then Democrats would have no choice but to pass a balanced-budget amendment and reform entitlements, and the tea-party Hobbits could return to Middle Earth having defeated Mordor.

This is the kind of crack political thinking that turned Sharron Angle and Christine O'Donnell into GOP Senate nominees. The reality is that the debt limit will be raised one way or another, and the only issue now is with how much fiscal reform and what political fallout.

(Yes, they did say the "usually sensible Club for Growth.")

Bill Kristol, true to form, also got on board. And he made the WSJ look calm and temperate by comparison. Check out this hyperventilation, in the form of editorial prose:

To govern is to choose. To vote is to choose. To vote against John Boehner on the House floor this week in the biggest showdown of the current Congress is to choose to vote with Nancy Pelosi. To vote against Boehner is to choose to support Barack Obama. It is to choose to increase the chances that worse legislation than Boehner’s passes. And it is to choose to increase the chances that Obama emerges from this showdown politically stronger. So when the Heritage Action Fund and the Club for Growth, and Senators Vitter, Paul, et al., choose to urge House Republicans to join the Democrats to defeat Boehner, they’re choosing to side with Barack Obama.

Of course, not every conservative voice, or media outlet, has put their imprimatur on the Boehner plan (though the Speaker himself is practically sleeping in Rush Limbaugh's radio studio trying to make it so).

Take, as an example, a particularly noxious little guardian of the right (who moonlights as an analyst for an allegedly serious media outlet), who put his sense of self-importance on display earlier in the week when he bellowed that he was refusing absolution to the teeming masses of Republican officeholders who had called him. Apparently, those GOP solons were begging for forgiveness for even thinking about straying from the path of right-wing righteousness.

Of course, there's always the chance that for those politicos (Boehner included), when it comes to that particular critic, the price simply wasn't right.

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