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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

The GOP’s Amazing Talking Parrot

Snarko-phile Alert: Don’t miss Dana Milbank’s column, “Health Care for Dummies,” in today’s WaPo. Milbank provides a devastating recap of RNC Chairman Michael Steele’s Monday speech to the Washington Press Club, which included verbatim passages lifted from a memo distributed earlier this month by GOP message wizard Alex Castellanos, advising Republicans on what to say to stop health care reform. A sample:

“Slow down, Mr. President: We can’t afford to get health care wrong,” said the memo.
“Slow down, Mr. President: We can’t afford to get health care wrong,” said the chairman.
Memo: “The old, top-down Washington-centered system the Democrats propose will empower Washington to restrict the cures and treatments your doctor can prescribe for you.”
Steele: “The old top-down Washington-centered system the Democrats propose is designed to grow Washington’s power to restrict the cures and treatments your doctor can prescribe for you.”
…”We are excited to join the growing number of Americans supporting the patient-centered health-care reform movement,” said the memo, “with patients and doctors in control.”
“Republicans stand with the growing number of Americans supporting the patient-centered health-care reform movement,” said the chairman, “with patients and doctors in control.”

True, parroting stale, boilerplate language is a staple of politics, particularly inside the beltway. Still, one expects the chairman of a political party to change a few words here and there to at least provide an appearance of originality. What makes the context especially amusing as snarkage is Milbank’s set up, quoting Castellanos’s memo:

“We need to bring new language to this debate,” Republican message man Alex Castellanos wrote in a memo to fellow GOP strategists this month. “If we paint the house the same color, no one will notice anything has changed: We will still be the same, outdated Republicans who have no new ideas and oppose everything.”

An inadvertantly prophetic observation. Milbank concludes, “As a voice-throwing act, Castellanos and Steele were quite a duo. But if Castellanos is the ventriloquist, what does that make Steele?”

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