NYT's Nagourney Runs With Anti-Limbaugh David Frum to Show 'Drawbacks' of GOP's Obama-Care Opposition

In Tuesday's front-page "political memo" in the New York Times, "For G.O.P., United Stand Has Drawbacks, Too," chief political reporter Adam Nagourney, like many in the mainstream media, used Republican critic David Frum to represent the responsible "conservative" wing of the party in order to bash the lack of Republican support for Obama-style health care reform. Frum has blamed talk radio and Fox News for Republican defeat on ABC News and other outlets, as noted by MRC's Brent Baker.

Nagourney's front-page editorializing began in the very first paragraph, accusing the G.O.P. of misleading the public about the health plan (as if anyone truly knows right now what the bill will do):

Passage of the health care legislation challenges the heart of the Republicans' strategy this year: To present a unified opposition to big Democratic ideas, in this case expressed in a stream of bristling anger and occasional mischaracterizations of what the bill would do.

After admitting that Republicans feel optimistic about their electoral chances in November, Nagourney quoted at length the media's newest favorite Republican, David Frum, a Republican writer who has devoted much of his time lately to railing against Fox News and talk radio conservatives.

And in a week when Democrats are celebrating the passage of a historic piece of legislation, Republicans find themselves again being portrayed as the party of no, associated with being on the losing side of an often acrid debate and failing to offer a persuasive alternative agenda.

David Frum, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, the conservative research organization, said Republicans had tried to defeat the bill to undermine Mr. Obama politically, but in the process had given up a chance of influencing a huge bill. Mr. Frum said his party's stance sowed doubts with the public about its ideas and leadership credentials, and ultimately failed in a way that expanded Mr. Obama's power.

"The political imperative crowded out the policy imperative," Mr. Frum said. "And the Republicans have now lost both."

"Politically, I get the 'let's trip up the other side, make them fail' strategy," he said. "But what's more important, to win extra seats or to shape the most important piece of social legislation since the 1960s? It was a go-for-all-the-marbles approach. Unless they produced an absolute failure for Mr. Obama, there wasn't going to be any political benefit."


Yet there are elements of the bill, particularly in regulating insurers, that could well prove broadly popular, and it could be years before anyone knows whether the legislation will have big effects on health care quality and the nation's fiscal condition. Indeed, most Americans with insurance are unlikely to see any immediate change in their coverage, and several Republicans warned that the party could pay a price for that.

In Nagourney's world, "several Republicans" actually means "that Frum guy again, plus a prominent Democratic congressman." Here are the following three paragraphs:

"When our core group discover that this thing is not as catastrophic as advertised, they are going to be less energized than they are right now," Mr. Frum said.

He warned that the energy Republicans were finding now among base voters would fade.

The head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey, offered a similar argument. "When this bill goes into effect, and none of the things Republicans warned about begin to happen - none of the death panels, none of the government takeover, none of the socialism - Republicans will have no credibility," Mr. Menendez said.

Nagourney continued to cling to the left's favorite anecdotes about the last-gasp Tea Party protests on Capitol Hill over the weekend:

The final deliberations, which drew protesters from across the country, including many Tea Party activists, cast an angry tone to the proceedings that also stirred concern among some Republicans. Some Democratic lawmakers said they had been taunted with racial epithets and homophobic slurs as they walked into the Capitol over the weekend to vote. Representative Randy Neugebauer, Republican of Texas, shouted out "baby-killer" on the House floor when Representative Bart Stupak of Michigan, one of the most fervent Democratic opponents of abortion in the House, outlined a deal he had worked out with the White House, which he said assured that the health care bill would not finance abortions.

Nagourney and congressional reporter Carl Hulse occasionally collaborate on stories, so he could have at least checked with Hulse's online update filed Monday: Rep. Neugebauer, who apologized for the outburst, said he shouted "It's a baby killer" in reference to the bill itself, saying the remark was not aimed personally at Stupak.

Clay Waters is editor of Times Watch. You can follow him on Twitter.