In June of 2017, just after Jon Ossoff’s Chernobyl-like meltdown in a Georgia special election, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi had one of her more infamous news conferences of her tenure in Democrat leadership.
The line that stuck in everyone’s craw at the time was how she dismissed rumblings among members her caucus that it was time for her to step aside and give way to new blood.
“I think I’m worth the trouble, quite frankly,” she told reporters. “I love the fray.”
Indeed she does — and, like so many Democrats (if not their poll numbers), Pelosi seems to have been invigorated by the fracas over Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court.
And then that news conference — oh yes, that press conference — came back to haunt her again.
It wasn’t anything she said about the Kavanaugh nomination a year before it happened, mind you; Pelosi has always seemed more of a Prius driver than the owner of an atomic-powered DeLorean to these eyes. However, you perhaps may want to reconsider that when you consider just how presciently she managed to sum up the Democrat strategy on the Supreme Court nominee a year before it actually happened.
Pelosi was talking about how she said the Republicans didn’t want the “contrast” of having to tell their constituents “what their representative is going to do for their district.”
In light of the words that were to come, it’s interesting that Pelosi said this was because “they’re going to go down there to be involved in trickle-down economics, shutting down hospitals and the rest of it, so they don’t want them to see that contrast, so they focus on something else.”
What they focus on, Pelosi said, is the “wrap-up smear.”
“It’s a diversionary tactic,” Pelosi said. “It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. You demonize — we call it the wrap-up smear,” Pelosi said. “You smear somebody with falsehoods and all the rest, and then you merchandise it.
“And then you (reporters) write it, and then they’ll say ‘See? It’s reported in the press that this, this, this and this,’ so they have that validation that the press reported the smear, and then it’s called the ‘wrap-up smear.’ Now I’m going to merchandise the press’s report on the smear that we made.
“It’s a tactic. And it’s self-evident.”
Nobody seemed too eager to report the incongruence between Pelosi’s “wrap-up smear” bit coming right after she talked about how Republicans were doing everything but kicking the canes out from old people and ripping feeding tubes out of premature babies’ mouths because they believe in trickle-down economics.
I’m going to give the media some credit here and just assume this was because, mere seconds later, that infamous “I think I’m worth the trouble, quite frankly” quote escaped her mouth without apparent mediation from the decision-making quadrants of the brain.
A year and a few months later, the wrap-up smear hasn’t aged well.
No, obviously she wasn’t saying the Democrats themselves were doing it in this case, but it clearly shows she’s familiar with the basic strategy and how it’s used. After all, she said it was used when someone doesn’t want to “talk about politics” — or judicial qualifications, as the case may be.
And, when all of the Spartacus moments, deceptively edited videos and maladroit comparisons to “The Handmaid’s Tale” came up short for Democrats trying to stop the Kavanaugh nomination … well, the wrap-up smear isn’t the backup move, is it?
Now, before you fire up WordPress and begin banging away at that MacBook, dearest Snopes contributor, let me here state I’m neither claiming a) this was a conscious process from the beginning in the Kavanaugh case or b) that the original allegation or subsequent allegations was or were made with the intention of creating a “wrap-up smear.”
However, almost every detail of how this was handled politically by the Democrats certainly followed the playbook Pelosi accused the Republicans of following. After Dianne Feinstein held on to Christine Blasey Ford’s letter for months and refused to bring it up, it surfaced in the media after Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings were complete.
The Democrats were done talking qualifications at that point — that clearly hadn’t worked — so they glommed onto destroying Kavanaugh’s reputation and taking uncorroborated allegations as irrefutable evidence.
This didn’t exactly accomplish its aim. “Judge” Kavanaugh is now Justice Kavanaugh, and while voters in the Democratic base are in an even higher dudgeon than they already were, the Republicans have suddenly rediscovered their dudgeon. Dudgeon height being a fairly accurate predictor of whether voters are going to show up on a cold, rainy November Tuesday when the presidency isn’t at stake, that’s not necessarily good news for the Democratic Party.
In other words, the “wrap-up smear” may not be quite as effective as believed back in June of 2017. This raises a lot of questions for Rep. Pelosi. We can start with what her excuse is now for Ossoff’s loss, and work our way forward from there.
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