"Um, Senators, ever heard of the mute button?"
That's how the New York Times -- yes the New York Times -- begins its story on how Democratic Senators were caught Tuesday morning discussing secret marching orders before a conference call. Apparently, the senators didn't realize that several of the reporters were already logged into the call and began discussing just how they wanted to verbally paint the GOP, House Speaker John Boehner, and the Tea Party.
The instructions came from the Senate's No. 3 Democrat, New York's Charles Schumer. The Times explains his instructions:
After thanking his colleagues — Barbara Boxer of California, Ben Cardin of Maryland, Tom Carper of Delaware and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut — for doing the budget bidding for the Senate Democrats, who are facing off against the House Republicans over how spending for the rest of the fiscal year, Mr. Schumer told them to portray John Boehner of Ohio, the Speaker of the House, as painted into a box by the Tea Party, and to decry the spending cuts that he wants as extreme. “I always use the word extreme,” Mr. Schumer said, “That is what the caucus instructed me to use this week.” [Emphasis added]
Eventually, it seems someone did find that mute button. But Schumer's instructions didn't fall on deaf ears. As soon as the call officially started the senators accomplished their mission:
“We are urging Mr. Boehner to abandon the extreme right wing,” said Ms. Boxer, urging the House to compromise on the scale of spending cuts and to drop proposed amendments that would deny federal financing for Planned Parenthood and for government agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency.
Mr. Carper continued with the theme, referring to some House Republicans’ “right-wing extremist friends.” Mr. Cardin decried Mr. Boehner giving into “extremes of his party.” Mr. Blumenthal closed by speaking of the “relatively small extreme group of ideologues” who are “an anchor” dragging down the budget negotiation process. [Emphasis added]
Sure, this isn't we're-involved-in-a-third-war shocking -- securing messaging is a fact of political life. But it is, if nothing else, worth a chuckle. Especially considering the Democrats -- possibly oblivious to the gaffe -- said exactly what they said they were going to say.
That, folks, is how the political sausage is made.