April 11th, 2006

Rainville Firm: No Hand-Jive

by Philip Baruth

VDB has occasionally lampooned the Rainville camp for its pronounced unwillingness to take a stand on any of the pressing issues of the day.

In fact, we once described Rainville’s statements on Iraq as “mush-mouthed.” Which is plain speaking, by any standard.

But to one bit of ground Martha has staked ferocious claim: she will not finger-point, and nothing you can do or say will make her change her mind. Try to trick her with direct questions. No dice — she’s adamant.

From the St. Albans announcement speech: “I want to serve in Congress as your advocate, as your voice on issues affecting you and your families, on issues affecting Vermont and America. Too much time and energy in Washington is being spent on finger pointing and bickering across party lines.”

rummyOn why she won’t consider calling for Rumsfeld’s resignation: “Now is not the time for political grandstanding or finger-pointing when we as Americans are trying to unite and work towards a stronger more secure nation.”

On why she won’t return PAC money originally raked up by Tom Delay: “”All the members in a sense are associated with each other in Washington. There’s a lot of finger-pointing going on and I’m not going to pre-judge anybody.”

Got it? None of that crazy hand-jive for Martha.

Clearly this is a verbal tic for the campaign, but lest you think it was generated by the Rainville camp itself, run a Google search for “Delay” and “Republican Congress” and “corruption” and “Abramoff” and “finger-pointing,” and you’ll stumble across the obvious: “fingerpointing” is to the Republican House corruption story what “blame-game” was to Hurricane Katrina, a concerted attempt to pre-frame a bad story.

Remember how immediately following Katrina — when it was patently obvious that FEMA and the White House were guilty of historic lapses in both preparation and execution — Republicans fanned out across the cable channels and the talk radio stations, pre-emptively thundering about the blame-game?

The idea was to frame the inevitable — and perfectly justified — criticism of a disastrously incompetent government response.

Rainville knows well that her potential GOP leadership in Washington are all under investigation; she knows that corruption will be a central element of this election cycle. She knows that she won’t let fall a single harsh word against any specific corrupt official; in fact, should Republicans still control the House, she knows she’ll vote the current leadership back into power.

Hence the endless pre-emptive outrage about “finger-pointing” itself. Make spotlighting corruption itself the problem, as opposed to a pay-for-play Congress.

A fairly sophisticated tactic — which suggests it didn’t originate with Rainville’s campaign operatives.

No, these marching orders come straight from the top.

Here’s Scott McClellan, for instance, when asked about the mushrooming Tom Delay scandal a few months back: “Washington tends to get caught up in bickering and finger-pointing. The president is focused on problem-solving.”

Hand-jive, indeed.

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  1. on August 27th, 2006 at 11:23 pm

    […] And gosh darned if she didn’t deflect every serious question about Rainvillian or Republican culpability with Noyes-generated comments about “finger-pointing” too! (For a classic example, see “Rainville Firm: No Hand Jive” from April 2006.) […]