One thing I can't stand about how the Republican Party plays the game at the federal level is that they can never seem to take responsibility for what they do, even if they're caught red-handed. It's pretty well understood in the blogging community that Mel Martinez has admitted that his staff authored the Schiavo memo, but the Republican noise machine fires up anyway. Media Matters gives a chronology of what happened as the noise machine went into high gear to discredit the memo and distance themselves from it. So even though we have an admission from Martinez, the noise machine obfuscates the issue by suggesting that the memo could be a fake. It starts with conservative blogs, and then the non-story story bubbles up to Michelle Malkin, The National Review, The American Spectator, The Washington Post and The Washington Times.
This is textbook. It's absolutely typical of how the Republicans have been using the media for the past several years. The impact of what the Democrats have discovered is almost completely blunted because legit sources are now casting doubt on whether or not the memo is a fake, simply by writing stories suggesting there might be something fishy about it.
The worst thing about this is that the issue will die along with everything else that the Democrats have rightly pinned on the Republicans, mostly because the Dems can't mobilize their own counterpoint to what the Republicans have put out there. Efforts to bring this story to completion and establish the responsible parties in the mind of the average American will probably fall short. The average American will either remember nothing about this, or they'll remember that somebody in the Republican party got busted trying to politicize the situation, but it might have just been a dirty trick put into play by the Democrats.
Doubt that the wingnut noise machine is obfuscating the issue? Do a Google search on "Schiavo memo" and look at all the top links. Lessee...there's the Washington Post story headlined "Doubts Raised on Schiavo Memo" as the first link. Then there's two links to Michelle Malkin's blog. The PowerLine blog entry and the American Spectator story are also in the top ten. If you had been some clueless person looking for information on the memo, you would reasonably come to the conclusion there are doubts as to the memo's authenticity. And that's just bullcrap.
I'm not saying that everyone gets their news from Google searches, but I am saying that the noise machine can create as much positive press or water-muddying bullshit stories for the Republicans as is needed to get the job done. And the Dems don't have an asset like that.
You might be thinking that the Schiavo case has gotten its fair share in the press already, but that's a separate issue from what we're dealing with here. The Republicans have been caught trying to politicize a very sensitive situation and using the controversy to position themselves as belonging to a "Culture of Life." In reality, the memo shows the Republicans care less about life and more about finding issues they can use to mobilize the pro-life base to their political advantage. That, to me, is serious. And until the Democrats learn to play the media game as well as the Republicans, they're going to be schooled over and over again.