Democratic rhetoric is become ever more desperate and overheated as we approach the November midterm elections. Last week, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said that GOP positions on immigration were motivated by racism. She was followed by Representative Steve Israel, the head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, who said, “To a significant extent, the Republican base does have elements animated by racism.” Even some leftists, such as Ruth Marcus of the Washington Post, have rebuked the excess of these attacks. Referring to Democrats’ use of the “equal pay” issue to buttress claims that Republicans are waging “a war on women,” Marcus wrote, “The level of hyperbole — actually of demagoguery — that Democrats have engaged in here is revolting.”
What is going on? Increasingly, journalists who cover the White House are concluding that the smears are part of a conscious strategy to distract voters from Obamacare, the sluggish economy, and foreign-policy reverses; the attacks are intended, the thinking goes, to drive up resentment and hence turnout among the Democratic base.
Major Garrett, the CBS White House correspondent, has talked with White House aides who confirm that the administration is working from the theory of “stray voltage,” as developed by former White House senior adviser David Plouffe. “The theory goes like this,” Garrett wrote. “Controversy sparks attention, attention provokes conversation, and conversation embeds previously unknown or marginalized ideas in the public consciousness,”