The Gingrey "Clarification"

Carol Platt Liebau
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Posted: Jan 28, 2009 12:23 PM
Rep. Phil Gingrey has issued a statement to "clarify" his "misunderstanding" with Rush Limbaugh.  Apparently, he feels that his comments "read much harsher than they actually were intended."

I am not going to comment on the substance of the controversy, as Rush is infinitely more qualified than I to do that.  But I would like to point out that the episode is, in my view, emblematic of the ongoing behavior of some elected Republicans, who seem more willing to "take on" the grassroots of their own party than they are to confront the opposition.

Look, having worked on Capitol Hill, I do understand how frustrating it can be to do the best one can and still get hammered by "friendly fire."  But in the end, as the hoary old cliche goes, politics is about addition, and any politician worth his salt knows one "adds" nothing by attacking those on one's own side.  It's Rush's and Sean's and the rest's job to hold the GOP's feet to the fire, and it should be taken no more personally than, say, the penchant of Democrats to try to expand government.  It's just what they do.  They don't exist simply to disseminate favorable talking points for the GOP leadership (even though we all know the leadership badly needs such services).

Part of the problem with at least some elected GOP'ers is a certain tone-deafness when it comes to PR, even within their own party.  This is a remarkable manifestation of that phenomenon -- and a timely reminder, once more, of how the inside-the-beltway bubble makes it seem less risky to vent frustration with the conservative grassroots than, say, with Nancy Pelosi's reflexively left wing shock troops.

Rep. Gingrey has apologized.  As he should.

Update: Today, Jim Geraghty succinctly skewers the GOP for "employing an operative class that is much more skilled at skewering intraparty rivals than at taking the fight to Democrats in a difficult environment."  Exactly -- but I fear that the problem isn't limited to the "operative class" . . . it's endemic in the elected/political class, as well.