Charlie Sykes was in his usual high smug dungeon last week about the "fact" that my very own slug Congressman, Jim Sensenbrenner, was being "censored" by a secret cabal of House Democrats on the ominously-titled "Franking Commission". As usual, professional propagandist Sykes knew better about the legitimate work of the Commission, but feigned outrage about the attempt to shut Sensenbrenner’s fat trap. He knew that the filthy rich Sensenbrenner – paradoxically, one of the biggest freeloaders in the House – was trying to get around the non-partisan rules of the franking privilege to get the poison Republican message out for free. But Sykes, the oh-so-full-of-himself smartest man on the radio, is always willing to play dumb when there is a straw man to be made.
Sykes was playing off of an embarrassingly amateurish You-Tube video by pretend-journalist Rebecca Kleefisch, which featured Sensenbrenner’s chief of staff whining about how the dastardly Commission refused to let his boss use the phrases "government-run health care", "cap and tax", "failed stimulus" and other such twisted wing-nut word-play in a communication to his constituents. Kleefisch – apparently late of Channel 12 and now a self-styled "conservative correspondent" – showed up in the studio with Sykes to discuss her precious production, in which she dutifully establishes the basics of her Big Lie, and then goes to an apparently right wing tailgate under a tent outside a Brewer game to get some willing clowns to agree with her.
It’s all a delightful fantasy set-piece for those inclined to believe Obama wants to Kill Grandma and more of the worst about Democrats. Sykes took a step beyond even the insipid video to suggest that the "censorship" was the result of the overreaching of Democratic leadership . Never mind that the Commission itself is and always has been evenly divided, with three Democrats and three Republicans. Or that the Franking Commission is designed to enforce some hitherto uncontroversial rules about the content of the FREE mailings congressmen are allowed to send out. It's simple enough: "Comments critical of policy or legislation should not be partisan, politicized or personalized." But, again, for Republicans, rules are for suckers.
When Sensenbrenner or anyone else tries to use the FREE franking privilege to spout Republican talking-points and incorporate deliberately deceptive phrases like "government-run health care" (which, unfortunately, is not nearly what Obama’s health care reform is about), someone should tell him to shut the hell up. Get out your check book and send out whatever nutty crap you want under your campaign committee or otherwise on your own goddamn dime. Stop trying to get the rest of us to pay for your bullshit. The taxpayers and various no-doubt grateful corporations are spending enough on your wealthy ass so you can take your wife on your annual vacation in Europe. Try spending your own money for a change.
Sensenbrenner is not the only Republican to pretend to chafe under the requirements of the Franking Commission. It appears to be yet another of those tiresome memes dreamed up by the GOP message machine to distract and undercut the hard work of the Democrats, who are actually trying to put the pieces of this Bush-whacked country back together
As for Sensenbrenner, I have lived in his district for four years now and haven’t heard a peep – in franked mail or otherwise – from my personal congressional embarrassment. Maybe they don’t even bother to send mail in here to Shorewood, lest we be reminded how horribly represented we really are.