Republicans think they got a bit of good news this morning with the announcement that President Obama has asked Debbie Wasserman Schultz to continue as chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee. The Florida congresswoman will now lead the party through the 2014 mid-term elections.
No one doubts that Wasserman Schultz is a tireless fundraiser. Her office says she participated in 885 events in 170 cities in 31 states during the last 18 months. “She’s a leader for women, and the grassroots love her,” a senior Democratic adviser told Politico.
That’s all true, but Republicans believe “Debbie will remain Debbie” and provide them with an ongoing catalogue of bizarre statements that will be politically useful. Take some examples of her greatest hits from her tenure to date:
In August of this year, she was forced to admit on CNN that changes to Medicare in Representative Paul Ryan’s budget would not actually affect people over age 55. “After trying for the better part of four minutes to suggest that those who are senior citizens today would lose their coverage, Wasserman Schultz finally admitted that wasn’t true,” The Atlantic magazine reported.
Also in August, the DNC chairwoman appeared on Fox News Sunday and was asked about an infamous Priorities USA ad which dishonestly implied that Mitt Romney was responsible for a woman’s death from cancer. Pressed on whether the ad was appropriate, Wasserman Schultz claimed she had “no idea of the political affiliation of folks affiliated with the super PAC.”
The next day, she spun 180 degrees on CNN when asked about that statement: “Of course I know that the Priorities USA is a Democratic-affiliated super PAC,” she cheerfully acknowledged. “The point I was trying to make was the ad was produced by a separate organization, an organization that we don’t coordinate with and we have nothing to do with.”
“We own the economy,” she declared at a breakfast sponsored by Politico in June 2011. “We own the beginning of the turnaround, and we want to make sure that we continue that pace of recovery.” The economy, she said, “has turned around” since President Obama took office, leaving many reporters who had asked her about rising unemployment numbers scratching their heads in puzzlement. “I’ve really seen such a velocity of spin with so little heft behind it,” one told me.
That same month in 2011, Wasserman Schultz claimed that Republicans “want to literally drag us all the way back to Jim Crow laws and literally and very transparently block access to the polls to voters who are more likely to vote for Democratic candidates than Republican candidates. And it’s nothing short of that blatant.” Their crime? Republican governors had recently signed laws that require voters to show photo ID at the polls, a position backed by more than 80 percent of Americans in many published surveys.
The week before that statement, Ms. Wasserman Schultz announced that the GOP was engaged in “a war on women” and for good measure was backing a Medicare reform plan that would allow insurance companies to “throw you to the wolves” and “deny you coverage and drop you for preexisting conditions.” This prompted Factcheck.org to declare her statements on Medicare “simply wrong.”
But her biggest faux pas may have come when she accused Republicans of being against having a U.S. car industry. “If it were up to the candidates for president on the Republican side, we would be driving foreign cars,” she told reporters at a 2011 meeting organized by the Christian Science Monitor. “They would have let the auto industry in America go down the tubes.” According to Florida motor-vehicle records, the Wasserman Schultz household owns a 2010 Infiniti FX35, a Japanese car. The car was hers, and its license plate even included her initials. Wasserman Schultz responded to that news by accusing her critics of trying to distract people from the substance of her point.
The reason Wasserman Schultz rarely touches on substance is because she is too busy throwing out incendiary rhetoric that can’t stand up to scrutiny. Republicans can only say: Long may she reign at the DNC.