You Don’t Always Have to Take the Bait, Either

Regarding yesterday’s post, a friend suggested another tactic to short circuit House Republicans’ crusade against better lightbulbs: Skip the details altogether and simply attack the whole thing as petty politicking in the face of a looming budget standoff that threatens to wreak global economic mayhem.

Besides having the virtue of being true, this approach appeals to higher principle while also avoiding the kind of substantive back-and-forth that offers little protection against a populist media squall. It led last night’s Daily Show to great effect (above).

My initial reaction was that this message probably works better for Democrats and Beltway talking heads than it would enviros, who aren’t designated players in the budget debate.

But on reflection, one wonders what would have happened if the green groups laughed at the question of repealing the standards, rather than debating it.

It’s a risky move that goes against everything they’re used to doing. The downside, of course, is your opponent frames the opening round unchallenged.

But what if that turns out to be the sound of one hand clapping?

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2 Responses to You Don’t Always Have to Take the Bait, Either

  1. Enviros seem to be caught unawares and flat-footed, as though they never anticipated that such an effort might be made to use the light bulb as a straw man for one of the right’s “core values,” that being individual freedom over nanny state regulation. Lacking, as you said earlier, alternative voices that could speak to the issue not as a DC debate but as a simple cultural choice that anyone can embrace they had no choice but to revert to the trenches and dive into arguments like this one that make altogether legit but tenuous connections between energy saving light bulbs and bigger conservation issues. My sense is that the light bulb stuff is just being thrown up as a distraction – red meat to feed the conservative masses…an example of how the Administration is reaching into our lives (just like they are with the deficit, taxes, medical care, etc). The enviro reaction, predictably, just serves to further alienate them from the “mainstream.”

  2. Indeed. One might even speculate that the reason it was brought to the floor under special orders (hence the two-thirds majority hurdle) was precisely so that they could get the vote on record and STILL have the issue to kick around.

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