Manufactured controversy of the day

MANUFACTURED CONTROVERSY OF THE DAY…. Oh please.

With Democrats scrambling to find enough votes to pass health care reform, Republicans are looking for the next legislative deal to attack and have trained their sights on President Barack Obama’s nomination of Democratic Rep. Jim Matheson’s brother for a federal judgeship.

Republicans gleefully circulated a Weekly Standard piece yesterday that asked if Obama was trying to buy Matheson’s vote by nominating his brother, Scott, to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. Both the White House and Matheson’s office swiftly answered the question with a resounding ‘no.’ And both Republican senators from Matheson’s home state of Utah support the nomination.

Rep. Matheson’s spokesperson called the question “patently ridiculous.” A White House official called the question “absurd.” There’s no reason in the world to think the Scott Matheson nomination is based on anything but Scott Matheson’s eminent qualifications as a law school dean, former Harvard professor, Rhodes scholar, respected attorney, and accomplished federal prosecutor.

Is there any evidence — anything at all — to suggest the Matheson nomination is related in any way to getting his brother’s vote on health care? No. There’s literally nothing.

But it’s nevertheless the talk of the conservative world today. The Weekly Standard piece is making the rounds; Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) raised the ridiculous accusation on CNN; Fox News believes this is a legitimate area of interest; and Glenn Beck, on his radio show, is outraged. Right-wing blogs, including Drudge, are all over it.

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) told Beck he believes the conspiracy theory, too. Apparently referring to Obama administration officials, DeMint said, “They really do think we’re stupid.”

Insert joke here.

For the record, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Sen. Bob Bennett (R-Utah), and Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) — not a liberal bunch of health care reform supporters and Obama allies — all rejected the idea, and praised the Matheson nomination.

Not that this will matter. The Noise Machine runs on rage, not reality.

Post Script: Also remember, if Republicans had the congressional majority right now, Congress would literally launch a federal investigation into something like this. Come 2011, it’s likely any nonsense published by the Weekly Standard (or related outlets) in the morning, will produce subpoenas by the afternoon. This was the model from 1995 to 2000, and it would be just as ridiculous next year.