WHAT THEY LACK IN GOVERNING ABILITIES, THEY MAKE FOR WITH ‘GUERILLA TACTICS’…. The New York Times reports today on the House Republican midterm strategy, which began to take shape 11 days before President Obama’s inauguration last year. There was apparently a PowerPoint presentation that covered the “comeback” plan in some detail.

Most of it seems fairly predictable: say “no” to everything, target well, recruit effectively, etc. But this tidbit stood out:

They also tried to push Democrats into retirement, using what was described in the presentation as “guerilla tactics” like chasing Democratic members down with video cameras and pressing them to explain votes or positions. (One target, Representative Bob Etheridge of North Carolina, had to apologize for manhandling one of his inquisitors in a clip memorialized on YouTube. Only this week did Republican strategists acknowledge they were behind the episode.)

Kevin Drum’s reaction was the right one:

I guess all’s fair in love and politics, but seriously? One of their official strategies, memorialized in a PowerPoint presentation, was to harass Democrats with video cameras until they got so sick of politics that they just gave up? Did we really just hand over control of Congress to a bunch of seventh graders?


I know I’ve mentioned this before, but just a few months ago, the American Enterprise Institute’s Norm Ornstein, not exactly a raging leftist, said John Boehner and his leadership team “are becoming the Bart Simpsons of Congress, gleeful at smarmy and adolescent tactics and unable and unwilling to get serious.”

Voters rarely consider factors like this, but the current crop of GOP leaders make no effort to bring maturity or seriousness to their work. They’re powerful children, and they’re not especially embarrassed about it.

President Obama said in his inaugural address, “[T]he time has come to set aside childish things.” It was the first of many presidential requests congressional Republicans decided to reflexively reject.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.