Whenever leading Republicans try to grab media attention with a policy speech, Obama's minions swoop in and create a distraction like #skeeters to remind everyone of the GOP's Donald Trump fringe. That's according to Slate's Dave Weigel, who feels sorry for Eric Cantor and his much-neglected attempts to promote competent Republican leadership this week.
Weigel thinks the release of Obama's skeet-shooting photo was carefully timed to ruin Eric Cantor's two-day rebranding tour. The photo was released on Sunday, together with Obama aide David Plouffe's tweet starting the hashtag #skeeters. Plouffe followed up Monday with another tweet, "The skeet birthers are out in full force in response to POTUS pic. Makes for most excellent, delusional reading. #whereistrump."
Trump is only mentioned to amp up the virality of Skeetgate, Weigel suggests, creating an irresistible media magnet that overrode all other political stories.
So Eric Cantor's worthy opposition to the medical device tax went unnoticed – even though the tax is overdue some public attention, since it's opposed by many Republicans and even Democratic progressives like Elizabeth Warren. Instead, Obama's skeet-shooting photo became the media circus of the week so far.
A Google news search for the medical device tax yields only around 3,200 stories, Weigel points out. But "a search for tales of Obama and the great skeet hunt: 135,000."
Republicans describe the Obama camp's tactic of drawing media attention to the Donald Trumps of the party as "finding four people on Twitter and making it look like they speak for us." The GOP solution is to get their most sensible-sounding people out front and center – like Eric Cantor. But alas for Republicans, the media isn't playing ball. And neither is the public: stories on Cantor's policy statements will never get anything like the number of clicks earned by a good Skeeter story.