Times congressional correspondent Jonathan Weisman offered a report of doubtful news value Wednesday under a condescending headline: "House Republicans Deemed Not Ready for Convention’s Prime Time ." Weisman used media manufactured controversies to make his case, then used irrelevant poll numbers to bolster it.
House Republicans, who less than two years ago were the fresh insurgent face of their political party, are being granted little prominence at the Republican National Convention as Mitt Romney takes over -- even though one of their own, Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, has a starring role.
A stream of Republican incumbents and House challengers did take the stage at the convention Tuesday, including embattled freshmen eager for a news media boost and promising newcomers hoping for some limelight. But that was in the gathering’s slow opening hours.
Weisman tackled the obvious rebuttal to his premise:
Yes, one House Republican, Mr. Ryan, received his party’s nomination for vice president on Tuesday, but the scarcity of his colleagues here may reflect the unease within the party for an institution whose popularity is near rock bottom.
“Really the governors are going to be a far more compelling story,” Representative Aaron Schock of Illinois conceded, referring to Republicans who have made headlines for taking on fiscal reforms in their states.
The treatment of House Republicans may not have been much of a surprise given recent headlines. One of their own, Representative Todd Akin of Missouri, sent his party into apoplexy -- and may have lost a Senate contest to boot -- when he suggested that in cases of “legitimate rape,” a woman’s body had the ability to block a pregnancy.
At virtually the same moment, news was breaking that Representative Kevin Yoder, Republican of Kansas, had gone skinny-dipping in the Sea of Galilee last summer, the apogee of revelry as dozens of House Republican freshmen frolicked on a trip to Israel.
Given all that, a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll this month found that voters favored Democratic control of Congress over Republican control, 47 percent to 42 percent.
Never mind that the margin (from the same poll ) was one point wider than that back in January, before any of those anti-GOP scandelettes came to light, or that in fact Democrats under Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid currently control half of Congress.
Weisman even faulted the popular choice of Rep. Paul Ryan to be Romney's running mate:
Even the choice of Mr. Ryan as the vice-presidential nominee has a downside for House Republicans. In Mr. Ryan and his budget plan, they saw themselves as taking the policy lead next year in a Republican-controlled Washington. From his helm on the House Budget Committee, Mr. Ryan was going to direct the troops, and President Romney would be there to sign the end product.