News reporters already were listening in on Sen. Chuck Schumer’s conference call with fellow Democratic senators, but he didn’t know it. So he revealed his strategy for making the Republicans’ plan to cut 1.6 percent in spending look like the end of the world.
Just call it “extreme,” he said.
After thanking his colleagues — Barbara Boxer of California, Benjamin L. Cardin of Maryland, Thomas R. Carper of Delaware and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut — for doing the budget bidding for the Senate Democrats, who are facing off against the House Republicans over how to cut spending for the rest of the fiscal year, Mr. Schumer told them to portray John A. Boehner of Ohio, the speaker of the House, as painted into a box by the Tea Party, and to decry the spending cuts that he wants as extreme. “I always use the word extreme,” Mr. Schumer said. “That is what the caucus instructed me to use this week.”
A minute or two into the talking-points tutorial, though, someone apparently figured out that reporters were listening, and silence fell.
Then the conference call began in earnest, with the Democrats right on message.
“We are urging Mr. Boehner to abandon the extreme right wing,” said Ms. Boxer.
Schuler’s secret advice was just too juicy even for the Democratic reporters who heard it. This actually got reported in The New York Times.
Oh, and nice play-acting, Barbara Boxer, Ma’am.