HOH Update: Video Sniping, Take 3

Posted February 18, 2005 at 1:28pm

After bowing to Democratic objections and removing the controversial material from its Web site, the House Republican Conference has put back on its site a video mocking Democrats as the “No Party.”

Republicans made two minor changes to the video that they say keeps the video permissible under House franking rules that prohibit “partisan, political or personalized” comments about policy and legislation.

They kept images of and references to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) in the video, but blurred out an image of a donkey and a bobble head doll of Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean.

The only correction needed was removing political references to the Democratic Party, said Andrea Tantaros, a spokeswoman for the House Republican Conference.

Brian Walsh, a spokesman for House Administration Chairman Bob Ney (R-Ohio) said the video, which can be viewed on the Conference’s Web site at www.gop.gov, is “perfectly permissible.”

However, he said the Administration Committee does not have oversight over leadership Web sites. So the final arbiter in this dispute may be the House ethics committee.

Democrats still object to the video. Pelosi spokesman Brendan Daly said Thursday night that he didn’t care what minor changes the Republicans might make to the video, Democrats would still oppose it. “We would object strenuously to that. This was way over the line,” Daly said.

Tantaros shot back: “Once again, Democrats have chosen pettiness over progress — whining about a low-budget video instead of crafting common-sense solutions to rectify their sinking image.”

One GOP source told HOH that if Democrats wish to make an official objection, they would have to file an official complaint with the ethics committee.

But the aide expressed doubt that the Democratic leadership would do that, saying, “some of the language on their Web site is very similar.”

The video, a takeoff on a Capitol One credit card ad featuring comedian David Spade, features a Republican actor playing the role of a dorky, badly dressed aide to Pelosi who fields a phone call from a constituent asking whether the Democratic Party will save Social Security, boost the economy, improve health care and strengthen border security. “No” is the response to each question. A picture of Pelosi sits on the desk and a sign on the staffer’s computer reads “No is the Democrat Policy.”

In the last line of the movie, the staffer tells the angry constituent, “No. That’s Democratic Policy, buddy. Start liking it.”

Before the video was altered to blur out images of the donkey and Dean, Pelosi’s office expressed outrage at what it viewed as an unethical use of taxpayer funds for political purposes. “Having gutted the ethics process and removed the Members and staff who dared act in a bipartisan way, Republicans apparently now feel empowered to violate the ethics rules with impunity,” Daly told HOH.