Andrew Sullivan links to a depressing clip of conservative pundits denouncing the idea of an escrow fund to prepay the environmental damage done by BP.
Wince, ouch. But please note something: As Dave Weigel points out, the escrow fund idea was proposed by BP itself, at the prodding of Republicans who endorsed the idea well before President Obama ever heard of it.
This story is another example of the harm done by allowing talk radio & Fox – rather than elected officials and aspiring candidates – to define the GOP. Anybody heard any objection to the escrow fund from Mitt Romney? Has Mitch Daniels termed it a “shakedown”? Bobby Jindal seems cool with the idea, ditto Mitch McConnell. But these real leaders are crowded out by people trying to bump ratings a point or two by inciting another prime time hour’s worth of anti-Obama indignation.
In so doing, they have put the GOP on the wrong side of what Newt Gingrich, in other contexts, calls “an 80% issue.”