PEEK

Mixed Messages: How Do Politicians Really Feel About AIG?

Both Democrats and Republicans are having a hard time talking straight about AIG.

 The interest in, and outrage over, AIG's bonuses is moving quickly, but it seems the various political contingents haven't quite nailed down their messages to the public.

For example, the Obama White House has tried to get out in front of the story, with the president, among others, expressing a fair amount of disgust. At the same time, White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel believes the administration's "main priority is getting the financial system stabilized, and he believes this is a big distraction in that effort."

Something doesn't add up here. Either the White House is taking this seriously or the White House sees the story as a "big distraction." Can it be both? Probably not.

There's similar confusion on the right. We see, for example, several congressional Republicans hoping to exploit the public's frustrations for partisan gain, and echoing outrage over the bonuses. But at the same time, some Republican leaders are trying to downplay the controversy, and none other than Rush Limbaugh is taking AIG's side in all of this:

Steve Benen is "blogger in chief" of the popular Washington Monthly online blog, Political Animal. His background includes publishing The Carpetbagger Report, and writing for a variety of publications, including Talking Points Memo, The American Prospect, the Huffington Post, and The Guardian. He has also appeared on NPR's "Talk of the Nation," MSNBC's "Rachel Maddow Show," Air America Radio's "Sam Seder Show," and XM Radio's "POTUS '08."