PR PLAY OF THE WEEK: GOP uses draft to leave Dems out in the cold

There's a scene in The Untouchables where Jim Malone, Sean Connery's character, props up a dead man and shoots him just to make a point.

There's a scene in The Untouchables where Jim Malone, Sean Connery's character, props up a dead man and shoots him just to make a point.

That scene probably never made anyone think of Congress - until last week.

The House Republican Leadership on Tuesday stood up a lifeless bill for the sole purpose of voting it down, thereby proving to the American people once and for all that we're not giving them nearly enough work to do.

No - what they actually sought to prove was that there is no appetite within the Republican party for reviving the draft. And while it was clearly nothing but a bald-faced publicity stunt, it was a very good bald-faced publicity stunt.

Rumors that both parties would bring back the draft after the election had become rampant on college campuses. A clue that the chatter was coalescing into real fear among voters: A Harvard website asked last month what questions should be included in the first presidential debate. "[D]o either of you expect to bring back the draft?" was among the 10 top responses.

So the GOP dug up HR 163, a nearly two-year-old bill sponsored by Democrats that would reinstate a form of the draft.

But here's the kicker - the bill itself was originally just a PR stunt. When he first introduced it, Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY) made it clear that he was just hoping to spark debate over the disproportionate number of minorities in the armed forces.

And when push came to shove, even he voted against it. Rangel claimed he was shooting down his own bill to protest the GOP's exploitation of the legislative process for PR purposes - something he would never do.

Jim Malone's got nothing on the GOP.

? Douglas Quenqua writes PR Play of the Week. He is PRWeek's Washington, DC bureau chief.

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