"I’m not suggesting the White House is intentionally provoking Republicans over Benghazi, the better to produce counterproductive overreach. OK, sorry. I’m totally suggesting the White House is intentionally provoking Republicans over Benghazi. It’s not like this is something the White House hasn’t been accused of before. Remember the 'birther' controversy, where Obama delayed releasing his birth certificate for years as the conservative fringe wound themselves up in greater and greater knots of paranoia? 'Look, what a bunch of crazies' was Obamas implicit message then. That may be his message again. Sure beats 'The debate is over.'The term is derived from the plot of Gaslight, as he notes Maureen Dowd explained. He goes on,
"The technical term for this maneuver, I believe, is 'gaslighting.' The key to gaslighting, of course, is that you give your enemy a legitimate reason to go overboard."
"A 'gaslighting' strategy would be a subtle variation of David Plouffe’s 'stray voltage' gambit–under which the Obama White House provokes legitimate controversy, perhaps by releasing questionable, Pinocchio-baiting statistics (e.g. women earn 77 cents what men earn), in order to keep an issue in the public eye. Here the administration would provoke a controversy that’s so legitimate, and behave so maddeningly, that it distracts from issues the administration wants out of the public eye–all while it makes Republicans seem unappealing obsessed with the side issue."Stray voltage is another term with a non-political origin. Mr. Kaus links to this political explanation of the term by Major Garrett.