I used the above phrase in a comment on another site yesterday, and think it highly appropriate to describe the attempt to muddy the waters around the whole stimulus package. The President did a fine job of cutting through all the nonsense with his, "What do you think stimulus is?" response to the Republican talking point that the bill is really a "spending" bill. By doing so, Mr. Obama showed how easily one can alter the course of the debate by doing something I have felt Democrats have needed to do for years - not accept the terms of the debate set by others.
Duncan Black at Eschaton does much the same thing, pointing out that even "[p]aying people to dig holes and then fill them up again would be stupid spending, but it would still be very effective stimulus." In other words, rather than have a really stupid debate, it might be possible to discuss the merits of various policy proposals; yet, the Republicans insist on keeping the intellectual level of the debate pretty low (Mitch McConnell's whole "We could spend a million dollars a day since the time of Jesus and not reach a trillion dollars" certainly qualifies as among the hallmarks of this kind of thing).
Attempting to discuss these issues with people who are either deliberately refusing to understand, or can't quite comprehend what is really going on becomes impossible. It isn't even Sisyphus rolling the rock up the hill; it's more like Sisyphus unable to even get the rock rolling. Since we aren't trapped in hell as he was, I think it far better to give up, and talk to people who grasp what is really going on.