It’s Monday, so that means we get to re-live some of the high and low points from yesterday’s Talking Head shows with Crooks & Liars’ Nicole Belle. It’s a weekly segment we call “Fools on the Hill.” Here’s what we’ll hit on today, with links to all the clips, and Nicole’s descriptions of them:
We’re six weeks away from the midterm elections and the media is in full swing determining the narratives that are going to take us through the elections. It appears that the media wants us to be wildly dissatisfied with Obama and associate his policies with that dissatisfaction.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that Obama isn’t doing enough on his own to engender dissatisfaction, but the media throws out all these ridiculous, irrelevant (and sometimes, completely contradictory) memes to keep reinforcing in the public’s head that they should dislike Obama: he’s too intellectual, he’s not angry enough, he’s got an extremist left agenda, or he’s being too centrist and bipartisan, he’s too ambitious taking on health care, he’s not ambitious enough to take down DADT. Any way you slice it, they find something wrong with what he’s doing.
Case in point: Chris Matthews wonders why Obama isn’t more like Bill Clinton and really feel our pain.
There’s a lot of disingenuousness to this clip. First and foremost, it’s an entirely revisionist for Matthews to talk about Clinton this way. The whole moniker of the “Villagers” originated from the way the Beltway cocktail circuit disdained the Clintons when they came to town, and felt that the Clintons were outsiders not paying proper homage to the society doyennes. They MOCKED his empathy at the time, calling his “feel your pain” moment smarmy and dishonest.
And the truth is, it’s the Beltway media that doesn’t feel Americans pain. That’s why they don’t ever question or contextualize Republicans continual spin doctoring to benefit the wealthiest 2% of the population. And if Barack Obama had bitten his lip and told Velma Hart he did feel her pain, they would have mocked him for that too.
In fact, Chris Matthews is so eager to push out these media narratives that he actually framed a topic on his show that no one—but no one—thinks is a realistic possibility: could the economy stay so bad and his popularity continued to drop that Obama decided to not run in 2012.
Now, no one thought it was a realistic possibility, but Chris Matthews actually got visibly excited when Michael Gerson of WaPo (and also GWB’s former speech writer and member of the WH Iraq Group, so no conflict of interest there) suggested that maybe Hillary could leave the State Department and get herself ready to slip into that 2012 campaign. Again, it’s the subtext: Obama shouldn’t expect a second term .
Chris Van Hollen went on Meet the Press and actually did a good job saying something that I think the Democrats need to say constantly: the Republicans’ answer of tax cuts as the be all and end all for all economic woes is just utter nonsense.
That’s the thing that just drives me nuts: if tax cuts were that great a stimuli in creating jobs and improving the economy, we wouldn’t be in the shape we’re in. The Republicans have done a good job of creating these bumper sticker sayings in lieu of sound economic theories. They sound good superficially, but a simple look at the economic history of this country shows that the opposite of what they say is true. If you look at it historically, if you RAISE taxes on the wealthy, they actually do a better job of stimulating the economy and creating jobs, because they redirect income back into their companies rather than pay it in taxes.
Pence also made a big show about worrying about the deficit and talking about fiscal responsibility, but even after David Gregory hilarious used Jon Stewart to make the point that the Republicans’ laughable Pledge to America is just a rehash of the same old Republican policies that the American people have rejected.
The other ‘inside baseball’ thing about Pence to keep an eye on is his own political ambitions. It’s not a secret in Washington that he would like to be the Speaker of the House should the Republicans retake the majority, but that would mean taking out John Boehner as the presumptive Speaker. Now I can’t prove this and I would not stake anything on this, but my understanding is that the discussion of an affair between John Boehner and a lobbyist (that blogger Mike Stark asked him about and got a strange non-denial) was initially leaked by a fellow Republican and several Washington aides I know suspect Pence.
Then there’s Mitch O’Donnell, who appeared on This Week and said some truly bizarre and fact-free assertions that host Christiane Amanpour didn’t even pause at.
http://crooksandliars.com/susie-madrak/mitch-mcconnell-says-social-security- (It’s a 9 ½ minute clip. The pertinent part is at around 1:45 and goes to 3:15 or so. )
He calls Social Security and Medicare “unfunded liabilities” which is just crazy talk. That FICA deduction from your paycheck? That FUNDS Social Security.
And then finally, CBS Sunday Morning gave a television producer a chance to respond to Ben Stein, who whined this week that it’s just unfair to raise taxes on the wealthy. Because, you know, other than the money he inherited from his parents, he’s worked for his money.
I love it when grown-ups take charge of the conversation.
Nicole Belle will be with us in the second hour- at around 11:30 ET – following a news update from the Talk Radio News Service.
I’ll start the show with a look at some of the news stories that caught my eye this morning, followed by a visit from Beth Becker and Neal Rauhauser of Progressive PST, who helps candidates via social media and blogs. They have a great story to tell about fending off a smear campaign on AZ Congressman Raul Grijalva.
Plus, Jim Hightower’s commentary, The Green News Report and the Media Matters Minute.
Check back this afternoon for the podcast!