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BLACK OR DEMOCRATIC! Did the latest nonsense catch fire because Obama is black? // link // print // previous // next //
MONDAY, MAY 9, 2011

Rampaging Hannityism/The latest from Benen: It’s getting very hard to believe that Steve Benen is even trying to be honest with his liberal readers.

Consider his latest ludicrous post about the demonic Sunday shows. Yesterday morning, before the shows aired, Steve was at it again. Warning: Some of what follows is inaccurate. The rest of it doesn’t make sense:

BENEN (5/8/11): A few months ago, the line-up for the Sunday morning public-affairs shows was especially egregious. The guest lists featured two Republican senators, three Republican House members, three likely Republican presidential candidates, and exactly zero Democrats from Congress or the Obama administration.

Today, with the Sunday shows turning their attention to bin Laden’s demise and national security, the lineup isn’t quite as bad, but it’s close.

Once again, Steve referred to the Sunday shows of February xx; once again, he misstated the guest lists on that day’s programs. Surely, Steve must know by now that there were two Democratic officials on that day’s shows, including Jacob Lew, Obama’s budget director (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 4/19/11).

Whatever. The foolishness started when Benen complained about the guest lists for yesterday’s programs. The lineup wasn’t “quite as bad” as it was on that imaginary week when Dems got shut out 9-0. But yesterday’s lineup came “close,” Steve absurdly said.

To what extent did yesterday’s shows resemble a shut-out for Democrats? Please. On all five shows, a major Democratic official was the featured guest! Republicans also appeared, but they got second billing—and they got less air time. But so what? Steve simply played his readers for fools, as Sean and Rush have done for all these years.

If you read his comments, you will see that we liberals swallowed his bullshit whole, just like the ditto-heads have always done for Rush.

What were yesterday’s lineups like? Let’s go show by show:

State of the Union: In her first segment, Candy Crowley interviewed Tom Donilon, Obama’s national security adviser. In her second segment, she interviewed Republican senator Richard Lugar. Then, Crowley interviewed a NATO official. Her pundit panel was balanced—former Obama official Anita Dunn versus former Republican congressman Tom Davis.

Based on word counts, Donilon was on the air about twice as long as Lugar.

Face the Nation: In his opening segment, Bob Schieffer interviewed John Kerry, a well-known Democrat. In his second segment, he interviewed Donald Rumsfeld.

Based on word-counts, Kerry’s segment was about fifty percent longer than Rumsfeld’s.

This Week: In her opening segment, Christiane Amanpour interviewed Donilon. In her second segment, she interviewed the Pakistani ambassador. In her third segment, she spoke with a trio of ABC correspondents. In her final segment, she aired a short interview with Condoleezza Rice.

Based on ABC’s still-incomplete transcript and tapes, Donilon’s segment was much longer than the short segment with Rice.

Meet the Press: In David Gregory’s first segment, he interviewed Donilon. In his second segment, he did a shorter segment with three Republicans or former Bush officials—Giuliani, Hayden and Chertoff. His pundit panel was balanced.

Based on word counts, Donilon’s segment was about twenty percent longer than the segment with the three Republicans.

Fox News Sunday: In his opening segment, Chris Wallace interviewed Donilon. In his second segment, which was almost as long, he interviewed Dick Cheney.

His pundit panel was as balanced as it ever gets on this right-leaning Fox show.

Please note: On all five programs, the featured guest was a major Democratic official. Presumably, Donilon appeared on four of the shows because he was the official the White House made available. (Sunday shows don’t have subpoena power.) On all four programs, Donilon got more time than his Republican counterparts. On the fifth program, the Democrat Kerry opened the show and got more time than Rumsfeld.

That’s what happened yesterday—unless you get your “information” from Benen. In that case, you believe that yesterday’s lineups were almost as bad as they were on that imaginary Sunday when no Democrats appeared. To help drive his mistreated readers’ fury, Benen posted this nonsense from Ben Armbruster:

ARMBRUSTER (5/6/11): Despite the fact that President Obama gave the order to take down bin Laden, only one Obama administration official will take part in this Sunday’s festivities. By contrast, there are 5 former Bush administration officials making appearances. In total, 7 Republicans are on the networks this Sunday versus 2 Democrats. Torture apologists have been arguing this week that Bush’s torture program is responsible for getting bin Laden. Conveniently, this Sunday, some of the Bush administration officials involved in authorizing it will get their chance to defend themselves.

Only one Obama administration official will appear! That “one official” was Donilon, the featured guest on four of the programs. (Benen said that Donilon would appear on three shows, even though the source to which he linked plainly listed all four.) In an effort to be fair, Benen added this:

BENEN: Now, the guest lists have expanded a bit since Armbruster wrote that on Friday, but the ratio is no better—by my count, nine Republicans from Congress or the Bush administration will be on this morning, as compared to three Democrats from Congress or the Obama administration.

In other words, it’s a fairly typical Sunday—even after a major success story for a Democratic White House.

Truly, that’s pathetic.

Earth to liberals: Yesterday’s programs tilted Democratic—unless you’re reading the pitiful work of these ludicrous children. In that case, you got yourself whipped into a lather, as gullible followers of Sean and Rush have been whipped so many times in the past. (Be sure to read Steve’s comments.)

For years, we liberals laughed at the ditto-heads when they fell for this sort of crap.

Thanks to rube-running hacks like Steve, we’re the ditto-heads now!

Special report: Same or different!

PART 4—BLACK OR DEMOCRATIC (permalink): A funny thing happened in the wake of Thursday night’s “B lunch” presidential debate.

On Hannity, Frank Luntz conducted a focus group of 29 Republican voters from South Carolina. They picked Herman Cain as winner of the debate.

The following night, on MSNBC, the surprise was general. Chris Matthews and a panel gasped in awe:

MATTHEWS (5/6/11): Here’s, by the way, an interesting guy. Here’s Frank Luntz’s focus group and it showed that Herman Cain, the businessman from Atlanta who heads up Godfather’s Pizza—he created it—he’s the pick of the group watching. Here it is. This is an amazing result.

Cenk Uygur seemed amazed by that focus group too. This was his reaction:

UYGUR (5/6/11): They spent less than six minutes on jobs and the economy. That’s amazing. And the guy who clearly won the debate according to Republican pollster Frank Luntz’s focus group was Herman Cain. In fact, it was an unprecedented unanimous decision by the focus group. Have you even heard of Cain?

Later, Darling Rachel knew how to play it. She referred to Cain, several times, as a “mafia-themed pizza mogul.” It’s no wonder we love her so much!

For the record, that “Republican pollster” was MSNBC’s official focus -group guy during Campaign 2000, when Matthews and the rest of the store-bought crew were working to send George Bush to the White House. Luntz conducted focus groups after every Bush-Gore debate; no one remembered to say that he was a Republican pollster. That said:

Why were the kids at The One True Channel so amazed by that result? We’ll save the answer for later. But first, let’s consider a basic question:

Did the recent birther nonsense catch fire because Barack Obama is black? Or did it catch fire for a different reason—because Obama’s a Democrat?

There’s no perfect way to answer that question. In large part, this is due to the way this ludicrous nonsense caught on. At the height of the latest group madness, polls showed large percentages of Republican voters thinking that Obama was born outside the United States. In a CBS/New York Times poll in mid-April, 45 percent of Republicans said they thought Barack Obama was born outside the U.S. (An additional 22 percent said they weren’t sure. Click here.) In February, a PPP poll of likely Republican primary voters produced numbers that were even more daunting. In that poll, 51 percent said Obama wasn’t born in the U.S., compared to 28 percent who said he was. Just click this.

Those polls suggest that tens of millions of Republican voters believed this latest tulip mania. Did they believe this ludicrous nonsense because Obama is black—or did they believe it because he’s a Democrat? When so many people believe crazy things, it isn’t easy to figure out “why” they do.

Presumably, some of those voters believed this foolishness due to some sort of racial animus. But did they all believe for that reason? Was race even a major cause? Did race affect most of these voters? It’s very hard to know such things, unless we just enjoy calling names—especially since these same Republican voters have behaved in such ways before. Let’s review:

In 1988, Lee Atwater introduced an ugly, stupid, dishonest new culture to American presidential campaigns.

He did this at the direction of then-Vice President Bush. From that day to this, mainstream journalists have stressed the way Bush—a decent, well-bred man—simply hated doing this.

Whatever! From that year forward, every presidential-level Democrat has been forced to deal with ludicrous slime campaigns—slime campaigns which gained wide purchase in the conservative world. Some of these slime campaigns also gained wide purchase among mainstream and liberal career journalists—but all good liberals understand that this fact must never be mentioned.

Several remarkable facts have emerged during this long, moronic era. Here’s the first fact, and it’s really quite stunning:

Conservative voters will believe any fool thing, no matter how stupid, about any major Democrat.

Bill Clinton was a serial killer. He was also a major drug-dealer and perhaps a Soviet agent. His wife, the world’s most gigantic lesbo, used drug paraphernalia to decorate the White House Christmas tree. In turn, Al Gore was the world’s most delusional liar. If you didn’t believe that, you could just ask Lawrence O’Donnell—or Arianna. Frank Rich was eager to tell you how utterly phony Gore was. He was just like Candidate Bush!

Plainly, conservative voters will believe any fool thing, as long as it’s stupid enough. In 2004, John O’Neill and Jerome Corsi published a book about Candidate Kerry; it may have been the stupidest book ever published. Their book shot to the top of the best-seller charts. “Journalists” cowered and quailed.

No matter how stupid these claims become, Republican voters believe them. Just a guess: As of the mid-1980s, very few people had any idea that you could get so many people to believe so many ridiculous things. We’ve only learned this fact in the last twenty years, because of what Atwater wrought.

The sheer stupidity of these (partisan) voters is a serious problem for democracy. But in the past few years, we’ve learned several unflattering things about liberal voters too. For example:

White liberals live for one thing—for the chance to call conservatives racists.

Conservative voters will believe any damn thing—and white liberals live to name-call conservatives. This is the essence of tribal politics. But then, there is a third major thing we should have learned during the era of Atwater politics:

In a bid to extend their careers, career liberal leaders will pretend that none of these attacks on Democrats ever occurred.

We saw this third pattern enacted in Tavis Smiley’s damn-fool bullshit with Lawrence O’Donnell last month.

Smiley was enjoying a special week in New York City. On Monday evening, April 25, he did the thing he does the best—he bowed and scraped to wealth and power, fawning over Mayor Bloomberg on his eponymous PBS program. The next night, he wasted his time with pointless questions for Katie Couric—but not before doing a guest spot on O’Donnell’s show, The Last Word. Safely ensconced in that pseudo-lib ghetto, Smiley pleased us liberal rubes, saying this about the birther nonsense:

SMILEY (4/26/11): I said over a year ago that this was going to be—this presidential race, Lawrence—was going to be the ugliest, the nastiest, the most divisive and the most racist, the most racist in the history of this republic. I did not know that that race to the bottom would begin so quickly.

On the main stage, Smiley bowed and scraped to wealth and power. Meanwhile, in a small back room, he purchased us cheap, saying that.

As is standard in pseudo-liberal culture, O’Donnell didn’t ask Smiley to explain why belief in the birther nonsense is racist—as opposed to belief that Bill Clinton killed all sorts of people. (As opposed to belief that Gore was the world’s biggest liar, a belief O’Donnell himself kept pimping on national TV right through October 2000.) That said, you have to be living in a time capsule to think that Trump’s ridiculous nonsense makes the current campaign “the ugliest, the nastiest and the most divisive” in our history—even in our recent history. Unless you’re a modern pseudo-liberal, which means that you live to drop the R-bomb and everything else can be damned.

Unless you are a career liberal leader, which means that you will never discuss the history of presidential campaigns since 1988.

In the years since Bush gave us Atwaterism, we have learned that conservative voters are among the world’s most gullible people. But haven’t we really learned the same thing about us pseudo-liberals?

We’re simply too dumb to develop a history of recent presidential sliming. Every time it happens to us, we act like it’s our first! We refuse to help the public see the pattern in this conduct.

We’re too dumb to see through our boot-licking “leaders,” who kiss the ass of wealth and power, then come around to service us. Of course, many of those “liberal leaders” drove the wars against Clinton and Gore. For that reason, they have sworn eternal silence about this whole historical era—the era Atwater wrought.

We’re too dumb to see this pattern, even after we’ve been told.

Is anyone dumber than modern conservatives? No—unless it’s modern liberals. And by the way:

Why was everyone so amazed when Cain took that South Carolina focus group? Because Herman Cain is black—and because we liberals know that Republicans hate black people!

Of course, those Republican voters have been electing blacks, Hispanics and other minorities to major offices all over the country. Last night, the future came to us in a dream: As President Rubio took the oath, we liberals huddled outside, in the rain. We were patiently telling the public that Republicans hate Hispanics!

Might we introduce a possible thought into our most recent “liberal” gong-show?

Republican voters do hate blacks—if they’re major Democrats. But in our degraded political culture, they hate white Democrats too. It’s part of the history Atwater gave us—the history our own pathetic side has agreed to disappear.

Did Republicans believe this birther crap because Barack Obama was black? Or was it because he’s a Democrat?

Liberals don’t even consider the second possibility. No one is dumber than modern conservatives—unless it’s our tribe, over here.

Licking the heels of wealth and power: How do “liberal leaders” behave when they assume you aren’t looking?

On April 25, Smiley interviewed Mayor Bloomberg on his eponymous PBS program. One day before, Bloomberg had criticized Trump’s ridiculous birther campaign in an interview on Fox News Sunday.

On April 26, Smiley would tell us, in our liberal ghetto, that Trump’s ridiculous nonsense represents the most racist campaign in American history. But look at the way he fawned to power on his own PBS program! What follows was his opening question for the billionaire in his midst:

SMILEY (4/25/11): But no better way to kick off this week in New York than with—bam!–the mayor of New York City, Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The influential Independent is serving his third term as chief executive of the Big Apple and has vowed to make education the primary focus of his final term. Mr. Mayor, an honor to have you back on this program.

BLOOMBERG: Thank you for having me, Tavis.

SMILEY: No better way to start our trip than—

BLOOMBERG: Welcome to New York. We’d like you to be here all the time.

SMILEY: We’re glad to be–we’ll work on that, maybe.


SMILEY: Come back more often, at least. Good to see you. Let me start with some news you made yesterday, a couple things I want to get your take on. I caught you on Fox yesterday and was intrigued by your comments when asked about Donald Trump and this birther issue.

For those who didn’t see Fox yesterday, just kind of recap what you had to say about your advice for Mr. Trump in this issue.

After the requisite opening fawning, that was Smiley’s first “question.” Bloomberg gave a long and evasive reply; he steered away from criticism of Trump. (To read the full transcript, click this.)

Result? Tavis Smiley “followed up” in the following way:

SMILEY: I want to come back–you’ve made some provocative comments here that intrigued me about failure, and I’m in town, as you and I were discussing before we came on the air, I’m in town in part—

BLOOMBERG: I don’t know why they’re provocative. I think they’re some fair statements.

SMILEY: No, they’re fair statements, they are fair statements, but provocative in the sense that they got me thinking about some questions I want to ask you about failure in your own life in just a second.

But one last thing about this birther thing, since you raised it. You referred to Donald Trump as a friend; we know that he is. He is an icon.

BLOOMBERG: He’s a business friend, you know.

SMILEY: I only raise that because I’m curious—a guy who is as smart as he is, when you define this issue, describe it rather, as “ridiculous,” Mr. Trump is a smart guy, so I’m only left with a couple of options for why you think somebody like that would grab ahold of an issue like this.

“An issue like this?” An issue like what? On PBS, speaking with Bloomberg, Smiley forgot to say! And of course, Smiley was only discussing the topic “since you [Bloomberg] raised it;” it isn’t like Smiley cared about this issue for himself! Those two “questions” represent Smiley’s full treatment of this issue when in the presence of wealth and power. Since Donald Trump is “as smart as he is,” Smiley simply wanted to know why he “would grab ahold of an issue like this.”

Will liberal voters ever learn to recognize the phonies in our midst? (The evidence plainly suggests we will not.) One night later, on MSNBC, Smiley ranted and raved and displayed tribal fury, in the utterly phony way we liberals so enjoy. He made sweeping claims of racism. “Never again,” he grandly said, comparing Trump’s conduct to the Holocaust.

That what’s righteous liberals would say about Smiley, if we were even half-smart.

Final suggestion: Smiley stressed education in his introduction of Bloomberg (see text above). Go ahead! Scroll through the full interview to see the way he fawned and deferred to the billionaire mayor about that.

People like Smiley are servants to power. We liberals bow and scrape to them; they bow and scrape to wealth.