RACHEL POKES THE APE! If at first she doesnt succeed, Rachel starts making up quotes: // link // print // previous // next //
TUESDAY, JULY 21, 2009
Why there is no progressive politics: When last we looked in on GEs Ed Schultz, he was getting beaten blue by a no-name, know-nothing conservative state legislator from Arizona (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 7/2/09). Shed offered the worlds most predictable complaint about huge government [health care] programs. Schultz didnt know what to say.
Lets be candid. You country has no progressive politics in part because its progressive leaders tend to function that way.
Last night, Schultz stumbled and fumbled around again, speaking with Senator Kent Conrad (D-North Dakota), chairman of the Senate Budget Committee. When you see your intellectual leaders function this way, you start to understand the ongoing failureessentially, the total absenceof progressive politics.
Schultz began with a free-form question, asking Conrad to explain what happened today. What follows was, therefore, his first real question. And, as Conrad was forced to explain, Schultz seemed misinformed about the current state of play in health care, his self-proclaimed number-one issue:
Oops. Schultz seemed flummoxed by Conrad, the senator from his home state. So he basically asked his question again:
Ed was still fumbling around for a win. His next question, and Conrads answer, took us into deep weeds:
Heres our question: By this time, do you think anyone had any idea what these guys were talking about? By now, Schultz had America deep in the weeds. That made his next question ironic:
Gee. We cant imagine why legislators, or their constituents, might peel away from something thats being explained so persuasively! Conrad gave a sane, reassuring answerno thanks to his fumbling host:
Conrad says progress is being made. Just dont ask Schultz to explain it!
Over the past thirty years, weve always had conservative think tanks churning out conservative talking-points. When that Arizona legislator voiced one such point to Schultz, he didnt know how to respond. During that same period, there has been little attempt by liberals or progressives to build a framework of understandingand angeraround such issues as health care. In the case of health care, people dont know that theyre being looted. Weve managed to tell the public that millions of people are uininsuredand that health care costs are rising. Thats as far as weve managed to get.
One side churns out disinformation. Our side responds with Ed Schultz.
RACHEL POKES THE APE: Pat Buchanan is often a bit of a nut about race. And in this corner, Rachel Maddow leans toward immature and dishonest.
This combination has produced one or two train wrecks in the past five nights. A train wreck may have occurred last Thursday, when Maddow decided to bring the gorilla onto her stage and poke at him with long sticks. The second wreck occurred last night, when Maddow went on the airalone this timeand pretended to straighten the record.
The gorilla, of course, is Buchanan himself, an intelligent person about most topicsexcept those involving race and ethnicity. He was invited on last Thursdays program to discuss a column he had written about the nomination of Judge Sotomayor. What Republicans must do is expose Sotomayor as a political activist whose career bespeaks a lifelong resolve to discriminate against white males, Buchanan had writtensadly, dumbly and quite improbably. Last Wednesday night, Maddow read that part of Buchanans column on the air, then announced her plan to poke him with long sticks. Pat will be here tomorrow night after the close of the hearings to talk it through with me, she announced, on her best behavior.
Thursday night, a semi-wreck occurred, as the gorilla got prodded. (To read the full transcript, click here.) Buchanan quickly said he doesnt think Sotomayor is qualified for the Courtthat she is an affirmative action appointment by the president of the United States. He stated his view on affirmative action, then asked Maddow a question:
That wasnt the worlds worst question, although it should be fairly easy for any progressive to answer. But instead of giving an intelligent answer, Maddow replied with a question of her own. In our view, this question was basically dumb. It helped produce our first semi-wreck:
Would anyone not know the answer to that? For much of the period that question encompassed, no one but white peoplewhite men, in factwere even considered for a seat on the Court. Everybody understands thatincluding Buchanan, who gave an awkward but not-insane reply:
Hmm. That isnt the answer we would have given to Maddows rather silly question. But unless were mistaken, Buchanan said or suggested that there had only been two black Justices because African-American had been discriminated against. Its hard to say that part of his answer was wrong. But Maddow, arguing weakly and poorly, acted like she hadnt heard it:
Actually, no. When someone says that blacks have been discriminated against, that person pretty much isnt saying that white people essentially deserve to have 99.5 percent of those positions. But so it goes when people debate.
Buchanan went on to make some odd claims about Sotomayors background. Then too, he made some other claims which werent entirely odd. In this passage, he offered his fullest statement:
For the record, the June 11 New York Times did report videotaped statements by Sotomayor from the early 1990s. In these statements, Sotomayor did say that her admission to both Princeton and Yale was achieved in spite of her test scores. If we had gone through the traditional numbers route of those institutions, it would have been highly questionable if I would have been accepted, the Times Charlie Savage quoted her saying, during a panel discussion (just click here). According to Savage, Sotomayor had insisted that her test scores were sub-parthough not so far off the mark that I wasn't able to succeed at those institutions.
Buchanan objected to that history. We wouldnt be inclined to object, and Maddow didnt object to it either. Unfortunately, her attempts to argue her caseand parry Buchananswere often quite weak. One simple example:
Except Sotomayor graduated summa cum laude. Maddow let the misstatement go. She replied with an irrelevant question, then let a absurd reply go.
(Earlier, she argued that Sotomayor had lots of experience on the federal bench. But lots of judges have such experience. That doesnt mean theyre Supreme Court caliber. It may suggest the opposite.)
For our money, Maddow didnt bring a lot to the table in last Thursdays discussion. In truth, there actually can be down-sides to this type of affirmative action; intelligent progressives will acknowledge this fact, as Sotomayor seemed to be doing in the panel discussion reported by Savage. Hackish progressives will do what Maddow did. They will fumble through their two-person debate, then take their revenge a few nights later, when their opponent is no longer present. Thats what Maddow did last night, in what was a blatant train wreck.
In this second, more pitiful wreck, Maddow was baldly dishonest. As is her unfortunate wont.
Tomorrow, well show you some of what Maddow did in last nights second train wreck. But just as a bit of a preview, well take you back to what Buchanan said early in Thursdays session. Why have we had so many white Justices? Again, this was his reply:
That isnt the answer we would have given. But apparently, it wasnt quite clownish enough for Maddow. And so, last night, she edited it downleaving out what Buchanan said about blacks having been discriminated against. Therethat felt much better! She played bowdlerized versions of that statement three timeswhen Buchanan was no longer present. But then, Maddow often seems to be baldly dishonest, a point well discuss all this week.
Poor Maddow! Last night, she was deeply concerned with correcting Buchanans misstatements. In fact, she regretted his various errors so much, she sadly ended with this:
But Buchanan didnt say the Olympic track team was all black (or that the hockey team was all from Minnesota). He didnt say it as a quote, and he didnt imply it. To see what he did say, just click here. Or who knows? Maybe it all depends on what the meaning of if is. Do Rhode Scholars know how to read?
That quoteand yes, she said the word quotein, in a phrase, made up. As is her wont, Maddow looked down at her notes, pretending to be reading, as she pretended to read that quote. But then, Buchanan isnt the only conservative Maddow has pretended to quote in the past week. Last week, she also insisted she was quoting Rep. Zach Wamp (R-Tenn.), when in fact she had embellished a paraphrase of something Wamp saida paraphrase which had appeared in the Knoxville newspaper. When Wamps office challenged what Maddow said, she kept insisting that she had been quoting. Unless something is crazily wrong with her prep, Maddow was lying then too.
Maddow is a real piece of worka cable figure with little real precedent. Well review her recent performance all weekbut yes, that quote was made up. Of course, Joan Walsh, whose lips have been locked on NBCs keister for years, now calls Maddow a trusted voice for truth. The analysts all ran around the room when they saw it (click here). Well discuss that nonsense too.
This country has no progressive politics. Joans statement helps you see why.