Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Reality vs MSM Cage Match

Greg Sargent:
* Deep thought of the day: It’s odd that “centrist” Dems like Evan Bayh are sobbing with self-pity about their allegedly lonely plight in hyper-partisan D.C. when no one is more sucked up and pandered to by D.C.’s media and political elites than they are.
What a fair reading of reality demonstrates . . .
Yglesias: What Do Liberals Want?

One annoying recurring feature of talk about the present political situation is the presumption on the part of the centrist members of congress who’ve been driving the legislative agenda that the left has, in fact, been driving the legislative agenda. It’s worth reviewing the mainstream liberal policy agenda for the 111th Senate:

— A $1.2 trillion stimulus.
— The forcible breakup of large banks.
— Universal health care with a public option linked to Medicare rates.
— An economy-wide cap on carbon emissions, with the permits auctioned.
— Repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.
— A path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
— An exit strategy from Afghanistan.
— An end to special exemption of military spending from fiscal discipline.
— An independent Consumer Financial Protection Agency.
— The Employee Free Choice Act.

None of these things have happened. And it’s worth emphasizing that the White House hasn’t even seriously attempted to do the vast majority of these things. I, personally, am a Great Big Sellout and think that it’s generally made sense for the White House not to expend much time or energy on futile fights. But the fact is that the fights could have been picked, and weren’t. Had the fights been picked, you could reasonably blame “the base” for whatever problems ensued. Had the agenda been enacted, you could reasonably blame “the base” for whatever backlash ensued. But the White House hasn’t been doing this. Instead, with the exception of the CFPA and not much else, they’ve been fighting for what they regard as a more feasible agenda that comes pre-trimmed to suit the demands of centrist legislators.

what the msm sees . . .

C&L: Matthews Claims 'Activists on the Left and Right' Control the Congress

Chris Matthews and Chuck Todd in another one of their false equivalency arguments throw Grover Norquist, unions and the netroots into the same batch and claim they control the Congress. And Chuck Todd interprets Evan Bayh's speech today on why he's not running for office again to say he was saying there's no room in the Senate for "centrists". "Centrist" is nothing but code for another corporate controlled politician. Since Senate millionaires club is made up of little else but, I don't know what the hell he's talking about here. It makes absolutely no sense.

The activists might get a response from these politicians when it comes to their campaign rhetoric, but at the end of the day their donors are who they're answering to when they govern and Matthews and Todd know it. Matthews of course will never let that stop him from getting his shots in on the netroots though. Todd also seems to be giving Norquist a lot more credit for his shift to the right than he deserves since Norquist has been around for ages pushing Republicans on these tax purity tests, even though he acknowledges the shift has come with a primary challenge from the right winger Hayworth.

MATTHEWS: OK, let’s talk turkey here.

CILLIZZA: ... ran for president...

MATTHEWS: Let’s go to Chuck Todd on the big picture here. Just a year or so ago, Arlen Specter of my state quit the Republican Party, saying there’s no room in it for centrist politicians like himself.


MATTHEWS: Is this a sign that there’s no room in the Democratic Party for centrist politicians like Evan Bayh? He seemed to be saying that today.

TODD: No, I think what Evan Bayh is saying is there’s no room in the Senate for centrist politicians, period. You know, the fact is he said he doesn’t love Congress. It was an amazing, blunt attack on Congress. You know, frankly, there’s 70 percent of Americans agree with him on that statement. Nobody loves Congress right now. Very few seem to like what’s going on there.

And he -- to put it that way tells you that -- look, he had never really had to work hard before for an election. He was going to have to work a little bit harder, travel the state. And guess what? If he didn’t want to be here another six years, this was his last chance to quit because the filing deadline is literally hours and days away.

MATTHEWS: Well, it’s so smart. I’ve never heard anybody before say - - not that I don’t like the Congress, a lot of people say that -- I don’t like being in the Congress.


MATTHEWS: Chuck, I hear from a source out there, a friend of mine who told me what he could about the -- off the record with the guy -- not off the record, on background -- he thought the one final straw was the failure of this deficit commission to get accepted by the Congress...

TODD: Yes.

MATTHEWS: ... that he -- being from Indiana, and I know from years of working on the Hill, the Indiana -- the Hoosier delegation has always been absolutely all the way connected to the idea of deficit reduction, balanced budget amendments. Even the Democrats for years out there, people like Lee Hamilton, a much respected member, would always vote for the balanced budget amendment, even though the liberals didn’t like it. He felt, I guess, that the failure of that commission to get enacted was a real killer for him.

TODD: Well, it was. You know, it was interesting today, we had -- to sort of to connect everything to three degrees separation here, John McCain right now just started on a campaign tour of Arizona, J.D. Hayworth, former Republican congressman, challenging him from the right. Earlier today, I interviewed Grover Norquist, head of Americans for Tax Reform, and he said had John McCain supported that bipartisan commission, he would not have gotten the support of Grover Norquist and the tax-cutting crowd.

Well, guess what? McCain voted against it after being a co-sponsor because that was his ticket to political survival, probably, in a Republican primary. He couldn’t afford...

MATTHEWS: OK, explain...

TODD: ... to alienate, so now...

MATTHEWS: Explain to regular people, why wouldn’t a fiscal conservative want to have deficit reduction.

TODD: Because in Grover Norquist's estimation, it means, if you support that commission, you’re supporting a tax hike because, supposedly, both potential tax hikes and spending cuts would be on the table. Now, Norquist argues that every time this -- that both things have been on the table, well, it’s never been spending cuts, it’s always been tax hikes. And therefore, he made it clear to these Republicans that were thinking about supporting this, if you support it, you’re supporting a tax hike. And seven of them flipped. And that is what seemed to put not just Bayh over the edge...

MATTHEWS: Boy, that’s...

TODD: ... George Voinovich...


MATTHEWS: We elect the senators, but people like Grover Norquist and unions and the netroots people have more clout across -- that is a great demonstration -- than any Senate -- in other words, senators are not leaders. They’re not Edmund Burkes. They don’t vote their conscience. They in many ways are forced to vote because of the activists on the left and right.

CILLIZZA: Well, Chris, look at health care. I mean, I think health care is a perfect example. This is something that looked like it could go. All of a sudden, we’re now at an absolute deadlock. And we’re at a deadlock in many ways not simply because Republicans want to, but people like Blanche Lincoln, Michael Bennet are nervous.

MATTHEWS: OK. So in other words, people in college that couldn’t get elected corridor representative are now telling senators how to vote. And I’m serious about this. Grover Norquist has more power -- it’s scary to hear that he can tell McCain, a war hero, what to do.

DougJ: Wicked game

Marc Ambinder on Unity 12 candidate Bayh:

When it became clear to Bayh that the White House wasn’t going to play his game—wasn’t going to sell out liberals at every turn—Bayh decided he had had enough.

Atrios adds:

You also get the sense that, as is usually the case, there isn’t really much policy substance here, it’s all about the joys of hippie punching.

It is certainly my impression that there lots of wise, principled centrists encouraging the Obama administration to punch hippies harder. The real problem with punching hippies, of course, is that these days, hippies are generally advocating smart policies (even when I don’t agree with their methods of getting them enacted).

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