Blog

  • Kathleen Parker plays dumb about the NYPost monkey cartoon

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    In her latest column she suggests debates about cartoons are "tedious," and acknowledges that yes, the Post's monkey cartoon was poorly done. But it wasn't really worth all the fuss. She writes:

    Cartoonists make artistic and editorial judgments every day, though some cartoonists have better judgment than others. Even so, outrage is out of proportion to the offense, and demands for retributive justice are more dangerous than a lousy cartoon...The freedom to offend is the very same freedom that allows them to protest when their feelings are hurt.

    What salient fact did Parker leave out? Oh yeah, the Post's owner, Rupert Murdoch apologized in print for the cartoon and suggested it never should have been published.

  • Getting the band back together at CPAC

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Continuing the Right's ongoing efforts to relive the 1990s, David Bossie will introduce Newt Gingrich at the Conservative Political Action Conference tomorrow.

    Bossie and Gingrich were key players in the right-wing's efforts to undermine the last Democratic president. Gingrich was, of course, Speaker of the House; Bossie was a key staffer for Rep. Dan Burton's unintentionally-hilarious investigations of the White House.

    While many conservatives seem to think that duplicating their conduct during the 1990s is the best way to deal with a new Democratic president, Gingrich and Bossie should serve as a cautionary tale - both men lost their jobs due in large part to their overzealous attacks on President Clinton.

    Gingrich resigned his Speakership (and seat in congress) in disgrace after Republicans lost seats in the 1998 elections in large part because of public disgust at the GOP's obsession with the Lewinsky matter. Earlier that year, Gingrich had vowed to never again give a speech as Speaker without bringing up Lewinksy.

    Bossie's obsession with attacking Clinton cost him his job, too. Bossie and Burton's investigation was a bumbling Keystone Cops routine that involved investigating Socks the White House cat, subpoenaing the wrong people (they kept getting confused by Asian-American surnames) and shooting up Burton's vegetable garden in an effort to prove that Vince Foster was murdered.

    Bossie finally went too far even for House Republicans when he released doctored transcripts of Web Hubbell's prison conversations, falsely making it appear that Hubbell was implicating Hillary Clinton in wrongdoing. That led Gingrich to order Burton to fire Bossie, telling Burton: "I'm embarrassed for you, I'm embarrassed for myself, and I'm embarrassed for the [House Republican] conference at the circus that went on at your committee."

    UPDATE: In case you're wondering what they're up to now, David Bossie is an author and "documentary" producer, among other things, and Gingrich is a Fox News contributor.

  • US News' new poll: "Daddy Daycare"

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    On Saturday, I noted that US News & World Report's "Washington Whispers" page featured a poll asking who would make the best day-car provider: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, First Lady Michelle Obama, or Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.

    After receiving blistering criticism from across the blogosphere for running such an offensive poll, US News appears to be trying to make amends - or cover for their earlier mistake. Here's the poll currently featured at Washington Whispers:

    The new poll doesn't really undo the offensiveness of the first one; it just highlights it. A simple apology probably would have been better.

  • The ghost of CPAC past... and soon to be present

    Blog ››› ››› KARL FRISCH

    With right-wing media fractured, conservatives are descending once again upon Washington this week for the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).

    This year's conference that will include remarks from such GOP luminaries as Joe the Plumber, Roger Simon, Karl Rove, Joe Scarborough, Tucker Carlson, Rep. Michelle Bachman (R-MN), Newt Gingrich, Ann Coulter, and Pat Buchanan among others. The conference will come to a close with a speech by Rush "I hope he fails" Limbaugh.

    Never heard of CPAC?

    Here's a flashback to some of Media Matters' items about the 2007 conference in which right-wing scribe Ann Coulter called former North Carolina Senator John Edwards a "faggot" and the controversy that followed:

    I wonder what the gathering's tone will be like this year.

  • WashPost, please define "many Democrats"

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    The Post is quite clear today [emphasis]:

    Many Democrats have expressed trepidation about the lofty expectations that Obama has set and are keenly aware that the party could pay a steep price in the 2010 midterm elections if the promises are not fulfilled.

    Number of Democrats quoted in the Post article expressing trepidation? Zero.

  • Right-wing media fracture over Jindal

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Raise your hand if you ever thought the topic of Gov. Bobby Jindal was going to cause a break within the Republican Noise Machine. Yeah, me neither. But in the wake of Jindal's widely panned--and widely mocked--Tuesday night address to the nation, the right-wing media are at odds over the Louisiana governor.

    Even before Rush Limbaugh announced his unwavering support for Jindal Wednesday afternoon, lots of far right were furious with Jindal's performance. From Ace of Spades HQ:

    Awful. He walked out like an earnest dork and has a weird inflection, trying to sound upbeat and sunny when it's clearly not his natural metier. It sounds false, and he looks false. I don't care how much of a star Jindal is, America doesn't elect somewhat-off dorks as president.

    But then Limbaugh announced that kind of talk was off limits for conservatives:

    Because if you think people on our side, I'm talking to you, those of you who think Jindal was horrible, in fact, I don't want to hear from you ever again if you think that what Bobby Jindal said was bad or what he said was wrong or not said well, because, folks, style is not going to take our country back.

    GOP bloggers didn't take too kindly to those marching orders. Hot Air thought it was obvious Jindal blew his big night, and wondered what was wrong with admitting that. Over at Riehl World Review, came this:

    At only fifty-eight, hopefully [Limbaugh] still has a long way to go. But many of the battles conservatives have to fight and win need to be engaged at age levels that could prove to be beyond Rush's professional reach.

    The headline for the Riehl World post: "Is The Limbaugh Era Nearing An End?"

    We can dream, can't we?

    P.S. South Carolina's GOP governor, Mark Sanford, thinks Limbaugh's an "idiot."

  • Media: Meet Gov. Bobby Jindal, Washington Outsider (try to contain your laughter)

    Blog ››› ››› KARL FRISCH

    I'll let others dissect Gov. Bobby Jindal's response to President Obama's address last night. After all, plenty of folks have been picking it apart... whether it's for accuracy, messaging or style.

    Over the past few days I've seen some in the media describe Gov. Jindal or his selection to deliver the Republican response thusly (emphasis added):

    MSNBC's Chris Matthews:

    "In every area that was touched on, they had to get an outside guy. They had to outsource the response tonight, the Republican Party. They had to outsource it to someone who had nothing to do with Congress because the Republicans in Congress had nothing to do with the programs he was talking about tonight or the record he referred to." (MSNBC, Post-Speech Coverage, 2/24/09)

    Politico's Alexander Burns & Alex Isenstadt:

    "Perhaps most importantly for his future national prospects, he hails from outside of Washington -- a strong asset to a party that has been suffered from its close identification with Beltway politics." (Politico, Bobby Jindal's big moment, 2/22/09)

    New York Times' Jeff Zeleny:

    "Republican leaders in the House and the Senate turned to a rising voice outside of Washington to deliver the party's response to the address. Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana said Republicans were also focused on trying to rebuild the economy, but he criticized Democrats for turning to government programs — and spending — to deal with the nation's challenges, calling such an approach irresponsible." (New York Times, Obama Vows, 'We Will Rebuild' and 'Recover', 2/25/09)

    Get the message? Gov. Jindal is an outsider devoid of any connection to those unpopular Congressional Republicans.

    There's one small problem with that description. It just isn't true. If anyone in the media thinks for a minute that describing Gov. Jindal in this fashion is accurate, they should bear in mind the following:

    • Bobby Jindal was appointed by former President George W. Bush in 2001 to be Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services for Planning and Evaluation.
    • Bobby Jindal was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2004 as a Republican, taking over for now-Senator David Vitter and serving until January of 2008. (Something even the right-wing Newsbusters felt important enough to point out, though they got the years of his service wrong.)
    • Bobby Jindal, upon coming to Congress in 2004, was elected Republican Freshman Class president by his GOP colleagues. How outsidery.
    • Bobby Jindal, while in Congress, voted with Congressional Republicans, the ones he is soooo far away from now, an average of nearly 89% of the time, according to Congressional Quarterly's annual review (password required) of votes.
    • Bobby Jindal, while in Congress, collected campaign contributions from notorious sources like disgraced former Majority Leader and consummate GOP insider Tom Delay's ARMPAC (PDF).
    • Bobby Jindal, as noted above, only left Congress last year when he became Governor of Louisiana -- happy Mardi Gras!

    With deep ties like these to Washington, former President Bush and Congressional Republicans, how anyone in the press could infer that Gov. Jindal is an "outsider" is beyond me.

  • Paging Will Bunch ... Will Bunch to the white courtesy phone ...

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    During an online discussion today, Washington Post reporter Perry Bacon touted "the Reagan years" as an example of "low spending by the government":

    Indianapolis, Ind.: Is the GOP message of no spending by the federal government, which to some extent rests on the idea that the last eight years didn't happen, working. It would seem to me to be a tough sell, no matter who was the Democratic president.

    Perry Bacon Jr.: I think Republicans like that message, and Jindal and others want to make sure base Republicans are fired up. The last eight years weren't a great test of low spending by the government; Republicans would argue the Reagan years were a better example and more politically successful.

    This is complete bunk. Federal government spending increased under Ronald Reagan. Increased significantly more than it did under, for example, Bill Clinton.

    It's obvious why conservatives tell fairy tales in which the wise and noble Ronald Reagan kept government spending in check: they think it helps their political and ideological fortunes. It's less apparent why reporters like Perry Bacon repeat these myths.

  • UPDATE: That love note to Drudge from Politico's Thrush

    Blog ››› ››› KARL FRISCH

    Last night after the President's address to a Joint Session of Congress, we noted the following:

    Politico's Glenn Thrush is up with an awfully meaty post following the President's first address to a Joint Session of Congress tonight. It says, in full:

    46 minutes

    It took President Obama 46 minutes to mention terrorism, the military or foreign affairs.

    By Glenn Thrush 09:57 PM

    I kid you not. He seems to be saying, "Please Matt Drudge, please link to me, pretty please..."

    Well, this morning Thrush put up the following defense:

    46 minutes (redux)

    I took some heat last night/this morning for a quick blog post noting that it took President Obama 46 minutes to mention foreign affairs or terrorism.

    A couple of outlets (Media Matters and the Washington Monthly) interpreted the item as an implicit criticism of Obama's priorities.

    It wasn't. I made no judgment, just wanted to point out how thoroughly domestic issues and the economic crisis dominated the speech -- a stark contrast to the Bush years.

    But the criticism is worth noting. There's still a lot of concern on the left that Obama might still be attacked, Rove-style, for being soft on terrorism-defense-homeland security. At the moment, it seems pretty unlikely given that Obama's nearly exclusive focus on the economy perfectly mirrors public opinion. But, hey, you never know.

    By Glenn Thrush 11:05 AM

    As you can see, Thrush denies that his comment was criticism, saying that he "just wanted to point out how thoroughly domestic issues and the economic crisis dominated the speech."

    Fine. I'll take him at his word.

    But it certainly raises the question of why Thrush has yet to note that Gov. Bobby Jindal's speech did not mention Iraq or Afghanistan, and that his discussion of foreign policy -- which appeared three quarters of the way through his remarks -- was limited to two paragraphs:

    As we take these steps, we must remember, for all of our troubles at home, dangerous enemies still seek our destruction. Now is no time to dismantle the defenses that have protected this country for hundreds of years or to make deep cuts in funding for our troops.

    America's fighting men and women can do anything. If we give them the resources they need, they will stay on the offensive, defeat our enemies, and protect us from harm.

    That's It.

    If it's actually worth noting "how thoroughly domestic issues and the economic crisis dominated" President Obama's address, wouldn't the same hold true for Governor Jindal's response?

    H/T B.D. and M.G.