There are a lot of benefits for office-aspiring Fox News pundits besides the paycheck. As former FNC "political analyst" turned congressional candidate Angela McGlowan told the New York Times, while a Fox position doesn't guarantee an election win, "it helps with getting ready to run, and it helps with name ID."
During last night's On the Record, host Greta Van Susteren turned to Fox News "political analyst" Rick Santorum for 2010 election analysis. During the discussion, Santorum touted the prospects of Rep. Mark Kirk's (R-IL) senate campaign and attacked his Democratic opponent as someone who is "under a whole bunch of ethical clouds, tied to Tony Rezko and other nefarious characters. I think Kirk will win that seat."
While it's not surprising that Santorum is pushing a fellow Republican for office, Santorum has outside, non-"political analyst" reasons to cheerlead for Kirk. Santorum is the chairman of America's Foundation, "the political action committee of former Senator Rick Santorum" that's "committed to helping candidates and causes who share Senator Santorum's commitment to conservative principles." On its "Featured Candidates" page, America's Foundation states that it's made contributions to Kirk's senate campaign. The PAC's year-end FEC statement lists a September contribution of $1,000 to Kirk.
America's Foundation is a leadership PAC, which exists to help politicians like Santorum "gain clout among their colleagues" to "lay the groundwork for their own campaigns for higher office." In other words, Santorum -- who is exploring a 2012 presidential bid -- donated to a Republican to "gain clout," and then used his position at Fox News to further push his "featured candidate."
Sarah Palin (SarahPAC) and Mike Huckabee (Huck PAC) also have leadership PACs while they contemplate bids for office. In 2009, Huckabee repeatedly used Fox News to fundraise for his PAC on-air; Fox News also provided round-the-clock publicity for Newt Gingrich's "Real Jobs Summit," which was hosted by his American Solutions organization. As the mid-term elections near, expect more of the confluence between Fox News employees and their outside political organizations as they position themselves for future campaigns.
From the February 17 edition of Fox News' America Live::
Washington Post columnist Steven Pearlstein thinks President Obama needs to show some leadership. And -- of course -- Obama must do so by being a "centrist." That's a happy thought that borders on being omnipresent among elite media assessments of politicians, but things tend to break down when they begin explaining what it actually means. And Pearlstein is no different.
Pearlstein kicks things off:
The firm ground that he needs to stake out and hold is not the left-liberal ground, but more of a radical centrist ground. And the reason for that is political: it is what the American public at this moment in time can accept. That's the president's role -- to speak for the whole country. Not one party. Not one region. Not one ideology.
"Radical centrism"? What does that mean, exactly? Unsurprisingly, Pearlstein doesn't say. But things really fall apart when he explains how to get there.
Pearlstein begins to explain:
To govern from the center, for example, means you might have to lose some Democratic votes on the far left on some issues.
But, just a little later:
[O]ne of the things the president could do is you say to a number of reasonable Republicans: Look, we're going to win one way or another. We can win the ugly way and change the parliamentary rules, in which case you get the Democratic versions of these things. Or you can sit with us, tell us the few big things that you really need or that you really want, and I'll see what I can do to accomodate [sic]you if you are willing to help us pass them without having to resort to extrodinary [sic] parliamentary maneuvers. And that's your choice: bills that you would find unacceptable, or legislation that you would find much less unacceptable.
So, Barack Obama should "govern from the center" ... and in order to do so, he should threaten to "change the parliamentary rules" unless the Republicans do what he wants. But is there any chance at all that if Obama* did change parliamentary rules to get things done in the face of Republican intransigence (or even threatened to do so) Steven Pearlstein (or anyone else) would praise him for governing from the center? Of course not.
And all the while, Pearlstein writes of the need to win over "five or six" Senate Republicans, without actually suggesting any way of doing so. (Other than threatening to change the parliamentary rules.) And he accuses the Democrats of shutting Republicans out and "engaging in exactly the kind of exclusionary tactics on most issues that the Republicans had used when they were in the majority" -- which is flatly untrue, and ignores the massive concessions to Republicans in last year's stimulus package and in the health care debate, when liberals repeatedly gave up things they wanted in an unsuccessful effort to win GOP votes. Not to mention the lengthy "Gang of Six" negotiations involving Republican Senators.
Of course, had Pearlstein been accurate about the Democrats' concessions to Republicans, it would be harder for him to harp on the need to do more to win over Republicans, because it would be clear that they have demonstrated no interest in being won over.
* Which really means "Obama and congressional Democrats," since Barack Obama can't change Congress's parliamentary rules.
In a post under the headline "Toyota and the Union-Backed Government-Led Witch Hunt," Big Government contributor Brian Johnson became the latest conservative to test drive the Toyota recall conspiracy.
Johnson jumps into his conspiracy by pointing out that the Toyota recalls are getting much more attention than recalls by Honda and Ford:
One might think this is the first auto recall in decades from the way government officials and Congressional Committees have pounced on Toyota. However, as recent as last month, Honda announced a recall of 646,000 Fit models [...] Ford, less than one year ago, was forced to recall more than 4 million cars based on 550 vehicle fires.
There was no government outcry and no demand for Congressional hearings over these recent recalls. So why has Toyota suddenly become the target of a government-led witch hunt?
Last time I checked, Honda wasn't unionized either. So where is the "union-backed government-led witch hunt" against Honda? If Johnson's theory is at all accurate, shouldn't the government have "pounced" on them as well?
Johnson also tries to sell us on the idea that the Honda recall was equivalent in scope to the Toyota recalls. He compared the 646,000 recalled Honda Fits to the 648,000 Prius and Lexus models that were recalled by Toyota:
In the U.S., it is estimated that 15,000 Lexus HS250h and 133,000 Prius models will be recalled due to gas pedal issues, with another 500,000 Prius and other gasoline-electric hybrids needing anti-brake software modification.
But Johnson is portraying the Toyota recall with a deflated tally. By only noting the Lexus and Prius recalls, Johnson is ignoring recalls for the "gas pedal issues" on Toyota's Camry, Corolla, Avalon, Matrix, RAV4, Highlander, Tundra, and Sequoia lines. In a January press release, Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. said it would recall 2.3 million vehicles for sticking gas pedals. Some reports peg the total vehicles affected by Toyota's current recalls at the nine million mark worldwide. So it's fair to say the Toyota recalls are a bigger deal than Honda's.
Finally, Johnson's attack is based on the premise that "forced union contracts" resulted in "inflated" wages to auto workers, thereby "sinking" the U.S. auto industry. While it's true that union wages are higher than their non-unionized counterparts in American assembly plants, Johnson ignored an important factor in the downfall of the American car manufacturer and the rise of Japanese brands like Toyota and Honda: Detroit ignored market trends that favored fuel efficiency while the foreign brands took the opposite approach. Jonathan Cohn writes:
Detroit steadily lost business to companies like Honda and Toyota that managed to make cars more efficiently--and figured out, early on, that rising gas prices would increase demand for more fuel-efficient vehicles.
Cohn elaborated on the gap between East and West:
Companies like Honda operate out of countries that made health and retirement benefits a national responsibility. And the perennially high price of gasoline, a product of high gas taxes in virtually all other highly developed countries, has ensured a steady market for their smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles.
Breitbart's Big Government should avoid these types of conspiracies, lest they want to further drive their reputation into a ditch.
A bunch of conservatives are gathering today to sign what they're calling the "Mount Vernon Statement" -- a "declaration of conservative values and beliefs" that has already garnered significant media attention, even before reporters knew what was in it.
Via the Washington Independent's David Weigel, I see the full text is now online. Here's the beginning of the end:
A Constitutional conservatism based on first principles provides the framework for a consistent and meaningful policy agenda.
- It applies the principle of limited government based on the rule of law to every proposal.
- It honors the central place of individual liberty in American politics and life.
It will be interesting to see whether news reports about the manifesto point out the inconsistency between claiming to "honor the central place of individual liberty in American politics and life" and supporting laws that inhibit individual liberty, the most obvious of which being bans on gay marriage and prohibitions on gays serving openly in the military. My money is on "no." And I'm not going to hold my breath waiting for reporters to ask signatories to reconcile that "rule of law" bit with their prior (and, in many cases, ongoing) defense of Bush administration malfeasance, either.
Apparently it's "Megyn Kelly Is Smart" week at the Washington Post Co.
Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz writes today: "Having profiled Megyn Kelly awhile back, I can tell you that the lawyer-turned-journalist is smart." He then quoted Troy Patterson's recent Slate profile of Kelly, in which he praised her for having "a former lawyer's precision with language." (Slate is owned by the Washington Post company.)
Now, I've never met Megyn Kelly. But the odds are pretty good that she is smart. Maybe she even makes Plato, Aristotle, and Socrates look like morons. But ... well, there's this:
Granted, anchoring a live television show isn't easy. Anybody doing such a job is going to make some mistakes. Those blunders don't prove that Kelly isn't as smart as Kurtz and Patterson say. (And they might not even be blunders -- they might be intentional dishonesty.) But it's more than a little strange that these reporters are so quick to praise Kelly's intelligence and precision with language without ever assessing whether her on-air performance reflects that intelligence and precision. Or what it says about Kelly --and Fox -- that such a smart person would make such false claims.
In a February 16 NRO post, Mark Krikorian denounced the American Principles Project's effort to appeal to Latinos through its new Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles, which will be "[e]ncouraging increased support and advocacy among conservatives for comprehensive immigration reform." Krikorian wrote:
I wasn't at today's press conference announcing the new effort, but the reporters I've spoken with said promoting Obama's plan for amnesty and increased immigration ("comprehensive immigration reform") was a major topic. If the point is to increase the Republican share of the Hispanic vote, this sure isn't going to help; the only thing that will is closing down mass immigration so that -- as we saw the last time we did it -- immigrants and their children will Americanize over time and vote more like other Americans, i.e., more Republican.
As I note in my column this week, both Andrew Breitbart and James O'Keefe (with some help from Fox News, of course) did their best last year to mislead the public and the press into believing that as part of his ACORN sting, O'Keefe wore his outlandish pimp costume right into the offices, and that clueless ACORN workers didn't blink an eye.
But it's not true. Based on all available evidence, O'Keefe never wore his pimp costume inside ACORN offices. (Raise your hand if you got duped.)
Turns out last night Breitbart, doing lots of yellling and name-calling (surprise!), appeared on a conservative radio show with blogger Brad Friedman who pressed him on the myth of the ACORN pimp. At first, Breirtbart denied any wrong doing:
I didn't lie about James O'Keefe. When did I lie about James O'Keefe?
When Friedman then read out loud from an erroneous Washington Times column by Breitbart in which he claimed O'Keefe was "dressed as a pimp" while receiving advice from ACORN workers, the furious (and confused) spin began.
Go here to listen. (The fun begins at the 36 minute mark.)
UPDATED: Breitbart insisted last night he had nothing to correct in his Times column, even though he falsely reported O'Keefe was "dressed as a pimp" while receiving ACORN advice.
Nearly a week after an ABC/Washington Post poll found that an overwhelming 71 percent of Americans think Sarah Palin is not qualified to be president, Los Angeles Times blogger Andrew Malcolm has finally come up with a way to spin that finding as a positive. Malcolm, formerly a Bush press secretary, has an odd obsession with Palin that frequently leads him to twist and distort her poll numbers in what we can only assume is an attempt to assemble a clip file for his inevitable interview for a position on Palin's staff. But this time, Malcolm has outdone himself.
Check out Malcolm's lede:
A recent Washington Post/ABC News Poll found that 30 months out from the 2012 party presidential nominations, only 71% of Americans believe that Sarah Palin is not qualified to be president.
This compares with someone named Barack Obama. At the same point in his then unannounced campaign, 0% thought he was qualified for the Oval Office. That's because he wasn't even on the polling lists' radar then.
I'll give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that "only 71%" was meant to be taken as sarcasm. But arguing that it's a good thing that after near-constant exposure to Sarah Palin for a year and a half, nearly three-quarters of Americans have concluded that she is not qualified to be president? That's Baghdad Bob-level spin -- just as audacious, and just as absurd.
Malcolm then moved on to writing about "how quickly the modern American presidential selection process and landscape is changing, making traditional patterns of political prediction as reliable as Prius brakes." But his "evidence" ... well, it doesn't make any sense:
For starters, the last three presidents all won the nation's top political office on their first try for the Oval Office, a break from usual U.S. political tradition when voters seemed to want candidates to serve years in another office or executive position to come to know their political personalities before entrusting them with their highest office.
Winning the presidency "on their first try for the Oval Office" is in no way a break from voters wanting "candidates to serve years in another office." Those two things simply aren't inconsistent. But the second part of Malcolm's sentence isn't merely inconsistent with the first, it is also wrong. Andrew Malcolm surely knows that Bill Clinton and George W. Bush did, in fact, "serve years" in an "executive position" -- after all, he was press secretary for Bush's wife. So, basically, that paragraph is complete nonsense.
Next, Malcolm moves on to Sarah Palin's qualifications:
Palin also has other apparent qualifiers for the GOP 2012 race: she is not of Washington and doesn't currently hold an elective office, having resigned the Alaska governor's job last summer.
So now abruptly quitting the governorship halfway through her first term is a qualification? I guess Malcolm must be thinking of the lengthy track record of major parties nominating candidates for president who didn't hold elective office at the time of their selection. That's a list with exactly three names on it since 1960: Nixon, Reagan, Mondale -- two former vice presidents and former two-term governor of California who had already run for the presidential nomination once.
But here's where Malcolm's desperate spin veers into outright dishonesty:
While vocal Palin-haters reveled in her awful recent national poll numbers about presidential qualifications, they missed a fact: if she decides to run for anything, the first goal is to become the GOP nominee. And the voters Palin needs to convince about that are state-by-state Republicans, 69% of whom still see her favorably.
Malcolm didn't provide a link for that poll number, or even tell us what poll it came from. But the ABC/Washington Post poll Malcolm cited at the beginning of his post, and which he attempts to rebut by pointing to unspecified polls, has something interesting to say about Palin's standing among Republicans: "Even among Republicans, a majority now say Palin lacks the qualifications necessary for the White House."
Wow. Malcolm dismisses the ABC/Washington Post poll's findings that the overwhelming majority of Americans think Palin is not qualified to be president by arguing that she only needs to convince Republican voters, who he says view her favorably -- and all the while he ignores the ABC/WaPo poll finding that a majority of Republicans don't think Palin is qualified to be president.
This is simply not honest behavior.