Yesterday on his radio show, Limbaugh announced the WSJ had asked for a piece about the Fairness Doctrine. (Don't bring back the Fairness Doctrine!) The talker explained he wrote an open letter to Obama--he couldn't just write a column likely everybody else--about the Fairness Doctrine and censorship in media; the column was expected to run Friday.
But yesterday, the White House made clear that Obama remains opposed to reinstating the Fairness Doctrine.
Faced with that conundrum, here's what Limbaugh said on his show yesterday:
At the next break, I'm going to fire off a note to the people at the Journal, because there is an expiration date on every Obama statement. He can say today he doesn't believe in it but then something of an emergency will come up in another day or two, in a week, and force him to change his mind.
So basically, Limbaugh's telling the Journal editors that his Fairness Doctrine column is still pertinent because Obama's a liar.
That, and the way the White House preempted Limbaugh's Fairness Doctrine critique, puts the Journal in a rather awkward position. Are editors there going to print Limbaugh's column--oops, I mean open letter--about why Obama should not reinstate the Fairness Doctrine just days after Obama's White House made clear it has no interest in reinstating the Fairness Doctrine? (What's next, is Rush going to write a column beseeching Obama to drop his idea for a car czar?)
Journal editors, like Republican members of Congress, have to decide how loyal they're going to be to the mighty Rush Limbaugh. Because I can tell you, 99 times out of a 100, if a writer submitted an opinion column that was quickly made irrelevant by breaking news, there's no way Journal editors would still run the column.
It will be interesting to see if the Journal editors are loyal to Rush, or loyal to journalism.
Allen's response is, I think, the most infuriating. Everyone knows that Mike Allen is an important political reporter. His morning "Playbook," in particular, helps set the agenda for the whole next day of moronic political buzz. When he writes up a stupid story, he's not passively predicting that people will be buzzing about it, he's helping to make it happen. In this case, it didn't work. Today's cable news has, overwhelmingly, been about an actual policy question—Obama's housing plan. And good for cable. But no thanks to Mike Allen.
WaPo's Michael Shear wrote in an online discussion today:
Because the Republicans largely abandoned the stimulus bill, the Democrats are the ones that will own it -- for good or ill. If it succeeds in producing jobs and getting consumer spending going again, I suspect there will be Republicans who regret their opposition. On the other hand, if the consensus in six or eight months is that it has failed, or was the wrong mix, then the Democrats will have to accept the consequences of their decision to push for it.
This is pretty much conventional wisdom. But there's a problem with it: it assumes that if the stimulus doesn't work, the Republicans will have been right -- that there should have been more tax cuts and less spending.
But many economists think that if anything, the stimulus package did not contain enough spending. Given that the Republicans were loudly arguing against spending -- even going so far, with help from the media, as claiming that spending and stimulus were contradictory concepts -- it seems clear that if the bill doesn't work because it didn't spend enough, Republicans will deserve the "consequences" of their opposition.
Whether they "will have to accept" those consequences will depend largely on how the media covers it all. If they assume -- as Shear seems to -- that failure will mean the stimulus should have included less spending, Democrats likely have the blame all to themselves. But if economists believe the problem with the stimulus was that there should have been more spending -- and if the media makes that clear -- Republicans will sure in the blame.
Put another way: Democrats may "own" the stimulus, but Republicans share ownership of the fact that it wasn't bigger. If the stimulus doesn't work, and insufficient spending turns out to be the reason, Republicans will own a large share of the blame.
The right-wing site thinks the wildly offensive cartoon (click here), which seemed to equate Obama with a crazed, dead chimp, is no big deal. Not that we're surprised. The Golden Rule of the Republican Noise Machine is that nobody from within is ever supposed to apologize or even mildly criticize the hateful rhetoric that's often produced.
We did get a kick out Power Line's defense though, which was, what's the big deal because critics compared Bush to a chimp in the past. It's quite similar to Michelle Malkin's defense today after getting her photo taken with a smiling activist who was holding an Obama/swastika sign. Of course Malkin didn't apologize, because some loonies on the left had used swastikas to attack Bush. So what's the big deal.
But back to Power Line:
One can only marvel at the Democrats' new concern for civility in political discourse. After all, while this cartoon had nothing to do with Obama, we do have a lot of experience with people referring to a President of the United States as a "chimp."...Graphic depictions of President Bush as a chimpanzee were legion; a Google Images search turns up page after page of examples.
Here's the thing, the Post cartoon in question depicted the chimp shot through the chest and dying on the sidewalk. When Power Line finds a cartoon published in a major metro American newspaper that associated Bush with a chimp dead on the sidewalk and his body riddled with bullets, than Power Line might have a point. Right now, it's just defending the indefensible.
UPDATE: Maybe Power Line should get credit for at least addressing the topic. Over at NRO's The Corner, conservatives have posted more than four dozens items today about news and buzz-worthy topics. What's been completely ignored by the writers themselves? Perhaps the hottest media story of the day; the Post cartoon. NRO writers apparently have no opinion whatsoever.
Why do I have a hunch that they do have an opinion, but just don't want to offend a newspaper that sometimes publishes them?
Oh, like a firm White House statement about how Obama is not in favor of reinstating the Fairness Doctrine is going to stop the chattering masses on the right from claiming, y'know, Obama is in favor of it.
After all, there is no more pressing issue facing our nation today than debating a long-forgotten FCC statute that hasn't been on the book for two decades, right?
TNR has posted an internal Politico memo "revealing the organization's formula for 'must-read' coverage." Reading through CAPS-laden passages like these, I couldn't help imagining them read by Alec Baldwin's character in Glengarry Glen Ross:
"We are not the AP or the New York Times" ... If we ONLY do what those two great organizations do, WE WILL NOT SURVIVE AND WE WON'T HAVE JOBS."
"Speed kills. Velocity - SPEED + POWER (good sources, smart thinking) - will make you a winner."
Coffee is for closers. Second prize is a set of steak knives. Third prize is you're fired. Always be closing.
And like Mamet's salesmen trying to talk their marks into investing in swampland, it seems the Politico is little more than a con. See, the Politico memo has a lot of instructions for reporters, including a list of questions Politico employees should ask themselves about prospective stories. Things like "Would this be a 'most-emailed' story?" and "Will a blogger be inspired to post on this story?" But it omits any mention of striving to ensure accuracy or quality. No questions like "Do I have the story right?" or "Am I being spun by my sources?" or "Is this story important?" (And certainly no "Does it really matter how much someone paid for a haircut?")
Maybe those questions aren't included because they aren't relevent to Politico's extraordinary mission statement, presented at the top of the memo:
THE MISSION: Politico journalism drives conversation in official Washington, making us ESSENTIAL READING for anyone who is or wants to be a player, and a KEY OUTLET for anyone who is trying to shape a political or government debate.
That's it. That's the whole mission. Nothing about informing people, or finding the truth. Instead, Politico sees its mission as being a "key outlet" for the "players" trying to shape political debates. With that as the Politico's mission, it seems unlikely they even care whether they're being spun, or getting the story right.
The memo concludes by claiming Politico is "one of the greatest adventures in journalistic history." Yeah, stories about John Edwards' haircuts are right up there with Watergate and the Pentagon Papers. Right.
Like Ricky Roma and Shelley Levene, Politico doesn't have much of value to offer. But they think they can talk you into buying it anyway.
Michelle Malkin is up with her defense for a photo we posted yesterday (originally posted by ProgressNowColorado) showing the right-wing blogger posing for a photo with a man holding a sign that uses a circled swastika as the "O" in Obama. The photo was taken at a Colorado rally against the President's economic recovery plan. For those of you who missed the photo, here it is again:
Malkin's defense? Post a bunch of images using the swastika and Nazi imagery to attack former President Bush and other conservatives (including herself.) Like much of her writing, Malkin misses the point. Are there looney-tunes on both sides of the aisle who have used Nazi imagery to attack those with which they disagree? Yes.
Did Malkin post any images of prominent progressives -- say, Markos from DailyKos, radio's Ed Schultz or MSNBC's Rachel Maddow -- posing with someone holding a swastika sign? No.
This is about Malkin's judgement, or lack thereof.
How could anyone, let alone a quasi-public figure such as herself, think it a good idea to pose with a man holding that sign?
The tele-evangelist told U.S. World and News Report that it was wrong for Rush Limbaugh to announce that he hoped Obama fails:
That was a terrible thing to say. I mean, he's the president of all the country. If he succeeds, the country succeeds. And if he doesn't, it hurts us all. Anybody who would pull against our president is not exactly thinking rationally.
But who else on the right will step forward and take on Limbaugh and the purposeful dumbing down being done by the Republican Noise Machine? I mention conservative writers Frum and Douthat because they both posted laments this week about the state of the GOP and what they say passes as the sorry attempt at public policy and public debate.
Wrote Frum, a former Bush speechwriter, after reviewing the GOP talking points during the stimulus 'debate'":
Could we possibly act more inadequate to the challenge? More futile? More brain dead?
Added conservative blogger Douthat:
I spent a lot of time during the election just past issuing complaints roughly like this one about the McCain campaign, and the GOP more generally. I've issued fewer over the last few weeks - partially out of exhaustion with the topic, and partially out of a sense that there's nobody to issue them to.
There's no real leadership on the right, according to Douthat, and Republicans at a time of national crisis are focused on pointless trivia, complained Frum. Together, the combination is producing insipidness, they seemed to agree.
But look at who Frum and Douthat don't blame. They don't blame the Republican Noise Machine. Conservatives helped build the media attack machine, and now its running the GOP--it now functions as the public voice of the Republican Party--but even GOP critics like Frum and Douthat are reluctant to blame Noise Machine stalwarts for doing damage to the conservative movement. (Frum though, does at least mention Glenn Beck and Limbaugh in his lament.)
I realize conservatives aren't likely to take my advice, but I'll offer it anyway: Until the rampant stupidity that defines the Republican Noise Machine is called out by GOP insiders like Frum and Douthat, the conservative movement--in the absence of any real political leadership--will continue to be defined by the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck and Matt Drudge.
Twice in the past week, The Hill has called GOP Rep. Peter Roskam a member of his party's "centrist" wing. But Progress Illinois points out:
According to the well-respected Poole-Rosenthal ideological scoring system for the 110th Congress, Roskam was the 66th most conservative member of Congress. He's no "centrist."
Just another indication that the news media has no idea where the "center" is.
Here's the cartoon from today's paper:
Notes Sam Stein at the Huffington Post:
At its most benign, the cartoon suggests that the stimulus bill was so bad, monkeys may as well have written it. Most provocatively, it compares the president to a rabid chimp. Either way, the incorporation of violence and (on a darker level) race into politics is bound to be controversial.