The American Prospect's Ringside Seat asks, "Will the MSM ever call Republicans out on their extremism?" -- and two intrepid op-ed writers do
The bipartisanship scam: Would you buy a leaky, vermin-infested ship from self-proclaimed bipartisans like this?
"The elder statesmen of nonpartisan political analysis, Norm Ornstein and Thomas Mann, took to The Washington Post op-ed pages over the weekend to lay down a challenge for every political reporter: Quit this evenhandedness malarkey and start calling out Republicans as the extremists wrecking American government."
-- in "Call Them Out," from The Americn Prospect's Ringside Seat
Around these parts "bipartisanship" is a dirty word, regrettably but inevitably. Regrettably, because surely there ought to be a range of issues on which sincere, reasonable people of widely diverse philosophical bent can come together to forge compromises that benefit the general welfare. Inevitably, in the here and now that's mere theory, because of the absence of sincere, reasonable people at the right and center extremes of the political spectrum.
(And yes, I do mean to target the "center extreme," because what passes as "centrism" nowadays is usually a form of corporate dictatorship almost as extreme in its way as, and usually far more corrup than, the wackadoodle out-beyond-Pluto extremism of the latter-day Right.)
The American Prospect's Ringside Seat has done a swell takeoff from the much-talked-about WaPo op-ed, "Let's just say it: The Republicans are the problem," by a pair of actually credible nonopartisans, Thomas Mann and Norm Ornstein. The Mann-Ornstein piece begins with a shrewd take on a nutty episode that Howie chronicled here:
Rep. Allen West, a Florida Republican, was recently captured on video asserting that there are “78 to 81” Democrats in Congress who are members of the Communist Party. Of course, it’s not unusual for some renegade lawmaker from either side of the aisle to say something outrageous. What made West’s comment — right out of the McCarthyite playbook of the 1950s — so striking was the almost complete lack of condemnation from Republican congressional leaders or other major party figures, including the remaining presidential candidates.
It’s not that the GOP leadership agrees with West; it is that such extreme remarks and views are now taken for granted.
We have been studying Washington politics and Congress for more than 40 years, and never have we seen them this dysfunctional. In our past writings, we have criticized both parties when we believed it was warranted. Today, however, we have no choice but to acknowledge that the core of the problem lies with the Republican Party.
In their takeoff from the Mann-Ornstein op-ed, the TAP writers manage to hit two of my favorite subjects: (1) the infotainment noozemedia's deadly practice of "evenhandedness" between two sides where one is lost in space out on the far reaches of the galaxy, and (2) the implacable obstructionism of the Republicans -- carried, as a matter of daily practice, to the extreme of not only accepting but welcoming further devastation of an already beleaguered American people as long as it furthers the power play of the extremists.
Take it away, Ringside Seat!
CALL THEM OUT
The elder statesmen of nonpartisan political analysis, Norm Ornstein and Thomas Mann, took to The Washington Post op-ed pages over the weekend to lay down a challenge for every political reporter: Quit this evenhandedness malarkey and start calling out Republicans as the extremists wrecking American government. It's a message that tickled our hearts at The Prospect; we've tried to hammer the point home over the past few years as the GOP becomes increasingly dominated by its loony fringe, a sect of anarchists dressed in politicians’ clothing who have no interest in serving as governing partners but would rather watch the whole institution (save the Pentagon) burn to the ground. But the mainstream media has hesitated to point out the unprecedented abuse of the filibuster, anonymous holds on appointments, and general hostage-taking in Congress that Ornstein and Mann highlight.
Unfortunately, their message didn't inspire journalists to recalibrate their framing overnight. Today Roll Call published a piece trumpeting a revival of bipartisan lawmaking in the Senate. "Don’t call it a comeback, or even a detente, but a strange thing is happening in the Senate: Democrats and Republicans are working together to pass legislation," the article opened. The evidence? A transportation bill, the Violence Against Women Act, and postal reform. Left unsaid is why Senate Republicans have the freedom to occasionally cooperate with their Democratic colleagues. They no longer need to oppose every single initiative favored by the president; they can shift that responsibility to the reliably intransigent Republican House majority.
If Senate Republicans had any true interest in crossing the aisles, they would have cooperated during the first two years of President Obama's administration, when they didn't have the safety net of a House populated by rightwing ideologues. Instead, just three voted for the stimulus, another three for financial reform, and not one for health care reform. Even during this current burst of newfound friendship, the Senate GOPers are as resistant as ever when it comes to the confirming Obama's appointees, the one area where they can't fall back on the obstructionist House. The truth is, Republicans on both sides of Congress are still operating from their plan from day one, as articulated by Representative Kevin McCarthy: "We've gotta challenge them on every single bill and challenge them on every single campaign." Let's hope a few reporters will listen to Ornstein and Mann and begin to take note.
I should perhaps add that "the Republicans" aren't "the problem" in the sense that they're the only problem. We can all cite voluminous chapter and verse of issues and initiatives where gutless and/or corrupt Dems have happily provided the margin of disaster. It seems to me, nevertheless, that Ringside Seat's banner question remains absolutely fair:
"Will the MSM ever call Republicans out on their extremism?"