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Tilting at Windmills

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February 15, 2010

DON'T BRING A DOLT TO AN MTP FIGHT.... If you missed it, there was an exchange on "Meet the Press" yesterday, which only lasted about a minute and a half, but which deserves the attention it's received.

For those who you can't watch clips from your work computers, Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.) joined the roundtable discussion. He argued, at one point, that the stimulus package would have been more effective if it had "stimulative tax cuts in it."

We know that's foolish. The stimulus effort included tax cuts, but it was the part of the recovery effort that was the least effective in stimulating the economy. Rachel Maddow reminded the overmatched and underprepared congressman of this pesky detail: "[W]hen you assess what creates jobs, in the stimulus bill it's the tax cuts that were put in in order to try to win Republican votes -- that didn't come anyway -- that are the least effective thing in the stimulus bill. So the theory doesn't match the practice here."

But then Rachel made Schock look even worse:

"[I]n your district, just this week you were at a community college touting a $350,000 green technology education program, talking about how great that was going to be for your district. You voted against the bill that created that grant. And that's happening a lot with Republicans sort of taking credit for things that Democratic bills do, and then Republicans simultaneously touting their votes against them and trashing them. That's, I think, a problem that needs to be resolved within your caucus, because, I mean, you seem like a very nice person, but that's very hypocritical stance to take."

Schock responded, "Well, Rachel, with all due respect, I can assure you Republicans were not consulted on the stimulus bill." As responses go, this was nonsensical and missed the point entirely. Later, Schock added, "With all due respect, Rachel, does that mean you're going to give back your Bush tax cuts that you continue to rail against?"

If Rachel were running around bragging about how great Bush's tax cuts are, after having opposed them before, this might make sense. Instead, it was another reminder that Schock not only isn't ready for prime-time; he's not ready for Sunday mornings, either.

But there are also some relevant larger truths here. For example, Republicans really are proud to endorse stimulus funds that help their state/district, even after opposing the recovery effort, and even while pretending the stimulus didn't give the economy a critically important boost. As Schock helped prove, the GOP does not yet have a coherent response to the obvious hypocrisy, so watch for this to be a key part of the midterm debates.

As for Schock being made to appear foolish, I can't help but wonder, why is it that Rachel Maddow seems to be the only media professional calling out Republican hypocrisy on this? One of the reasons the clip generated so much attention was because it was something we see so rarely -- blatant GOP hypocrisy being called out on national television, accurately and fairly. It seems a little silly to make a fuss over what should be a common occurrence, but since it's not a common occurrence, moments like these are all the more satisfying.

Steve Benen 8:00 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (34)

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Comments

But where was John McCain to clarify things? Seriously I usually watch Sunday Morning on CBS , but when I heard Rachel was going to be on I had to watch. As said - pushback and calling out hipocracy should be an everyday event, but sadly it is not. Ms. Maddow deserves to be on Prime Time Sunday with her own show. It , I am sure, would be far more informative than David Gregory, Tweety and the rest of the Sunday blabbers.

Posted by: John R on February 15, 2010 at 8:12 AM | PERMALINK

David Gregory HOSTS MTP, while Rachel is just an occasional guest.
If you wanna see 'what's wrong with this picture?' that would be a good starting point.
Gregory actually makes me miss Timmeh as the host...

Posted by: c u n d gulag on February 15, 2010 at 8:14 AM | PERMALINK

Tell Schock that I'll give back my tax cuts---when the pencil-chinned, left-of-zero-IQ, cash-whore weasel-child gives back his. As for his constituency, tell them this on a never-ending basis:

Aaron Schock voted against this program; he didn't want you to have it, but you got it anyway. Now, aren't you glad that the spoiled little weasel-child Aaron Schock didn't get his way? Wouldn't you like it if the spoiled little weasel-child didn't get his way a lot more often? Then maybe you should vote Aaron Schock out of office later this year.

Posted by: S. Waybright on February 15, 2010 at 8:16 AM | PERMALINK

Sorry,

Both Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert do a good job of calling out hypocrisy, and more, as well.

For example, The Daily Show's report on the Republican Convention on Hawaii, and their responses to questions about Hawaii's health care system highlights both hypocrisy and ignorance in a short segment.

See it here:

http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/thu-february-11-2010/the-apparent-trap

Can't get better than that.

Posted by: Marc on February 15, 2010 at 8:17 AM | PERMALINK

"...why is it that Rachel Maddow seems to be the only media professional calling out Republican hypocrisy on this?"

A better choice of questions would be:
1) Why is The Rachel Maddow Show buried in a later evening time?
2) Why is Rachel Maddow even allowed to be on the Corporate Media?

A set of answers to chose from relating to the asked question:
1) She is not a Villager and does not possess the Villager wisdom to know that the rethugnican framing of all issues is correct!
2) She actually is intelligent and prepares for her show and other appearances!
3) She seems to care for her country more than she cares for her future income stream!

Posted by: SadOldVet on February 15, 2010 at 8:19 AM | PERMALINK

I also find it interesting that the issue didn't really go anywhere. David Gregory slammed the brakes on it as fast as he could.

Now let's imagine that David Brooks had accused a Democratic Congressman of being a hypocrite to his face...Gregory would have been all over that.

Posted by: SaintZak on February 15, 2010 at 8:28 AM | PERMALINK

STEVE BENEN SAID: I can't help but wonder, why is it that Rachel Maddow seems to be the only media professional calling out Republican hypocrisy on this?

-------------------------------------------------
This is what I keep asking myself too. Rachel Maddow connects the dots, does her homework, she fact checks and strives to just tell the truth no matter if it's a Democrat or a Republican. This seems like basic journalism 101. But Rachel stands out like a sore thumb. I don't see any of her colleagues following in her footsteps.

Too many in the media are more concerned about tweets from Sarah Palin. That is the tragedy of journalism in America today.

Posted by: Ladyhawke on February 15, 2010 at 8:28 AM | PERMALINK

You all talk about Rachel having her own Sunday morning show.

I can think of no better way to marginalize an articulate lefty. I am surprised the media has not done that sooner.

Perhaps a better question is, why is the left so quiet? Why does the left "depend" on real workers like Rachel to get the word out?

Posted by: IntelVet on February 15, 2010 at 8:45 AM | PERMALINK

Rachael Maddow and Lawrence O'Donnell are excellent because they do their homework. They know the answer before the other side starts to spin. One of the biggest faults of Tweety Bird is he is lazy. He never prepares, so, rarely, you will find him asking a follow up question, as he wants to only hear himself. That speaks volumes for the regular "Pundits" and "Stars" in the media, as well.

Colbert did point out Schock's fine Abs, though. But, for a young rising star in the RepuG system, his thoughts on giving Taipei nuclear weapons if China doesn't support our Iranian positions, gives one pause. Also, just love his views on money spent by the government. Stimulus is VERY BAD, unless it flows into Peoria. Plus, nothing wrong with the City of Peroria spending over 38 thou for public safety when Shrub was invited by Schock to attend a private fund raiser for Schock in Peoria. Just depends upon into which coffers the money flows and for what convienent and personal reason to Rep. Schock.

Posted by: berttheclock on February 15, 2010 at 8:47 AM | PERMALINK

Each week I send my regular email to protest David Gregory, he is a terrible choice for MTP, sometimes I even think someone will read them. Gregory is a republican who advances republican talking points and who always shuts down any conversation when the repubs are losing - could we all just ask for him to be replaced? Perhaps one day the powers that be will listen.

Posted by: Joan on February 15, 2010 at 8:47 AM | PERMALINK

That's funny, I thought his name was Schlock.

Posted by: rbe1 on February 15, 2010 at 9:05 AM | PERMALINK

so if tax cuts are so great, how come Bush's didn't prevent the collapse of the economy?

Meanwhile, the stimulus worked and prevented another Republican created great depression. When the say it did not, repubs lie and use the tactics of Lenin & communists who said, one lie told long enough becomes the truth.

Posted by: kurt on February 15, 2010 at 9:05 AM | PERMALINK

DON'T BRING A DOLT TO AN MTP FIGHT

its the only way to expose them as such, and only if Rachel Maddow is also there. Otherwise its a republican love fest on the wonders of republicans and how bad democrats are.

Posted by: pluege on February 15, 2010 at 9:25 AM | PERMALINK

Rachel knocked that one out of the park. That little jerk Schock was treed as Rethugs should be. Loved the hairpiece too.

Posted by: buddym on February 15, 2010 at 9:30 AM | PERMALINK

Not to digress, but, Aaron Schock, does anyone else's "closet case alarm" go off?

Posted by: SaintZak on February 15, 2010 at 9:34 AM | PERMALINK

It should be noted that there is a difference between "taking credit" and "acknowledging an upside". The stimulus was a very large bill, with an awful lot to it. It is in no way hypocritical to try to defeat a bill despite it having an uspide for your district, and then being happy when that particular upside comes to pass.

To put it another way, if I were a Congressman, I'd try my damndest to defeat a bill making abortion illegal, even if it came along with an amendment guaranteeing free healthcare for everyone in my district. And you'd better believe that if I failed, and the bill passed, I'd still tell everyone in my district I was glad they were going to get medicine for free. My own particular concept of honesty would require me to remind people what that victory had cost, and that had it been up to me they would not have received it, but I don't think it would be hypocrisy to not do so.

I have no idea whether Schock was taking credit or not (and I guess you can argue just by turning up to such events he is, though I'm not convinced), I just think it's important to separate the two. Otherwise, accusing Republicans of hypocrisy is no fairer than accusing Kerry of flip-flopping. It requires a framing of complex political bills and issues as "good" or "bad" and attacking anyone unwilling to remain in one camp indefinitely.

Posted by: SpaceSquid on February 15, 2010 at 9:55 AM | PERMALINK

If more journalist did what Rachael did, there would not be any Sunday morning shows, and how would all of those brillant minds make a tiddy living. Honestly, would any self-serving politician ever dream of going on T.V. to have to answer for their hypocritical positions before a national audience? Imagine John McCain having to answer for his hypocrisy with pointed questioning, and then coming on again and again to get the same treatment. Trust me, he'd switch to Fox. If Gregory let's this continue he will be out of a job. These shows are a purely beltway exercise in kabuki theater for the unwashed. Rachael ruins it by telling the emperor he forgot his clothes. Funny, but highly inappropriate for such a forum. Poor David Brooks looked like he was going to pee on himself. Rachael knows but likes to forget that politics is not about symetrical ideological arguments, but rather team sports and grabbing as many free goodies for your district as it takes to get reelected. Rachael's schtick, and she does it well, is the anti-good old boy journalism schtick. Bet she's not invited back anytime soon, she is so un-Cokie. Eew.

Posted by: Scott F. on February 15, 2010 at 10:02 AM | PERMALINK

I should also add to my previous comment that it seemed to me to be in that same spirit that Schock mentioned tax cuts. It seems entirely reasonable to draw a parallel between being happy one has received money in a stimulus bill you opposed, and being happy one has received in a tax bill you opposed. Sure, Rachel Maddow hasn't been crowing about her increased net salary, but then no-one has required her to. Schock's position makes it far harder to just ignore it when money shows up in his district. If Maddow has bought anything for herself or others with her extra money, then is she a hypocrite too?

Of course, she may have given it all away to charity for all I know. I'm not criticising Maddow at all here, I'm pointing out there is some weight to Schock's intent, even if the question was framed in a dumb way (I'd have generalised it: "Does that mean anyone who opposed the Bush tax cuts is a hypocrite if they use the money they gained from it to buy their partner a present?"); it is not hypocrisy to say that given the choice you would not have received something, but that now you have, you're going to put it to use.

Posted by: SpaceSquid on February 15, 2010 at 10:04 AM | PERMALINK

SpaceSquid, stop spinning please. Schlong and all the other Dicks who go around cutting ribbons at factory openings while simultaneously claiming that the stimulus that is paying for the factory has not created any jobs are hypocrites, period.

Gregory, Matthews, Stephanopolous, Todd, Mitchel, and Sullivan are all partisans. The difference is that Sullivan is honest about being a left-wing liberal progressive.

The rest play at being independent while carrying water for Republicans.


Gregory still longs to share a stage with MC Rove.

Posted by: Winkandanod on February 15, 2010 at 10:16 AM | PERMALINK

"...why is it that Rachel Maddow seems to be the only media professional calling out Republican hypocrisy on this?"

I asked myself the same thing about the otherwise dysfunctional panel she was on. She was literally the only one not simply spouting meaningless talking points -- from Bodo and the absolutely awful Harold Ford to Gregory.

I guess I should be happy there were at least one rational voice on that panel but why was it all on her shoulders?

Posted by: leo on February 15, 2010 at 10:32 AM | PERMALINK

@ Winkandanod "[Those] who go around cutting ribbons at factory openings while simultaneously claiming that the stimulus that is paying for the factory has not created any jobs are hypocrites, period"

It's certainly true that that is hypocrisy, yes (well, actually I think it's lying rather than hypocrisy, but it's not worth getting into the semantics). You'll note that what I was discussing was somewhat different, though. I am not arguing Schong or anyone else is not a hypocrite, simply that "Wanted stimulus defeated, is pleased stimulus has benefitted them" is, in itself, not a hypocritical stance.

Posted by: SpaceSquid on February 15, 2010 at 10:35 AM | PERMALINK

I love how guys like "SpaceSquid" get all weak in the knees when they suddenly have to start applying standards of honesty to their own. Talk about entitlement.

It's not like Schock went around at the check-signing ceremony touting the fact that he had voted against the bill. That's the real point that even a five-year-old would recognize.

Posted by: leo on February 15, 2010 at 10:42 AM | PERMALINK

@ leo

I'm not sure who you think "[my] own" are, or how you know I belong to them at all, but to reiterate: not reminding people that if you'd had your way they wouldn't have gotten something is not the same thing as claiming you got them it, and only the second would be hypocrisy.

Did Schock claim that? I have no idea. If he did, he is a hypocrite. Fine. My point is, as it has been from my first post, that one needs to demonstrate he claimed credit. Simply being pleased (and demonstrating that pleasure in the public eye) isn't enough ( I remind you again that it is entirely possible to try to defeat a bill despite it containing elements you like, and to then be pleased with those elements once the bill has passed).

To make this more clear, Schock had four options. Refuse to attend, appear but admit to having tried to stop it, attend and approve of the benefit to the district, attend and imply he is responsible. Both with regard to Schock specifically, and to the laundry list that Maddow assembled recently, only the fourth is hypocrisy. The first and second are both bad politics (though of course "bad politics" and "good behaviour" often overlap)", so it hardly surprising a Congressperson would choose option 3. It simply seems intellectually lazy to me to pretend option 3 automatically becomes option 4. They are separate, and must be treated as such.

Posted by: SpaceSquid on February 15, 2010 at 10:56 AM | PERMALINK

SpaceSquid - the point isn't just that he voted against the bill, it's that he argued against its substance and claimed it would not create any jobs - and then took credit for the jobs it created. It goes way beyond your abortion + pork bill example. He (and the other party-line Republicans) were WRONG, and are taking credit for the Dems being RIGHT. It stinks.

Posted by: Krowe on February 15, 2010 at 11:14 AM | PERMALINK

I don't believe a politician need expressly say, "welcome to the ribbon-cutting ceremony of this project, which was brought to fruition through my personal effort and dedication" in order for the public gathered at said ceremony to infer that said politician played an instrumental part in said project. After all, isn't that why you put them in office; to negotiate with the central authority for a share of funds that improve the vquality of life for your constituents, while representing their concerns?

If the mayor shows up to take a central role at a ribbon-cutting ceremony to open a new school, wouldn't you assume he had something to do with its being built? More to the point, if you had voted against the construction of a new harbour ferry, would it be reasonable for you to show up among the dignitaries at its launching?

I'd have to see video, which I imagine is available, but if the individual discussed had a speaking part at the ceremony or was prominently featured in it despite having voted against it - and did not expressly mention it - then he was deliberately encouraging his constituents to believe otherwise.

Posted by: Mark on February 15, 2010 at 11:18 AM | PERMALINK

@Krowe "it's that he argued against its substance and claimed it would not create any jobs - and then took credit for the jobs it created."

If he did that, then I have no problem whatsoever labelling him a hypocrite. Nor do I disagree that the Republicans were wrong, and the Democrats were right. My only issue was in suggesting touting successes is the same thing as taking credit for them. If Schock did the latter, then by all means flame the guy. I just get nervous around the argument that you can't oppose a bill unless you oppose every single element of it, and that seemed to be what Maddow was implying from the quote (I can't watch the video), and more generally what various other progressives have argued.

I mean, it's not like finding actual examples of grotesque GOP hypocrisy is all that difficult, surely?

Posted by: SpaceSquid on February 15, 2010 at 11:23 AM | PERMALINK

@ Mark

Attempting to cause one's consituents to infer something you know to be untrue isn't hypocrisy, it's dishonesty. I'm not suggesting the latter is in any way better, I'm just saying that these things deserve the right names. If Maddow had asked "Why didn't you expressly admit you'd attempted to have this blocked", I'd be entirely with her. It's the specific accusation of hypocrisy I'm unhappy with, though from what Krowe says the facts of the case back her up entirely.

Posted by: SpaceSquid on February 15, 2010 at 11:26 AM | PERMALINK

All right, I'll stipulate to "dishonesty" rather than "hypocrisy".

If we were Republican and Democrat, this moment would be a breakthrough.

Posted by: Mark on February 15, 2010 at 11:29 AM | PERMALINK

If we were Republican and Democrat I'd already have called you a terrorist.

Posted by: SpaceSquid on February 15, 2010 at 11:36 AM | PERMALINK

The Villagers - Last night on ABC network news, a one-liner was tossed out as part of the day's headlines:
"Sarah Palin said that Nascar racing was like Alaska's snowmobile racing."

Wow. News alert! Thanks, ABC News.

Imagine ABC instead delivering a one-liner such as "Republican Aaron Schock voted against the Democratic Administration's $350,000 green technology education program but showed up at a local community college to take credit for it."

Posted by: Cindy on February 15, 2010 at 11:45 AM | PERMALINK

Too bad the clip doesn't include Brooks' huffy , sputtering with eyes twitching response to Rachel's assertions about hypocrisy. In typical Brooks "I know you are but what am I" fashion, he implicitly redefines the word "hypocrisy" so he can invoke examples of Democrats doing the "same thing"-- as if that would either excuse or explain Republican foolishness were it true, which it isn't. Rachel looks on aghast at this outburst & Gregory lets Brooks have the last word by changing the subject. Classic Sunday talking heads garbage...

Posted by: fignaz on February 15, 2010 at 11:48 AM | PERMALINK

Was Ford there as the 4th for bridge? His sole purpose was campaigning and trying to appear intelligent. He snagged way too much valuable time. I watched because Maddow was on. Gregory does way too much pontificating in front of the mirror and verges on the Matthews yelling thing at times.

In this vein of calling people on their lack of intestinal fortitude, Zakaria did a very pointed bit on Paulson and Greenspan. He showed an interview clip on their refusal to say the elimination of Bush tax cuts for the wealthy was a positive economic step, demonstrating that even people not in political office don't have the "guts" to make the right decision.

Posted by: DTR on February 15, 2010 at 11:51 AM | PERMALINK

I haven't quite been able to put a finger on why I am so frustrated with our political discourse these days.

But now I have a clearer picture.

We are a nation of dolts. Intelligent discourse is boring. Simple talking points for simple minds will win elections from here on out.

The electorate are too stupid to realize how dumb they are.

There. I said it.

Who cares if Schock is two-faced?

Not Jill or Joe voter.

All that matters is.......looks, fluff, and corporate sponsorship.

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on February 15, 2010 at 12:20 PM | PERMALINK

"Sarah Palin said that Nascar racing was like Alaska's snowmobile racing."

Why, yes, that's true, except they're only similar in that they are mechanical vehicles driven by humans competing with each other in an event in which speed usually plays a decisive role. In that respect, cigarette-boat racing is just like NASCAR, too, and every other kind of race except those in which no fuel-burning vehicles are involved, like the Iditarod. Still, I suppose, the takeaway there will be that Sarah Palin watches and enjoys NASCAR racing, which is critical to her acceptance by the segment of society that never removes their baseball caps, even in a restaurant.

I read Kathleen Parker's article on Palin, for which she was excoriated by conservatives although she was largely sympathetic, regarding her potential exploitation of her Down-Syndrome son for political gain. It led me to wonder if I hadn't been mistaken about her, and maybe she is just a genuine good-hearted Mom who got in over her head and couldn't resist the constant flattery to the point she dramatically overreached.

Then stupid quotes like this bring me back to reality, where she's just an avaricious grifter who doesn't miss an opportunity to ingratiate herself in an effort to influence popular opinion. That goes double for the mindless "professional journalists" who are nothing more than record-and-repeat spoundbite burners with teeth and hair.

Posted by: Mark on February 15, 2010 at 12:32 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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