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July 15, 2011 12:40 PM In 18 days, blame will be the least of our troubles

By Steve Benen

Far-right blogger and CNN media personality Erick Erickson has an item today that’s making the rounds, which is probably a good thing. It offers a helpful reminder about the perspective of a conservative Republican activist.

Reflecting on the debt-limit fight, Erickson demands that congressional Republicans ignore the warnings and resist any urge to compromise.

“Now is a time for choosing. Now is your time for choosing. As I pointed out to John Boehner yesterday, despite what the pundits in Washington are telling you, it is you and not Obama who hold most of the cards. Obama has a legacy to worry about. Should the United States lose its bond rating, it will be called the “Obama Depression”. Congress does not get pinned with this stuff.”

Reading the rest of the piece, Erickson seems unsure of the exact consequences he expects in early August. On the one hand, the post insists that everyone predicting a disaster should be ignored. On the other hand, Erickson believes a “depression” is a possibility. How reassuring.

Either way, though, the economic effects apparently don’t much matter. As far as Erickson is concerned, what does matter is partisan blame — and in this case, the right-wing pundit is convinced Republicans have nothing to worry about, since the blame will rest on the president’s shoulders.

What’s more, according to Erickson, House Republicans were reportedly passing around copies of his screed to one another this morning.

One could note, I suppose, that Erickson’s political predictions could prove to be about as reliable as his understanding of economics. He assumes the White House will get the bulk of the blame, but there’s ample evidence to the contrary.

But that’s not what’s important here. Indeed, the notion that elected officials should choose, or at least risk, a depression on purpose, based solely on their expectations about blame, is among the more offensive things I’ve seen from the right in this entire debate.

What actually matters is that Americans will suffer. The economy will get worse. The standing, credibility, and stability of the United States will be negatively affected immediately and for years to come. All of this can be easily avoided.

That’s what matters. Not polls, not spin, not which soundbite resonates. The principal concern should be over whether the public is forced to endure pain in order to satisfy the ideological whims of madmen who don’t belong in public office, but who nevertheless yield enormous power over our collective future.

Honestly, the intellectual and moral bankruptcy of the right is truly a sight to behold.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.

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  • Lee A. Arnold on July 15, 2011 12:43 PM:

    This is a really big mistake on the Republicans' part (more exactly, the Tea Party's part). Default may hurt Obama for one or two days, but default is going to destroy the Republican Party.

    The President needs only to continue to demand that the Republicans accept his long-term deal, INCLUDING the spending cuts + tax hikes on the richest people.

    That gives the Republican leadership two options: whip the House into voting yes, or else the U.S. cannot meet its basic obligations, credit dries up, and revenues fall below the amounts required for Social Security and military pay.

    The President needs only to go on TV to explain clearly to the public that the Republicans are doing this all to avoid tax hikes on the richest people. This is based on the lie that they create the jobs. No. Rich people don't create as many jobs as regular people with good ideas and access to credit. Look at this: we bailed-out the richest people when we had to bail-out the entire financial system, and this saved their vast and clever empires from implosion, and NOW they won't pony-up to Clinton tax rates after the recession is over, to help save the country?

    Is there anybody left but a Tea Party fanatic who won't see through the GOP's transparent horse manure?

    The opinion polls right now don't tell what will happen. This is a game changer, if Obama stays the course.

  • bigtuna on July 15, 2011 12:43 PM:

    To all right winger, tea partiers, republican, etc.

    Fuck you.

    I am going to the mountains so I don't read any more of your insane bullshit.

  • Alli on July 15, 2011 12:44 PM:

    This post should be circulated amongst the left because they have been willing to shut down the government and tank the economy because they think Repubs will get blamed. And once the public sees what the GOP has done, WHAM, the country moves left.

  • Stephen Stralka on July 15, 2011 12:46 PM:

    Damn, Erickson wouldn't even have to be all that smart to recognize that his own actions are making it infinitely easier for the Democrats to blame the Republicans.

    I mean, if your'e going to be telling your political allies, "Hey, go ahead and cause a depression on purpose, we'll just blame the guy that's trying to stop you," that's pretty freaking nefarious. But in public?

  • Bo on July 15, 2011 12:54 PM:

    Little Eric has (inadvertantly) demonstrated the key take-away in this whole debt ceiling circle-jerk. His ludicrous commentary on the matter brings sharply into focus the chief obstacle to doing the right thing -- hubris, self-dealing and incoherent logic are leading the tea-baggin' right-wingers right off a cliff of their own making.

    Little Eric is completely ignoring the plain fact that ANY president would be requesting an increase in the debt ceiling right now even without the ACA, Recovery Act or TARP. What we are facing right now is the GDumbya debt . . . eight years of not paying for tax breaks, two wars and Part D Medicare.

    No matter how loudly Little Eric and his masters p*ss and moan, an increasing majority of Americans understand this one plain simple fact.

  • Mitch on July 15, 2011 1:01 PM:

    '...it will be called the “Obama Depression”. Congress does not get pinned with this stuff.'

    I've been saying for months now that this is the plan. They want to let the default happen, let the economy crash, and then blame it on Obama.

    However, Steve, I have to respectfully disagree with this:

    "This is a really big mistake on the Republicans' part (more exactly, the Tea Party's part). Default may hurt Obama for one or two days, but default is going to destroy the Republican Party."

    The public has been shown (over and over again) to have NO memory about events like this.

    Right now, sure, the general public has a higher opinion of Obama than the Republicans. But never forget that they have much more effective Public Relations than Democrats. Never forget that Corporate Media does not hold them accountable. Never forget that they will spend every day between now and Election blaming anything bad that happens on Obama.

    I would not be confident that a default will destroy the Republicans. It will hurt people, badly. And they will lash out in anger - anger that will be stoked by the Right Wing Media Machine - and Obama is the easiest target.

  • c u n d gulag on July 15, 2011 1:02 PM:

    Who let in the Viking Hordes?

    First, it was Grover Norquisling.

    Now, it's Erick "The RED" Erickson.

    If either or these guys tried to do what they're doing in China or Russia, or pretty much any other country in the world, they would wish they were in jail - because the alternative would be either a quick execution, or handing them and their families over bodilly to the masses to with as they wish.

    And they wouldn't be put on on pedestals, unless you call the platform from which they're hung until nearly dead, and then drawn and quartered when they wake up just in time for someone to disembowel them with a rusty can opener, and their limbs are torn apart by Hummers pointed in different directions.

    Yeah, I'm OLD SCHOOL, for a non-violent guy.


    What is it, CAPTCHA girl?

    sponsoring eolution

    I don't think we've eoluted too much in this country, so I don't think we'd sponsor it.

  • FRP on July 15, 2011 1:02 PM:

    I know that feeling Derrick , sigh . Why just the other day I was advising 'Lil Booschie Jr on just how to shine my shoes , when our privacy , our little pow wow was interrupted . I mean , uhhh , oh never mind . Another call from Gov R Perry , OH ! , a woman's work is never done ! While men cannot remember where they put the house keys 10 minutes ago . Well let me tell you Ferris it was an emergency , like no beer on Sunday , y' know ? I am sure ! Sooo disliking cold calls when I am advising wee tiros after me own heart , my cooling systems irritation was just another bill for the campaign committee to lay off , after the election . Any who after I advised Perry to part it a little to the right , (always good godly advice !) , and use a better conditioner , I got back to the important surface maintenance lecture I was in the middle of before we were ...

  • Erick Erickson on July 15, 2011 1:06 PM:

    Now is not the time to be weak-kneed in the face of economic catastrophe. Hold firm and cause a depression - Obama will get the blame.

  • memekiller on July 15, 2011 1:08 PM:

    A party with a shred of decency would try to avert economic disaster, even if the economic disaster would benefit them. Like the Democrats are doing.

  • trex on July 15, 2011 1:14 PM:

    Funny. The wingnuts have been accusing the left of "economic terrorism" now for a few years, and leveling the specific charge that we want to crash the whole system so we can rebuild it to their liking.

    Apparently that yet again was nothing more than a classic case of Republican projection.

  • trex on July 15, 2011 1:16 PM:

    That should read "our" liking

  • Daniel Kim on July 15, 2011 1:17 PM:

    This illustrates something that I've wondered about for a while: Does a depression only happen to 'the other guy'? I mean, a depression would be kinda bad for (non-wealthy) Republicans, too, wouldn't it? Even some of the wealthy will become at least less so if the world economy tanks out, especially since there's nothing left for a second round of bailouts and stimuli.

    When I see the stubborn opposition to any action on, say, global warming, I wonder: "What planet will you move to, when it all comes apart?" In a similar way, I wonder if any thought has been given to the consequences of a major economic collapse.

    It's the Flying Wallendas with no nets!

  • Stephen Stralka on July 15, 2011 1:22 PM:

    The public has been shown (over and over again) to have NO memory about events like this.

    Not entirely true. Steve has posted poll results here just within the past few days showing that more people blame Bush for the state of the economy than Obama.

    As for the corporate media, corporate America in general is going to be hurt bad if the Republicans cause us to default. Their close involvement with the GOP in recent times has been self-interested more than ideological, I think. Meaning they like not having to deal with taxes or regulations, but they're not suicidal. They're not going to keep supporting the party that deliberately crashed the value of their shares.

  • Chris on July 15, 2011 1:27 PM:

    I live in Atlanta where Erickson has a daily radio show (which speaks to the quality of our airwaves). First, he pointed out that he knew that several Republican Congressmen would be listening to his show at 8:00 PM. Then, at 8:00 PM, he essentially made this same screed on the radio when I was driving home from work last night.

    His argument on the radio came down to this: "Kill the hostage because Obama will be blamed."

  • Michael on July 15, 2011 1:28 PM:

    It's not the little republicans they are worried about, flys on the wall, it is only the monied ones who will be able to buy up the country to further their agenda, rupert murdoch style...

  • DAY on July 15, 2011 1:32 PM:

    I overheard the conversation, and recorded it for posterity:

    Eric: "John, I want you to take this hand grenade into the next meeting, and if Obama won't give us what we want, I want you to PULL THE PIN!"

    John: "But it will kill me, too!"

    Eric: "Of course! But he will die disgraced, while you will die a martyr to our cause."

    John: "Go ask Cantor to do it."

  • PTate in Mn on July 15, 2011 1:34 PM:

    Erikson is a cynical, immoral agitator, but I am afraid he may be right that Obama will get the blame.

    The Republicans have exacerbated the national debt, paralyzed government, gutted the safety net, prevented economic recovery and meaningful progress on energy and global warming. And they have been getting away with it because some 35% of Americans aren't interested in the economy. All they care about is the Christian pro-Jesus, anti-abortion, anti-gay, pro-gun, Creationist agenda. Their support for the plutocrats disastrous policies is just an example of "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" alliance.

    So the economy goes down? This base will continue to be ignorant. They don't want to know the truth, and they will blame Obama because they view him as pro-abortion, pro-gay, anti-gun, anti-Creationist and that is all that matters to them.

    Will there be enough people in the remaining 65% to drown out the cackling from Fox News? I don't know. I hope so.

  • Jjm on July 15, 2011 1:45 PM:

    Obama once again made MINCEMEAT of GOP posturing, self-contradictions and general stupidity and COWARDICE in his TV appearance this morning.

    The GOP has been banging the same old drum for so long, and getting some electoral results from that drum, that they cannot see what is really happening right now.

    They are losing it. The whole she-bang. They will have zero, or less than zero credibility after they are absolutely refusing to discuss sensible measures to rein in the debt and deficits that their party caused.

    People are starting to understand the consequences of default, and the end result for the GOP will be disaster for them, on a permanent basis.

    There is almost no one in the country except for a few stupid Texas billionaires who agrees with the GOP so-called agenda, which as far as I can see consists of one thing: killing our social safety net and blaming Obama for doing so.

  • Josef K on July 15, 2011 1:47 PM:

    From trex at 1:14pm:

    Apparently that yet again was nothing more than a classic case of Republican projection.

    I feel its a little more complicated than 'projection' in two ways:

    First, there's the ignorance element. How many of the Republican caucus (and its supporting pundits) will actually be hurt by this? I'll wager none. Indeed, some even have an incentive to let the default happen. Thus they won't feel the affects of the economy going off the rails and over the cliff.

    Certainly their constituents will. But at this point the GOP's leadership has made clear it only listens to the most hysterical (who will blame the White House for everything no matter what) and the most well-heeled (who can wall themselves up in their mansions and ignore the masses outside).

    Second, there's President Obama's own drive for a 'Grand Bargain'. He's made clear he wants some kind of great deal that cuts spending, bites social insurance programs, and starts reducing the deficit. In some ways, he's proving as much an obstacle as the true believers in the House.

    Why he's going this route I've no idea. Perhaps he's really convinced the deficit should have priority; understandable given who's advising him, plus the fact the country hasn't had a truly foundation-shattering financial disaster like the 1929 Crash and the relative 'invisibility' of the unemployed. Perhaps Erickson has a point and the President's focus is on his own legacy and thinks playing by the right's rules is the way to go.

    Regardless of why he's focused on the 'Grand Bargain', that is his focus and requisite for action. McConnell and Reid appear willing to go along with it, as does Boehner and Pilosi. But I continue to believe no deal is possible given the current make-up of the GOP caucus. To my eyes, they're now too invested in their psychological rebellion to listen to reason.

    I'm also at the point where I'm not sure I want a deal to come through in the first place, at least not the one being formulated between McConnell and Reid. The more details that emerge, the worse it looks and more damage its looking to cause.

    I really hope it doesn't come down to a choice between that plan and default. That's not a terribly attractive choice.

  • square1 on July 15, 2011 1:51 PM:

    I think something fairly obvious needs to be stated. Republican leadership never had any intention of following through on their rather transparent bluff. If they wanted to crash the economy, there would be no negotiations.

    Boehner and McConnell, I am sure, simply intended to point to their lunatic base, and demand "win-win" spending cuts from the Democrats. Then rinse, repeat at every negotiation until Obama is out of office.

    I have little doubt that John Boehner was blowing himself after extracting concessions from Obama that can only be described as historic and massive given that Democrats control the Senate and the White House. Concessions that would further depress the economy and help the GOP in 2012.

    Unfortunately, Boehner and McConnell quickly discovered something disastrous: that the lunatic base of their party would not accept a 99.9% victory. And unlike the Democratic base, the GOP knows how to put up a primary challenge.

    Now they want out, any way possible. McConnell just wants this to go away. And Boehner just wants Cantor to give him cover for cutting a deal. Boehner likely feels like George Patton: He just marched his Third Army across Europe in record time and Cantor is about to get him booted for slapping a private. Boehner most likely wants to drown Erickson in a bathtub, not listen to his bullshit electoral predictions.


    This is not to absolve the GOP of guilt in this mess. Clearly, the GOP was playing with fire, even if they were simply bluffing.

    OTOH, if simply putting conditions on passage of a debt-limit bill means that one is willing to blow up the economy then Obama is guilty of this as well. Obama has already said that he would veto any bill that doesn't extend the debt limit until past the 2012 elections. Presumably this includes a clean bill that only provides enough room for another 9-12 months, although he wasn't entirely clear on that.

  • David Sanger on July 15, 2011 2:02 PM:

    what people don't realize is that the reckless Republican policies will hurt all of us, not just Democrats, or seniors, or the poor.

    Theirs is Koolaid economics and must be vigorously resisted, for all our sakes

  • Mitch on July 15, 2011 2:07 PM:

    @Stephen Stralka

    A poll today will have little affect on events in 16 months. The Republican resurgance of 2010 proved this to me, and that was based on the Recession.

    How much worse will the backlash be after the Default, which could very well cause a full-blown Depression? People will be extremely angry, and as I said, the President (whoever he/she may be) is the biggest bullseye in the nation.

    Could this hurt the Republicans? Maybe. But I think it is dangerous to arrogantly assume that it will.

  • Objective Dem on July 15, 2011 2:07 PM:

    I want to know why CNN and Cox media doesn't dismiss Erickson immediately.

  • bdop4 on July 15, 2011 2:26 PM:

    The default isn't going to be a singular event that people will forget in 2-3 days. It will be the day that the first turd, in a long stream of turds, starts hitting the fan and spraying everyone.

    There will be a lot of pain and people will become very agitated. We will find out exactly how batshit crazy this country has become.

    My hope is that the consequence will be HUGE progressive rallies and maybe some national Dems will get some courage a la Wisconsin.

    If the opposite happens, and the teabaggers get all the momentum, then we are truly fucked.

  • Michael on July 15, 2011 2:26 PM:

    Ericson is on to satisfy the conservative base, and tame down the 'liberal media ' claim, so they will only promote Erickson.Expanding viewership they wish(hahah idiots don't know its fox or nothing...)

  • MarkJ on July 15, 2011 2:34 PM:

    I think this is just wishful thinking on Erikson's part. The republicans are legitimately worried about getting the the blame - just look at all the congressional reps who have said that maybe picking this fight over the debt ceiling wasn't such a good idea after all. Those guys wouldn't be worrying in public if they thought the public was on their side.

  • Catsy on July 15, 2011 2:37 PM:

    I honestly have no idea how this isn't economic terrorism. This is a conspiracy by Republicans--by their own admissions--to inflict economic catastrophe on the United States if their demands are not met.

    It's not even metaphor anymore: the GOP truly have, by definition, chosen to be terrorists rather than a legitimate political party. Exactly what line do they have to cross before they'll be arrested and charged with a crime?

  • MBunge on July 15, 2011 2:46 PM:

    "Could this hurt the Republicans? Maybe. But I think it is dangerous to arrogantly assume that it will."


    I hate to say it, but the reaction of the public to a deliberate default isn't that important or decisive. What would really matter is the immediate response and long-lasting reaction of corporate America. Now, the business community has become a bit more polarized and infested with Randian thinking, but what it still cares about above all else is making money.

    Mike

  • Michael on July 15, 2011 3:04 PM:

    I don't know catsy, but treason is a line they crossed with Bush, and still aren't paying for it, so they decided to go all in...mappaS ioniai

  • j on July 15, 2011 3:54 PM:

    I'm surem Boehner and McConnell know the consequences of not raising the debt limit, I am also sure that they are being bombarded by their benefactors in Wall Street, the big banks and big business that they must pass this increase. They have to obey the masters that bought and paid for them.

  • claude on July 15, 2011 3:57 PM:

    It seems that he's channelling Lenin's "the worse, the better" argument.

  • tamiasmin on July 15, 2011 4:16 PM:

    "madmen who don't belong in public office"

    That's an accurate description, Steve, but also a damning criticism of "the greatest system of government the world has ever seen" or whatever the chauvinistic rhetoric is these days.

  • majun on July 15, 2011 4:44 PM:

    I guess I am just too numb to really comprehend the GOP strategy. Everyone who knows anything about economics is telling them that if they go through with this hostage taking plan and kill the full faith and credit of the US, they will crash not only the US economy, but probably world financial markets too. They are willing to take the chance that things won't really get that bad, OK - that much a I get. I think it is crazy, but I get it. Some people are just natural born gamblers. But somehow they seem to think that if they purposely crash and burn the world economy the US electorate will blame Obama and they will get some sort of political advantage? Is that it? Are they crazy?? (I know...I know - it was rhetorical)

    Just how stupid do they think the US electorate is? After the 2010 election cycle I know it is easy to answer that question with a really big REALLY STUPID!!!!, but even that won't save them if what all the experts say will happen happens. They're the ones saying it will be good for the economy, and all their fine words are on tape. Comedy Central will put Jon Stewart on an endless loop with taped comments by these faith based jackasses saying either that there will be no default or that default will be good for the economy. They are risking all their gains from 2010 and probably a substantial loss with this madness.

    Or not

    Maybe they're right - maybe America really is that dumb.

  • Catsy on July 15, 2011 6:21 PM:

    They are risking all their gains from 2010 and probably a substantial loss with this madness.

    Yes, along with the US and world economies. It is truly staggering--one of the most irresponsible things I've ever seen done by elected politicians.

    In a sane country with a functioning media, this would be a scandal worse than Watergate by an order of magnitude.

    I don't think you could make a credible treason argument--treason, after all, has a very specific and narrowly-defined meaning.

    But terrorism? Criminal conspiracy? Absolutely.

  • H-Bob on July 15, 2011 6:35 PM:

    "What actually matters is that Americans will suffer" assuming that the sufferors will vote and will vote against the party that caused their suffering.

    People may blame Bush for the recession but they still voted for Republicans who were more extreme than Bush [Remember Cheney telling the Republican caucus that TARP was necessary - "Herbert Hoover stuff"?].

    The alleged Boehner/Cantor "split" is just "spin" to mislead the gullible mainstream media into thinking that there actually are "responsible Republicans"! When they wreck the economy, the punditocracy will selectively quote Boehner as representing the Republican thinking and therefore blame Obama.

  • ameshall on July 15, 2011 7:36 PM:

    In a just world, this piece would sound the death knell for the modern Republican party. There it is in black and white for all to see: the Republicans want to bring on another depression and shatter the lives of millions of Americans so they can gain a political advantage in the next election. They want Americans to suffer so greatly that they will punish the President and his party at the polls, leading to a Republican sweep in 2012. And then what? The Republicans would dismantle the social safety net, cut taxes for large corporations and the wealthy, and go on another reckless spending spree to build border fences, etc. The whole scenario is sick and twisted, but it's also exactly what I expect from this venal, immoral group of clowns.

  • Jimo on July 15, 2011 9:00 PM:

    No, I'm 99.999% sure it'll be called the Tea Party Depression (or perhaps Republican Depression III).

  • Doug on July 15, 2011 9:39 PM:

    Those who think the Republican/Teabaggers will, with the aid of the "liberal" media, manage to convince voters in 2012 that the "Great Depression 2.0" is all President Obama's fault are missing the most important point: the response to such an economic debacle.
    Hoover got blamed for the original Great Depression, not because he caused it, but because he made no effort to assist those who were suffering the most and actually threatend to veto measures providing for individual "relief". Now, should another depression occur, who is most likely to react as Herbert Hoover did, President Obama or the House Republicans?
    THAT'S who's going to get the "blame"...

  • Anonymous on July 16, 2011 3:37 AM:

    Square1 never disappoints! even when he is criticizing Republicans he always ends up blaming everything on President Obama and the Democrats. Here is his profound observation:

    "I have little doubt that John Boehner was blowing himself after extracting concessions from Obama that can only be described as historic and massive given that Democrats control the Senate and the White House. Concessions that would further depress the economy and help the GOP in 2012."

    I suppose we should all be grateful because Square1 knows exactly the Concessions Speaker Boahner extracted from President Obama. According to Square 1: they "can only be described as historic and massive..."

    If that is the case, Square1, how come Boehner did not sign on the doted line on Obama's "historic and massive concession?"

    I think your obsessive hatred of President Obama is blinding you to reality. I doubt that there is any way to reason with you because you've already determined that President Obama=Hoover.

    Just in case I missed my history lesson, Square1, did Hoover enact a stimulus bill worth almost 800 billions to save the country from going into a depression? Did Hoover save a major industry, like the Auto industry from liquidation and laying off millions of workers? Did your beloved hero FDR end high unemployment in just two and half years in office? Do you think we are all illiterate idiots who know nothing about history?

  • nk007 on July 16, 2011 3:44 AM:

    Square1 never disappoints! even when he is criticizing Republicans he always ends up blaming everything on President Obama and the Democrats. Here is his profound observation:

    "I have little doubt that John Boehner was blowing himself after extracting concessions from Obama that can only be described as historic and massive given that Democrats control the Senate and the White House. Concessions that would further depress the economy and help the GOP in 2012."

    I suppose we should all be grateful because Square1 knows exactly the Concessions Speaker Boahner extracted from President Obama. According to Square 1: they "can only be described as historic and massive..."

    If that is the case, Square1, how come Boehner did not sign on the doted line on Obama's "historic and massive concession?"

    I think your obsessive hatred of President Obama is blinding you to reality. I doubt that there is any way to reason with you because you've already determined that President Obama=Hoover.

    Just in case I missed my history lesson, Square1, did Hoover enact a stimulus bill worth almost 800 billions to save the country from going into a depression? Did Hoover save a major industry, like the Auto industry from liquidation and laying off millions of workers? Did your beloved hero FDR end high unemployment in just two and half years in office? Do you think we are all illiterate idiots who know nothing about history?

    sorry this was erroneously posted as anonymous

  • Rick Taylor on July 16, 2011 11:05 AM:

    And there's no telling if we really have 18 days. . .

  • Heubler on July 16, 2011 12:54 PM:

    Let's raise a flatulent toast to John King's journamalism. Red Herring's Erick Erickson gets a pass on his "debt commission" lie, twice, from CNN's sad parody.

    Why not just give Erickson King's job, and cut out the worthless middleman? Erickson and a sock puppet would give just as incisive an interview.

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