Political Animal


August 08, 2011 11:05 AM Those who ‘welcomed’ a downgrade

By Steve Benen

Two weeks ago, Neil Cavuto and John Stossel had an exchange on Fox Business Channel that was startling at the time, but seems even more relevant now.

For those who can’t watch clips from your work computers, Cavuto, Fox News’ vice president of business news, told viewers, “I would welcome a downgrade. I really would. I think it would be the pain from which we have a gain.”

Stossel added, “Maybe that would wake people up.”

They didn’t really elaborate why they would “welcome” the “pain,” or what Americans were supposed to realize after having been awoken.

The point, though, is that conservative rhetoric only makes sense today if you ignore the conservative rhetoric from July. Throughout the Republicans’ debt-ceiling hostage strategy, a wide variety of prominent voices on the right downplayed the threat, not only of default, but also of a downgrade. It was pure madness, even at the time, but that was their line and they stuck to it. Don’t worry about the consequences of the hostage plan, conservatives said, just focus on the ransom.

And yet, notice what happened after the downgrade actually occurred — suddenly the consequences the right “welcomed” are necessarily President Obama’s fault, reality notwithstanding.

Indeed, two weeks ago, Fox viewers were told a downgrade might be a good thing. This morning, Fox viewers were told repeatedly that the downgrade the GOP caused is a tragedy that must be blamed on the White House.

There’s a good reason Fox viewers seem so confused so often.

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.


Post a comment
  • MikeBoyScout on August 08, 2011 11:09 AM:

    Nothing says wake-up to a senior citizen like losing 11% of your savings while the people who spook the markets threaten your Social Security.

  • Perspecticus on August 08, 2011 11:13 AM:

    On a related note, during a brief piece on the economy at the top of the hour news break on NPR, one fellow (didn't catch the name) reported that, after reading S&P's reasons for the downgrade, "there was nothing in it that surprised anyone." He went on to note that the principle reasons were a) the debt is too large, and b) because of the gridlock in D.C..

    We're talking about NPR here and even they cannot (will not) escape the cold hard clutches of the gigantic scaly monster called "Bothsideus Rex". What hope do listeners of other news sources have?

  • stormskies on August 08, 2011 11:20 AM:

    That hope other listener's have is to be found in media outside of the United States. There is a website called livestation.com ....... http://www.livestation.com .. that broadcasts new from other media like al jazeera .. bbc, etc ... you can find actual reality there.

  • T2 on August 08, 2011 11:30 AM:

    It would be great if the president would go on TV and say the following:

    "Every economic expert told the Republicans that messing with the Debt Ceiling would be a disaster, the President told them that also. But they did it, the Tea Party wing of the GOP forced it, and now we have a huge mess economically. They are to blame, solely. When you watch your investments go away today, you can blame the Republican/Tea Party"

    However, I don't think he'll say that, do you?

  • sick-n-effn-tired. on August 08, 2011 11:34 AM:

    "They didn’t really elaborate why they would “welcome” the “pain,” or what Americans were supposed to realize after having been awoken."

    They have told us repeatedly that their mission is to make Obama a one term president. If this helps and the economy tanks as a result ....as Boehner would "say so be it".

  • SaintZak on August 08, 2011 11:38 AM:

    Cokie Robers was on NPR this morning pontificating about the downgrade. She mentioned Democrats and added, "...well of course they see conspiracies hiding everywhere..."

  • SYSPROG on August 08, 2011 11:38 AM:

    “Maybe that would wake people up.”

    Wake WHO up? WE (those pesky American People they keep touting) ARE awake! It's the politicians that asks for polls, ignore them, run to the microphones and the pundits shake their heads that are NOT awake. Honest to GOD I am sick of the 'victim' era. Paul Ryan was on yesterday pursing his lips and saying 'SEE? I told you my plan wasn't bad...' WTF? YOUR plan would add 10 trillion dollars to the deficit. THIS IS WHY S&P downgraded us. I hate these clueless bastards.

  • blondie on August 08, 2011 11:40 AM:

    Do you think there are any ambulance-chasing lawyers out there that would be willing to sue Fox on behalf of its viewers for the whiplash it's causing...?

  • Sam Simple on August 08, 2011 11:41 AM:

    Excellent work, Steve. This is the sort of self-contradictory nonsense that the conservatards are always spewing that needs to get called out and held up to the American people to show the hypocrisy and downright treasonous behavior of these right-wing vermin.

  • Tom on August 08, 2011 11:44 AM:

    This actually makes sense when you understand the thoughtless hatred that Fox conservatives hold toward presidente Obama and his liberal supporters. These folks care more about having another shovel with which to beat Obama into a bloody pulp than that cared about any damage that might be done to the American economy. That's why they welcomed the downgrade.

  • rrk1 on August 08, 2011 11:48 AM:

    Obama is complicit in this disaster because he allowed it to happen in the first place. Instead of insisting on a debit ceiling rise when the Dems controlled Congress, he gave in to the Rethugs. Like he gave into them this time, and will again next time, and the time after that. There were plenty of tools and weapons Obama could have used to bring the Rethugs to heel. He doesn't want to use them. Why not? Does he really stand for nothing except bipartisanship no matter how much damage it does to the country? Is he really a Republican? Yes, he is. And not even a Rockefeller Republican at that.

    Obama's carefully calibrated crumbs to the left, and his stoic response to the racial slurs thrown at him from the unhinged right have protected him from criticism, at least to some extent, from his supposed base. But just who is Obama's base these days? Unless you are an unreconstructed apologist for Obama's repeated surrenders, you can't ignore the damage he's done. The white, well educated, shrinking middle-class clearly sees what's happening. Can African Americans really claim him as their own and still call themselves liberals, progressives, or even Democrats? The undereducated, low information voter if they were with him in 2008, abandoned him in 2010, and aren't going to be there in 2012. I guess he figures the blacks and independents will carry him, and the rest of us have no place to go. He evidently doesn't care whether the left votes for him or not. He's told us repeatedly we don't matter.

    Obama needs to be a one-term president except there's no one on the left who will challenge him. Woe unto us.

  • Trollop on August 08, 2011 11:50 AM:

    NPR just hopped on the infotainment paradigm. They are as useless as Fox or John Stossel. Oh, what I wouldn't give to see one psychotic "liberal" put some real fear into these fucks.. Hell, I'd settle for a Democrat with a spine, what am I saying?

    Crapture: ingimis shengjing (and his orchestra)

  • stormskies on August 08, 2011 11:51 AM:

    And let's remember that someone did in fact try to sue Fox News because of it's deliberate lying ... that case made it all the way to the U.S. "Supreme" = Corporate/Repiglican Court which then 'ruled' that they could go ahead and lie all they wanted too, could not be held accountable for those lies, under the justification of 'free speech'.

  • jim filyaw on August 08, 2011 12:01 PM:

    why does this surprise?

    cavuto and stossel are lucky enough to be insulated against the 'pain' they wish for. typical. just like the phoney bravery of this generation of republicans. not for a damn minute will they put themselves in peril, but they're great at bumper stickers, lapel pins, and 'freedom fries.'

    the only surprising thing is how many americans continue to swallow their b.s.

  • foghorn on August 08, 2011 12:04 PM:

    Cokie: She mentioned Democrats and added, "...well of course they see conspiracies hiding everywhere..." posted by SaintZak

    I took the bullet and listened to Sean Hannity everyday driving home last week. And everyday he said he was sure there would be a downgrade. I believe him. He knew.

  • sapient on August 08, 2011 12:05 PM:

    We need to figure out what to do. Lamentations aren't enough, and the election is too far away, and too uncertain.

  • Kwaayesnama on August 08, 2011 12:09 PM:

    "Our goal is to inflict pain. It is not good enough to win; it has to be a painful and devastating defeat. We're sending a message here. It is like when the king would take his opponent's head and spike it on a pole for everyone to see." Grover Norquist, from the National Review, quoted in The Republican Noise Machine
    Are we feeling the pain yet?

  • kwaayesnama on August 08, 2011 12:11 PM:

    I’m a republican until Wednesday that is the earliest I can get to my registrar of voters. I will be registering as a democrat. The reason is this compassionate conservative no longer wants to be associated with the TEA PARTY/GOP. Did we have these insane problems before the Koch brothers funded the Tea Party? So when your credit card interest or interest on a major purchase goes up just say thank you GOP/TEA PARTY.
    Why democrat? Because I will exert the same energy and money that I did all those years to help GOP candidates get elected to remove them from office.

  • sapient on August 08, 2011 12:37 PM:

    Thank you kwaayesnama! I hope you inspire many, many more to do what you have done.

  • SYSPROG on August 08, 2011 12:42 PM:

    hey kwaayesnama? THANKS! I'm there with you. Go read the obit on Mark Hatfield today and see just how far the GOP has shifted to the right...he was one of the last good ones.

  • sparky on August 08, 2011 12:42 PM:

    Who could possibly want the current economic crash that the downgrade has wrought? The value of equities has shrunk by a few trillion dollars over the past few days and is probably going to shrink more. Small investors and people living off IRAs are losing their asses. Not a good thing...unless. Unles you're one of those individuals or corporations that have sucked a few trillion dollars out of the US economy via the Bush tax cuts and have been sitting on them. Just let the stock markets crash and then step in with all that cash and pick up the bargains. Corporations can buy back stock at bargain basement prices and individuals can strengthen their stranglhold on the economy. There'll be bargains in the equities markets if you have the ready cash. That's who wins in this mess. Once again the rich will get richer and the poor will see their supply of crumbs shrink a little more. It's a great system and they'll be able to do it over and over agin.

  • PTate in MN on August 08, 2011 1:45 PM:

    rrk1: "But just who is Obama's base these days?

    Well...me, I'm still part of Obama's base, and I'm very liberal. I have been disappointed and critical that he hasn't been more of a bold George Bush of the left, but I'm starting to notice that every deal he has struck has turned out to be better for the liberals than we feared--not perfect from my pov, but not totally bad. And he has had extraordinary success getting the US back on track (you saw the Kevin Drum list.)

    What I am coming to realize is that Obama has been patiently, cautiously, exposing the right-wing disease that has been ailing the US body politic--that feverish mix of racism, crazy Christian fundamentalism, economic delusion, and pure mean-spirited nastiness fed by Fox and its filthy rich corporate sponsors. When sane people (moderates, independents, even Republicans) see the modern Republican party up close, they are disgusted. They turn away. Think Gandhi. Think non-violent resistance. Think transforming a population trained to political conflict, one voter at a time. All we need is 51% of voters in every district in the country, and as long as the base remembers that the modern Republicans are the problem, not the solution, we can get there. Then we will be able to achieve lasting change.

  • Doug on August 08, 2011 9:57 PM:

    re: PTate in MN @ 1:45 PM

    I agree with your post 100%!
    I'm starting to think what you wrote in your second paragraph is candidate Obama meant by "Hope and Change"; it's just that too many of us "misheard" him and expected HIM to do everything. And by yesterday, too.
    After all, as a democracy, aren't WE just as responsible as those we elect?

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