CNN's Cafferty: 'Hardliners' in GOP Mistaken to Label Democrats 'Socialists'

Jack Cafferty, CNN Commentator | NewsBusters.orgCNN’s resident curmudgeon Jack Cafferty blamed Republican losses in the 2008 election, in part, on their use of the “socialist” label against Democrats during his regular commentary on Friday’s Situation Room. After reporting on a “conservative faction of the Republican National Committee” wanting to use this label against their opponents, and how they petitioned RNC Chairman Michael Steele to consider a resolution about it, he continued by labeling this faction “hardliners.”

Before reading some of the viewer responses to his commentary, he returned to gushing over Michelle Obama, suggesting that she might be president in the future. Cafferty also told one apparently conservative respondent who used the fascist and communist labels to “lighten up.”

The commentator made his regular “Cafferty File” commentary seven minutes into the 5 pm Eastern hour of the CNN program. He began immediately with his swipe at Republicans: “Wolf, it seems like some Republicans still have not figured out that they lost big-time last November, in part, because the American people are sick and tired of their style of politics. Exhibit A: a conservative faction of the Republican National Committee wants the party to brand Democrats as socialists.”

After quoting from a RNC member’s accusation against President Obama, Cafferty complimented RNC Chairman Michael Steele’s apparent response to it, and used the “hardliner” label against the conservative Republicans: “A RNC spokesman wouldn’t say what Steele thinks about all of this, but...a memo...earlier this month suggests that while he agrees with hardliners who say the president is leading the country toward socialism, he’s probably not going to make it official party policy -- good thinking on his part.” He also recounted how some Republicans “threw around the ‘socialist’ label during last year’s campaign...and more recently, Congressman Spencer Bachus of Alabama claimed that there are 17 socialists in Congress. None of this seems like a real good way for the Republican Party to attract voters. I guess we’ll find out.”

He asked his “Question of the Hour” as if it were rhetorical: “The question is this: is it a mistake for some Republicans to try to brand Democrats as ‘socialists’? Go to CNN.com/CaffertyFile, post a comment on my blog. Here’s a hint:  yes.”

Before he came back and read some of his viewer responses near the end of the hour, Cafferty responded to preceding report about Michelle Obama’s multiple visits to federal agencies, all the while gushing over the first lady: “...She is just so gracious and so appealing. Who knows -- maybe she’ll be president one day.” As you might expect, all but two of the responses that he read agreed with his viewpoint. He told one of the two who disagreed with him to “lighten up.”
CAFFERTY: Linda writes from Kentucky, ‘This is precisely why I have no faith at all in the Republican Party. They keep trying to appeal to their knuckle-dragging base. I notice Meghan McCain [coughs] -- pardon me, making the rounds, trying to yank the party back to some semblance of reason. More power to her.’

Bruce from St. Paul writes, ‘There are multiple problems with this strategy. First, people do not associate socialism with any particularly evil regime. Many don’t even know what it means. Others think we could use a little socialism around here. Secondly, they’re using it as a defense against healthcare reform and a more fair tax system, without offering any intelligent alternatives.’

Reed in Washington says, ‘Politically, the approach will not pay off for the Republicans. It can only serve to rally a portion of the base that doesn’t require it, while alienating moderate Republicans such as myself.’

Kerry says, ‘It is much, much worse than the perceived socialism. My guess is they are now headed (thanks to Obama) on a road to fascism and/or communism!’ Oh Kerry, lighten up.

Charles in Oregon: ‘Jack, the Republicans are using the labels socialist, fascist, etc., to raise fear in the hearts of Americans. To them, it’s like cooking spaghetti: if it sticks, then it’s done and ready to be used to fool the people of the U.S. Unfortunately, they’re showing how trivial they are because they have no new ideas of their own.’

Scott writes, ‘The Republicans are wrong; there are way more than 17 socialists in Congress.’

And Kim in Nebraska says, ‘Probably, but give ‘em enough rope and they will hang themselves. I believe they almost have enough already.’
Cafferty briefly returned to fawning over Mrs. Obama at the end of the segment, asking anchor Wolf Blitzer, “You’d vote for Michelle Obama if she ran for president, wouldn’t you Wolf?” This is from the man who confessed his crush on the first lady in March. It’s not surprising that the commentator proposed this question, since CNN itself conducted an online poll at the beginning of April asking if Mrs. Obama should run for president in 2020.
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center