Advantage Rick Santelli -- and Larry Kudlow.
CNBC reporter Santelli's Thursday morning "Shout Heard Round the World" (CNBC's term) objecting to the Obama administration's mortgage modification program on the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange quickly went viral, and struck two nerves. First, it ignited a groundswell of support from the over 90% of the of the nation that pays its bills and plays by the (normal) rules. The other nerve it struck was at the White House, whose spokesman Robert Gibbs struck back with a level of poorly concealed fury and contempt that I don't think I've seen publicly displayed by any other administration in my lifetime.
Larry Kudlow had Santelli as a guest on CNBC's Kudlow Report Friday night (CNBC video here; YouTube here [HT Scott's Slant]). As one would fully expect by this time, Santelli made a few huge, emotionally-charged points of his own. The gratifying stunner is Kudlow's passion in the final third of the interview, where he sounded the alarm over freedom of the press, basic respect, and bullying.
Looking around the web, at least at this point, this interview has gained relatively little exposure, leaving the distinct and incorrect impression that Gibbs has the rhetorical upper hand.
No way. The CNBC pair of Santelli and Kudlow has the White House on its heels. Common-sense, passionate, principled assertions rooted in truth will tend to do that. Here's the full transcript (bolds are mine):
Kudlow: With us now to discuss this blistering attack is our Rick Santelli.
Hang on, Rick, for one second. Mr. Gibbs had some more to say. I want you to listen to this, and then we're going to get your comments.
Gibbs (from earlier in the day): This is a copy of the President's home affordability plan (check out the background chuckle, as someone apparently think Gibbs is about to put Santelli in his place. In your dreams. -- Ed.). It's available on the White House web site, and I would encourage him (to) download it. Hit print, and begin to read it.
Kudlow: All right, "Download it, hit print, and begin to read it." Rick, this is one of the worst attacks I've ever seen on the media from the president or the White House or the press secretary. It reminds me of Papa Bush attacking Dan Rather. It reminds me of Richard Nixon's blistering attacks on members of the press he didn't like. I don't like this one bit. First up, my friend, have you read the mortgage documents, the mortgage plan documents, because they're saying you didn't.
Santelli: Of course I did, Larry. I though it was a one-page thing he (Gibbs) held up. (Looks that way to me -- Ed.).
(Santelli holds up what is apparently the full plan.)
We all heard the President when he did this live on CNBC. Of course we saw it. And you know what, if you listen to my rant, Larry, did I talk to any points in here that were unjust?
Let's just look at a few of these. Y'know, Mr. Gibbs, I will tell you this, the one point Larry and I don't like right from the beginning is loan modifications through bankruptcy judges. Now, you really want to get particular? They said I don't know what I'm talking about, and I think the notion is that we aren't really paying for other people's mortgages. Where does he think these thousand dollars are coming from to pay the services? Why should we pay those banks? They should be taking care of it themselves.
You know, this money is coming from somewhere. And if they're going to lower the interest rates on some, they should lower it for everybody, or they should give everybody a check. You know what Larry? The 92% of the Americans that are paying their loan on time, do you think there's no pain there? These people are probably cutting back, their 401(k)s are down. It's tough. Just because they're making their payment and they're current, doesn't mean they're not cutting back as well.
We need to be American about this. A card laid is a card played. Do we want to inundate our kids with that? But more than that, do we want to teach our children that you can get out of a mistake and that there are do-overs? I just don't think that's American, and I read it, and guess what? (tears up papers and throws them in the air) I still don't like it!
Kudlow: Rick Santelli, there is a populist revolt against this mortgage plan, precisely for the reasons that you have articulated this evening, and of course yesterday. You see it everywhere. You see it in the media everywhere.
Santelli: You know, I've ranted for years. Anybody who's seen CNBC knows I'm impassioned about anything. You'll ever see anybody get more excited about CPI than Rick Santelli. Why is this rant over the last 14 years such a big deal or different than the others? Because we hit a nerve. And the reason he (Gibbs) had the nice smile on his face and he was so kind to me, is because he is protesting too much. He sees the pluralist come back. He sees the web sites, he sees the hits, and maybe they didn't expect it, and I'm not saying I'm right. But at the end of the day, call me any names that you want, but the fact of the matter is, everybody is talking about it, studying it, and looking at it more. And in my opinion, if I helped do that even one-tenth of 1%, I'm happy, and I can take it. And if we're going to be on the Today Show together, I'll drink decaf, but I have a feeling that you ought to drink caffeinated.
Kudlow: Well, I'll just tell you this, of course I agree with virtually everything you said. I've made the same points. But Rick, I want to go into this. This is an unprecedented White House assault on a member of the press, a member of the media in good standing.
Santelli: Free speech as well.
Kudlow: You've been doing this stuff for years. And as I said earlier, I can't recall anything like this. In some respects, this is worse than the Nixon attacks on Dan Rather, or I remember the Papa Bush's attacks on CBS's Dan Rather. Now there's an issue here, there's a freedom of the press issue. There's also a respect issue. There's also a bullying issue, Rick Santelli. I wanna know, do you want to take Gibbs up on having a cup of coffee? Do you feel that the White House has the right to start bullying members? It could be you today, it could be me tomorrow, it could be somebody on Fox News, it could be NBC News. It could be anybody. Does this mean this is how this White House and the Obama Presidency is going react to criticism from the media? Is this, is this a signal of things to come with the worst press relations we've seen in our lifetime?
Santelli: Well I certainly hope not. And if he's inviting me to Washington, I certainly out of respect for the presidential administration, whom I want to succeed as badly as any of the other 300 million Americans, not only will I show up, but my favorite movie is "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington," and Rick is going to be on his way.
Kudlow: All right, terrific stuff. Rick Santelli, have a great weekend. You've earned it.
Santelli: Thanks, buddy.
A few follow-up thoughts:
- Kudlow must have missed the 1990s, when the Clinton Adminstration sicced IRS auditors on political opponents, including Joe Farah's Western Journalism Center.
- Bush 41 and Nixon went after Rather themselves, rather than leaving it to a surrogate to do their dirty work.
- Kudlow has it very wrong about Bush 41 and Dan Rather. Bush 41's 1988 takedown of Rather was in response to pre-planned bullying ambush from an incredibly boorish Rather, as this retrospective look last year by Rich Noyes at NewsBusters clearly shows (interview transcript is here).
In the brief item that accompanies the video at the CNBC link, Santelli says that "This is an issue of discourse on a topic that affects the foundation and principles that make our country great..... free speech, contract law, freedom of the press, and most of all the legacy we leave our children and grandchildren." This morning, RedState notes yet another example ("Democrats to Railroad Through Another Super Secret Massive Spending Bill") of the White House's and congressional leadership's plans to ram through major legislation at light speed without giving lawmakers a chance to even read it, let alone have "discourse" about it.
With all due respect to Rick Santelli, it's reasonable to believe that "discourse" is the last thing they want.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.