Today Tucson congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) cast her first vote since she was critically injured in a January shooting.
You'll recall that in the weeks that followed, the media bemoaned the incivility -- supposedly predominantly conservative in nature -- of the political debate which had allegedly created a climate of hate.
But there appears to to be no firestorm over how, just last week, Arizona Daily Star cartoonist David Fitzsimmons fantasized about President Obama sending a SEAL team to assassinate Tea Party-friendly House Republicans.
In a discussion with Meet the Press host David Gregory and Tom Brokaw on Monday's NBC Today about the debt ceiling deal, co-host Ann Curry contemptuously wondered: "...do you think that members of the Tea Party Caucus know how to govern or are they – do they understand that standing up for a cause is not the same as governing?" [Audio available here]
Interestingly, Brokaw rejected Curry's argument: "Well, I don't think that you can separate the two. The fact is that they were elected to pursue the goals that they took before their constituents and said, 'This is what we believe in, this is why we're going to Washington.' And they have changed the tenor of the debate there and the details of it." He further added: "...this has been a big morning for them so far..."
For the past month, as the debt talks slogged on in Washington, the so-called mainstream media unleashed increasingly hysterical attacks on the Tea Party and anti-tax hike conservatives — epitomizing the liberal elite’s supreme annoyance at the push to curb federal spending and contain the size of government.
The media’s disdainful language has ranged from the merely condescending (wondering whether the Tea Partiers in Congress actually knew how things worked, or referring to them as children), to outright hostile (likening the Tea Party to al Qaeda or other terrorist groups). Here are some of the choicer examples MRC has collected over the past 30 days:
Yet Zeleny’s analysis was chock full of the typical liberal bias slant that puffs up President Obama, slams the Tea Party as “intractable” and ignores the partisanship of liberal Senate members, particularly Harry Reid (emphasis mine):
After asking Tea Party favorite Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) to discard his talking points and be frank on the debt ceiling issue, CNN's Don Lemon repeatedly interrupted the senator, and even lectured him and threw some Democrat talking points at him. Lemon interviewed Paul on Saturday's 5 p.m. EDT edition of CNN Newsroom.
"At this point though, and can we do this – let's do this interview without talking points, okay, let's just talk to each other," Lemon curtly told the senator at the outset. But then he asked a pointed question which made Paul raise his eyebrows.
During a commentary aired on CBS Sunday Morning, supposedly right-leaning actor and economist Ben Stein blamed the "folly of supply side economics" - singling out President George W. Bush’s tax cuts in addition to President Obama’s spending - for the current federal budget deficit. The CBS contributor also complained that some Republicans have an "inflexible belief" that "low taxes were an American birthright."
He also complained that the Tea Partiers "insisted on the basically impossible, an immediate cut in federal spending, large enough to balance the budget without tax increases. In this age of Medicare and Medicaid, two wars, massive federal debt, interest payments, staggering Social Security obligations, that was simply impossible."
Throughout his tenure, there have been several facets in which President Obama has been demonstrably weak on leadership, with the debt debate coming to the forefront in recent months. Now however, lost in that news cycle has been another failure of leadership for the President – his own request to tone down violent rhetoric in this country. For it was mere months ago that Obama stood in front of a crowd in Tucson that had anxiously sought leadership amidst the chaos of the Gabrielle Giffords shooting; a teachable moment that had The Guardiangushing about how the President had delivered “calm amid the toxic rhetoric.”
That moment of calm has long since dissipated. Where once the President had denounced discourse that places “the blame for all that ails the world at the feet of those who think differently than we do”, we hear Republicans blamed for holding the American people hostage to their economic policies. Where once we were urged to talk “with each other in a way that heals, not a way that wounds”, we now hear Tea Party members being denounced as terrorists.
Make no mistake, this ratcheting up of terrorism and hostage-taking discourse directly coincides with recent events in Norway. The instant that Oslo terrorist, Anders Behring Breivik, was labeled as a ‘right-wing Christian’, liberals finally had their moment to seize upon - not just a chance to label conservatives as extreme ideologues but a chance to label them as violent ideologues. This message has been a coordinated and vicious attack amongst the media, the Democrats, and most assuredly, the President.
"When, oh, when is a Republican going to stand up" and call the liberal media on their lies about the debt ceiling debate, NewsBusters publisher Brent Bozell lamented on this morning's "Fox & Friends."
Bozell was reacting to a clip of Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) answering a misleading and biased question by CBS's Bob Schieffer (video follows page break; MP3 audio here):
During a roundtable discussion on the debt ceiling deadlock on his July 26 program, MSNBC host Dylan Ratigan, egged on by a former Durbin and Biden staffer-turned-lobbyist, argued that the bulk of the national debt was run up prior to the time President Barack Obama entered office, by Republicans:
Former Newsweek editor Howard Fineman on Monday berated Tea Partiers for engineering a "slow motion succession" in relation to the budget impasse in Congress.
Appearing with Hardball host Chris Matthews, Fineman summarized the conservative position this way: "This is an ending of the social compact. This is two, three generations worth of agreement about Social Security, about Medicare, about the role of the federal government. The Tea Party people are saying, we want to secede from that society."
Frank Schaeffer -- the embittered liberal progeny of the late evangelical Christian scholar Francis Schaeffer -- appeared on MSNBC's "Martin Bashir" program this afternoon where he availed himself the opportunity to spew forth more venom against American evangelicals, who tend to vote for conservative Republicans.
Schaeffer was ostensibly brought on to react to new polling data that show 56 percent of Americans believe it's important for presidential candidates to have strong religious beliefs, even if those beliefs don't square with the voter's personal views.
In the process of the interview, Schaeffer indirectly compared evangelical Christians to the Taliban as he slammed "faith-based politics" (emphasis mine):
Once again, Tea Party-critic John Avlon took aim at "hyper-partisanship" in Congress but focused the blame squarely on House Republicans while saving a tiny bit of blame for Democrats. In a July 25 op-ed for CNN.com, he hit Republicans for walking away from a generous deal by President Obama to settle the debt ceiling debate.
"We are learning that activists and ideologues pushing anti-tax pledges have nothing to do with the responsibility of governing," Avlon berated Tea Party members of Congress, while accusing them of opposing the bipartisan plan set forth by the "Gang of Six" simply because Obama approved of it.
While the media have been busy persistently denouncing the Cut, Cap and Balance plan as Republicans "wasting time" with a "show" plan that has "no chance of passage," the public aren't accepting the media spin.
MSNBC is looking more and more like Pinocchio every day; its nose grows longer with every lie and the DNC obviously is pulling its strings. Ronald Reagan has absolutely nothing in common with Obama, especially not on taxes and the debt ceiling. It’s outrageous for this disgraced network to exploit the late President’s good name and his conservative economic brilliance.
MSNBC is nothing more than DNC-TV. But are we really surprised? This is the same network whose dozens of viewers will soon start to salivate over the loony liberal Rev. Al Sharpton in the anchor chair.
Editor's Note: For the full Bozell press release, click here.
Although President Obama and the Democrats have stridently insisted that increased tax revenues be part of a debt ceiling deal, CNN is content to choose sides and paint only the conservative Republicans as stubborn extremists for opposing the revenue increases. Anchor Kyra Phillips asked Thursday morning if Republicans would listen to the warning of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) to the House GOP not to shut down the government over spending cuts and taxes.
The network has previously resorted to using moderate Republicans and conservatives like David Brooks to frame the Tea Party congressmen as fringe. Their latest source is McCain, who warned Republican House members that the government shutdown in 1995 helped spur President Bill Clinton's 1996 re-election. "Will they listen?" CNN said of Republicans, as if Sen. McCain was the voice of reason.
According to Chris Matthews, conservative House Republicans who are holding steadfast on resisting a debt ceiling deal that includes tax hikes are like the apocryphal bovine of doom behind the 1871 fire that destroyed much of Chicago (video follows page break):
On Thursday’s CBS Evening News, correspondent Nancy Cordes filed a report on House Majority Leader Eric Cantor as a "lightning rod" for sharp criticism from Democrats because of his role in budget negotiations with President Obama. After beginning the report with a clip of Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer asserting that Cantor "has yet to make a constructive contribution," and after recounting that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had called the Republican leader "childish," Cordes seemed to legitimize the insults as she asserted that Cantor had provided "plenty of ammunition":
On Wednesday’s The Ed Show, MSNBC analyst and Bloomberg View columnist Jonathan Alter claimed that the "massive tax cuts" of the Bush administration did not create jobs, and went on to credit former President Clinton for the low unemployment rate that existed during the Bush years. He ended up lecturing fellow panel member Judson Phillips of Tea Party Nation that Tea Party activists would support President Obama’s budget plan if polled and that they are "not as obsessed with tax cuts as you are."
Eliot Spitzer used his last day at CNN to take a shot at cable news and decry the debt ceiling debate as a "new low for American politics" – although he himself was embroiled in an ugly scandal as governor of New York only three years ago. And he made sure to include a lengthy Constitutional conversation with two of his favorite guests, liberals Fareed Zakaria and Simon Schama.
Schama, a professor of History at Columbia University, has criticized the Tea Party's reverence for the Founders' "infallibility," and snorted that they believed the Constitution to be "quasi-biblical revelation." The Columbia University professor wrote in a June 26 Newsweek piece that "True history is the enemy of reverence."
Tuesday’s notorious column from the New York Times’s “conservative” David Brooks, “The Mother of All No-Brainers,” in which he accused Tea Party sympathizers of having "no sense of moral decency," is getting fulsome praise from staunch conservatives like Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Here’s Politico:
Reid, on the floor on Tuesday, gave his approval to many of the points Brooks made in his piece.
“I repeat: a conservative columnist said this,” Reid said, according to prepared remarks. “The Republican Party has been taken over by ideologues either devoted to or terrified by Grover Norquist and his no-tax pledge.”
While the Tea Party movement has largely been viewed as a resurgence in conservative values away from big government Republican politicians, its fiscal policies are attracting a new crowd: fiscally conservative Democrats.
With remarks from both Rep. Michele Bachmann and Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele that the Tea Party embraces a number of disaffected Democrats, but arguments from Democrats that the Tea Party will never vote for anyone besides a Republican, it remains unclear what effect the more liberal faction of the Tea Party will have on the 2012 elections.
Check out analysis of the Tea Party minority group after the break, and let us know what you think in the comments.
In his coverage of this weekend's We The People Convention in Columbus, Ohio early Saturday morning, Columbus Dispatch reporter Ben Geier found it "surprising" that many attendees would "go after the Republican Party and House Speaker John Boehner" in expressing their opinions relating to developments in Washington. It's as if he's totally unaware of what the movement's leading members and its grass roots activists have been saying (and proving) since the first anti-stimulus rallies in early 2009 (and at earlier events--see this comment below), since Utah Tea Partiers unceremoniously ousted supposedly entrenched incumbent Bob Bennett in May 2010, and since Ohio Tea Partiers ran serious but largely unsuccessful opposition candidates for State Auditor, Secretary of State, and the State Republican Party's Central Committee slots that spring.
Since Rip Van Geier missed it, here's the message: The Tea Party movement isn't about propping up a party; it's about electing sensible, Constitution-following conservatives to political office regardless of party, revising state and federal laws to reflect constitutional principles, and of course educating the general populace about those principles and their importance.
Tea Party favorite Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) declared her candidacy for president Monday, and CNN provided plenty of snarky commentary with which to welcome her. The network repeatedly took aim at her past gaffes and suggested that she has little chance to win the Republican nomination for president.
In addition, CNN's Anderson Cooper led his regular news cast for two nights in a row touting the congresswoman's "hypocrisy" in championing small government while benefitting from a family farm and her husband's counseling clinic, both of which received federal funds – although Cooper himself admitted the total amount was "relatively small."
Columbia University professor Simon Schama made his Newsweek debut yesterday with a blog post that indirectly attacked Tea Party activists and conservatives for what Schama considers a historically illiterate ancestor worship of the Founding Fathers.
"The Constitution’s framers were flawed like today’s politicians, so it’s high time we stop embalming them in infallibility," snarked the subheading for Schama's June 26 post.
Yet in a June 16 page A3 story on the Wednesday release of congressional financial disclosure statements -- the very documents from which the Pelosi figure was calculated -- Washington Post reporters David Fahrenthold and Karen Yourish instead chose to focus on Republican freshmen congressmen with debt, hinting at hypocrisy for having campaigned on reining in spending in Washington (emphasis mine):
In his newest CNN.com op-ed titled "Don't Doom GOP's Chance to Win in 2012," David Frum clearly outlines the Republican Party's best chance for victory – if they don't come off as "Medicare-annihilating racist maniacs." He then goes about making the case that Republicans are doing just that.
"It is Tea Party conservatism itself that is Obama's last, best hope for a second term," Frum boldly concludes in a stinging indictment of the Tea Party.
He claims that the Republicans' refusal to raise the debt ceiling unless President Obama agrees to the Ryan budget plan is akin to the "militant wing" of the party mounting a coup and dragging the GOP to defeat in 2012.
Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R.) announced today that she will be taking a bus tour that tellingly will begin with a visit to the U.S. Constitution at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. and then head north through historical sites associated with the nation’s founding, heading in the general direction of … New Hampshire.
“Our nation is at a critical turning point,” Palin said in a posting on the website of her political action committee. “As we look to the future, we are propelled by America's past. It's imperative that we connect with our founders, our patriots, our challenges and victories to clearly see our way forward.”
The tour will begin Sunday in Washington, D.C. during the 24th “Rolling Thunder” gathering, an annual Memorial Day weekend event that brings thousands of motorcyclists, veterans and other patriots to the National Mall to draw attention to prisoners of war and those missing in action from U.S. military engagements.