Forget Hardball. Dodgeball's more amusing . . .
As we'll detail below, David Shuster literally laughed in the face of a senior Republican today, and earlier on MSNBC Andrea Mitchell blithely dismissed the McCain energy plan as unrealistic. But there was one point of light, you might say, during the network's afternoon coverage. When Shuster briefly held a Dem congresswoman's feet to the fire on the question of Obama's vote for the 2005 Bush energy bill, what ensued was one of the more hapless—and ergo entertaining—dodges of the political season. Shuster's guest was Allyson Schwartz, a Dem congresswoman from Pennsylvania.
DAVID SHUSTER: Congresswoman, during the event in Ohio today, Barack Obama attacked the Bush-Cheney energy policy. But didn't Barack Obama vote for the 2005 Bush-Cheney energy bill?
Schwartz's first foray was the old politician's standby: ignore the embarrassing question and give your canned spiel on something you want to discuss.
View video here.
ALLYSON SCHWARTZ: Well let's talk about what John McCain's been saying, and John McCain was in Pennsylvania just yesterday and really had very little to say about doing anything differently than the Bush administration's been doing for years.
Shuster, to his credit, persisted.
SHUSTER: Congresswoman, I'm happy to talk about that, but just a yes or no question: didn't Barack Obama vote for the 2005 Bush-Cheney energy bill?
SCHWARTZ: Well, I think, you know, we have to go back and, and check on that. I'm sure the campaign can give you the specifics on, uh, exactly what, uh, was done.
Not that the good rep didn't already know, but just for the record [from AP article]:
Obama voted for a 2005 energy bill backed by President Bush that included billions in subsidies for oil and natural gas production, a measure for which Vice President Dick Cheney played a major role. McCain opposed the bill, saying at the time that it included billions in unnecessary tax breaks for the oil industry.
BONUS COVERAGE: Shuster Laughs in Donatelli's Face; Mitchell Mocks McCain Energy Plan
Before Schwartz played dodgeball, Shuster played truer to form, literally laughing in a Republican's face. As the redoubtable Frank Donatelli, Deputy RNC Chairman, explained how McCain would stand up to the oil companies as he's promised to do in an ad, Shuster can be heard off camera letting go with a mocking laugh.
View video here.
Andrea Mitchell stopped short of laughing at a McCain advisor, but Mitchell found a mirthless manner of expressing cynicism over McCain's energy proposals. Prof. John Taylor of Stanford and the Hoover Institution, a McCain economics advisor, was her guest during MSNBC's 1 PM hour. After Prof. Taylor noted how proposals to drill offshore have already brought crude prices down significantly, Mitchell went on the attack.
ANDREA MITCHELL: He talked about more than, having more than 40 nuclear power plants. That's not realistic given how many decades it's been since we've licensed a nuclear plant. Why suggest the nuclear option as a real answer to near-term energy needs?
JOHN TAYLOR: It's a big part of the answer, but it's not the whole thing. He's stressed this is an all the above policy. Nuclear power is important. We can do this. We can focus on it and it's a crisis and requires pulling out all the stops and that's what he's proposing to do.
MITCHELL: Is he promising more that can be delivered? What is being proposed is way beyond what is realistic.
Is it Mitchell's role as a journalist to declare that a candidate's plan is unrealistic? Is Andrea a closet nuclear-energy expert? Mitchell seemed to base her conclusion on past policies, but isn't it a candidate's job to describe what new policies he proposes? Isn't this election about, you'll excuse the expression . . . change?