Imagine that FDR, in his first inaugural, instead of rallying Americans with the notion that "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself," had stoked the nation's unease by harping on how bad the Depression was. If Mike Allen had been around in 1933, perhaps he would have defended FDR by writing "there was plenty of unease before the speech, so it's hard to blame the President."
For that is the same approach that the Politico's Allen took in his Playbook this morning in defending President Obama's divisive remarks of yesterday on Trayvon Martin and the Zimmerman trial. Wrote Allen [emphasis added]: "Many conservatives are complaining that the remarks will stoke division and dissension. But there was plenty of that before, so it's hard to blame POTUS." Some might accuse Allen of the soft bigotry of low expectations. More after the jump.
Warren Kozak, the author of "LeMay: The Life and Wars of General Curtis LeMay," wrote a memorable piece in "The Wall Street Journal" on June 6, 2012 that cries out for comment. On the 68th anniversary of the Allies' invasion of Europe over the bloody beaches of Normandy, he reminds us of an unthinkable act by President Franklin Roosevelt on that day. At least it is an unthinkable act today. The president did not call a press conference to notify Americans huddled before their radios of what our military was doing. They already knew from news reports, though they might have learned even more from their president. Nor did President Roosevelt boast of how he had marshaled our troops and given the order to action, as the present occupier of his office is prone to do.
Instead, Roosevelt offered a prayer, a prayer of unthinkable dimensions nowadays. I suspect if I were of voting age in 1944, I would have been a Republican. Yet, as President Roosevelt spoke, he would have spoken for me. Transported back to the battle of Normandy, I would have taken heart in his words. Would a Barack Obama, similarly transported back across the decades, have taken heart? Or would he and millions of other miraculously transported Americans from the present have squirmed? Would they have filed lawsuits through the American Civil Liberties Union? Is this not another of those church and state conundrums that we conjure up today?
CNN's new host Eliot Spitzer slammed the Tea Party movement on Tuesday's Parker-Spitzer: "I think that that piece of the Republican Party is vapid. It has no ideas....They're going to destroy our country." Spitzer also accused Tea Party members of forwarding a "Herbert Hoover vision of government...saying, we want to take away the very pieces of government that created the middle class."
The former New York governor of "Client Number Nine" infamy launched his attack on the nascent political movement minutes into the 8 pm Eastern, as he and his co-host, Kathleen Parker, discussed Delaware Republican Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell's new ad. After listing what he thought was positive about O'Donnell and her ad, Spitzer gave his "vapid" remark about the Tea Party and made his first mention of former President Hoover:
Unemployment shot up in 2009 from 7.7 percent in January to 10.1 percent in October before settling at 10 percent in December. Behind those percentages were more than 4.1 million people who lost their jobs during the year. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, that's the most job losses in a year since 1940. (BLS could only provide data from 1940-2009)
But don't expect journalists to label President Barack Obama the worst jobs president since Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1933-1945). The media spent 2009 trying to shield Obama from the troubling numbers.
CNN correspondent Jim Acosta hyped the forthcoming inaugural address of President-elect Barack Obama during a report on Tuesday’s American Morning: “...Barack Obama’s inaugural address may be more than the speech of his lifetime. Historians and speechwriters say it could be one for the ages, if he can rise to the occasion.” He reenforced this sentiment with clips from a former Clinton-Gore speechwriter who predicted that it’s “a pretty good certainty that you’ll have schoolchildren reading this speech hundreds of years from now” and a professor who claimed that “it’s almost impossible for Obama to fail.”
Co-host John Roberts introduced Acosta’s report, which started 25 minutes into the 6 am Eastern hour of the CNN program, by focusing on the “great anticipation about the inaugural address” and how many “expect it to stand with some of the greatest ever presidential inaugural speeches.” Acosta began with his “speech of his lifetime...one for the ages” line,” and played a clip from Obama’s 2004 speech at the Democratic convention. He echoed Roberts’s earlier lines by stating how “the stage is being set for an address that’s destined for the history books.”
Far be it from me to sow discord in MSNBC ranks, to stir up old animosities between colleagues there. But if Joe Scarborough is going to do a mocking imitation of Keith Olbermann in full Special Comment rant, well then, blogging ethics compel me to report it.
The jumping-off point on Morning Joe today was Eugene Robinson's current WaPo column. After claiming that he didn't want to kick the president on his way out the door, Robinson proceeded to do just that. The columnist described a variety of measures adopted by the president in prosecution of the war against terror as "departures from American values and traditions." Robinson recommended an investigation if not a criminal prosecution. That led Pat Buchanan and Scarborough to cite, chapter and verse, the ways in which Bush's supposed abrogation of "American values and traditions" were small potatoes compared to the actions of predecessors including Lincoln, Wilson and FDR.
Without mentioning the Countdown host by name, Scarborough closed with an unmistakable impression of Keith Olbermann in pompous Special Comment peroration of the sort that can be seen here.
Paul Krugman has been making the rounds of the network morning shows, urging the government to "go big" in spending to revive the economy. His only concern is that Obama might not be planning to spend enough. Heck, even FDR wasn't a big enough spender in his book. View Krugman's weekend GMA appearance in which he says that here, the episode in which, as discussed here, Krugman of all people had to talk Kate Snow down from her fantasy of Obama "forcing" the Bush administration to adopt his policies.
None of the network shows had anyone on to debate Krugman. But the Early Show did invite Jim Rogers in today to give very much the other side. The legendary investor's take: let the banks fail. The massive bailout underway will put our country in hock for decades. Almost 20 years later, Japan has still been unable to get out of the hole it dug when it, like the US now, decided certain institutions were too big to fail.
[Update, 8:55 pm EST: Below link added for the video of the segment.]
Newsweek’s Evan Thomas and Jon Meacham shared a bizarre Obama love-fest session with Charlie Rose on the PBS host’s program on Wednesday. Meacham stated that he was "very struck watching the stagecraft" of Obama and pointed out how Obama gave his victory speech by himself: "...[H]ave you ever seen a victory speech where there was no one else on stage? No adoring wife, no cute kid -- he is the message." Thomas went one step further in this vein: "There is a slightly creepy cult of personality about all of this." Rose confronted him on his use of this phrase, and he explained that it made him "a little uneasy that he's so singular. He's clearly managing his own spectacle. He knows how to do it. He's a -- I think, a deeply manipulative guy..." Later, all three marveled about how it was "amazing" that Obama "watches us watching him."
Thomas and Meacham appeared during the second segment of Rose’s program on Wednesday night. The host first asked Thomas about how Obama seemed to be "always in charge of this campaign." After giving an anecdote about a meeting in which Obama discussed his vice presidential pick with his advisers, Thomas commented that Obama is very inclusive, yet very self-contained. It's an unusual leadership style."
Today brings a mixed bag for aficionados of the New York Times. The good news, assuming you enjoy reading the musings of Maureen Dowd, Thomas Friedman, David Brooks et al., is that the Times' house columnists have been freed from behind the paid-subscription firewall of "Times Select."
On the other hand, Paul Krugman has decided that his column isn't enough to contain his wisdom, and that he will henceforth be inflicting his blog on us. He entitles it "The Conscience of a Liberal," which as he notes is also the title of his recent book.
Give Krugman credit for giving us fair warning. He does let us know that "the politics and economics of inequality will, I expect, be central to many of the blog posts." And sure enough, central to today's blog is the chart pictured here, which depicts the percentage of the country's total income earned by the top 10%.