At first glance it appeared Today viewers were in for a balanced segment with NBC's Meredith Vieira interviewing both Republican Senator Jim DeMint and Democratic Senator Dick Durbin about the health care bill bill on Wednesday's show. However Vieira saved her most slanted questions for DeMint as she mocked his earlier prediction of an Obamacare defeat being his Waterloo, "Is it now your party's Waterloo?" and after selectively citing one poll that showed a favorable view of the bill questioned which party was really "out of touch with the public?"
First up, in addition to Vieira throwing DeMint's previous "Waterloo" comments back in his face, she included (most likely) David Frum's criticism at DeMint:
VIEIRA: Senator DeMint, if I could start with you, back in July you said, "If we're able to stop Obama on this," meaning this health care reform bill, "it will be his Waterloo, it will break him." Well, the bill is now law and a former speech writer for former President George W. Bush has said Republicans messed up big by adopting the "Hell no!" approach to this bill. So do you still feel it is the President's Waterloo or is it now your party's Waterloo?
Immediately after taking shots from some conservative voices for his Feb. 8 remarks that heavy snowfall in the Mid-Atlantic is "reportedly" a result of global warming, MSNBC host Dylan Ratigan fired back at his detractors on his Feb. 10 program.
The once seemingly rational host of CNBC's "Fast Money" voiced his frustration with the entire global warming debate as it stood in the wake of this record-setting winter weather event. Ratigan suggested neither side should use the crippling snowfall as evidence to further their respective arguments. However he did direct the lion's share of his criticism at conservatives.
"The weather we know is frightful, but my goodness me, so is the political back-and-forth over climate change in the context of these storms that are hitting D.C. especially," Ratigan said. "Both sides trying to use hometown ‘snowpocalypse' as free advertising for their chosen position on climate change, baby. Conservatives today, using the blizzard to pull a snow job on Al Gore and his liberal brethren. From South Carolina, Sen. Jim DeMint says quote, ‘It's going to keep snowing in D.C. until Al Gore cries uncle.' That was a good one. Meanwhile, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell asks ‘Where is Al Gore now?'"
MSNBC's Contessa Brewer on Wednesday took issue with a meteorologist who wouldn't refute Sen. Jim DeMint's (R-S.C.) joke about snow continuing until Al Gore cries uncle.
After Raphael Miranda told viewers about the blizzard pummeling the East Coast, Brewer for some strange reason brought up DeMint's Twitter comment: "He's basically making this argument against global warming because they've had so much snow in Washington, D.C. Is this, does this have anything to do with global warming?"
When Miranda didn't give the answer Brewer was looking for, she amazingly responded, "You're playing it right down the middle. But I was taught that we're talking about climate change here and more severe weather."
The nerve of this meteorologist to not only play it "right down the middle," but also not give her the answer she wanted (video embedded below the fold with partial transcript, h/t Ed Morrissey):
Imagine it being as hard to fire an incompetent airport screener as it is to fire an incompetent teacher. Think that might have any implications for our safety and security? Evan Kohlmann apparently doesn't. In fact, the NBC terrorism consultant thinks opposition to unionizing the employees of the Transportation Safety Administration is "nonsense" and "ridiculous."
Kohlmann made his comments on MSNBC this afternoon in the course of condemning Sen. Jim DeMint for opposing TSA unionization. The Republican senator from South Carolina has put a hold on the nomination of Erroll Southers to head the TSA because of the nominee's apparent intent to unionize the TSA.
David Shuster teed up Kohlmann's tirade [the video bears watching to see just how contemptuous Kohlmann appeared] . . .
NBC's Matt Lauer, on Monday's Today show, used the occasion of the bombing attempt of Northwest Flight 253, to press Republican Senator Jim DeMint to stop being the last "hold-out" and "come around," on approving Obama's pick for TSA director Errol Southers. However Lauer failed to mention Obama took eight months to make his choice as well as the fact that DeMint is concerned that Southers' choice could lead to collective bargaining that would "bring the security concerns of TSA under the authority of union bosses."
The following exchange came during the 7am half-hour of the January 4 Today show:
MATT LAUER: You say we're all on the same page. You are the single hold-out, Senator, in, in approving the President's choice for the director of the TSA, Errol Southers and I'm, I'm just curious, in, in light of Flight 253 are you still gonna hold out on that nomination or are you maybe gonna come around?
On CNN's American Morning today, anchor John Roberts talked with correspondent Jim Acosta about "the politics" of terrorism. Part of the exchange:
ACOSTA: There is plenty punting going on in Washington, John. Hearings on the Detroit scare are planned for early next month, and the top Republican on that committee has already said there should have been a big red flag next to the suspect's name, and there are plenty of other issues, such as Guantanamo. Republicans are saying the president should shelve his plan to close Guantanamo at this point, John.
ROBERTS: So, shelve Guantanamo, but, at the same time, the president is trying to get some of his key appointments filled. They're being held up. And some of the key appointments that are still vacant are ones that are absolutely essential when it comes to maintaining security at our airports and on our jetliners.
ACOSTA: That's right. Those men and women at the airport wearing the blue shirts that say TSA, they don't have a full-time, permanent boss at this point. The temporary head of the TSA is a holdover from the Bush administration and, right now, the - the current appointee from the Obama administration to take the head of the TSA, a man by the name of Erroll Southers, he is still waiting to - to get his appointment confirmed. He is currently the assistant chief for the LAX Police Department, the Los Angeles International Airport out there in California, and his duties are head of Intelligence and Homeland Security. But, at this point, that nomination is on hold by Jim DeMint, the very conservative Senator from South Carolina. He's opposed to unionizing - fully unionizing the TSA, something that Southers apparently wants to do.
However, these Democrats would be doing themselves and their audiences a favor to take notice of two Fox News anchors, "Your World" host Neil Cavuto and the weekend edition of "America's News HQ" co-host, Gregg Jarrett. The two recently challenged two Republican members of Congress, Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, and Rep. Aaron Schock, R-Ill.
On the Dec. 12 broadcast of Fox News Channel's "America's News HQ," host Gregg Jarrett took on Grassley, who made an appearance to rail against federal spending, but all the while having so-called "pork project" money earmarked for his home state (emphasis added).
This is perhaps a pretty desperate way for MSNBC host Rachel Maddow to try to resonate with her liberal viewers.
On her Oct. 6 show, Maddow specifically targeted Sens. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., and Jim DeMint, R-S.C. for pursuing foreign policy objectives that run counter to President Barack Obama's on the issues of global warming and Latin America relations.
First she set her sights on Inhofe, who recently announced he would be making a trip to Copenhagen to offer an opposing U.S. perspective on the issue of global warming. Inhofe, who is the ranking Republican on the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, has been one of the most outspoken critics of efforts to force the U.S. government to enact economy-wrecking policy by putting limits on carbon emissions.
Remember "Baghdad Bob," the Iraqi Information Minister Muhammad Saeed al-Sahhaf? Even with Iraqi forces in a full rout and American Marines just blocks away Baghdad Bob would completely deny the presence of U.S. troops in the Iraqi capitol.
Watching MSNBC's "Countdown with Keith Olbermann," on September 24 was reminiscent of Baghdad's Bob's press conferences. Olbermann asked Newsweek's Jonathan Alter, also an MSNBC political analyst, how "the GOP" would convince the public that the health care system "is not really in crisis" and that it does not need to be a priority compared to Afghanistan. Turning right to page three of the current left-wing talking points, Alter used the opportunity to attack Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., for suggesting that the president is letting Afghanistan slide to curry favor for health care, by invoking George W. Bush.
"It's a pretty lame argument," Alter said. "I don't remember Jim DeMint saying when George W. Bush was proposing to reform Social Security a few years ago that somehow he was putting the troops at risk in Iraq, because he was worried about some domestic issue."
Katharine Seelye, a reporter on the Obama-care health overhaul beat for the New York Times, filed Monday from a town hall in Spartanburg, S.C., that featured conservative Republican Sen. Jim DeMint among supportive constituents who oppose Obama-care in ways Seelye finds unseemly blunt, misleading, and anti-Obama.
In "Fighting Health Care Overhaul, and Proud of It," Seelye looked askance at DeMint's "ideological purity," chided him for "stoking anger" and for not knocking down "misimpressions" about Obama-care -- even though the Times itself seems less convinced that those conservative "myths," like the outcry over "death panels," are totally without merit.
Senator Jim DeMint, the South Carolina Republican who predicted that President Obama's effort to overhaul the health care system would become his "Waterloo," is doing his best to make that happen.
Taking questions from a friendly crowd of 500 people here the other day, Mr. DeMint did little to correct their misimpressions about health care legislation but rather reinforced their worst fears.
When one man said the major House bill would give the government electronic access to bank accounts, Mr. DeMint told him the bill was never about health care. "This is about more government control," he declared. "If it was about health care, we could get it done in a couple of weeks."
The text box reinforced DeMint's conservatism: "Gaining support by promoting ideological purity."
If you've been keeping up with the health care debate, opponents of President Barack Obama's health care plan have been accused of spreading misinformation to thwart the administration's efforts. Even Obama himself said recently that those who raised the abortion concern were "bearing false witness." But the same sorts of claims have come up in the media.
"[F]ifty-four percent believe that abortion is going to be funded," Schultz to Douglass on "The Ed Show." "Fifty-four percent believe that there's going to be a government takeover. And 45 percent believe that death panels are going to be there for the elderly. I should point out, none of those are true. So, obviously, the White House is not connecting with the American people."
All of weeks ago, Ed Schultz reacted with disgust on his radio show to news that Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., told other Republicans that Obama's attempt to enact massive health reform could be the president's "Waterloo."
Here's Schultz on July 21, responding to DeMint's remark while interviewing Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore. (click here for audio) --
SCHULTZ: So, Jim DeMint basically is showing where the Republicans really are. They just want to, they want to Waterloo the president.
Yes, "Waterloo" as verb. And yes, Schultz actually talks like that.
IMPORTANT UPDATE BELOW! (Kansas City Star and Abouhalkah recognize their own ignorance, change title of post and disable old link).
Numerous reasons to oppose the ludicrous Obama health care plan aside, Yael T. Abouhalkah of the Kansas City Star has cut through to the real reason for dissent - Americans are ignorant.
While Abouhalkah will undoubtedly argue that the message was meant to apply merely to the aspect of health care knowledge, he is quite unsuccessful at holding back his overall disdain for the way American's have responded to the plan.
The title of his most recent blog post says it all. In referring to an NBC poll about the health care plan, one in which MSNBC titles Doubts About Obama's Plans, Abouhalkah titles his post - Poll: Ignorance abounds among Americans on health care plan.
The message? If you're not down with the President's plan, then you can only be classified as ignorant.
But what examples of ignorance does the author specifically cite?
After depicting the ‘Cash for Clunkers’ car buying program as a "runaway success" on Friday, on Tuesday’s Early Show, correspondent Nancy Cordes argued: "The Department of Transportation says the program has been great for the environment. 80% of the clunkers have been pickups or SUVs, traded in for new cars with an average mileage nearly 10 miles per gallon higher."
Following that declaration Cordes cited car salesman Mario Sosnowski, who praised the program: "Starting from 8:00, 9:00 in the morning, we’re here till – till midnight every day because of the program, because of the excitement."
At the top of the show, co-host Julie Chen depicted Republican opposition to increased funding for ‘Cash for Clunkers’ as a desire to "put the popular program on the scrap heap." Following Cordes’ report, co-host Maggie Rodriguez asked South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint about his objections: "We now see this morning that this program is, in fact, getting more fuel-efficient vehicles on the road. It’s getting people to spend money. So do you still believe, as you have said in recent days, that this is quote ‘a great example of the stupidity coming out of Washington’?"
NBC's Matt Lauer, on Wednesday's "Today" show hit Senator Jim DeMint over his statement that health care reform could be Barack Obama's Waterloo as the "Today" co-host accused, "People are saying that you are playing pure politics with this issue," and, as seen in the following exchange, pressed "Are you rallying conservatives to the cause of health care reform? Or are you rallying conservatives to the cause of breaking a President?"
LAUER: Let's start with the obvious. There are real differences of opinion in terms of how to achieve health care reform in this country and how to get insurance to the some 50 million people who don't have it. But over the past couple of days, I don't have to tell you, you've ignited a firestorm, and people are saying that you are playing pure politics with this issue. How do you respond?
DEMINT: Well, it has nothing to do with politics or it's certainly not personal. But, but the President's policies have not matched up to his promises so far. We saw that in this giant stimulus, his trillion dollar stimulus that has stimulated the government, but really cost American jobs and, and, and loaded lots of debt on top of future generations. [audio available here]
A night after CBS slammed as “incendiary” Senator Jim DeMint's observation that if Republicans are able to block Obama's health care push, “it will be his Waterloo, it will break him,” CBS anchor Katie Couric adopted the same assumption as she expressed worry to the President: “Are you concerned at all that if health care reform fails it will be a huge and devastating setback to your presidency?”
Couric framed her Tuesday newscast through the prism of a “threat” to Obama's quest, teasing: “Tonight, the latest threat to health care reform: Squabbling among Democrats on Capitol Hill, and the stakes could not be higher for the Democrat in the White House.”
During her session at the White House with Obama excerpted on Tuesday's CBS Evening News, Couric pressed Obama to extend his deadline (“Is there any flexibility on this August deadline?” and “You'll have some flexibility on this deadline?), but she also hit him with mildly challenging questions, such as: “Do you think any illegal immigrant should be eligible for health care under the new plan?” And, though Obama made clear his disagreement with her premise: “If the stimulus plan isn't really working -- at least for now -- why should Americans sign off on spending billions of dollars on health care reform?”
For the second weekday in a row, Katie Couric teased the CBS Evening News on Monday night by delivering President Obama's aggressive retorts to critics of his health plan as reporter Chip Reid pitched in to help, discrediting critics by disparaging their perspectives as “harsh” and “incendiary” attacks -- all before Couric caught up with ABC and NBC from the night before and promoted Ted Kennedy's “We're Almost There” Newsweek cover story.
Couric teased: “The President takes on critics of his health care reform plan. He vows to move forward and says trying to fix a system that's breaking American families.” (Friday night she touted “a warning from the President,” leading into Obama's claim: “If we don't get health care reform done now, then no one's health insurance is going to be secure.”)
Reid declared that “in some of his harshest comments yet, Republican Party Chairman Michael Steele said the President's plan for a public insurance option is socialism.” But this is all Steele said in the clip Reid played: “This reckless approach is an ill-conceived attempt to push through an experiment and all of us should be scared to death.” Reid continued: “In one of the most incendiary comments, Republican Senator Jim DeMint, in a conference call with conservative activists, recently said:” Viewers then heard audio of DeMint making a tactical political point: “If we're able to stop Obama on this, it will be his Waterloo. It will break him.”
On Capitol Hill today, the Media Research Center along with Americans for Tax Reform and the Health Care Freedom Coalition sponsored an event showcasing Sen. Jim DeMint, Rep. Tom Price and key health care experts who discussed the alternatives to and the pitfalls of President Obama's health care proposal.
Sen. DeMint explained what he would have said if he had been invited by ABC to participate in this evening's health care special:
The defection of Arlen Specter is still drawing stories bashing the Republican Party as too conservative. On Thursday night's NewsHour on PBS, correspondent Kwame Holman announced "Specter's departure from the GOP has reignited the debate over whether the Republican Party has lost ground with the public because it has become too ideologically conservative and unwilling to listen to moderates in its ranks."
The soundbite count was very slanted, with nine snippets of moderates decrying the party's tilt (counting one from the departing Specter, since it's his rationale for party-switching) to just two clips from conservative Sen. Jim DeMint.
Holman suggested the ranks of Senate moderates had shrunk to just the two females from Maine, even as they used "centrist conservative" Lindsey Graham to bolster the Specter narrative. There were four soundbites from Sen. Susan Collins, two from Sen. Graham, and two from Sen. Olympia Snowe, as Holman touted her New York Times op-ed piece:
Leave it to CNN host Rick Sanchez to unintentionally give us a moment of comedy in an afternoon cable news broadcast.
On "CNN Newsroom" on April 28, Sanchez interviewed Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., about the departure of Sen. Arlen Specter, Pa., from the Republican Party to the Democratic Party. He asked the senator from South Carolina if Specter was correct in his analysis that the conservative wing of the Republican Party was squeezing out a segment of the electorate.
"You're shrinking the electorate to an extreme - to a point where a regular Republican can't win," Sanchez said, paraphrasing Specter. "What do you make of that argument?"
Maddow explained how this provision had been in the bill for over 40 years, then played a portion of DeMint's speech on her Feb. 6 MSNBC show.
"Student's can't meet together in their dorms, if that dorm has been repaired with this federal money and have a prayer group or a Bible study," DeMint said in the clip Maddow played. "[S]omeone is so hostile to religion that they're willing to stand in the schoolhouse door like the infamous George Wallace to deny people of faith from entering any campus building renovated by this bill. This cannot stand."
During MSNBC's live coverage on Tuesday of the sudden resignation of Health and Human Services nominee Tom Daschle, reporter Andrea Mitchell suggested to Republican Senator Jim DeMint that the American public will see this as the GOP having "brought him [Daschle] down." The Democratic nominee resigned over a growing controversy which revealed that the former Senate majority leader owed $140,000 in back taxes. (He has since paid them.) Mitchell sympathetically described talking to the ex-senator: "I just got off the phone with Tom Daschle. And it was an emotional conversation. He was clearly- it sounded as though he were tearful, overwrought." [audio excerpt here]
Later, while speaking to DeMint, Mitchell bristled at the South Carolina senator's contention that Democrats were also skeptical of Daschle's nomination. The journalist chided, "Well, Senator DeMint, you can say that the Democrats were uncomfortable as well, but they were all supporting him publicly." She then lectured, "So, this does read to the public as though the Republicans went after this man, someone that the President very much wanted, and brought him down."
What motivated Politico to take a two month-old story about South Carolina GOP Senator Jim DeMint (picture at right is from that story) out of mothballs and put it out there right now?
That question inevitably occurs to a careful reader of Manu Raju's "Republicans Chew on DeMint" story that appeared at the site Tuesday. It primarily covers the goings-on at a November 18 Republican Conference meeting in Washington. There is another reference to summer votes on global AIDS and housing bills.
So why is that news now? Well, it's not hard to believe that it's because DeMint's mindset is making headway with fellow Republicans in Washington. Beat reporters, as well as turf-protecting and mostly unnamed senators and senate aides, are likely not at all happy about that.
I realize it's the other chamber of Congress, but yesterday's unanimous GOP "no" to the stimulus/"Porkulus" bill by House Republicans is a sign that the Party of Lincoln may be on the road back to its roots. By holding the line, Minority Leader John Boehner and his colleagues, at least for one day, made it clear that core beliefs mean something. Jim DeMint surely welcomed that result.
The same can't be said for Senate GOPers sniping about DeMint, as Raju reports (bolds are mine):
In the midst of economic troubles and much anticipation of a new administration about to enter the White House, the potential return of the Fairness Doctrine hasn't gotten much attention. But on the eve of President-elect Barack Obama's inauguration, Republican members of Congress haven't forgotten.
GOP Sens. Jim DeMint, S.C. and James Inhofe, Okla., along with two of their House colleagues, Reps. Mike Pence, Ind. and Greg Walden, Ore., introduced the Broadcaster Freedom Act at a press conference in the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 7.
DeMint, who is named on the Senate of version of the bill, the DeMint-Thune Senate bill, S. 34., told a group of reporters that he would fight any effort by the federal government to reinstitute the Fairness Doctrine.
The proposed automaker bailout has a big stamp on it that says "union-built," but the news media hasn't noticed.
Over the past month, accusations have been flying against several Southern senators who oppose a $14 billion bailout for the beleaguered big three automakers and support the the alternative of Chapter 11 bankruptcy. These senators, critics say, are representing the interests of foreign automakers that donate heavily to their campaigns. But what has been largely ignored is the other side of the equation - the influence of the United Auto Workers (UAW) on the members of Congress that voted for the bailout.
According to campaign finance data from the Center for Responsive Politics Web site OpenSecrets.org, when broken down by how members of Congress voted, for the 2008 election cycle the UAW gave more than eight times as much in campaign cash to members that voted for the bailout than those that voted against it -- $1.14 million to proponents versus just $136,500 that voted against it.
If the Ethics Bill just approved by Congress had passed this time last year, a media hell-bent on giving Democrats control of that governmental branch would have lambasted the legislation as an election year stunt by Republicans desperately trying to distance themselves from their own culture of corruption.
Yet, twelve months later, with Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nevada) and Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-California) at the helm, it seems a metaphysical certitude Katie, Charlie, and Brian will hail this bill's passage as a crowning achievement of Democrats that vowed to clean up Washington.
In fact, you can already see the self-congratulations in the Associated Press article written shortly after the votes were counted (emphasis added throughout):