During his 19-year tenure as host of the Hardball cable TV political talk show, Chris Matthews has made several mistakes, but the one he will probably be remembered for most was his 2008 off-the-cuff remark that “I felt this thrill going up my leg” while listening to a speech given by then-presidential candidate Barack Obama.
Even though he has been razzed about it many times over the years, when the situation calls for it, Matthews isn't above repeating that statement, as he did on Wednesday's edition of his weeknight program. “At least I got my thrill up my leg from Obama,” he told former John McCain campaign manager Steve Schmidt. “You got it from Sarah Palin.”
On Tuesday's PoliticsNation on MSNBC, Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank joined host Al Sharpton in lambasting Republican Senators Mitch McConnell and Tom Coburn for attending a fund-raiser in New York City the day before the first anniversary of Hurricane Sandy. Sharpton griped:
Although there are stories at Fox News and the Daily Caller, there appears to be almost no interest on the part of the establishment press in covering the Treasury Department's failure to report over 99% of its conference costs when Oklahoma Republican Senator Tom Coburn asked for an itemized listing a year ago.
The Politico, the repository for stories which cause Democrats and the left discomfort that the rest of the press would prefer to ignore ("Oh, the Politico did something with it, so we don't have to"), buried the item in a "Morning Tax" report Thursday. Writer Lauren French held off as long as she possibly could presenting how the $50 million in omitted IRS costs dwarfed the measly $500,000 which was reported (paragraph breaks added by me; bolds are mine throughout this post):
On Wednesday's CBS This Morning, open Obama supporter Gayle King strongly hinted to Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn that he would face voter backlash for seeking cuts in the federal budget to pay for tornado disaster relief: "You voted against relief plans for Hurricane Sandy, and it sounds that you would do the same if it was raised in Oklahoma. Do you worry about alienating your constituents?"
The Republican politician shot back that he didn't want the next generation to foot the bill for the recovery from the EF-5 tornado that devastated Moore, Oklahoma on Monday, and then strongly criticized the multi-billion dollar Hurricane Sandy relief package audio available here; video below the jump]:
Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) wants any federal disaster relief sent to his tornado-ravaged state to be offset by other spending cuts, but CNN's Carol Costello thinks his stand to be either "extreme" or very untimely.
"This is either extreme fiscal responsibility or a raging case of 'this is not the time,'" Costello mocked on Facebook and Twitter. The Senator is sticking to his fiscal principles, since he has in the past demanded the same be done with federal aid to other states, but the liberal CNN anchor decided to inject her own bias into the story.
National Public Radio’s brand is soothing and civil news and interviews. That certainly didn’t fit when Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy was interviewed Thursday on All Things Considered after the gun-control measures were rejected in the Senate.
Anchor Melissa Block read back to Malloy his comments that gun makers don’t care if mentally deranged people buy their guns. He not only doubled down on that, calling the NRA a “monster,” but when asked what it will take to pass gun control, he suggested Sen. Chuck Grassley might need a mass-shooting in Iowa, or one in Alabama or Mississippi. Civility went out the window on the evening commute.
On Sunday's 60 Minutes, CBS's Steve Kroft tried to paper over Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's role in fostering deadlock in the Senate. Kroft spotlighted Reid's "responsibility" for setting the body's agenda, but quickly added that the Nevada senator has "just as much of a responsibility as Senator McConnell - to make the system work and to do some things."
The correspondent also turned to Steven Smith, who hinted that the Republican minority in the Senate was to blame for the "deadlock" in Congress, despite Reid's Democratic majority not passing a budget in over 3 years: "If you're in the minority...you know that if you can slow down everything, the majority will have less time to get to its entire agenda....when the minority blocks a piece of legislation, who does the public blame? Is it the minority for its obstructionism, or is it the majority that just wasn't willing to compromise enough?" He failed to mention that Smith is a former fellow at the liberal Brookings Institution.
Charlie Rose boosted New York Times's staff "conservative" David Brooks for his endorsement of the individual mandate on Tuesday's CBS This Morning, but Senator Tom Coburn was having none of it. Rose quoted from Brooks, whom he labeled a "a Hamiltonian, and someone...you share views with." Coburn slapped down the pro-ObamaCare argument: "We just don't have the authority to tell people to do that" [audio clips available here; video below the jump].
The Oklahoma Republican continued, in part, that "Brooks...[is] a Hamiltonian. I'm not. I'm a Madisonian, and that says, as government grows, freedom diminishes, and what we've seen is our freedom diminished." The anchor followed up by spotlighting ObamaCare benefits: "So, therefore, you don't...support the requirement for pre-existing conditions, nor the fact that children, up until the age of 26, will come under their parents' plan?"
On Sunday's World News on ABC, correspondent David Kerley filed a report highlighting anti-Newt Gingrich comments from a number of Republicans who used to serve in the House of Representatives with the former Speaker, and, although at least half the members cited as criticizing Gingrich have a history of being moderate Republicans, Kerley did not inform his viewers of this aspect of their political history which may affect their negative view of him.
After beginning the piece by asserting that Gingrich is "now frightening some of his own party," Kerley used a clip of centrist New York Representative Peter King:
Syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer and NPR's Nina Totenberg had a humorous exchange on PBS's Inside Washington Friday.
After mocking Totenberg for the "surprise" of her giving Democrats on the Super Committee credit, Krauthammer scolded her for constantly interrupting him saying, "I'm in the middle of a sentence, and I am going to get to the end, and I will let you know with punctuation, alright?" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
With trillion dollar budget deficits as far as the eye can see, a balanced budget amendment is sounding pretty good to an overwhelming majority of Americans.
Apparently CBS's Bob Schieffer isn't amongst them, as he actually asked Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) on Sunday's "Face the Nation," "Why are you wasting time debating that?" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
When unveiling a proposal to reform Medicare alongside Senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), Senator Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) warned that the entitlement program will eventually “go broke” and lead to a “fiscal disaster” for the United States.
“Each Medicare enrollee will on the average take almost three times more out in Medicare benefits than they contribute in payroll taxes and premiums,” Lieberman said during a press conference at the Capitol on Tuesday.
CBS hounded four Republicans from the left during a town hall on the economy which aired on Tuesday's Early Show. Bob Schieffer, Erica Hill, and Rebecca Jarvis pressed Reps. Paul Ryan and Allen West, Senator Tom Coburn, and South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley to consider tax hikes to deal with the deficit. Schieffer also specifically accused the three members of Congress of "doing nothing" to fix the economy.
The two online questions which Jarvis took from viewers touted Democratic talking points about deficits under former President George W. Bush and how cutting the federal budget would lead to an increase in the unemployment rate, due to the laying off of federal employees. She also vigorously pursued both Rep. Ryan and Rep. West. about the issue of jobs. In the first instance, the CBS business correspondent used an earlier answer from Haley, which emphasized the issue, to actually accuse the greater Republican Party of not paying enough attention to this issue, as well with the overall issue of the economy:
Previewing Tuesday’s Early Show town hall meeting with Republicans on the economy, CBS’s Bob Schieffer, who pushes his Face the Nation guests to agree taxes must be raised, hailed a Republican, Senator Tom Coburn, for expressing a willingness to include a tax increase in deficit negotiations.
After dismissing the Republicans CBS assembled -- Monday afternoon at the Newseum -- for how they “pretty much stuck to the Republican line: Low taxes and cutting the deficit will eventually lead to economic growth,” Schieffer championed: “But it was Coburn who may have won the prize for candor.” Viewers then heard Coburn declaring: “I’ll stand up as a conservative Republican, one of the biggest deficit hawks in Congress, and say ‘I'll negotiate on taxes’ -- because our country’s in trouble.”
"Thousands of companies and nonprofits that received funds from the Obama administration’s economic stimulus program owe hundreds of millions of dollars in unpaid taxes, according to estimates in a new government report."
If you thought of a place on the radio dial on a Saturday morning where Sen. Tom Coburn would be pressed as squishy, it probably wouldn't be NPR. But on Weekend Edition Saturday, NPR anchor Scott Simon asked some basic questions about a budget deal, and then shifted to Grover Norquist's criticisms of Coburn for being a tax hiker. This could be seen as quite an anti-Grover segment, with how strongly Coburn attacked him:
SCOTT SIMON: Let me ask you about a debate that was brought to my attention this week. You're -- Oklahoma, I think can fairly be identified as a farming state. You're opposed to ethanol subsidies.
TOM COBURN: Well, I'm specifically opposed to the ethanol blending credit, which is just one of the subsidies that we give for ethanol.
SIMON: This has opened up, as I don't have to tell you, a pointed disagreement with Grover Norquist and his group, Americans for Tax Reform.
NBC's Kelly O'Donnell, on Monday's Today show, lumped the Wisconsin and federal budget fights together and depicted the Republicans, in both cases, as being on the defensive. Starting in Wisconsin O'Donnell reported that over the weekend "Protesters backing union workers vented anger" but didn't mention the Tea Party had a counter-protest. Then O'Donnell, moving to the budget struggle on Capitol Hill, passed along Democratic talking points as she reported: "Democrats claim Republicans are too stubborn and their budget cuts too severe" and advanced: "The '90s government shutdown, with empty offices and closed national parks, left the Republican majority then with real political damage. A cautionary tale today."
O'Donnell aired sound bites from Democratic Senators Dick Durbin and Chuck Schumer on the offensive, warning against a government shutdown with Schumer charging Speaker John Boehner with being "reckless." However when it came to the GOP side O'Donnell aired a clip of Senator Tom Coburn defensively admitting: "It's good for political rhetoric to talk about a government shutdown, but I don't know anybody that wants that to happen."
On Monday's Good Morning America, ABC's George Stephanopoulos took a skeptical tone during an interview of liberal Senator Chuck Schumer concerning a new report from Senator Tom Coburn, which pointed out the 100 most wasteful federal government projects of 2010: "He [Coburn] says there are hundreds of billions of dollars of waste. Do you buy that?"
Stephanopoulos turned to Senator Schumer after ABC correspondent Jonathan Karl highlighted the findings of Senator Coburn's "wastebook" report, and led the interview with his "do you buy that" question. After the Democrat from New York gave his initial answer, the former Clinton administration official trumpeted the accomplishments of the outgoing liberal Congress in its lame duck session:
STEPHANOPOULOS: And you are- looking like you're going be [there] until Christmas, doing an awful lot of work during this lame duck session of Congress. I know you were critical of the President's negotiating in this tax compromise, but decided to vote for it. You've also now passed the 'don't ask, don't tell' [repeal], the food safety bill, and you seem to have a breakthrough on something you've been fighting for for years, this several-billion dollar bill to get health benefits to emergency workers for 9/11. Are you confident now that you have the votes to get this through the Senate, and will the House stay in session to make sure it gets passed?
On Thursday, I had the honor and the pleasure to participate in a blogger conference call with Sen. Tom Coburn (R) of Oklahoma.
The topic was the looming federal budget crisis caused by the runaway spending of the current President and his fiscally irresponsible Party.
As many of you are aware, I've been studying and analyzing the historical budgets of the United States for over a decade making this subject right up my alley.
Even more enjoyable for me, the other attendees didn't have a lot of questions which ended up making this at times mostly a conversation between the Senator and myself (30-minute audio available here).
President Obama's nominee to the United States Second Circuit Court of Appeals, Judge Robert N. Chatigny, holds a disturbing fringe opinion that sexual sadism should be a legal mitigating factor. In fact, Chatigny put this belief in action while presiding over the case against the "Roadside Strangler" where he did everything in his power to keep serial rapist and killer Michael Ross from getting the death penalty. (WARNING: DISTURBING CONTENT)
Democratic congressional efforts to steer the economy not working as advertised. The $787-billion stimulus passed back in early 2009 failed to curb unemployment as promised, and there are other risks of putting a blind trust in government to solve the nation's economic woes.
And to give credit where credit is due, CNN's Christine Romans is pointing these risks out. On the April 5 broadcast of "CNN Newsroom" hosted by Ali Velshi, Romans was asked about the politics of extending unemployment benefits, which were held up through the Easter recess by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla. According to Romans, there is a tug-of-war going on in the Senate.
"The Senate Democrats say they are going to plug ahead and plow forward," Romans said. "The issue here is the same issue as last month basically. You have some Republicans - one in particular, Sen. Tom Coburn from Oklahoma - saying, ‘Look, we've got to be able to pay for this. Let's pay for it. Let's do it. It's the right thing to do to help people. Let's find a way to pay for it.' And you have Democrats who are saying, ‘No, this is emergency spending. This is an emergency. The jobless situation is an emergency. Let's just do it right now quickly without finding another way to pay for it.'"
Jon Stewart said Thursday press reporting of President Obama's healthcare summit was so bad that if he had to score it like an Olympic event, he'd disqualify the contestants for sucking.
The comedian devoted a full ten minutes to the bipartisan meeting on Thursday's "Daily Show," and was largely an equal opportunity offender.
After taking what some would consider to be a cheap shot at "Senator Tom 'Killing Abortion Doctors Might Not Be Such A Terrible Idea' Coburn," Stewart quipped moments later, "That's Senator Chuck 'If I Was Any More Liberal and Jewish I'd Have T*ts and Be Barbra Streisand' Schumer."
But much of his attack was about the media coverage, especially toward the end (video embedded below the fold with partial transcript):
Yesterday, joined by substitute co-host Lynn Berry, MSNBC's David Shuster wondered of Sen. Tom Coburn, "what was he thinking," in regards to a comment the Oklahoma Republican made on the Senate floor Sunday which Shuster interpreted in the worst possible light. Coburn, Shuster suggested to his "Big Picture" audience, was hoping a Democratic senator would drop dead before the 1 a.m. cloture vote.
Of course Shuster ignored the unambiguously inflammatory remarks, also made on Sunday on the Senate floor, by freshman Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse. The Rhode Island Democrat insisted that Republicans were "destined to break this president" and were in league with "ardent supporters" from among the ranks of "the birthers, the fanatics, the people running around in right-wing militias and Aryan support groups" to whom it was "unbearable... that President Barack Obama should exist."
Yet even after his MSNBC colleague Mika Brzezinski aired Whitehouse's comments on the December 22 "Morning Joe", Shuster failed to give his "Big Picture" viewers the, well, big picture, by showing Whitehouse's rant, even though he aired a clip of Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) which hardly makes sense unless you know that Graham is referring back to and rebutting Whitehouse's charge. See for yourself by clicking play on the video embed above.
Most incredibly, the two reporters either missed or ignored the most inflammatory comments issued on the Senate floor on Sunday, when Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island comparing some Republican opponents of Obama care to Jim Crow-era lynchers, and Nazis: “History cautions us of the excesses to which these malignant, vindictive passions can ultimately lead. Tumbrils have rolled through taunting crowds, broken glass has sparkled in darkened streets. Strange fruit has hung from Southern trees. Even this great institution of government that we share has cowered before a tail-gunner waving secret lists."
From Hulse and Herszenhorn's report, with its emphasis on Republican nastiness:
Nasty charges of bribery. Senators cut off midspeech. Accusations of politics put over patriotism. Talk of double-crosses. A nonagenarian forced to the floor after midnight for multiple procedural votes.
The "nonagenarian" is of course Democratic Sen. Robert Byrd of West Virginia. Hulse and Herszenhorn returned to the sad plight of Democratic Sen. Robert Byrd later.
The Times actually quoted a portion of Whitehouse’s nasty speech chiding the GOP, but without mentioning the odious comparisons to Nazis and Jim Crow racists Whitehouse had made less than four minutes previously:
When it comes to freedom of speech, liberal journalists are the staunchest of defenders, right? Not so much when it comes to blasting Republican senators opposed to ObamaCare for "borderline sedition" that "comes dangerously close to inciting violence."
"The crisis of confidence in this country is now at an apex that has not seen in over 150 years, and that lack of confidence undermines the ability of legitimate governance," he said. "There's a lot of people out there today who...will say, 'I give up on my government,' and rightly so."
Of course, many liberals said similar things about losing faith in their government during the previous administration, one with which Klein had many disagreements, most if not all of which he took to Time's pages or Web site to bluster about. I don't recall any concern from Klein about seditious liberals or Democrats when George Bush or Dick Cheney was the object of harsh rhetoric.
But leave it to a Republican senator to criticize the pork barreling and special exemptions Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has given to fellow Democrats to buy a cloture vote, and it's damn near seditious to Klein:
There was something very important that I did not see on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” this morning.
The very first bump-in on the show was a montage of Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.):
COBURN: What the American people ought to pray, is that somebody can’t make the vote tonight. That’s what they ought to pray.
DURBIN: I don’t think it’s appropriate to be invoking prayer to wish misfortune on a colleague. And I want him to clarify that. I’ve invited him, I’ve tried to reach out to him. He is my friend, and I have worked with him, but this statement goes too far. The simple reality is this: We are becoming more coarse and more divided here [...].
This, of course, is political gamesmanship. But it goes further than that. In the entirety of Morning Joe, I did not note a single mention of the following statement from Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) -- hat tip to Kerry Picket for catching this:
Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) told people on Sunday they should pray someone misses Monday morning's crucial healthcare vote, and media members predictably gasped as if he was hoping a Senator would take ill or worse.
Somehow all those hyperventilating missed that there was a major snowstorm over the weekend closing airports and snarling traffic, and that travel impediments might have acted to prevent those not already in the nation's capital from getting there.
Likely with this in mind, Coburn said Sunday, "What the American people ought to pray is that somebody can't make the vote tonight. That's what they ought to pray."
The Washington Post's Dana Milbank gruesomely took issue with this in his piece "An Ugly Finale For Health-care Reform" (video of Coburn's remarks embedded below the fold):