NBC and MSNBC have a penchant for gulling viewers into believing they are presenting balanced panels by pairing a partisan Democrat with Pat Buchanan. The sleight-of-hand recently reached an apex when the Today show mislabeled Buchanan a "Republican strategist." Buchanan - the fellow who quit the GOP in 1999 to run for president against W as the candidate of the Reform Party. See report with revealing screen shot here.
Any pretense that Buchanan is anything but a Bush administration critic often more in synch with the Democrats than the GOP was stripped away on this evening's Hardball, when a partisan Democrat let the cat out of the bag.
Buchanan was back, sharing the stage with Dem strategist Steve McMahon. The issue was W's paltry poll numbers, and in particular the question as to why the president doesn't get more credit for what on paper is a healthy economy. That set Buchanan off on this breathless populist riff:
"The American people for the first since 1933 are spending more than they save. That means that they're borrowing to consume, they're borrowing to spend, they're taking money out of the equity on their house to maintain their standard of living.
"[Dem strategist] Steve's got three or four good points. Illegal immigration presses down on black working-class folks, you've got the outsourcing of jobs, you've got the sale of factories to China, and you've got H1Bs [a reference to the visa for highly-skilled foreign professionals] coming into the country. These are very able young people that are replacing middle-aged technicians and other people.
"And the insecurity of all this is striking home. I've gone to factory after factory and talked to guys and one of them will tell me: 'do you know where the guy next to me is? He's gone to Mexico to train his replacement,' because that's where the factory is gone. The top 20% is doing fine. Middle America in my judgment is being sold out by the transnational corporation."
That's when McMahon gave the game away: "Pat, you sound like a Democrat!"
Little wonder that at the end of the segment, Matthews said of the Buchanan/McMahon duo: "a great team, actually."
Team indeed - working together to bring down the Bush administration. Chris, is it asking too much to have a Democrat balanced by a Republican?