Scarborough: he’s dangerous
Scarborough is quickly replacing O’Reilly as my favorite buffoon. I’ll give you a couple of seconds to retrieve your jaws from the floor before explaining.
Ok, here’s the deal. Colbert, Stewart, the blogosphere, Sarah Palin, the tea-baggers and the wingnuttosphere-at-large have all done an fairly effective job of marginalizing O’Reilly. He’s been reduced to entertaining a bunch of somnolent incontinents that are probably better off with him in their lives. At least for 60 minutes a day (maybe even 120 if they forgot they already watched the show and tune in for the repeat), they are busy not being victimized by “roofers” that “noticed an emergency repair that needs to be done right now.”
The point is, O’Reilly is mostly irrelevant.
But Scarborough has found his stride, I fear. First, he lives on the “liberal network”; that lends him a certain air of credibility as a non-ideologue. More important, however, is his penchant for criticizing Republicans. In “telling it how it is,” Scarborough is setting himself up as the reasonable Republican. You know… the kind of “principled conservative” that is OK – even desirable – to associate with.
Look… The Republican Party continues to marginalize itself by playing to its radical base. The 30% or so of Americans that still proudly align themselves with Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh is courted by virtually every single nationally elected Republican. But these folks are merely a base. And while it’s important to have a strong element of unwavering support, you need a big chunk of the middle too.
That is why Scarborough is dangerous. In “manning-up” to his party’s failures, he shrouds the failed conservative worldview with a veneer of reasonableness and respectability. He’s found a way to capture the ears of those in the “middle”.
After all, American’s haven’t stopped hating “welfare queens”. We still loves us some Blue Angels, NASCAR and country music. Fundamentally, the same fears we had 10 years ago are present today. Moreover, Americans don’t seem to be any more politically engaged or astute – we’ve just decided to “throw the bums out”. As a practical matter, as this recession deepens, Democrats may find their electoral dominance short-lived.
Especially if Scarborough’s approach catches on with the Republican elite. After all, where is that 30% base going to go?
So yeah, I’m going to do what I can to expose this fraud whenever I can. Check this call out:
Now let’s unpack it.
I called because Scarborough had suggested Obama’s spending was just as bad as Bush’s. My take is that there’s a difference between George Bush’s spending on horrendously expensive elective wars, ineffective ideological programs (abstinence-only education), hare-brained schemes (Star-Wars) and cronyism/corporate welfare (Medicare drug benefit) and the Democratic spending on infrastructure, health care, green energy, and stimulus-related job-creation. Bush’s spending was wasteful; Democratic spending is an investment that will pay for itself in the long run – with dividends.
As you heard, Scarborough found that to be outrageously funny. He begins by asking me if every penny spent by Democrats has been productive. Of course, I never read the colossal budget bill and I don’t know how every penny of the federal budget is spent. In fact, I’m virtually positive we are wasting billions of dollars in Pentagon earmarks, fraud and government waste, but honestly, his question was stupid. Of course anyone can point to discreet budget dollars and find something to complain about. That’s not the question, but Scar knew that… He was looking to derail the point I made and I was determined not to let him do it.
So I played dumb and said, “Well, I know Bill Clinton balanced the budget.”
And this is where Scar exposed himself as a fraud.
“I was there from January 4, 1995 until September of 2001 and I can tell you that budget was balanced in the 1990’s because we shut down the government… because we forced Bill Clinton to sign those budgets.”
Uhm… the government was shut down because poor Newt Gingrich, the Speaker of the House at the time, took it as an insult when he was seated in the rear of Air Force One on a trip with the President. His petulance turned American opinion against the new Republican majority.
Scar was right about the budget being cut though. What he doesn’t tell you is that Clinton had committed to balancing the budget through a combination of budget cuts and tax increases in his 1993 budget – the first he passed as President. That budget – which required some real sacrifice – passed without a single Republican vote. They just ouldn’t stand the tax cuts.
In the next portion of the call, I suggest to Scar that if he’s going to take credit for the budgets, he also needs to accept responsibility for “decimating the military” and making it difficult for the United States to invade Iraq. Yeah, I used a Republican talking point, but there is some validity to the argument – we really weren’t prepared to invade Iraq.
Scar would have none of that. He goes on to say that Republicans increased military spending while cutting the budget – that it was the first George Bush and President Clinton that “cashed the peace dividend” and slashed the military budget.
At that point he cut me off. Good thing, because he simply could not have answered my follow up: 1) so what did the Republicans do with the increased military spending? Because as far as I can tell, the troops still didn’t have armored humvees or body armor when they went into Iraq. You can spend money on defense, but if all you are doing is buying the latest and greatest high-tech toys from the defense contractors that keep your campaign coffers full, you aren’t really helping, are you? Armored vehicles and body armor just don’t provide the political payoff of a brand new PATRIOT missile system.
But they keep troops alive. So Scar, whose fault was it we weren’t ready for Iraq?