Thursday, January 30, 2014

Republicans eager for bipartisanship

Why don't reporters just laugh in Republican faces when these politicians claim to want bipartisanship? Cooperation? Heh, heh. Really?

Of course, they're not going to do that. But why doesn't every news article and video bring up the reality which Jon Stewart shows us here?

Republican leaders met before Barack Obama had even taken office for his first term and agreed that they'd oppose everything he wanted, no matter what it turned out to be.

This is fact. And so are the results of that, as Stewart also points out. It's no accident that Republicans have set new records of obstructionism. They agreed to do that before Barack Obama had even taken office.

"Make a public show of wanting to work with the president, but block him at every turn in order to deny him any bipartisan victories, for which Obama will be blamed, because he's the guy who ran on bipartisanship."

“If he was for it,” former Ohio Senator George Voinovich explained, “we had to be against it.”

And they've held to that, even when the Democrats adopted the Republican plan for health care reform! Instantly, every Republican turned against their own plan. But that's just one small part of this (if a particularly egregious example).

Jon Stewart puts it well:
The only problem with their 'we just want to work with him' is that it's total bullshit. It's bullshit - premium, Grade A, grass-fed, free-range bullshit, collected and packaged by hand. No,... hear me out. It is bullshit, collected and packaged by hand from the polished anuses of award-winning Texas longhorns that have been bred for peristaltic perfection so that each individual dookie meets the exacting standards of the American Bullshit Association. It is bullshit! ...

This notion that the Republicans are interested in working with the president is a game that they play. It's a play that they put on for the cameras.

So why does it take a comedian to point that out? Why doesn't every journalist in America note this when reporting about Republican claims of wanting to cooperate? (By "journalist," I don't mean anyone at Fox 'News' or on talk radio, of course.)

Well, it's not because Republicans threatened to toss them off a balcony, and I'm sorry that Jon Stewart went in that direction at the end of this clip. Rep. Michael Grimm is a real piece of work, but he was never going to toss a reporter off a Capitol balcony, and both of them knew that.

It was an empty threat by a macho bully who knew full well that he was perfectly safe, not just from physical attack but even from having to carry out any of his threats. After all, he wasn't making a threat in a seedy bar, where there might actually be consequences.

If the camera hadn't been on, there would have been no consequences at all from this. (Most likely, there still won't be.) He could act as tough as he wanted and know that he wouldn't have to back up any of it. Furthermore, if the reporter had acted unprofessionally in any way, that congressman could have gotten him fired. They both knew that, too.

But Grimm was definitely angry. He was angry because he'd actually been asked a real question by a journalist. Just think of how rare that must be for a politician to get this angry.

Remember that 'gotcha' question that Katie Couric asked Sarah Palin? "And when it comes to establishing your world view, I was curious, what newspapers and magazines did you regularly read before you were tapped for this — to stay informed and to understand the world?"

What newspapers and magazines do you read? That's supposed to be a 'gotcha' question? It was a softball interview,... but Sarah Palin still made a fool of herself. And she and her supporters still blame Katie Couric for that.

Politicians expect softball questions. Politicians demand softball questions. If they don't get them, they're not going to throw a reporter off the balcony. No, they'll do worse than that. They'll stop giving the reporter access. Heck, they'll stop giving his whole news station access. And if they're Republicans, at least (Democrats wish they were this organized), they'll probably get the rest of the party to do the same.

So the mainstream media solemnly report whatever a Republican politician wants to say - wants to lie - about 'cooperation' and 'bipartisanship.' They could easily demonstrate that it's a lie, but they won't. I don't know how reporters keep a straight face when they hear this stuff, but apparently they've had lots of practice.

Note that politicians are media whores. They need the news media a lot more than the news media need them. But Republican politicians can always go on Fox 'News' and get, not just softball questions, but a concerted effort to make them look as good as possible.

And even the 'mainstream' media don't want to risk the loss of access, because they're competing with other mainstream media who aren't likely to be so principled. After all, these are all corporations, and the bottom line is the bottom line. They're not in business to inform American citizens. They're in business to make money.

Sure, if they just stuck together, if they held to professional standards of journalism, they could report what's really happening. As I say, politicians are attention whores. They need the media far more than the media need them.

But that's not how it works. Republican politicians are quite willing to march in lockstep, and that gives them a lot of power. Heck, they seem to direct political discourse in America even as a minority party. Democrats, who struggle even to face in the same direction, can't even use their majority effectively.

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