As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Gingrich Concedes The Point; Will Others?

It's very interesting to me that Newt Gingrich dialed down his description of Sonia Sotomayor as a racist, even if, in context, he didn't. Surely we know how this works - we saw it last week with the President. Obama took one step back on Sotomayor's "wise Latina" comment, conceding the point but also set it in context, but it set off a flurry from the commentariat, claiming that Obama "caved," etc. Now Gingrich does essentially the same thing, conceding the point but adding a whole bunch of context actually keeping his claim alive that Sotomayor is a racist. And while this gives Republicans space to welcome the return of civility to the debate, it keeps them on the defensive and in a reactive position as well. Clearly calling Sotomayor a racist wasn't exactly working out for them, so they had to defuse that. But the backpedaling is historically the kind of thing Republicans NEVER do. Could they be understanding the damaging nature of their rhetoric?

Of course, Gingrich isn't alone, and there are plenty of other ways for Democrats to continue to exploit this and put the pressure on. In fact, Gingrich's admission, despite its fatuousness, gives them more ammunition - "even Newt Gingrich disavowed this," etc. For example, will Republicans be made to answer for Pat Buchanan's comparison of Sotomayor to white supremacists? In the distant past, Buchanan was a symbol for a particular strain of xenophobic ugliness. Now he's a respected member of the media community and that "liberal" network MSNBC. Will he be held to account?

Given Pat Buchanan's history of clear bigotry - most recently demonstrated in his reminder last night that he supported and continues to defend a white supremacist - there really isn't any good reason for MSNBC to continue putting him on the air. The man is a bigot, plain and simple. In light of the hot water MSNBC has gotten into in the past for bigoted comments by its employees, you would think they would want to distance themselves from the likes Buchanan.

But what's really extraordinary is that MSNBC brings Buchanan on air to talk about race issues. It gives Pat Buchanan a platform from which to call other people racists. Granted, if there's someone who knows racists better than Pat Buchanan does, I can't think of who it would be. But his is not the kind of expertise MSNBC should be inflicting upon its viewers. the way, this is completely divorced from the larger debate over Sotomayor's confirmation, which is assured. The "fight" is a bit of a shadow play for the base. But conceding the point doesn't help that cause.

...the Chairman of the Republican Party, Rush Limbaugh, won't retract the racism charge. Wedge away, Democrats.

...This also brings up a larger question about that liberal network MSNBC. Giving space to an out-and-out bigot like Pat Buchanan, who's on that channel more often than the peacock, reflects really poorly on them. Not to mention the three hours of unadulterated horseshit in the morning.

The Morning Joe crew was on an anti-union tear this morning, claiming the union label on a company means "sell." Mika Brzezinski went so far as to say of unions: "They cripple the system that makes a company work." Collectively, the journalists on Morning Joe couldn't name a single "successful" unionized company.

This says more about their qualifications to discuss public policy and labor relations than it says about unions. To pick just one obvious example, UPS is unionized -- and the company made more than $3 billion last year. That's "billion" with a "b," and those are profits, not revenues.

Oh, what the heck, let's take one more example. GE is one of the world's largest companies; in 2006, its revenues were greater than the gross domestic products of 80 percent of UN nations. The company made more than $18 billion in 2008 -- again, billion with a b, and again, those are profits, not revenue. All that despite (or, perhaps, because of) the fact that 13 different unions represent GE workers.

Oh, and GE owns NBC-Universal, which owns MSNBC, which pays Joe Scarborough a handsome salary (and the unionized workers who help get his show on the air considerably less.)

Scarborough, you recall, is the former GOP Congressman who represented Michael Griffin pro bono, the man who killed abortion provider Dr. David Gunn, in his murder case.

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