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House Republicans Fiddle While Rome Burns

30 September 2008
Joe Scarborough

Joe Scarborough

What’s wrong with the media?  They spend way too much time on things like lipstick and not enough on actually educating the American public as to what’s really going on.

This morning on Morning Joe it was a veritable three-ring circus as ringmaster Joe Scarborough ranted on and on about how the failure of the House Republicans to support the Bush bailout plan was somehow all because Nancy Pelosi gave a much deserved scolding to the Republican Administration.  You know, when I was a kid and got myself into trouble, my parents – as all good parents should do – scolded me before they bailed me out so I wouldn’t be a bonehead and do it again.  As an American taxpayer, I feel that this Administration was long overdue the scolding it received yesterday.  And as for the House Republicans, if they hadn’t rubber-stamped everything their president asked for while they controlled the House, we wouldn’t be in the mess we find ourselves today.

Much to my delight, Joe got his comeuppance when Representative John Shadegg (R) of Arizona came on and publicly disagreed, stating that he didn’t know of one single Republican House Member who voted against the bill due to Speaker Pelosi’s “partisan” speech.  Instead, he indicated that the reason the House Republicans voted against the bill was to “give a civics lesson” to the “arrogant” Secretary of the Treasury Hank Paulson.  I had to admire him for his honesty on the matter, although he quickly lost my admiration when he tried to credit John McCain’s shenanigans last week as a help to the process.  Joe finally shut up with his Pelosi bashing.  It was a silence well received by me.  Later on MSNBC Republican Representative Marsha Blackburn from Tennessee, who also voted against the bill, appeared and confirmed Representative Shadegg’s assertion.  Finally, some truth seems to be emerging from a sharply divided Republican Party.

John McCain, saviour?

John McCain, saviour?

Of course, you can’t talk about anything these days without bringing presidential politics into the discussion.  John McCain took advantage of the crisis to appear on TV this morning to urge passage of some sort of bill in light of the meltdown that Wall Street had yesterday.  However, while claiming to put “country first” at least four times, McCain hit talking point after talking point of his campaign that had nothing to do with the Wall Street crisis: you know, the surge, tax cuts, healthcare reform, et al.  He even offered to rush back to Washington again to help out.  Incredibly, he also stated that “Secretary Paulson has great credibility in Washington.”  Isn’t this the guy who has been asleep at the switch as the trains have collided? Please, John, stay away from Washington.  The last time you rushed in to help, you fueled the House Republicans to rebel against everything.  Senator McCain, your lack of leadership is hanging out, and your lack of understanding of the issues of this crisis are breathtaking.

Barack Obama

Barack Obama

Barack Obama, on the other hand, released a statement calling for an upward revision in the FDIC limits on bank deposits as a possible provision to return everyone back to the negotiating table.  He didn’t inject his campaign talking points into his statement, but instead showed the same steady demeanor he has shown throughout this entire mess, calling for bipartisanship and offering something to bring it about.

As for the rest of us, the tantrum thrown by House Republicans cost the American economy $1.2 trillion ($1,200,000,000,000) which is almost twice the amount of the bailout package.  Now, for me and my wife, that loss didn’t hit home, but for half of all Americans this meant a huge loss in the value of their retirement accounts or savings accounts for college tuition for their children.  For the small businessman or woman, it means it may be nearly impossible to get the short-term loan they may need to gear up for the upcoming Christmas shopping season where they make as much as half of their yearly income.

Erin Burnett, CNBC

Erin Burnett, CNBC

In addressing this last point, I turn my cold stare upon the media.  Today on Morning Joe there was a lot of talk about how the politicians hadn’t done enough to sell this bailout package to the American people.  The lone, and I might add tiny voice, that injected something of value into this discussion was CNBC’s Erin Burnett who pointed out that perhaps the media could do more to educate the American people on what is going on.  She did soften her own criticism of the media by adding hastily that they had been doing that.  My response is BULLSHIT!  For days all we have heard from the media is talk of gloom, doom and panic.  As usual, instead of offering any real depth to this issue, they have chosen to hype it.  They have obsessed over what effect it is having on the presidential campaign and the minutiae of how Congress is working through its process.

Today, for the first time, did I see so much as one interview with a small businessman that brought some credible light to what this means for middle America.  For days, as usual, the media have been tossing the words “Main Street” around, but they haven’t gone to Main Street to talk to someone who is actually at risk in this situation.  Instead, they have found angry taxpayers on the street who disagreed with the bailout plan and fueled the fears of members of the House against doing the right thing and addressing the problem at hand.  They have behaved no better than talk radio.

Woodward and Bernstein

Woodward and Bernstein

It’s time that the media  take up the mantel of journalism that was protected by our Founding Fathers and bravely demonstrated by Woodward and Bernstein by telling the American people what’s really going on instead of obsessing for days on such trivial issues as a comment about lipstick.  The pig that really can’t be fixed by lipstick is the television news media.  It’s time for you all to start earning the food in your troughs and put your country first instead of sensationalizing your coverage for ratings.

As for my fellow citizens out there:  SPEAK UP and SPEAK OUT!  Let’s take our country back from these clowns that we see on television every day, both political and journalistic.

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