Monday, February 1, 2010

Birdie Golf And Short Circuits

The Morning Joe Rebuttal for February 1st, 2010


1) The budget sucks. There is no good angle to it. The OMB director came on the show, seemed competent, but just like Volker last week and Sommers at Davos, did not inspire confidence. Why? Birdie golf. When Orszag bases his whole premise on the fact that we are going to come within 33% of sustainability (4% deficit vs 3% deficit), and then need to do further soul searching to find that last percentage point, it seems failure is the doctrine. Birdie golf, karate, overwhelming force, these are all doctrines of success. You use your golf game to play one better than par, in karate the force of the punch doesn’t stop at the target, but 2 feet behind it, you get the point.

Orszag needed to say he won’t rest until the budget is at surplus. No one on the show even attempted to define why 3% of GDP as a budget deficit was sustainable. It sounds like if they had they would have said that, it was because we could afford the minimum payment.

The one foundation-building point made in the entire discussion was the aside that market conditions after World War II let the United States economy churn it’s way out of it’s postwar economic hole, and those conditions are not going to recur for the US economy at any point on the current time horizon. Kudos to Joe Scarborough for putting the WWII context into the conversation, but it’s not a pretty picture when your Budget Director can’t point to the surface of the water, only to a more modest drowning.

Further to this same point, what an awful appearance by Texas Congressman Jeb Hensarling. The math contained in his chief point had the sole purpose to mislead grandmothers in Texas, and he needs to be called out. This atrocious month versus year deficit spending analysis uses another era’s budget surplus to claim Republican budget superiority. It also is undermined by using nominal dollar figures versus constant dollar figures. The picture is bad, but if you use 3rd grade algebra poorly on national TV twice in a week, we get to change your name to Jim, just to protect you from embarrassing yourself.

2) No one was defending the KSM trial today when Joe Scarborough temporarily lost his inner compass and went off the deep end. Look, when you repeat your point without furthering your point, that’s just agitation on display, think when that Senator on “The Seduction of Joe Tynan” slips into French on camera.

Lost in the shout downs was the ultimate point. Do we get any return on our investment if we use a public court? Is that return only some added credibility on the streets of Luxembourg? Or is that gone because of the taint put upon any public proceedings by the leading statements of the administration over the weekend?

If effectively managing your conversation, it should have gone one more step. The return on investment on any of this is whether on the margin we are creating or disenchanting the next round of potential terrorists. Take KSM’s face off the screen and stop showing it. Put the face of the suicide bomber that’s being recruited next week and have that supplant all others in this discussion. That is the calculus.

Your job as always is to aid and abet the multi-front conversation that is so complex that the leader of the free world and his administration are struggling with it. We need less Giuliani, less Robert Gibbs bizarre false bravado, less bellicose histrionics, and more sober analysis where it counts.

3) Mike Barnicle hit a ball out of the park today. At 8:15 EST, Mike connected the dots and is the first person to go on record saying that the Obama / Republican discussion Friday was great, but the similarly formatted Obama / Democrat discussion is the missing link to last year's failures and it should also be televised. The whole reason I got into this was that most days this critical connection goes unmade, that the format has to fight the tendency to repeat rather than evolve. I had already written, in my head, the scorched earth piece about you guys missing the boat again, then Barnicle went yard.

There had been little advances, like suggestions that the meetings be regular, but no one had made the ultimate connection. History will show the waste of 60 votes as a rare opportunity in 2009 was done with Democratic obstructionists like Stupak, Lieberman and Nelson able to hide in their office and deny their role in the damage done to the Obama administration. No part of the Legislature should be allowed to distort or obstruct in privacy or without an explanation to the President of the United States for their actions. The formula is so right and so timely, it might be the one part of the way forward that lights an optimistic path.

Of course, Joe Scarborough did the subscriber a great service by saying what no other Republican would say out loud: “having the Friday meeting was a {rare} mistake" in the Republican lockstep obstruction game. A mistake on par with Russia missing it's veto vote on the Korean War. Mike Pence must have an interesting list of voice mails today. If Chris Matthews calls your idea heroic, what does Roger Ailes say?

Speaking of Roger Ailes, the face off that Morning Joe repeated was only part of the story with Arianna Huffington and Ailes on ABC over the weekend. Huffington had him avoiding the subject of Fox dropping it’s coverage of the Friday Obama / Republican meeting early because it showed the Republicans in a bad light. Ailes directly avoided the question and slipped out the back door to avoid the green room part of the show. Ailes without words, agrees with Joe Scarborough that Mike Pence gave away part of the store with this invitation.

Because the store is power not progress.

That’s all today, see you tomorrow

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