Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Dancing In The Dark

The Opposition Rebuttal to Morning Joe for June 16th, 2010


1) Mika has become unable to define her take on issues, and has started to find a stubborn note. I know, started? I think she is trying to adapt for year 3 and have a more aggressive take. Where Joe Scarborough is comfortable being the only person at a table holding ground for a position while 4-5 others ask him to defend from every angle, Mika is not. There comes a point where it’s not believable, and the viewer wonders about whether or not she has a take or is adrift, uncomfortable, and inconsolable.

Rather than heaping on today’s debate, lets go back to the too big to fail question she was not able to even get out in the Elizabeth Warren interview a few days back. If you recall, we anticipated that was her question, but it was shoved aside for Maria Bartiromo’s 400 regulatory agencies governing AIG question. Mika at that time appeared helpless to confront what she felt was her biggest concern regarding financial regulatory reform. And this was three women talking, so her ‘women should run this’ shot from yesterday’s show is equally adrift.

But whether it’s nonsense topics like protocol for dealing with aggressive reporters, or too big to fail, or even defending the President, the viewer more and more needs a ouija board to divine “what’s the message?” and isn’t that your tagline?

Look, it’s solvable, don’t try and create your message on the fly. You know what the topic is going to be hours before the show starts. Write down, or otherwise note 3 angles of defense prior to the show so that you don’t seem like that guy who’s mad but can’t talk. Joe Scarborough may be able to do it on the fly, but you can’t, and rather than trying to adopt a skill set on the fly, don’t take chances knowing your message for an entire show is at stake.

2) Chris Matthews is crazy, shrill and I love him. He loves to blow stuff up. It’s his thing, in fact it’s his tagline. He is infuriated with the lack of accomplishment in the oval office speech. He is ringing the Jimmy Carter alarm. He even planted a seed in Joe Scarborough’s mind about it to the extent that Scarborough did a nightmare skit comparing the spill to the Iran hostage situation.

Unfortunately, it’s sort’ve a forgone conclusion that Chris and Joe are now ideological rivals and there is not a consensus for them to call middle ground. It was a derisive Scarborough tossing in the “how was his tie?” jab while Matthews very seriously picked apart the speech as lacking control, substance, but including what amounts to two dangerous over promises. The jury is out as to whether 90% containment by the end of June is achievable, but it will be a WMD level misrepresentation if it is not. The jury is out as to whether there is merit to the President’s assurance that he can force a solvent BP to fund a claims account stewarded by a third party. Matthews pointed to these being either evidenced contrarily by prior failures or refuted directly by BP. “BP is preparing to litigate this” is Chris Matthews’ quoted analysis.

If it seems too good to be true…

3) The voice of the other side in this case was Doris Kearns Goodwin. She correctly planted the take that Obama looked at his options, at his 3 messages he had to deliver, and at his limitations and expressed them. Those looking for more would only send the President further down the unrealistic commitment road.

She made a lot of sense, but did not reconcile with the Matthews take at all. If we are to understand all sides of an issue, likely we should see those two reality-check each other’s arguments. I think we know that this would not be a cross fire type pundit debate, but the integral between these two arguments is to me the most important part of today’s analysis.

I don’t think that can occur on Morning Joe, and I think it was evidenced by not taking the core 25 seconds of Goodwin’s take and playing if for Matthews, nor does there appear to be a cast member who can nuance the argument without “tie” jokes.

A valuable path to consensus was lost as a result, and funny enough, it was Mika’s take that Goodwin paraphrased, but she was still unable to carry water in the clutch.

That’s all for today, see you tomorrow.

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