Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Idiot Punditocracy Watch: Why I'll Listen to Ezra Before Taking Anything Chris Says at Face Value

In the first stop of his customary election year tour of college campuses, taking Hardball on the road, Chris Matthews alighted on the campus of the University of Louisville, in Kentucky. Surrounded by enthusiastic, mostly Conway for Senate supporters (good for them!), Matthews ended his show by asking a few questions of the students. When a young Conway supporter had the temerity to mention the public option, Chris morphed into his interrogator's role and jumped the kid. It went something like this (paraphrasing):

MATTHEWS: "When did you first hear of the PUBLIC OPTION!"

STUDENT: "Uh ... I don't know ... maybe two years ago?"

MATTHEWS: "Was it before or AFTER the campaign, Was it before or AFTER the campaign, Was it before or AFTER (!) the campaign?!?"

STUDENT (cowed by Chris's aggressive manner): "Uh ... After?"

MATTHEWS: "OK, because President Obama did NOT campaign on the public option."

Setting aside that Chris should pick on someone in his own weight category, this is yet another illustration of his obsessive hostility toward the Left, particularly the new netroots Left, which he seems to think is illegitimate, ill-informed, and unfairly critical of Obama on this issue. From Ezra Klein:
"So whether Obama used it in his speeches, his campaign purposefully pushed it to, at the least, some reporters, which is to say they worked to ensure that people knew about the public option's important role in their health-care thinking.

Obama's latest statement on this is hair-splitting at best and misleading at worst. That's even more true given how often he mentioned the public option after he got elected. And it's a good example of why the left is losing its trust in Obama."
As is often the case, Matthews is dead wrong and progressives are RIGHT in criticizing the President for abandoning the public option at the first sign of Republican opposition. Give it a rest already, Chris. Let it go.

Chris even had the gall to say he knows the Left, drawing specious parallels between what he calls the "FAR LEFT" and the "FAR RIGHT" (fascists, see below) ... Here is Matthews sharing an inside joke with fellow idiots of the punditocracy:
"I know about the left better than the right and it’s called NDC — November doesn’t count."
Really??? Wow. I guess you didn't take my challenge for Lawrence O'Donnell when he started lecturing the netroots Left on the process of "governance." Tell us, ye Einsteins of political analysis: Who would be the stronger Democratic candidate for senator from Arkansas today: Blanche Lincoln or Bill Halter?

I thought so. Maybe Chris's hostility toward the Democratic/Progressive Left harks back to the 1972 campaign, when George McGovern's grassroots insurgent leftist movement defeated his boy, crybaby Ed Muskie. If so, it seems like a long time to hold a grudge. Or maybe Chris thinks that a lot of the netroots kids — who weren't even born then — are going down the same path taken by the McGovern insurgency, and the Muskie-Clinton-Obama centrist triangulators hold the key to Democratic Party electoral success and governing majorities. Wrong on all counts, but we'll leave this discussion for another time.

Back to the future. Here is the first page of then-candidate Obama's healthcare plan, in which the public option is mentioned ("public plan"), the first of TWELVE times in the document:

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