This was earlier today on Fox News, and it’s a classic example of what’s going on with this Mediscare debate. It’s a segment Shannon Bream, who was hosting Megyn Kelly’s show today (we need us more Shannon Bream) put on with a couple of Fox’s usual mid-day talking heads. She started off with that video that is making the rounds of Bill Clinton admitting – privately, he thought – to Paul Ryan that he hopes Democrats don’t take that special election win in that congressional district in New York as an impetus to “do nothing,” and then opened it up to Clinton flunky Simon Rosenberg and Memphis-based talk host Ben Ferguson.
Ferguson was rude, sure, and he interrupted Rosenberg more than he should have. But check out what happened.
You can look at this segment and come to the very reasonable conclusion that it’s a perfect example of why maybe it’s time for the cable news shows to rein in these gladiator matches; these things are less and less often the reasonable debates they’re intended to be and more and more often unpleasant like this one was.
That said, Rosenberg comes off as a whiny baby. Ferguson was rude, yes. But he owned Rosenberg, and badly. Ferguson’s interruptions were spot on – Rosenberg continued to deny what the Democrats are doing is fear-mongering, and then he ripped off one noxious example of fear-mongering after another. It might have been rude for Ferguson to interrupt him for that, but then again it’s true that Rosenberg was doing what Ferguson was accusing him of. And the lies. Good Lord, the lies.
Then, Rosenberg gets his panties in a wad and walks out, which gives Ferguson the floor to make the very legitimate point that Rosenberg is doing precisely what the Democrats are doing on Medicare. Namely, offering nothing constructive and instead throwing turds (“you’re going to kill old people!”) at Republicans before running off and hiding from the issue. It’s reminiscent of the Democrat legislators who picked up and left rather than lose votes in Texas, Wisconsin and Indiana in recent years. You can’t lose an argument if you’re no longer there, y’know.
The media narrative this week is that Ryan cost the GOP that seat in New York, and unfortunately some conservative columnists and pundits have swallowed it despite the far more compelling evidence that (1) the Republican Party in New York is beyond incompetent, (2) that race had more to do with NAFTA and free trade than it did Medicare and (3) that race contained a third-party candidate who drew more votes from the Republican than the Democrat. And even Clinton recognized – again, in private, but not publicly – that what the Democrats are doing is wrong regardless of one congressional race in a district that isn’t even likely to exist in a year thanks to redistricting.
But the Republicans have had a lousy week in their own right. Ryan is basically out on his own on that budget, with seven Republicans in the Senate failing to vote for it. The GOP 2012 candidates have generally been lukewarm in their support for it, which Ryan himself said today isn’t a big deal since they’ve got to put forth their own ideas. And House Speaker John Boehner and his team have acted as though Ryan has made life difficult for them rather than providing them with much-needed leadership and vision. They haven’t been pulling their weight, and they’ve allowed that narrative to take hold this week.
But there’s some good news out there for Republicans, namely that the people in charge of the Democrat Party are moderate neither in tone nor in ideology, and if they believe they’re getting momentum they can be depended on to become so obnoxious and outrageous in their demagoguery that they’ll shortly squander any advantage they might have. Particularly when that advantage comes solely as a result of short-term fear-mongering off Ryan’s plan – fear-mongering, it might be said, based on the fraudulent insinuation that Ryan’s Medicare changes would affect current seniors.
That won’t hold up. But it might work anyway, if the rest of the GOP’s front-line players aren’t willing to give Ryan a little pass protection. He needs some more Ben Fergusons willing to run Democrat demagogues off the stage.