...[T]here's a lot of competition in the media world in this quasi-reality show, it seems, that's being created in the GOP primary. It's just the nature of the beast right now..."
[quoted recently on the subject of the media hype about the Republican primary contenders, and the mini-uproar over her calling "Herb" [sic] Cain the "flavor of the week."]
So You Think You Can President?!?
Welcome back, everyone, to this week's edition of So You Think You Can President?!?
Just to remind everyone, this year we've got the Republican field of candidates for the party's nomination to take on Barack Obama in next year's exciting presidential race. After the American television-viewing audience expressed its dismay over stale and boring formal debates, we here at Fox jumped at the chance to winnow the field down in the exciting format of a reality show, where our contestants get to prove they know how "to president" by performing various wacky tasks for our collective amusement.
To recap last week's show: Rick Perry's up! Rick Perry's down! Will he be eliminated by our panel of pundits and party bigwigs, or will he get a second chance from our audience participation voting system (brought to you by the wonderful folks at Diebold, of course)? Stay tuned!
Also last week, Mitt Romney calmly jumped through the flaming hoops we had set up for him, and barely got singed! Looks like he's got more staying power than we gave him credit for! Herman Cain had to take a trip to the "Fight A Candidate Who Isn't In The Race Yet" ring, where he exchanged blows with none other than Fox News contributor Sarah "Mama Grizzly" Palin! You just can't get more exciting than that, folks!
Michele Bachmann dropped last week -- after turning in a very lackluster performance in audience voting -- and has now been banished to the "On The Brink Of Elimination" room, from which neither Jon Huntsman nor Rick Santorum was able to break out of last week. Sorry guys, you'll just have to try harder, or we're going to kick you out of the "Lightning Question" round at the end of each show.
Ron Paul is still a scrappy little fighter, and tonight we're going to see him take on the So You Think You Can President?!? center-ring "What Would Ronald Reagan Do?" task -- which involves the question: "Should a president order a terrorist strike or not, if the target is an American citizen?" Ron Paul's answer, of course, may tend to get some in our audience of Republican primary voters rather upset, so don't miss it!
Tonight, also, we have Newt Gingrich in the spotlight, as he presents his project assigned last week, to come up with a campaign document that voters can both understand and get excited about. We all remember Mitt Romney stumbling badly on this task, with his -- what was it, 287-point plan? -- so we'll see what Newt has put together. No bonus points will be awarded for re-using the phrase "Contract With America" -- but we didn't tell Newt that, so we'll see his reaction to this news later in the program!
But before we get to all that, we're going to open with our signature weekly event -- "Who Can We Convince To Run Next?" This week ...[drumroll]... we have in our studios... Chris Christie!!!
[Christie enters, as drumroll becomes bongo drum solo, then segues into Jethro Tull's "Fat Man" -- which continues playing, while a video montage of Christie's "greatest hits" clips (of him screaming at his own constituents) plays on the big screen overhead. The music fades away with the final line of the lyrics echoing through the theater: "Roll us both down a mountain / And I'm sure the fat man would win" -- as a massive wave of applause slowly dies away.]
Great to have you here tonight, Governor Christie! We'll be right back to talk to him after this message from our sponsors. Stay tuned, because there's much more of So You Think You Can President?!? coming right up!!!
[Note: I wrote most of this last night, before I had read a similar article in the Huffington Post written by Jeffrey Feldman, titled "GOP Candidatemania" -- which I highly recommend. Also, I wouldn't have brought up the whole "fat man" thing, except apparently the inside-the-Beltway punditocracy has been so off into the weeds on the Christie will-he-or-won't-he thing that they've actually spent time discussing whether Christie's weight would be a problem for him as a candidate. Which is one of the reasons I was inspired to set this whole circus inside the reality-show format, since we're quite obviously edging pretty close to it, folks. Sheesh.]
We're not even sure these folks identify as Democrats or not, but since we make the rules, we are also allowed to bend them pretty much at will. So we're going to go ahead and award the Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week to the "Occupy Wall Street" movement.
This people-powered organization has been protesting Wall Street for the past two weeks, although this may come as news to some due to the lack of mainstream media coverage. Compare and contrast, for example, what coverage (led, no doubt, by Fox News) a similar event would have had if it had been put on by a Tea Party organization.
But, media grumbles aside, we admit that we're suckers for street protest and political theater here. Getting people out in the streets to protest something important is tough enough to do even without discussing the media's coverage of such events. Occupy Wall Street may be a bit unfocused as to their ultimate goals, but their sheer persistence is admirable on its own accord.
Live in New York City? Not doing anything this weekend? Head on down and show your support! And while you're there, let them know they've won this week's MIDOTW award. Street theater used to be a solely Lefty tactic, before the Tea Partiers latched onto it. And we heartily approve of any group trying to take the tactic back from the anti-tax Right.
[For more information, please see the Occupy Wall Street official website.]
Normally, our rules for handing out these awards limit the eligibility to Democrats who are public figures or are still in office. But that's close enough for us, for this week's Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week award. As previously mentioned, our Rules Committee for these awards is a pretty forgiving bunch. Ahem.
This week was almost one of those weeks, it bears mentioning, where we made it all the way through the week without being massively disappointed by any Democrat in the news. In such cases, we lock the awards cabinet back up for a week (those golden statuettes ain't cheap, you know), and withhold any presentation at all.
But wouldn't you know it, a name we thought we were done with (at least as far as handing out MDDOTW awards goes) popped back up on our radar. Yes, it seems Blanche Lincoln is back.
Lincoln used to be a senator. She was one of the bluest of the Blue Dogs. Then she lost her seat. Now, apparently, she's making a buck parroting Republican talking points. Her position is that the E.P.A. should just stop issuing all those regulations that business hate, because... um, well... because Republicans say so. So there. If you think that's an exaggeration, I invite you to click that link and read the quote from Lincoln, and see if you can picture a Democrat saying any of it.
This comes as no surprise, really (to anyone who knows of her rampant Blue Doggery in the past), but it's disappointing all the same.
Which is why, for the sixth time -- which ties her on the awards board with Charlie Rangel and Jay "Rocky IV" Rockefeller IV -- Blanche Lincoln is our Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week. Maybe she'll do us all a favor, and just change her registration to Republican....
[We're not sure where you can contact ex-Senator Blanche Lincoln, but she probably wouldn't listen to you anyway, unless you had a lot of money to give her.]
Volume 183 (9/30/11)
Today's talking points were inspired by (which sounds ever so much nicer than "ripped off from," don't you think?) a comment posted to last week's FTP  at the Huffington Post. Our standard policy is we never identify such commenters here by name (or login name) without their previous consent, but I'd still like to publicly thank him or her for the idea.
Last week (as with this week) the subject de semaine was "class warfare." The comment which inspired this week's mini-rants contained a simple, repetitive concept: "When [something outrageous pushed by Republicans happens], nobody calls it 'class warfare'. Maybe we should."
Maybe we should, indeed.
Which led directly to this week's talking points. Barack Obama has been fighting to redefine "class warfare" for the past few weeks, and he's beginning to make inroads with the public on the issue. But he needs help -- from all Democrats discussing politics (whether on the Sunday morning chat shows on television, or around your own company's water cooler).
Here are seven almost-identical points to toss into this conversation. They don't even need their own individual introductions, because they all pretty much speak for themselves.
You want to know what I call "class warfare"? Attacking Medicaid.
"You want to know what I call 'class warfare'? I'll tell you what I call 'class warfare' -- attacking Medicaid. Medicaid is the federal program that assures that poor people have the choice between getting healthcare and crawling off into the woods to die. Republicans want to strip away this safety net, and allow more people to die for lack of money when modern medicine could easily save their lives. When they talk of slashing Medicaid or letting individual states take it over, this is the end result of what they are talking about -- more poor people with absolutely no option other than die from lack of medical care. And that is exactly what I call 'class warfare'."
Making Granny pay
"You want to know what I call 'class warfare'? I call Paul Ryan's budget -- which the Republican House overwhelmingly voted for, I remind you -- nothing less than 'class warfare'. Ryan's plan would stick it to poor retirees to the tune of six thousand dollars a year, instead of giving them the Medicare they deserve. Ryan's plan would give old folks a set amount per year, as a voucher, and then leave them to the mercies of the private health insurance market. If that voucher didn't purchase anything near what Medicare covers, well, tough patootie, Grandma. Guess you'll have to fork over six grand out of your Social Security checks each year, just to get what you had been promised all along. How anyone can examine Ryan's plan for Medicare and not call it 'class warfare' is beyond me."
Attacking Social Security
"You want to know what I call 'class warfare'? Attacking Social Security. From Rick Perry calling it a, quote, Ponzi scheme, unquote, to the age-old Republican dream to privatize Social Security, this is a direct attack on American seniors who rely on those checks for survival. Ever since Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed Social Security into existence, one political party has tried to kill it -- over and over again. The Republicans can't stand the concept of Social Security, and they are increasingly unafraid to bluntly admit this. Social Security could be 'saved' right this minute by one simple step -- removing the cap on earnings -- which would make it solvent for the next 75 years. Most people have never even heard of this option, which would not raise taxes for something like 97 to 98 percent of American workers. The media present the only possible options as 'raising the retirement age, slashing benefits, or hiking taxes on everyone' when this is just not true. There's a simple and easy way to fix Social Security -- tax every worker at exactly the same rate. That's it. That's how easy it is. Instead of this simple fix, Republicans fighting for the wealthiest two or three percent want to slash everyone else's benefits rather than making the wealthy pay exactly the same rate as a fireman or policeman. That is indeed 'class warfare', by just about any definition of the term."
"You want to know what I call 'class warfare'? Union busting. This was, in fact, the original class warfare in the United States of America, and it used to involve a whole lot of violence. Speaking of 'warfare' today is almost laughable, when you learn the history of what Unions had to go through to get the basic workers' rights we all enjoy today. The federal government used to be in the business of violently protecting the rich folks' interests by strike breaking and Union busting. Sadly, today's Republicans have latched onto this as a tactic in statehouses across the country, and are now trying to push the idea at the national level. There is no clearer example of 'class warfare' in America today than Union-busting."
"You want to know what I call 'class warfare'? Suppressing the vote among the poorest American citizens. The Republican Party is right now engaged in a state-by-state effort to combat what they call 'voter fraud' -- a problem that does not even exist. The Republican thinking is that they can hide behind the 'voter fraud' label to pass laws that make it harder and harder for poor people to vote. This effort is ongoing, and is one of the untold stories of this election cycle, because the news media is too lazy to report it. There is nothing more anti-American than using voting laws to suppress peoples' votes -- the ones you think won't vote for your party. I thought America was beyond such things, but apparently we aren't. And voter suppression is the ugliest and most disgusting form of 'class warfare' that I can even imagine."
Bucking the mainstream
"You want to know what I call 'class warfare'? Defending to the death tax policy that only the wealthiest agree with, when the overwhelming majority of the American people disagree. Republicans are bucking the mainstream of political thought on this issue, and they're so desperate they're complaining about Democrats wanting to, quote, divide, unquote, the American people. Excuse me while I utter a belly laugh. I mean, excuse me while I roll all over the carpet laughing so hard I can't breathe. I mean, seriously, is there any group in America left which the Republicans haven't scapegoated at one point or another in the past few years? Is there any division in the American people the Republicans have shown any reluctance to widen in order to further their political aims? Kettle, meet pot, in other words. But getting back to my point -- taxing millionaires a wee bit more is about the most popular idea in American politics today. In fact, I defy you to come up with an idea which consistently polls as high as a millionaires' tax in this country. Even a majority of Republicans agree with the concept. Even more astonishingly -- even a majority of the Tea Partiers agree. Taxing the rich a tiny slice more is the most popular mainstream opinion there is. And Republicans fighting this enormous wave of public opinion are indeed the ones attempting -- once again -- to wage top-down 'class warfare' on the rest of us. Only this time, we're fighting back."
Holding disaster relief hostage
"You want to know what I call 'class warfare'? Well, I'm glad you asked. Allow me to tell you. I call fighting as hard as you can against extending unemployment benefits for millions of Americans 'class warfare'. How can you not call this 'class warfare'? Fighting to take a check out of a desperate family's hands -- which could mean the difference between being homeless and having a roof over their heads -- how does this not fit everyone's description of 'class warfare'?
"Furthermore, how Republicans can even look themselves in the mirror every morning is beyond me, after they tried to fight for their partisan extremism instead of voting for disaster aid. That's right -- Republicans thought it'd be a good idea to hold hostage the money for FEMA. This goes beyond astonishing to downright obscene, especially in the midst of a year which has seen more natural disasters than anyone could have predicted. Flood victims, tornado victims, hurricane victims, even earthquake victims -- all were told they might have disaster aid cut off if the House Republicans didn't get what they wanted elsewhere in the budget. That's not just 'class warfare' -- that's downright heartless. How the media can report on all of this and not use the term 'class warfare' over and over again is a mystery to me -- they only seem to trot the term out when Republicans want them to use it, it seems. Curious, that."
Chris Weigant blogs at:
Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant
Become a fan of Chris on Huffington Post
Full archives of FTP columns: FridayTalkingPoints.com
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