Yesterday, The Washington Independent's Dave Weigel dug into one of the day's hot Twitter spats ("Spatter?), between Salon's Glenn Greenwald and MSNBC's Joe Scarborough over former Vice President Dick Cheney. It went like this:
GREENWALD: Do Republicans psychologically block out the fact that Bush and Cheney were two of the most unpopular politicians in American history?
SCARBOROUGH: @glenngreenwald Pop Quiz: who has a lower approval rating currently? The former VP or current House speaker?
Now, I can't be bothered to dig into either gentleman's math. I'll leave fact-checking Twitter to CNN. But I think it's probably fair to say that Greenwald is referring to job approval ratings conducted while Bush and Cheney were in office. Whereas Scarborough is explicitly referring to current job approval ratings. This is not just a comparison of apples to oranges -- it's a comparison between apples that have been digested to oranges that are sort of asinine.
Might I take a moment to remind everyone that Dick Cheney currently does not have a job? So why should I, or anyone care about his approval rating? I might argue with Dick Cheney's positions on issues, but his job seems to consist of making speeches in front of organizations who have signaled their tacit approval of his remarks in advance, and giving awards to himself. Who am I to object to his performance, in this avocation? It seems to me he's doing quite well. Insofar as the office of the vice president serves as a frame of reference, what can I say? Dick Cheney is doing a bang-up job, not being Vice President. Of all the people currently not being Vice President, Dick Cheney is among the best. Why, I'd go so far to say that not-vice-presidenting is truly Cheney's calling in life. Would that he had taken up the occupation sooner! Pollsters of America, please mark me down as approving, 100%!
Nancy Pelosi, by contrast, is still serving in an official, non-imaginary capacity, still shaping policy, still presiding over debates, still facing and making tough choices. And people have every right to register their disapproval in real-time. I'm sure that Pelosi probably takes hits to her approval rating depending on how people feel about the direction of the House in general and the whole Democratic caucus. That might not seem fair on its face, but these are the perils of office and responsibility -- the office that Pelosi currently holds, responsibilities Pelosi to which Pelosi must currently answer.
Why does anyone care or report on Dick Cheney's current job approval ratings? Probably because the media has become fixated on creating the illusion that some sort of parallel debate is going on, where the current president is on equal footing to an imaginary vice president, in a separate universe, using quantum theory or something. It's all just pointless mental runoff, that dribbles out into the political discourse.
Also? As Dave Weigel points out, "Cheney's net negative rating is -22, while Pelosi's is -17. The answer to Scarborough's question is 'Cheney.'" So, here's an idea! Why don't we all just doubleplus shut the heck up about Dick Cheney's approval rating? KTHXBAI.
Joe Scarborough Bets on Cheney, Loses [Washington Independent]
PREVIOUSLY, on the HUFFINGTON POST:
The Dick And Liz Cheney Show Rolls On