07 October 2012

Mary Matalin - On the Avant-Guarde of Republican Rhetoric

This morning I was making pancakes and delivering (some of)  them upstairs to where Susan was watching the Sunday talking heads shows.  At one point she had on This Week with George Stephanopolous (ABC); the panel was Mary Matalin, James Carville, Peggy Noonan, Paul Krugman and Jonathan Karl.*

The most prominent feature of the show was Mary Matalin. Not only did she engage is standard Republican anti-intellectualism, referring to Krugman repeatedly and sneeringly as "Professor Doctor Krugman." Not only did she lecture Krugman (who after all has won the Nobel Prize in economics) on economic history. Not only did she sit back and roll her eyes as Krugman replied to her antics and misstatements. She did do all of those things.  But her most egregious behavior was that she at one point directly accused Krugman of lying persistently about Republican economic policy.

Matalin's performance, in short, descended below even the extremely low lower bound of talking head behavior. But it exemplifies Republican politics  - savage your opponent regardless of whether there is anything resembling reasons or evidence for your claims. And, by no means ever - never ever - acknowledge that 'your guy' might not be perfectly correct on every single issue.

The ironic thing, of course, is that Krugman has been a consistent critic of Obama, who was the actual target of Matalin's rants. Imagine if Matalin had to interact with someone who supported Obama!
* Once the transcript is posted on line I will link to it here
P.S.: A Revised Update - Here is the offending interaction:

NOONAN: I think one of the key things about the debate is it's changed -- we will look back on it as an historic moment in this election. It upended things. This is what it upended. Barack Obama was supposed to be the sort of moderate centrist fellow, who looked at Mitt Romney, this extreme, strange fellow. By the time that debate was over, Mitt Romney seemed a completely moderate, centrist figure, who showed up as Mitt Romney the governor, not as Mitt Romney the candidate.
KRUGMAN: Except that everything he used to claim his centrism wasn't true, so this is a question, does that start to take its toll over the next few months.
NOONAN: I just think that is unjust. I mean, to say the very least --
KRUGMAN: When you say my [plan] (sic) covers pre-existing conditions when it doesn't and when your own campaign has admitted in the past that it doesn't, what do you say? That's amazing.
MATALIN: You have Mitt characterized (sic) -- and you have lied about every position and every particular of the Ryan plan on Medicare from the efficiency of Medicare administration to calling it a voucher plan, so you're hardly...
KRUGMAN: It is a voucher plan.
MATALIN: You are hardly credible on calling somebody else a liar. Here's what else...
KRUGMAN: Well, if you're going to make this not about that -- but, no, the fact of the matter, I just think that pre-existing condition thing was a defining moment. It was saying this guy believes not only he can say something that isn't true, but something that his own complain (sic) has admitted isn't true. And he can say it in front of 70 million people. That's amazing.
Conservatives will not doubt reply that I am being unfair. Note two things by comparison: (1) Carville was directly critical of Obama and (2) when he nonetheless plumped for the Democrats he did so with humor and without personal attack.

One final thing - Stephanopolous did nothing to call Matalin out for this adolescent behavior.

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