2/14/2005

Is Cokie Roberts the dumbest journalist in America?

Paul Waldman of Gadflyer says: Why yes! He writes:
I've almost given up debunking the ridiculous conventional wisdom around Howard Dean becoming DNC chair – that he's a radical leftist, that his victory has something to do with the party "moving to the left," etc. As I wrote here, "The real reason Dean is assumed to be such a radical is that the national press corps has a fixed image of what a Democrat is supposed to be: meek, uncertain, accommodating, afraid of Republicans, unwilling to stand up for his or her beliefs. When a candidate comes along demonstrating evidence of a spine, the conclusion is that he must be some kind of ideological extremist."
The conventional wisdom also says that Democrats have to "move to the center," because, one supposes, the American public wants to outlaw abortion, give tax breaks to the wealthy, slash spending on domestic programs, eliminate environmental regulations, and privatize Social Security. The fact that they don't actually want those things is seldom mentioned.
And when it comes to mindless regurgitation of the Washington conventional wisdom, nobody holds a candle to Cokie Roberts. There are unconfirmed reports that one time back in the early eighties Roberts had an actual insight, but you wouldn't know it from listening to her today. And on Sunday's This Week, she hit a new low. Discussing Dean and the Democrats on the show's roundtable, she noted that they control neither the House, nor the Senate, nor the presidency, then actually said this:
"The reason [Democrats] are in this bind is that they impose such a stringent litmus test on the issue of abortion. And when Republicans impose that litmus test everybody goes crazy. The Democrats did it this time around. Tim Roemer would have been the chairman of the party if it were not for abortion."
I challenge anyone to send me a more idiotic analysis of the current state of the two parties. Forget about the fact that the GOP is much more stringent on their litmus test (when a pro-choice Republican becomes Senate leader, monkeys will fly out of Tim Russert's butt). But abortion? Abortion? The Democrats don't hold the White House or the Congress because of abortion? Oh yeah, now I remember all those Bush campaign ads about outlawing Roe v. Wade. The election wasn't about, say, terrorism and national security, was it? Nah, it must have been abortion.
And Tim Roemer would have been chairman of the party had he been pro-choice? The guy who was not possessed of a single idea about where to take the party? Who was a supporter of Republican economic policies? The guy who, when you say "grassroots," thinks you're talking about lawn care? The guy who, had all the candidates stayed in the race, would have come in at best a distant fourth, maybe worse?
My god – why is Cokie Roberts still on television?
But of course, it isn't just television. This morning on NPR, Roberts was brought on to continue her anti-Democratic musings, where she noted that if you look at a county-by-county map of the country, there's a lot of red, and not a lot of blue! And that is a serious problem, since we allot votes in this country by acreage. Think hard, Cokie: why might that be? I know you can come up with the answer!
Let me take this opportunity to issue a challenge to the brave pundits who serve our nation. If the Democrats win seats in 2006 and win the White House in 2008, will you swear right now that you will ruminate endlessly about whether the GOP needs to move to the center?
We know the answer, of course. When Republicans win, it's because the country is so conservative, and Democrats need to change what they believe. When Democrats win, it's because of a skilled candidate or a freak accident of history, and Republicans don't need to change a thing.

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