While MSNBC has built it’s reputation as a liberal network, it actually allocates more airtime to conservative hosts on it’s opinion shows. The network is known for it’s liberal firebrands but it has slowly evolved into the most balanced opinion based network on cable television. The network begins it’s daytime schedule with MORNING JOE-named for it’s primary host, former conservative congressman Joe Scarborough. While the show is co-hosted by Scarborough’s fiance Mika Brzezinski, the show is named after the republican host. Scarborough banks 3 hours of airtime each morning. A rotating line-up of mid-day hosts trade airtime until the solidly republican Nicolle Wallace reignites the network’s prime-time lineup. Wallace hosts her own show at 4pm , and Chuck Todd follows her with MTP Daily. Wallace is a clear partisan but Todd’s coverage largely lacks the partisan bent of most opinion based shows. Todd is followed by For The Record with Greta Van Susteren who is clearly right leaning and her husband is a gladiator for right wing politicians. Greta is followed by Hardball with Chris Mathews who is categorized as liberal by most conservatives. Chris Hayes, Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O’Donnell round out the prime time line up as the network’s solid leftists. In total that means conservatives bank 5 hours, while the clear liberals that the network is best known for only log 3 hours. Even if we include Chuck Todd as an unsubstantiated liberal, the left leaning hosts represent only 4 hours of the networks airtime. While often maligned as the left’s version of Fox News, MSNBC has reoriented itself to be an opinion based network that represents both the left and right in nearly equal proportion.
Donald Trump has championed a series of controversial ideas. He wants to build a wall, reminiscent of the Great Wall Of China along the U.S. & Mexico border. He wants to ban muslims from entering the United States. While these ideas are terrible, Trump offered two more ideas that are being universally regarded as awful.
The First Terrible Trump Idea is that women who get abortions should face some form of punishment for exercising autonomy in their reproductive decisions. Trump could not say if he would punish women with a fine or jail time but he did emphasize that they must be punished. This extreme position is an idea that goes beyond the pale for even the most ardent pro life groups. March For Life-a perennial pro life organization released a statement saying: “Mr. Trump’s comment today is completely out of touch with the pro-life movement and even more with women who have chosen such a sad thing as abortion,” said Jeanne Mancini, President of the March for Life Education and Defense Fund. “Being pro-life means wanting what is best for the mother and the baby. Women who choose abortion often do so in desperation and then deeply regret such a decision. No pro-lifer would ever want to punish a woman who has chosen abortion. This is against the very nature of what we are about. We invite a woman who has gone down this route to consider paths to healing, not punishment“.
Trump’s second Terrible Idea was to increase the presence of private prisons in our justice system. Perhaps Mr. Trump is unfamiliar with Former Luzerne County Judge Mark Ciavarella Jr. who was convicted of accepting more than 1 million dollars in bribes from private prisons to fill their cells with juveniles. Judge Ciaverella is not the only justice to participate in such schemes. In introducing a profit incentive to incarcerate citizens, we pervert our justice system and undermine the faith citizens have in it’s outcomes.
These ideas represent a continuous decline in the seriousness of our discourse for the 2016 election.
Who is the rightful successor of the Obama Legacy? The fight to become the President’s standard bearer became the central theme of last night’s Democratic Townhall on MSNBC.
During the Townhall Hillary Clinton launched a series of attacks on Senator Bernie Sanders, alleging that he once encouraged disenchanted democrats to launch a primary challenge to President Obama’s second term in 2012. The attack while effective is also tactically blind to Clinton’s own previous actions.
Clinton has been informally running for President longer than any other candidate. One of the early narratives of her campaign was a direct rebuke of the Obama foreign policy. The Washington Post wrote that “there is little precedent for a secretary of state preparing a presidential campaign in part by criticizing the foreign policy being carried out by the administration she helped lead.” In the earliest moments of 2014 Clinton began a very public critique of President Obama’s Foreign Policy, highlighting moments when the President failed to heed her sage advice and the disastrous consequences of his naivete. At one point Clinton mocked the President (and his famous phrase) declaring that “Don’t Do Stupid Stuff is not an organizing principle” effectively attacking his reluctance to get the U.S. bogged down in long engagements.
While Clinton attempts to position Sanders as a disloyal soldier in the democratic ranks, her attacks on the President came at a much more precarious time for the President, while he was bogged down in the tumult of new complications in Iraq and the Ukraine. Clinton went even further, outpacing even right wing critics of the President becoming among the first to blame the President and the failure of his policies for the rise of Isis. Clinton stated in The Atlantic that “The failure to help build up a credible fighting force of the people who were the originators of the Protests against Bashar al Assad-there were Islamists, there were secularists, there was everything in the middle-the failure to do that left a big vacuum, which the jihadists have now filled”. The public spat evolved into a very embarrassing verbal joust, leaving a sitting President to publicly debate his former Secretary of State in the pages of the New York Times, in which he declared that the postulated scenario of success from Clinton’s recommendations had “always been a fantasy” (Washington Post 8/11/14).
Clinton’s early campaign was positioned to seek political benefits by distancing herself from the President. The Atlantic noted that Clinton repeatedly referred to the President’s policy as a “Failure” a remark she now assaults Sanders for making. As one who now seeks the mantle of the Obama Presidency, the inconvenient truth is that in the early months of 2014, Hillary Clinton was tacking right, praising President Bush and attacking President Obama as a failure (to summarize TheWeek.com 7/28/14).
The most costly charge for the Sanders team is the claim that Sanders once sought “someone” as a primary challenger for President Obama in 2012, however it is worth noting that the challenger most speculated about was Hillary Clinton. Team Clinton supporters, were the most vocal proponents of a Primary challenge for the President. In an article posted to TheHill.com frustrated democrats like Peter DeFazio suggested that a primary challenge might salve the wounds of disappointment he and other democrats felt about the President. A primary challenge he stated would “push the president and his advisers a bit……to give us back the candidate we had three years ago”. An unnamed lawmaker told TheHill.Com that Clinton was the only candidate that could “crystallize the issues”. The same liberal lawmaker told The Hill that “She could do the job and hopefully lead us to a better place”. The clamor culminated with articles like the Daily Beast’s “Hillary Told You So” in which numerous democratic acolytes loyal to Clinton asserted that the disappointment voters felt in Obama could have been avoided had voters made the wiser choice of electing Clinton. Redemption they argued could be earned by supporting a Clinton in 2012 primary challenge. While Clinton vociferously denied interest, fuel was given to fire by Clinton attacking her own Commander In Chief while serving as his Secretary of State, suggesting that Obama’s “Failure” economically was making her job harder as early as 2010.
Hillary Clinton and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders were finally alone in their last debate before the New Hampshire Primary. The removal of former Governor Martin O’malley proved to be surprisingly impactful as the two hopefuls sparred in the best political match of the season. The event hosted by MSNBC stars Chuck Todd and Rachel Maddow was undoubtedly the best of innumerable debates on a multitude of channels. There were no attempts at mockery in this debate and no allusions to the marital status of any other candidates, instead the two politicians engaged in substantive exchanges aimed squarely at the nation’s most pressing issues. Emerging from the debate were fewer distinctions in values and instead a display of the Democratic Party’s struggle between pragmatism and idealism. Hillary Clinton emphasized that she is a battle tested acolyte and a known quantity. Voters, she humorously quipped know just about everything there is to know about her life. Clinton argued with Sanders that she too is a believer in Universal Healthcare but her idealism has been tempered by the political realities of her decades long struggle with America’s most powerful political interests. Sanders positioned himself as the unapologetic advocate for the truest aims of the Democratic base and the ideals of the Great Society. Sanders painted himself as untarnished by Wall-street’s bribery and Clinton struggled to explain how she was not left compromised by her acceptance of speaking fees that soared above a half-a million dollars per hour of speaking. Sanders scored significantly in the domestic discussion, nestled comfortably in his wheel-house as he continued to promote campaign finance reform, wrenching the big banks apart to prevent another “Too Big To Fail” crisis, Universal Healthcare and even his most controversial Free College movement. Sanders was summarily dismissed from the stage once the conversation turned to Foreign Policy which has become the sole dominion of Hillary Clinton. Sanders was visibly out of his element when discussing world affairs and Clinton made her most impressive rational for her candidacy which stands firmly on her level of expertise.
The debate was notable for the sharp tonal edge of what Clinton herself described as a “Vigorous Agreement”. Sanders successfully portrayed Clinton as the spouse of Wall Street while Clinton successfully portrayed herself as the pragmatic advocate of incremental progress. Clinton suggested that she represents competent administration and a plausible means to progressive ends. The debate landed squarely on Sanders as representative of democratic idealism and Clinton effectively arguing that Sanders is well intention-ed but delusional regarding the likelihood of his success.
The New Hampshire Debate was quite simply, spectacular. Who Won the exchange depends simply on the weight one gives toward the Heart or the Head, the Ego versus the Super-Ego and Idealism tempered by Pragmatism.