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Ed Driscoll

‘When John Kerry Calls You Out of Touch…’

September 28th, 2010 - 11:14 am

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As Rich Lowry writes, “When John Kerry calls you out of touch, you must be so far out of touch that you need to call Mazlan Othman, the U.N.’s designated liaison to space aliens, to re-establish contact with Planet Earth:”

Take that, Velma Hart. Those who saw Hart, a middle-class, African-American mother of two, confront President Barack Obama at a CNBC town-hall meeting last week thought they had heard a genuine voice of dismay at the state of the economy and Obama’s failure to deliver on his golden promises.

If we take Hart as representative of the public mood, though, Kerry must have instead discerned a clueless complainer. If only Hart were sufficiently plugged in, she’d have the sense to get over her economic anxiety. So what if she fears returning to franks-and-beans family dinners? Does John Kerry carp when he’s shamed into moving his $7 million yacht from Rhode Island to Massachusetts, where he will have to shoulder an additional $500,000 tax bill?

Whatever else you think of Democrats, they are lousy amateur sociologists and political scientists. Whenever the public rejects them, it’s a “temper tantrum,” in late ABC News anchor Peter Jennings’s term for the 1994 electoral rout. Liberal Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson has teed up that tried-and-true explanation for this fall: “The American people are acting like a bunch of spoiled brats.”

Obama has his own theory of voter irrationality. In his view, if only economic conditions were stronger, reasonable people would be Obama-supporting secularists with liberal mores. During the 2008 primaries, he infamously explained that people in rural areas who weren’t supporting him were clinging to guns and religion because of the poor economy. He has attributed misgivings about Islam to economic anxieties. It’s the all-purpose explanation for any public sentiment that discomfits liberals.

Not far behind is the plaint that “the system” is broken so people are understandably frustrated by the “pace of change.” The New Republic profiles “disillusioned” Obama adviser David Axelrod and explains that he’s despairing over a “ferociously stubborn, possibly irredeemable system.” This is the same system through which Democrats forced a historic $800 billion stimulus bill, a historic health-care law and a historic financial-regulation bill — as well as lesser stimuli and government takeovers.

Or as Lowry concludes, “When the late Democratic Rep. Mo Udall ran for president in 1976, he commented after one primary loss, ‘The voters have spoken . . . the bastards.’ That’s a great line, but a poor message for a political party.”

Indeed. And speaking of poor messages — and even worse messengers, Democratic strategist Bob Beckel self-destructs on national TV:

Here’s something you don’t hear very often from a Fox News Contributor You’re a woman, you better be careful about saying who I carry water for,” but that was the threat Bob Beckel made to my friend, Pamela Geller editor of Atlas Shrugs during a heated exchange on Eric Bolling’s Fox Business News show Money Rocks last night.

After a discussion of the 60 Minutes report on the Ground Zero mosque controversy (that ran the night before) Bolling brought in Ahmed Rehab of the CAIR who instead of discussing the Mosque stooped to calling Ms. Geller names. That’s the same CAIR who was named an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation Terrorist funding case and as recently as this past March, whose terrorist ties were  reaffirmed by the FBI.

Then Beckel, looking visibly angry was brought in to discuss an insensitive statement during his last appearance on Money Rocks, in which he said,

Look, at some point, I know it’s sensitive here in New York and probably New Jersey, but we have to get over 9/11.”

Beckel’s response to the query about his statement to tear into Pamela, saying that on her site she once said she felt President Obama was an anti-Semite.

Obviously Beckel felt intimidated by Geller because he could not even look at her while he started his childish name calling. But as he got his “sea legs” the progressive apologist began to get abusive toward Pamela, still unable to look her in the eye:

Geller:  I would like to address Mr. Beckel’s point.  I don’t know why you’re carrying water for the most radical, intolerant ideology in the world today.  There have been 20,000 documented radical Islamic attacks since 9/11.  Each one with the imprimatur of a Muslim cleric…

Beckel: You better be very careful.  You’re a woman, you better be very careful about who you say I carry water for, because you have no idea what you’re talking about.   And don’t start putting me in the middle of your crap!

Geller: Don’t you point to me!

Beckel: I’ll point to you all I want!

Geller: Don’t you point to me.  You’re a misogynist.

Click over to the video at the Yid With Lid blog to watch Beckel’s meltdown, which is eerily reminiscent of newly minted MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell’s fist-pounding moment back in 2005 against the now sadly deceased Cathy Seipp. (O’Donnell’s He-Man Woman Hating Club routine will play especially well on his new network.)

As Kate of the Canadian Small Dead Animals blog once wrote, “scratch a progressive, and you’ll find a misogynist.” But what is it about conservative women that causes liberal elites to lose it so badly on television? (Or in print for that matter?)

Perhaps to assuage all of their anger with the American people, with reality proving rather problematic, the left turns to fantasy. Or as Byron York writes, “Unable to govern, Dems turn to Stephen Colbert:”

This year the Democratic leadership of the House and Senate made a strategic decision not to pass a budget for the federal government. They feared their spending priorities might not win the approval of voters in November’s elections, so they simply opted out of their budgetary responsibility.

More recently, the Democratic leadership made a strategic decision not to decide whether to extend the Bush tax cuts, which are set to expire Dec. 31. If nothing is done, taxes will rise for every American who pays income tax. But, as with the budget, Democrats worried that raising at least some taxes might not win voter approval, so they left the most pressing economic decision of the moment unresolved.

Finally, last Friday, Democrats in the House invited comedian Stephen Colbert to testify, in character as a buffoonish right-wing anchorman, before an otherwise serious hearing on migrant farm workers. Given the gravity of the topic, and of the country’s economic situation in general, the performance was so off-key that even Democratic leaders called it inappropriate.

What do those disparate events have in common? In matters large and small, the actions of Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill have created what could be the question of the final weeks of the campaign: Are Democrats really serious about running Congress?

Wouldn’t a party that is serious about running Congress at least try to pass a budget? Wouldn’t a party that is serious about running Congress at least try to avert the chaos of a last-minute, across-the-board tax increase? And wouldn’t a party that is serious about running Congress think twice before going along with a high-profile mockery of Congress itself?

As the elections approach, the Colbert fiasco has given Republicans an unexpected framework for talking about the basic unseriousness of the last six months of Democratic rule on Capitol Hill. “They’ve got time to bring a comedian to Washington, D.C, but they don’t have time to eliminate the uncertainty by extending all of the current tax rates,” said House Republican Leader John Boehner on “Fox News Sunday”. “I think that’s irresponsible.”

“Rather than addressing the floundering economy or the looming tax hikes on the middle class and small businesses, all Democrats showed the American people with this stunt is how out of touch they are,” the Republican National Committee wrote in introducing a quickie video entitled “The Colbert Congress.”

Jonah Goldberg adds that “Stephen Colbert’s ‘testimony’ before Congress last week was a clear sign that ironic rot (if you’ve got a better term, let me know) is sinking into the foundation of our political system:”

“The Daily Show” begat “The Colbert Report,” in which Colbert plays a jingoistic, know-it-all, borderline bigot. In other words, he pretends to be what many liberals claim Bill O’Reilly is. That’s the joke, get it?

It was this Stephen Colbert who was invited to testify before a House judiciary subcommittee on immigration and labor. It was an excruciatingly inappropriate spectacle. “This is America,” Colbert inveighed. “I don’t want a tomato picked by a Mexican.”

But who, exactly, is Colbert parodying here? O’Reilly doesn’t talk like that. Nor does Sean Hannity or any of the usual targets Colbert’s supposed to be lampooning. The real upshot of Colbert’s shtick is that he’s mocking people who disagree with him — or with the left-wing base of the Democratic Party — on the complicated issue of immigration.

This was made abundantly clear by the sober testimony of Carol Swain, a Vanderbilt University professor of law and political science, who argued quite effectively that a steady flow of cheap migrant labor depresses wages for poor blacks and other American workers while keeping working conditions grim.

Though Colbert would obviously deny it, his testimony amounted to calling Swain — an African American woman of very humble background — an ignorant bigot, because her analysis runs counter to the liberal party line.

Colbert’s defenders point to the fact that other celebrities have testified before Congress. “I would like to point out,” Rep. Judy Chu (D-El Monte) noted during the hearing, “that in the past the Republicans have had witnesses such as Loretta Swit, who played ‘Hot Lips’ Houlihan from ‘MASH,’ to testify on crush videos.” True enough. But she didn’t testify as “Hot Lips.”

Colbert’s testimony reduced the topic to a black-and-white issue in which people on the other side are fools or bigots worthy of cheap mockery. I thought the whole point of Colbert was to stand against that sort of thing by making fun of it, not by doing it. Are our politics really improved by making congressional hearings even more of a joke?

On Oct. 30, Colbert’s “March to Keep Fear Alive” will join Stewart’s “Rally to Restore Sanity” on the National Mall. They will rationalize the stunts as send-ups and putdowns of all that is wrong with our politics. But by slowly degenerating from satire into plain old mockery, these guys are slowly becoming too-clever-by-half versions of the very people they claim to deplore.

You can only be avant-garde for so long before you become garde.

Or worst of all, the Palace Guard.

Related: “The Return of ‘The Manhandler:’”

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As Steve Green adds, “Devastating.”

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