Chris Matthews has fun in Havana: Paul Krugman tackles a wide range of topics in this morning’s column.
We’ll guess he tackled too many. In this brief passage, he attempts to refute that claim about Obama and energy prices:
KRUGMAN (3/23/12): Before we get to the larger implications of this endorsement, let’s get the facts on gas prices straight.That just isn’t good work—unless you belong to the tribe.
First, the lie: No, President Obama did not say, as many Republicans now claim, that he wanted higher gasoline prices. He did once say that a cap-and-trade system for carbon emissions would cause electricity prices to “skyrocket”—an unfortunate word choice. But saying that such a system would raise energy prices was just a factual statement, not a declaration of intent to punish American consumers. The claim that Mr. Obama wanted higher prices is a lie, pure and simple.
As a courtesy, we’ll agree to forget that unfortunate word. But if Obama proposed a plan which he said would make energy prices rise, we can’t imagine why it would be a “lie” to say that he “wanted higher energy prices.”
You might say the claim is misleading somehow. You might say there’s more to the question—that Obama’s proposal was on balance a good idea, despite the rise in energy prices which would be involved.
But why would it be a “lie” to say he wanted (or proposed) higher energy prices? Only the tribe will understand. But increasingly, that’s who various players address, as Krugman goes on to explain, quite correctly:
KRUGMAN: In fact, the conspiracy theories are proliferating so fast it’s hard to keep up. Thus, large numbers of Republicans—and we’re talking about important political figures, not random supporters—firmly believe that global warming is a gigantic hoax perpetrated by a global conspiracy involving thousands of scientists, not one of whom has broken the code of omertà. Meanwhile, others are attributing the recent improvement in economic news to a dastardly plot to withhold stimulus funds, releasing them just before the 2012 election. And let’s not even get into health reform.It’s true. Conservatives hear all manner of bullroar from Fox and from Rush. We don’t know if “important political figures” really believe that global warming is a gigantic hoax. But regular people do believe that—and major political figures are willing to say they do.
Why is this happening? At least part of the answer must lie in the way right-wing media create an alternate reality. For example, did you hear about how the cost of Obamacare just doubled? It didn’t, but millions of Fox-viewers and Rush-listeners believe that it did.
This is what happens when media figures pimp pleasing bullroar to the rubes. Speaking of which:
Last night, we watched Chris Matthews waste half an hour clowning around about Etch a Sketch and other piffle. (Romney said his wife has two Cadillacs! He said the trees are just the right height!) It was an easy way to kill time—and Matthews is stunningly lazy.
It made liberal viewers feel good.
We liberals were getting the comfort food we’re served each night on Hardball. But uh-oh! At one point, Republican strategist Todd Harris made some non-tribal remarks—remarks which ought to be troubling:
MATTHEWS (3/22/12): All this stuff is him. The couple of Cadillacs, the trees are the right height, thinking that $340,000 a year is not, is really pocket change. That’s who he is. You can deny that?Oof. Harris asked a painfully relevant question, while noting that it makes better TV to clown around and have good fun talking about those Caddies.
HARRIS: Well, I think there are two issues. The first is, have they stepped on their own story repeatedly? And I think it's indisputable that that has happened.
I think the larger issue—and it’s not fun to talk about, doesn’t make for great television. But the larger issue is whether it matters. And I would argue that, despite all of this, it hasn’t really mattered. It hasn’t slowed his very methodical process towards getting the nomination.
MATTHEWS: So the methodical speeches he has prepared for him by his staff is what we should listen to, not what he says—
HARRIS: No. But what I’m saying is, has any of this disqualified him? Is President Obama running away in a head-to-head?
If he’s as terrible as everyone is saying that he is, then why is the president barely beating him?
Matthews simply continued to clown. So did his favorite monkey, McMahon. You’ll never be troubled with questions like those on The One True Liberal Channel.
Here’s the thought which crossed our mind when we watched Harris say that (and a few other things) last night:
In Godfather II, Michael Corleone finally wonders—is it possible Castro could actually win?
He asks the question at a meeting. Hyman Roth tells him to hush.
Everyone knew it couldn't happen. The parties continued in Havana. And then, omigod!
Despite all the clowning, it did!