Monday, January 08, 2007

The "Honeymoon" Between the Democrats and the Press: There Wasn't One

It's been a great two months having real hope for our country's future. There was a great week in Congress as the strongest ethical reform since the Watergate era passed. The Dems made progress on the "First 100 Hours" agenda. But things aren't totally rosy. The "honeymoon" for the Democratic Congress and the media didn't last 24 hours.

Already, CNN, MSNBC and FOX have bared their collective teeth at Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and the Democrats. The relcutance to embrace a woman leader at the top ranks of US government was never more apparent that when the various (unfortunately mostly female) daytime anchors of the big three cable news outlets let Pelosi have it.

With the exception of the media bashing of Al Gore and Howard Dean for the pettiest of reasons, men are rarely held up to media ridicule for what they wear or how they talk. Not so with Pelosi or Hillary Clinton.

Tucker Carlson's, thinly-disguised hope that Johnson never return to the Senate is almost palpable. Tucker came close to suggesting that Johnson should already resign his seat and give the majority (with Cheney's vote) back to the GOP. Not so fast. Tucker's self-serving salivation is, at the very least, pretty low. Johnson is making steady progress and there are a number of precedents by GOP leaders taking extended leave. We have just learned from FBI files recently declassified that Former Chief Justice Reinquist's rehabilitation from prescription drug use is one example. [Aside: Personally, I think this revellation was unnecessary. Reinquist did nothing wrong. Unlike one famous right-wing radio host, Reinquist was using legal prescriptions for pain and sleeplesness.] The point is that when Reinquist, Strom Thurmond, or the other Congressional members from time past, needed to recover, they did so. Later in life, Strom Thurmond missed much time in the Senate. But these republican public servants retained their positions. It's more than disgusting that not many years after the Senate turned back over to the Reblicans on the death of Sen. Paul Wellstone (whose suspiciously died in a plane crash due to someone turning runway lights off at the small airport), any member of the the media should try to engineer a groundswell for a Johnson resignation.

There was more evidence of no-honeymoon by the media. On Friday, the fist full day the Democrats were in charge after the Thursday ceremonies, NBC ripped Democrats for having a $1000 a plate fundraiser. Coming on the heels of the money-flowing-everywhere GOP rule, this hardly constitutes a scandal.

And the unfair media-bashing of James Webb has begun. (See additional blog post on this blog for the details.)

Anchors have falsely accused Democrats of "not having a plan." But they do (have a plan), that they were not in charge of Congress before Thursday, and that they don't control two branches of government even now. There are actually at least three Democratic plans for Iraq (Democrats do differ on various issues), all of which will be debated. The Dems "First 100 Hours" effort debunks the claims that they'll do nothing that Americans care about. Already they've passed the most extensive ethics bill since the Watergate era. And more constructive effort is to come.

Once bills obstructed by former GOP chairs are voted on, the GOP will experience more collegiality and fair treatment than Democrats ever received at GOP hands. Under GOP rule, there were votes never announced to Democrats, votes scheduled when Dems were home in their districts, unscheduled votes in the middle of the night. Dems didn't get to read the bills, add amendemnts, or debate the bills. The GOP added secret amendments in the middle of the night. Once when Democrats were relegated to the basement to hold a hearing, the Capitol Police were called by the Delay-Frist storm-troopers. This was the sad state of our Democracy at the hands of the GOP. [Yes, I know that we technically have a Republic, but the overarching goal of our country is a the construct of democracy. And certainly since we attempt to foist democracy on others, however much an oxymoron it is (to try to force democracy). If we expect others to emrace it, we should practice more of it.] But the media ignores it all.

As daytime anchors on the three cable news networks openly mocked and belittled Democratic leaders and committee chairs on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, I found it ever so more satisfying watching ACC basketball. (Go Tech!)