What’s the matter with “Democratic strategist” Penny Lee? Even if she’s angling to get her spot back as a Fox News contributor, it’s hard to understand how she could appear on the Hannity show and pretend that Senator Ted Cruz is a man of principle whose only real flaw is that he didn’t “build a consensus” for his radical plan to defund Obamacare at the expense of the entire federal government.
I wish I could say that that was all that was jaw dropping about Lee’s supposed Democratic strategy. The fact is, she spent the entire segment seemingly determined to rebut conservative aggression as mildly as possible and with the least amount of talking up her own side.
For starters, Lee somehow missed the irony of Sean Hannity complaining about “the outrageous rhetoric” of the left, which was the premise of the discussion. Hannity began by asking Lee, ”Anarchist, arsonist, extortionist …You wouldn’t use those words, would you?”
Lee immediately played into Hannity’s hands by, essentially, agreeing with him. “It’s not language I would use,” she said, before playing the old, “both sides do it” card. That’s bad enough. Because while I will admit that there are some on the left using inflammatory rhetoric I wouldn’t use or endorse either, there’s nobody on the left getting the kind of unchallenged airtime as the likes of Ann Coulter or Michelle Malkin do right there on Fox News. And they’re far from alone. Arsonist? How about joking about killing liberals (Ann Coulter)? Or calling liberals “human emetics” (Michelle Malkin) Or telling a liberal woman, “Know your place and shut your mouth” (Hannity pal Bill Cunningham)? Each of those incidents happened on the Hannity show without a peep of objection from Mr. Suddenly Sensitive.
It’s hard to believe that Lee does not know what goes on, given that she’s been a long-time guest on the show. But instead of calling out the rank hypocrisy, she came up with the mildest of examples for “the other side doing it.” Her examples? “Lamar Alexander going out there and saying the implementation of Obamacare is gonna be similar to that of what happened in Iran-Contra.” And “Senator Grassley has gone into his town halls, saying Obamacare is gonna be about killing Grandma.” She concluded, “So the rhetoric on both sides… not particularly helpful.”
The other guest was Katie Pavlich, another Fox News regular who doesn’t mind using inflammatory insults, herself. While Lee was pretending or duped into believing that she was having a real discussion, Pavlich knew better and went straight for the jugular. “Look, we see this over and over again. …Instead of coming up with a coherent argument, about why Obamacare is good for the country, why we need a debt-ceiling increase… they throw out scary words like ‘anarchist’ and ‘extortion.’”
But rather than challenge Pavlich's hate mongering, Lee played the “Republicans do it, too” card again.
Then Hannity brought up Cruz. After he and Pavlich slobbered over Cruz’ phony filibuster, which Hannity described as “sticking up for his promise” as opposed to, say, working to bring down the government in order to float his own showboat, Hannity asked Lee for her opinion. And instead of pointing out what a dangerous demagogue Cruz is, she seemed to bend over backwards to legitimize his efforts:
You know, I always had great respect, when I was working in the Senate, for (Republican) Tom Coburn because it was the exact same thing. He stood for the principles which he, which he fought for, which he was elected to do. So I had a great amount of respect for him… I applaud (Cruz) for sticking to his own, to Ted Cruz, for sticking to his principles, as he said. But what he did was he didn’t build the consensus around it and I think that’s what’s getting him in trouble.
Really? That’s where he went wrong? Not in threatening to shut down the government because he wants to run for president defund the Affordable Care Act, a law that was passed by Congress, signed by the president and upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court?
But wait, there’s still more. Pavlich lied as she talked up Cruz. She said, “Republicans have public opinion completely on their side.” Which is so not true. It is true that Obamacare is not popular at the moment. But Americans don’t want to defund it, much less shut down the government to do so.
But Lee did not call out the falsehood. Instead, she said, “I think more than anything, though, people want the city and the government to function and that’s what’s gonna be the real test.”
I don't mean to demean or denigrate Lee, who seems like a perfectly nice and decent person. I'm all for disagreeing without being disagreeable. But when you're dealing with someone like Cruz - potentially as radical and destructive as Senator Joseph McCarthy - it's no time to pretend there's just a gentlemanly (or gentlewomanly) difference of opinion going on. I’m sorry to say it but with “strategists” like Lee, I see the GOP rolling right over the Democrats.
By the way, Coburn has slammed against Cruz’ efforts as futile and destructive.
There are two harsh truths that need to be acknowledged here. First, this isn’t a competition between which side of the aisle can demonize the other one more. If it was, the right wing would win the race by a good mile or two. The right wing has regularly accused Democrat Presidents of murder, has regularly tried to trump up charges against them, and has regularly made the most inflammatory statements possible without being held to any account on Fox News. This site serves as an archive for many of the most ridiculous statements made on the air – including angry, hateful displays by Michelle Malkin, Katie Pavlich and many others. Pavlich tried without success to peddle the phony “Fast and Furious” matter into a media career for herself, including trying to use the death of a Border Patrol Agent as a stepping stone for herself. People need to remember that Pavlich has no credibility after that, regardless of whether she and Hannity would like that discussion to be forgotten. Malkin has regularly shouted some of the most unbelievable personal attacks I’ve ever heard on the air.
Contrast that with the left wing making statements of justifiable concern about the aggression of the Nixon, Reagan, Bush and W Bush presidencies. The left never said what Ann Coulter did about invading Middle Eastern countries and converting their populations to Christianity. The left simply noted that it was the same group of cabinet guys working in all those presidencies who were enriching themselves at everyone else’s expense. The left didn’t support invasions and assassinations – they opposed such behavior on principle, while the right openly salivated about engaging in that behavior. I would agree that there are posters of all opinions on message boards who have stooped to a low level of personal attack, but that’s frankly not the driving idea in left wing media like Pacifica Radio. And right wing pundits, including those who are sheltered on Fox News, know this well – something they regularly acknowledge by the smirks they make while making their claims.
The second truth, which is arguably more important, is that right wing opposition to the ACA has nothing to do with some all-encompassing concern about “damage to the economy”. It has nothing to do with the right wing really caring so much about the rule of law, or about helping out the middle class. This is about the right wing’s anger and hatred toward President Obama. They’ve hated him since before he even declared his candidacy for President for 2008. The right wing convinced themselves there was no way Obama could win the 2008 election, and they even told their constituents and radio/television audiences that he couldn’t win. And they doubled down on this idea in 2012. When Obama won both times, the right wing was outraged. So rather than deal with the man, they took the childish route – they made a decision to fold their arms, stomp their foot and yell “NO!” every time President Obama and the Democrats tried to get anything through Congress.
The GOP opposition to the ACA had nothing to do with a principled issue, since President Obama had triangulated them by using Romney’s plan from Massachusetts as its basis. (And the left’s issue with the ACA has always been that the real solution to this problem is Single Payer, which we’ll eventually get, but which the ACA postpones for another decade or so.) The GOP was offered carrots in this law time and time again, most egregiously when the Democrats agreed to remove the public option. (And I would argue that the GOP only wanted that out so they could encourage opposition on the left.) But the GOP never had any intention of voting for this legislation. Their entire purpose, as Anthony Weiner correctly pointed out at the time, was to obstruct, obstruct, obstruct so they could delay, delay, delay, so they could continue to obstruct, obstruct, obstruct. The GOP was hoping they could kill this legislation just like they killed the Clinton health care reform in the 90s. If they could have delayed it another month or two, they could have gotten it off the calendar and forced it into the 2010 Election. Instead, the Dems got the bill passed in spite of all the obstruction, and President Obama signed it into law.
So the GOP threw bigger tantrums, including somewhere around 30 meaningless votes by House GOP members to repeal the law. They mounted lawsuits against the law with the clear intent of getting it before what they believed would be a friendly Supreme Court during the 2012 Election. Except that the Supreme Court ruled that the law was constitutional, handing the right wing a crushing defeat and denying Mitt Romney a talking point he was desperately hoping to use in his doomed presidential bid. So what does the GOP do now? They try a phony parliamentary ploy to simply refuse to fund a constitutional law that they don’t like. If this kind of ploy actually worked in the real world, there must be at least a hundred areas that the left wing would prefer not be funded in the government. And the GOP knows this ploy won’t work – all of the latest behavior is just grandstanding and showboating by Ted Cruz and friends.
I would argue that Cruz knows he won’t become President as a result of his behavior here. His intention isn’t to get him a higher office. His intention is to get a lucrative media contract for himself after he serves one or two terms in the Senate. He’s clearly hoping to become a Fox News personality like Mike Huckabee or Sarah Palin. And from the looks of it, his plan will succeed.
When it comes to GOP behavior in the Congress, we frankly must keep in mind that threatening a shutdown has become the GOP’s regular tactic. They do this every single time a budget comes up for a vote, and every single time the debt ceiling comes up for an increase vote. They take every one of these situations right to the brink, to repeatedly test the Democrats’ resolve and to repeatedly attempt to embarrass and obstruct President Obama. The GOP has tried this tactic under every possible permutation, including trying to do it during the Christmas holiday break. It’s pretty clear that their intent is to make the Obama presidency as unpleasant as they can. Something tells me that history will have a much harsher judgment of them once all the facts are known in public another ten years. Which is why it is so vitally important that propaganda efforts by outlets like Fox News be challenged and debunked as quickly as Ellen can catch them. Fox News is trying to write a biased first draft of history. It is crucial that the record show that the Fox News version of events is actually an opinion rather than a fact.
I’m starting to think that perhaps Fox has a hypnotist or is spiking the coffee and/or water cooler with some mind alternating drugs that can make any liberal commentator perform this Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hyde act once the red light goes on the camera. This behavior is repeating itself way too often.
Marie Therese (if you can remember back that far) used to say that Fox had a laboratory in the basement where they cooked up these nice, bland and largely ineffective Democrats. Our Penny could have been the prototype.
BTW, Hannity’s radio downfall is on track:
As discussed in previous threads, Hannity’s move to WOR AM here in NYC won’t affect his audience demographics and ratings that much, but if he has to move from his current studio at WABC and move way downtown, he’ll be fuming. Hah!
To let words fall from her mouth that can be used as weapons against the Dems that she supposedly ‘strategizes’ for, is ridiculous at best. And, on Fox, dangerous.
I think her game here was to prove herself reasonable and someone a conservatives should like. Misguided and sucking up, yes, IMO, because I think she’s mistakenly assuming the conservatives have a real beef with Obamacare (which they were for when it was a conservative plan), as opposed to a desire to demonize the left in order to gain power. But I don’t think her goal was to get attention.
I could be wrong, of course. But the point I’m trying to make in the post, perhaps not so well, is that Lee’s so-called strategy is at best ineffective and, at worst, enables the GOP, not that she’s a bad or hateful person.
Moral of the story, so will the public once it gets a taste of the Affordable Healthcare Act.
After reading this article, I don’t think I much care who she is, or what she thinks. Dave Wright is right….just another attention whore doing and saying whatever is necessary to remain relevant. (assuming anything with Fox is relevant, of course.)