Part 4—The lamest of all our ducks: For those who watched Rachel Maddow last night, we’ll start with heartfelt apologies.
For the second straight night, Maddow began her program with a rant about Democrats’ lack of plans for the current “lame duck” session of Congress. Before long, the empress was telling us this:
MADDOW (11/12/14): There is one thing that Senate Democrats definitely can do right now, alone, with this last bit of power that they’ve got before the Republicans take control of the Senate. They can confirm President Obama’s pending nominees.To watch that segment, click here.
I mean, the Republicans certainly are not going to do that when they’re in control, right? But the Democrats could do that now. That’s what they could spend this time doing.
There are about 160 Obama nominees of various kinds pending right now, including a couple dozen judges. One of the highest profile nominees is, of course, the president`s choice for attorney general of the United States, Loretta Lynch.
As we reported last night, Senate Democrats have inexplicably decided to not even try to confirm her while they’re still in control [of the Senate]. They’re instead just going to hope that Mitch McConnell will do it. He seems really nice now!
It’s not clear on what Senate Democrats plan on spending their time doing, instead of confirming the attorney general or any of these other nominations that the White House says are their biggest priority and that are in the power of the Senate Democrats to pass if they want to. What else are they going to do besides that?
So far, the only concrete thing we’ve heard is they want to work on the Republican idea for the Keystone pipeline because Mary Landrieu wants to lose her Senate seat with a feather in her cap.
To Maddow, it’s all “inexplicable.” And it isn’t clear what Democrats want to do in this lame duck session.
“So far, the only concrete thing we’ve heard is they want to work on the Republican idea for the Keystone pipeline because Mary Landrieu wants to lose her Senate seat with a feather in her cap.” So said the magnificent Maddow, treating her viewers like fools.
Why do we say she was treating her viewers like fools? In part, because we read the New York Times yesterday morning.
In that well-known newspaper, Carl Hulse presented a full-length “Congressional Memo” about the two parties’ plans for the lame duck congressional session.
Hulse can always be wrong, of course. But he seems to inhabit a different realm, light years from Maddow Land:
HULSE (11/12/14): Democrats want to use the remaining days of their majority to pass a government-wide spending bill, advance nominations, consider a Pentagon policy bill and perhaps enact surveillance law changes. Republicans want to clear away much of the legislative underbrush and renew some tax breaks so they can have a clean start in January. The White House would also like to see government funding assured through next fall and to fill some of its executive and judicial branch vacancies.If you watch the Maddow show, you’ve been propagandized for two straight nights about the Democrats’ lack of planning for the lame duck session.
“The key to it is finding something that both sides can agree on and understanding that the end result has to make both sides look reasonably good or at least not too bad,” said Senator Lamar Alexander, Republican of Tennessee.
Republicans said they were pleased that Democrats seemed increasingly inclined not to use the lame-duck session to press for the confirmation of the United States attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Loretta E. Lynch, as the new attorney general, a move that Republicans were seeing as just one last bit of nomination hardball on the part of their adversaries.
Democrats now indicate that given the press of other priorities, there may not be time to bring the nomination to a floor vote. They say that given her strong credentials, Ms. Lynch should be able to win confirmation from a Republican Senate. And if Republicans block her, Democrats see some political advantage because Republicans would be killing the nomination of the first African-American woman to head the Justice Department—a move that could provoke a backlash.
For their part, Democrats and their allies would like to see Republicans allow some leeway on nominations, particularly career Foreign Service officers waiting for ambassadorial confirmations, rather than force Democrats to consume hours of floor time pushing them through.
If you read the New York Times, you’re suddenly in a different world. You’re in a world where Democrats have a long list of plans for the lame duck session. Where Democrats say they think Lynch will get confirmed through regular order, where Democrats say they’ll gain a political advantage if that doesn’t occur.
What do Democrats actually think? We have no idea. But as of last night, Maddow seemed to have heard about none of the things reported in the Times.
She still hadn’t heard about Democrats’ plans “to pass a government-wide spending bill, advance nominations, consider a Pentagon policy bill and perhaps enact surveillance law changes.”
She hadn’t heard that Democrats say that Lynch will get confirmed under McConnell. She hadn’t heard about the possible political advantage in the event she doesn’t.
According to Maddow, it was still “inexplicable” that Democrats aren’t going to rush the Lynch nomination along. Just so you’ll know, here’s the way she portrayed the state of affairs during the endless opening segment of Tuesday’s TV show:
MADDOW (11/11/14): A top-ranking Democratic Senate aide telling NBC News today that they will not put Loretta Lynch’s confirmation up for a vote during the lame duck session because, according to the Democrats, there just isn’t enough time. The lame duck session is short. They say it’s a lot of work to confirm somebody and so they don’t plan on doing it. They don`t even plan on trying to do it.To watch that segment, click here.
That puts the confirmation of President Obama’s attorney general nominee in the hands of this nice man, Kentucky Republican Senator Mitch McConnell, who will take over control of the United States Senate in January.
Who here thinks it bodes well to President Obama’s nominees to help Mitch McConnell in charge of whether or not they get confirmed now? Raise your hands! I can’t see your hands.
Everybody who thinks that Mitch McConnell and the Republicans are going to happily confirm President Obama’s nominees, especially for really high-profile, really controversial jobs, raise— I can’t see any—
Raise your hands up higher! I can’t see any of your hands at all. Anybody?
But that is apparently what Democrats are going to do to Loretta Lynch and to this nomination for attorney general. They’re going to hand it over to Mitch McConnell. Let him do it. Because as they say, there’s no time to do it in the meantime. Can’t possibly be done. The lame duck session is very, very, very busy.
For example, when Congress comes back tomorrow for Day One of the lame duck session, the House put out this very imposing document about what they’re going to be taking on in the lame duck. As you can see, there’s the Clifford P. Hansen Federal Courthouse Conveyance Act. There’s something Darrell Issa wants to do, which is called the Government Reports Elimination Act.
There’s also, how could I forget, reauthorizing the National Estuary Programs.. Now I bow to no one in my appreciation for our nation’s estuaries. But this is not actually a chock-a-block schedule. This is not actually them running full out. Can`t squeeze in another vote! We know it’s important, but there’s just no time!
Just for the record, the House will have nothing to do with the confirmation of Lynch. That's a Senate function.
But so what? Maddow went on and on from there, helping us learn to adore her more fully through her incessant clowning. Her portrait was rather hard to square with the portrait which appeared in the Times the next morning.
As a final point, please understand: Maddow made little attempt to explore her highly unflattering representations of the Democrats’ alleged lack of planning for the lame duck session.
On Tuesday might, she introduced Connecticut senator Chris Murphy for one of her famous 60-second interviews. But she only asked about a particular proposal concerning ISIS.
Last night, she spoke with Sabrina Siddiqui, “political reporter at The Huffington Post.” After asking about a gun issue, she finally let you hear this:
MADDOW (11/12/14): From your reporting about what could happen and what Democrats do prioritize right now, the Loretta Lynch vote right now, it sounds like Senate Democrats are not planning on moving on that at all, that they’ll wait for the Republicans to take it up and see what happens there.After two long nights of propaganda, you were finally allowed to hear that handful of words. They contradicted everything Maddow had said during the course of those two nights.
Do you have any insight or any reporting into what the strategic thinking is there? Because it doesn’t seem to make much sense, if they do really want Loretta Lynch to be confirmed.
SIDDIQUI: Well, the strategic thinking is to focus on a lot of the judicial vacancies right now, which Republicans will outright oppose when they take control of the Senate. So Democrats really want to use this narrow window they have, they’re only going to be in session for a total of two weeks, to try and confirm as many of those pending nominations as they can with a simple majority while they still have it.
Republicans have said that they don’t—that they will give Loretta Lynch a fair shot and they just want more time, they want more hearings, they want more meetings. And I think that Democrats believe that Republicans won’t have much reason to oppose her, so long as there aren’t any missteps when it comes to her confirmation hearings.
I think what Republicans want to do is kind of take her temperature on the subject of immigration since the president is potentially pursuing executive action on immigration. But otherwise, they have said that they have little reason to oppose her.
MADDOW: Sabrina Siddiqui, political reporter at the Huffington Post, thanks very much for your time tonight. I appreciate you being here.
In Maddow Land, that’s “fair-and-balanced.”
Maddow asked no Democrats about their plans for the lame duck session. She didn’t speak with Hulse about his understanding of the matter.
Instead, she dished reams of propaganda before turning to interviews on specialized topics. In this way, the Queen of Snark retains her control of a devolving empire.
Technically, Maddow is bright. With normal supervision, she could presumably be an outstanding journalist.
That said, there seems to be no supervision in Maddow Land. Tomorrow, we’ll show you the way the suits are trying to peddle their very strange corporate product.
Tomorrow: “We’d be lost without her”