Part 5—Nancy Pelosi’s the best: Is Paul Krugman actually right about that proposed “trade thing?”
Over the past eighteen months, Krugman has said that the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership just isn’t that big a deal.
He has said that both sides are overstating the likely effects of the proposed deal. He has said it won’t kill a boatload of jobs, the way progressives have been saying. But he also says that the TPP wouldn’t be especially good for the country or the world.
Is Krugman right about the TPP? Like you, we have no idea. Like you, we watch The Rachel Maddow Show—a program whose host has incessantly clowned about the giant trade deal.
If you’ve been watching the Maddow Show in the past three months, you’ve learned next to nothing about the substance of the proposed trade deal.
You were told, in early May, that it might kill “huge swaths of working-class and middle-class jobs”—more precisely, that liberals and labor and most Democrats believe that about the deal.
But since that time, Maddow hasn’t made any attempt to help you learn if that is actually true. She spends her time incessantly clowning about Republican presidential candidates, vanity, real and imagined.
When she does discuss the TPP, she tends to take a tribal approach, pleasuring us concerning the greatness of leaders within our own tribe.
It seems fairly clear that the Maddow Show has undergone a dumbing-down in the past year. Maddow’s political judgment was never especially good. But now, she sits at the wheel of am undisguised clown car during the bulk of her program.
Night after night, she wastes enormous amounts of time on silly, pointless “campaign coverage” of the dumbest possible kind. In the process, she ignores economic issues which might affect “huge swaths” of the public, except to the extent that those issues can be used to provide us tribal pleasure before we sleep at night.
Serious liberals should be appalled by Maddow’s incessant clowning. Let’s review the way she has toyed with TPP in the past several months.
In part 2 of this report, we reviewed Maddow’s report on the TPP from Thursday, May 7. Somehow, she seemed to have gotten it into her head that Obama was flying off to Oregon to reverse his support for the proposed trade deal.
Or something! “Mark my words,” Maddow said. “President Obama is clearly going to drop something unexpected tomorrow on this big economic issue.”
“It can’t be what it seems like,” she said. “Something’s going on here.”
Maddow did a long report that evening on Obama’s impending speech. She pimped “the sort of exciting drama” which was underway in Democratic politics.
The next day, Obama aggressively backed the TPP in his Oregon speech. Over the weekend, he aggressively criticized Elizabeth Warren and others, saying they were “making it up” in their complaints about the proposed trade pact.
Maddow’s prediction had been thoroughly wrong. She reacted to this in the old-fashioned way—she didn’t report what Obama had said, whether in his aggressive speech or in his weekend attacks on Warren.
On the Maddow Show of Friday, May 8, Obama’s aggressive Oregon speech went completely unmentioned. His weekend remarks about Warren and others went down the memory hole during the whole next week.
Simple story! Maddow has used the TPP to give us tribal pleasure. On Tuesday, May 12, Obama lost a vote in the Senate concerning the giant trade bill. This was Maddow’s full report on the vote, whose substance she didn’t explain:
MADDOW (5/12/15): There’s also political news today of a very rare variety. The White House has been lobbying hard for a piece of legislation the Republicans were happy to approve, but Democrats today told the White House no.No word on what this vote was actually about. But Democrats had won the vote, and Maddow said the big Democratic split was “a rare and precious thing.”
So it’s the Obama White House getting support from Republicans, but losing the issue today in Congress because they lost Democrats. This, of course, is the trade deal. It is an ongoing political story. But that kind of a big Democratic split is a rare and precious thing in our politics these days. We’ve got eyes on that.
At this point, the TPP basically disappeared from the Maddow Show. Night after night, Maddow clowned about those Republican candidates, real and imagined—for example, about the way she can’t distinguish former governor Ehrlich (Maryland) from former governor Gilmore (Virginia), who later became “her guy.”
Maddow returned to the TPP with a brief overview on Thursday, June 11. Some votes concerning the giant trade deal were coming up in the House, she said.
She didn’t attempt to explain the votes. Pleasingly, though, her reflexive self-juvenilization was on display right out of the gate.
Our Own Peewee Herman said this:
MADDOW (6/11/15): All right—ready for the metaphor?Once again, Maddow made no attempt to explain what these votes would actually be about. She didn’t attempt to explain why Obama likes the deal while most House Democrats hate it.
Today in the U.S. House of Representatives, Speaker John Boehner began the tightrope walk that he hopes will result in a giant 12-nation Pacific trade deal moving ahead.
House Democrats generally hate this thing. But even though Republicans generally like it, they can’t get all their troops in line to pass it because President Obama likes it too.
Ewww, cooties! So the Republicans have to get some Democrats onboard.
According to Maddow, some Republicans opposed the bill because it contains Obama’s “cooties.” She said Elizabeth Warren was urging supporters to lobby the House and that the votes would likely be very close.
On the next evening, Friday, June 12, Maddow actually did a lengthy report on the giant 12-nation trade deal. Her long and thoroughly clueless report featured a pleasing tribal theme:
Nancy Pelosi is endlessly great! John Boehner is totally hapless!
Again, Maddow made no attempt to explain the vote which had been held that day. But Democrats had won that vote—and even though Maddow acknowledged the fact that the trade deal was far from dead, the victory inspired her to feed us some rich comfort food.
To read the full transcript of Maddow’s report, you can just click here. After a largely pointless preamble, she described Pelosi’s greatness as a leader, as compared to the hapless Boehner.
Pelosi “conducts House Democrats like a symphony,” Maddow enthused. “When she was Speaker, that’s how the House was able to pass the huge number of consequential bills that they passed.”
By way of contrast, Boehner’s leadership “is chaos,” Maddow said. The manic cable star offered some comic detail:
MADDOW (6/12/15): This trade deal thing is a rare bird. Republicans like it, President Obama likes it. But most Democrats do not like it.The trade deal’s prospects weren’t “totally over,” of course. Maddow made this clear.
And Republicans have this big majority in Congress. Theoretically, they should be able to pass it on their own.
But again, John Boehner cannot lead a puppy to a hamburger. John Boehner cannot conduct a single person playing chopsticks. John Boehner cannot whip his way out of a paper bag. He cannot get Republicans to do anything he wants them to do, ever.
And so, even though John Boehner has the numbers, which should mean he should be able to do this himself, he can’t. He needs Democrats, he needs some Democrats to cross over and vote with Republicans in order to pass this thing.
And there was a lot of suspense today heading into this vote as to whether or not the Democratic votes would be there. There was a ton of suspense, legitimately.
Nobody knew what would happen until Nancy Pelosi stood up and said she would vote no, and then it was like, “Bim Boom!” Turn out the lights, slam the door, double-lock it, get in the car and drive home!
It’s over. It was totally over.
“Through some procedural acrobatics, they will, in effect, be bringing it back early next week,” she quickly said, failing to explain what the Sam Hill she meant.
At any rate, the fact that the Democrats had won one vote had the cable star flying. Again, she seemed to make a prediction about what would occur in the end:
MADDOW: Liberals stopped this trade thing today, for now. If they want to keep it dead, they’re going to have to hold the line through this weekend and through the beginning of next week until the next vote happens and it is going to be a high pressure line to hold.Don’t worry about Boehner, Maddow said. As she continued, she quoted a fiery statement from a liberal group. She seemed to say it was “more likely” that the Democrats were going to win.
I mean, first of all, there is always the possibility that Republicans might get it together under John Boehner leadership and do it themselves.
Don’t worry about that!
More likely, there is going to be a ton of pressure among all of the various factions within the Democratic Party...
“True drama on this,” she said in closing. “Watch this space.”
Watch this space? We have no idea why!
In the end, these unexplained provisions of the trade bill passed both houses of Congress. When Obama and Boehner won those votes, Maddow’s viewers were barely told.
On Wednesday, June 24, Maddow did say this: “In terms of big policy issues, the trade bill got a lot closer to passing today. This is the Trans-Pacific trade deal—and on this deal, the weird political accommodations, right?”
Obama was aligned with the GOP, viewers were once again told. “But it looks like the trade deal is on track to pass tomorrow,” Maddow said. “That will be the major thing in Washington to watch tomorrow.”
The next day, the unexplained bill in question did pass the House. Its passage went completely unmentioned on Maddow’s program that night.
Indeed, the trade deal hasn’t been mentioned on Maddow’s program since that report on June 24, according to Nexis. All in all, the TPP has been used as an excuse for occasional tribal cheerleading and for virtually nothing else.
Can we talk? If you watch the Maddow Show, you know virtually nothing about the TPP.
You know Obama has sided with the bulk of the GOP concerning the giant trade deal. But you’ve seen absolutely no attempt to explain why this might be.
In early May, you heard that the TPP might kill “huge swaths of working-class and middle-class jobs.” After that, you never heard that problem mentioned again. Maddow has made no attempt to help you learn if that’s true.
In May, you heard that Obama had something up his sleeve concerning support for the trade deal. When it turned out that he actually didn’t, the speech that Maddow had ballyhooed was never mentioned again.
In June, when the Democrats won one vote, you were told that Speaker Boehner couldn’t lead a puppy to a hamburger. When the unexplained bill in question eventually passed, the fact of its passage went unmentioned. So did Boehner’s alleged haplessness.
If you’re a viewer of Maddow’s show, you have no idea where the TPP currently stands. You have no idea why Obama supports it while Elizabeth Warren doesn’t.
You don’t know if it will cost workers jobs. In truth, you’ve seen no sign that such a concern really matters. But then, it’s often like this with the feckless Maddow, a corporate paid millionaire.
Just a guess:
At some point in the past year, a decision was apparently made to dumb this program down. Maddow has proven exceptionally good at that task.
She has always been good as demonstrating a lack of concern for economic issues which affect people below her own station. Today, she frequently bangs on her toy xylophone and plays videotape of herself at her daily staff meeting.
She talks and talks about “her guy,” the ridiculous Vanity Candidate Gilmore. She never tires of her silly, repetitive piddle about that August 6 Fox News debate which is going to ruin the world.
For years, this has been the flagship program of The One True Liberal Channel. But in these years of living corporately, the Maddow Show has become a major part of the way our tribe is kept uninformed—uninformed, unaware, childish, deeply dumbed-down.
Still probably coming: How much do you know about the costs of health care?