Sometimes I have the nagging suspicion that Fred Barnes and Morton Kondracke take to popping whippets before the show begins. How else to explain all the inappropriate laughter and then, as the high wears off, the crash back to reality before the end of the show?
Take for example this episode. The show starts off with the usual hyperbolic and collateral language.
BARNES: Hot story number one is battle station. I’m talking about the struggle over Social Security reform, which has begun full throttle, starting with the president’s State of the Union address on Wednesday and that was followed by barnstorming by the president on behalf of his Social Security plan in five states. Now, yes, watch him in Omaha. He was pretty good in Omaha.And up comes a flattering video clip of the president uttering 6 short, coherent sentences in a row (possibly a personal best). Of course, the 6 consecutive sentences contain nothing substantive, but never mind. Curiously, the video clip does not contain this now-classic exchange:
MS. MORNIN: Okay, I'm a divorced, single mother with three grown, adult children. I have one child, Robbie, who is mentally challenged, and I have two daughters.I suspect the dudes were back at the whippets during the video, because they then lose it over a picture taken at a statue of FDR.
THE PRESIDENT: Fantastic.
BARNES: You know, Bush has staked out his political position. He’s on the side of the future and the side of reform.... And as if to prove his point that they represent the past, Democratic senators went over to the FDR memorial in Washington, you know, over by the Tidal Basin, to have a press conference and attack the president’s plan.
And then Barnes floats off into the ether layer of pundit-land -- total conjecture.
BARNES: You know, FDR, he was the father of Social Security, but he died 60 years ago. And he’d probably approve of having the plan updated.One of the top 10 rules of professional punditry: never pass up the opportunity to channel the dead.
The sillies hit real bad again after Barnes and Kondracke view a video clip of Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the House Minority Leader.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) PELOSI: This is a crisis of his own creation. This is a crisis of his own making, so that he can have his preordained idea about privatization, which undermines Social Security, which takes a guaranteed benefit into a guaranteed gamble.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
What the hell? What are they, two bored pre-pubers acting out at Herbert Hoover Middle School?
The high is wearing off by the time Kondracke begins his buzzkill review of nasty facts, a bunch of real nasty facts with dollar signs in front of them.
KONDRACK: Now, the administration is putting out numbers that say that in the first 10 years, it would be $745 billion that they’d have to borrow. But in the full 10, a full 10-year cost of this is about a trillion and a half.No, Morton, no they have not.
Now, this would be, this would be on top of all the money that we’re going to have to borrow in order to pay for Bush’s tax cuts, in order to pay for Medicare and Medicaid. And, you know, these are problems that have not been addressed.