This Is How The Grown-Ups Do It

This clip of Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman debating economics with two British conservatives on BBC Newsnight has been making the rounds:

A couple of thoughts here. First of all, there’s really no difference between the British argument for austerity and what we hear from American conservatives. It’s the exact same argument with the exact same faulty analogy (“families have to live within their means and so should the government …”). That old warhorse has been debunked five ways to Thursday and I’m not going to get into it here, but one thing that’s really been overlooked is Krugman’s central thesis, which is: it’s not about being all-austerity or all-big spending. It’s a matter of knowing when to do which. The time for austerity is during a boom. The time for government spending is during a recession, when consumers are cutting back and the private sector is dealing with a lack of demand. It’s not all one or all the other, it’s both — but timed properly.

We never talk about that because a) conservatives have been exploiting our current economic woes to achieve their long-cherished dreams of dismantling unions and the New Deal; and b) the American discourse is in complete disarray. It’s been corrupted by politics and a ratings-hungry media which has lost sight of the reason it exists (to inform the public ya big fat dopes, not to make money!). The result is that we can’t have a grown-up conversation about anything.

Watching that BBC clip I was amazed by several things:

A) everybody got to complete not just a sentence but a full thought!
B) the host didn’t keep butting in to show the audience how important he is;
C) the conversation actually went on, uninterrupted, for almost 9 minutes, instead of the 2-3 minutes cable outlets like CNN devote to a segment before cutting away to ads hawking financial services and penis pills;
D) everybody got to speak, there was no one panelist hogging the mic;
E) there was no rhetorical neutron bomb dropped by one side followed by the host chuckling, “well that’s all the time we have, we’ll have to leave it there!”

Did this segment lack fireworks? Yes, it did. But I don’t want fireworks. I don’t want to see right and left acting like kids on the schoolyard, taunting each other and talking over each other. This isn’t The Real Housewives, we’re talking important issues here. The American news media needs to stop acting like a kid with ADD, jumping from one topic to the next, letting people yell at and over each other. And invariably there’s one asshole hogging all the airtime — usually the conservative, and usually it’s a woman, and if you’ve ever watched Liz Cheney on a roundtable y’all know I’m right because that chick never comes up for air.

And yes, both sides do it. I can barely watch Bill Maher’s show anymore, because invariably there is one Dana Loesch-type who recites every GOP talking point as if she’s reading from a script (which she is), but is unable to have an actual conversation about the topic at hand because she doesn’t know jack shit about it. She just knows the Luntzified version of it, and she won’t say her piece and then shut up and let others on the panel have their say, because the point of putting her on a panel in the first place is to obstruct dialogue, not enable it. See, this is how our politics has ruined absolutely everything.

Last week while we were traveling Mr. Beale put the TV on CNN, a channel we don’t normally watch. It was Wolf Blitzer and let me say: it was about 30 seconds before I wanted to throw something at the television. Honest to God I don’t even remember what the discussion was about, but I do remember we had the usual right vs left pundits, and the right winger never shut up and the left winger got maybe three words in and Blitzer never interjected or “moderated” but spent as much time with his fat yap open as the right winger and finally it ended with some outrageous comment along the lines of, “well it’s true that President Obama eats aborted fetuses which Michelle cooks for him at the Solyndra Welfare Fetus Farm,” and then Blitzer jumps in his with patented “well, we’ll have to leave it there!” Har har.

I mean, Jesus. No wonder CNN is in the ratings graveyard.

The idea that somewhere in the world they still have adult conversations was a revelation. And thank God Al Gore invented the internet so we can watch.

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17 Comments

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17 responses to “This Is How The Grown-Ups Do It

  1. Mark Rogers

    SB,

    Thanks for posting this. You are right that this is the way political and policy debates should be conducted. Some of the best examples of how to do this right are the old ‘Ethics in America’ shows and some of the old ‘Firing Lines.’

    One reason for the decline in such discussions can be seen in this Digby comment: http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/2012/06/terrible-civility-of-centrist-concern.html

    The idea that only one side is always wrong only serves to damage the process.

    • Right because Digby, a progressive blogger, totally has the same influence and sway over elected Democrats in Congress as, say, the Teanuts who primary every Republican who dares utter the word compromise. Or, for that matter, Dana Loesch, a conservative blogger who is actually employed by CNN. Sure. Hey, I’ll bet an anonymous commenter on some blog somewhere said something mean once, too. Check it out. SCOOOP.

      I mean, c’mon. That’s probably the most hilarious false equivalency I’ve ever seen. Tell whomever gives you your marching orders to do a little better next time.

  2. Wolf Blitzer has managed to know next to nothing about anything and make quite a good living bloviating about it.

    “And yes, both sides do it. I can barely watch Bill Maher’s show anymore, because invariably there is one Dana Loesch-type who recites every GOP talking point as if she’s reading from a script (which she is),”

    I was looking at a Fox News piece about Zimmerman’s being ordered to return to jail. The newsreader, a blond whose name escapes me, was reading and it looked as if she was having trouble doing that. Her voice was as irritating as Howard Cosell’s when he condescended to his co-hosts on MNF.

  3. ThresherK

    We needed a faster and sharper decline says the woman MP? She needs to get out more.

    As a teen I tried every British comedy I could tune in on WNET-13, and am therefore susceptible to plummy British accents making everything seem funnier or more trenchant than they may absolutely be. So it’s nice to know that I have somewhere along the way acquired a bullshit detector in the Queen’s English.

    Also, make it “easier for young people to create their own businesses”?

    I guess England is still a “nation of shopkeepers” and those smallbidnessmen-in-waiting (and -women) can borrow money without the first line of the application being “Do you have so much money that you don’t need this loan?”

    • British have been drinking the same bullshit Kool-aid as America’s Republican Party. It’s utter nonsense. And as Krugman pointed out, she outted herself with that little “we needed a faster and sharper decline” line — proves what the left has been saying is correct, which is that conservatives are merely exploiting the economic crisis to undo the social safety net which has served us so well for half a century. Ergo, they are doing zip to fix the problem. Disaster capitalism, etc.

      If you want the problem solved do not vote Republican.

  4. It was Megyn Kelly, I believe. She is, if not acting the part, an idiot.

  5. Krugman wrote some good stuff in the 90′s but he’s let his punditry take over his principles.

    “conservatives have been exploiting our current economic woes to achieve their long-cherished dreams of dismantling unions and the New Deal;”

    because that’s what America wants. the 20th century is over. I don’t want to listen to some fireside chats by some beaurocrat. I’m not interested in any of their ideas. at all. That moment has passed. It was a farce while it was here.

    We all have the internet. we don’t need wars or politicians or big brother in any way shape or form. If you don’t like your job work someplace else. Open a 1940′s themed diner if you’d like.

    liberals most popular ideas are freedom based. anti censorship, anti war, anti discrimination. Their economic ideas are the opposite, all regulation and coercian and spending.

    • I don’t want to listen to some fireside chats by some beaurocrat. I’m not interested in any of their ideas. at all.

      Run along then, honey. Go watch whatever brain-bleach makes you feel good. Some of us want to have a grown-up conversation.

  6. that was a little brusque maybe haha.

  7. the grown ups are spending trillions on war while our infrastructure crumbles. the grown ups were loyalists in the american revolution. the grown ups are wrong.

    • Umm … no. The grown-ups were pointing out that the war in Iraq was based on faulty intelligence, would cost billions, would lead to a quagmire, etc. But we were shouted down by idiots like George W Bush and his minions who told us we weren’t sufficiently patriotic. Meanwhile, the mainstream media had a hard-on for “shock and awe” and their cushy embedded gigs. The grown-ups were having conversations on “terrorist appeaser” channels like Democracy Now and at The New Yorker. The grown-ups were targeted by Bush Administration higher ups for daring to write that the yellow cake in Niger thing was a lie.

  8. ‘The grown-ups were pointing out that the war in Iraq was based on faulty intelligence, would cost billions, would lead to a quagmire, etc. ”

    Yeah Pat Buchanan and Ron Paul. while Hillary, John Kerry, John edwards and plenty of other dems voted for it. ”

    “Meanwhile, the mainstream media had a hard-on for “shock and awe” and their cushy embedded gigs. ”

    we agree on that much

    “In the Senate, 28 Democrats voted Yes (56% of the delegation, including Senators Clinton, Kerry, Edwards, Biden, Bayh, and Daschle) and 22 voted No; 49 Republicans voted Yes and one voted No (Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island).

    Note that the Democrats controlled the Senate and could have postponed a vote on the Resolution until after the November election. ”

    two sides of the same coin. and there are just as many dems signing on to war with iran.

    http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d112:SE00380:@@@P

    ^77 co sponsers.including Sherrod Brown, amy klobuchar, Schumer, and many more.

    • Oh Pat Buchanan and Ron Paul, the two racist old cranks in the GOP. Blind squirrels find a nut. WHOO HOO good for you. The vast majority of Republicans were chomping at the bit and you fucking well know it. Nice that you folks want to rewrite history that’s so recent it still has a Google cache.

      Honestly I really get tired of having the same conversation with you idiots. Every Democrat was bullied and badgered by every Republican banging the war drums, not to mention a war hungry media, as exemplified by the horrible Connie Chung CNN interview. Remind me, Bush & Cheney, peacenicks or no? We were called “terrorist appeasers,” and let’s not forget the precursor to the Tea Party, the “Protest Warrior” jerks who had pro-Halliburton rallies. Absofucking hilarious. You guys need to learn to think for yourselves instead of following along behind every authoritarian Daddy promising you a bauble because when the Republican plan goes horribly horribly wrong as it so often does, you’re left holding the bag. And then you’re stuck trying to rewrite history and play “blame the Democrats.” We’ve only seen this movie a thousand times before.

      Oh we’ll see you dumbfucks banging the war drums in Iran, we’ll see it all happen again. President Mitt will be hankering to “bomb bomb bomb Iran” and when that goes horribly wrong you’ll try to make that our fault too.

      I’m ignoring you now because clearly you’re an idiot and also … well, idiot suffices. Buh bye.

  9. It’s a good thing PBS has more or less stopped doing that. …. that is, always trying to be fair, even if they know the other side is lying. It’s like, giving more publicity to the lie. Just discuss what the issue is ! ! !

  10. “The vast majority of Republicans were chomping at the bit and you fucking well know it.”

    I don’t disagree.

    “Blind squirrels find a nut. ”

    yeah and the people in wisconsin voted for walker because they don”t lke recalls. everyone knows that abuot people from Wisconsin!! No, people in Wisconsin voted for Walker twice because they liked him better and Pat Buchanan and Ron paul opposed the Iraq war because they have better principles than Hillary Clinton. at least in regards to war. there’s no point in trying to explain away these things just accept them.

    “Oh we’ll see you dumbfucks banging the war drums in Iran,”

    ?? who are you talking too? I am quite obviously opposed to war with iran. Why would i be lauding Ron Paul and Pat Buchanan otherwise?

    I’m ignoring you now because clearly you’re an idiot

    it’s your blog I suppose.

    • there’s no point in trying to explain away these things just accept them.

      Your defense of the biggest racists, bigots and homophobes of the Republican Party has been duly noted. Just accept it.

      it’s your blog I suppose.

      Yup, and you’re annoying me so I’m taking a break from you. I may let you back later but I doubt it. Your lack of intelligence won’t be missed. Just the same old WATB teanut crap we’ve heard a thousand times. Troll.