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Fox is mostly terrible, beyond redemption. Fox & Friends is simply a bunch of nitwits on a sofa, Varney doesn’t know business from his butt, Cavuto thinks talking “business” means a healthy dose of Obama-bashing, and Hannity’s Hate-o-Meter shorted out long ago. But even a stopped clock is right twice a day, and even in an environment as toxic as the one at Fox, some glimmers of decency and journalistic ethics shine through from time to time.

eric cantor chris wallace

Makes me wonder what’s going on over there in those dark, smoke-filled rooms. First, the rumor is that Hannity is getting dumped off the 9P slot (in favor of Megyn Kelly – I’m still trying to figure out that move). And now, Chris Wallace is harshly castigating House Republicans for failing to do their jobs. What planet do we now reside on when Fox actually practices (if even for a moment) their much-ballyhooed slogan, “fair and balanced?”

Wallace comes out swinging on an unprepared Eric Cantor, who mostly sits in the interview with a glazed, “oh shit” look. Cantor appears to be stunned, wondering what planet he’s residing on when a Fox news man is actually asking him, you know, real questions and expecting real answers with, like, facts and stuff.

“You talk about creating jobs,” Wallace sternly lectures Cantor, “You talk about growing the economy, but you have spent the last week in the House working on and passing your agenda, a series of bills called Stop Government Abuse.’ Is what you’ve been doing the best way to spend Congress’ time when you’re about to go on a recess for five full weeks . . . rightly or wrongly, none of these bills that you passed is gonna become law . . . they’re not gonna pass the Senate, the President won’t sign them. Let’s talk reality. You haven’t passed a Farm Bill, you’ve only passed four of the 12 appropriations bills you’re supposed to pass, we face a government shutdown and a debt limit in the fall. Again, is this the best way to spend your time, passing bills that aren’t gonna become law and an added question, with so much unfinished business, why not stick around instead of taking a 5-week vacation?”

Oh snap! And Cantor, trying desperately to navigate this alternate universe, falls glibly back on his talking points, and of course none of his answers have anything whatsoever to do with the question being posed: ”First of all,” Cantor stammers, “You’ve got the President now out giving campaign speeches again . . . these speeches that he’s been giving . . . have nothing new in them. In fact, he’s engaging in the blame game.” (Actually, what the President is engaging in is notifying the public of the reality of the current situation, which is that House Republicans have brought the government to a standstill by failing to compromise and threaten to do still worse in the fall.)

” . . . But you can tend to your own knitting,” Wallace insisted, “you could pass a Farm Bill . . . you have the power of the purse . . . why not do what the House is supposed to do?”

Cantor’s glazed look persisted, and his answers to Wallace’s pointed questions were not forthcoming; in fact, he resembled Sarah Palin in the Charlie Gibson interview. ”Well, Chris, it’s about job creation – and energy bills, we passed one of those, I think . . . oh, and yeah, we said something sometime there about unemployed people, maybe not a jobs bill per se, but something about that thing. Oh wait, and we tried to repeal that job-killing Obamacare – 40 times. So we have that type of job creation going for us, which is nice.”

It’s as if Cantor has no idea that unemployment has been any sort of a big deal since the economy crashed. ”We’re gonna bring a bill forward,” Cantor said, ” . . . We want the people who need those food stamp benefits to get ‘em. But you know what, it’s an issue of fairness. If they are able-bodied people who can work, they ought to do that in order to receive a government benefit . . . .”

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Totally clueless, and representative of the Republican attitude about people receiving government benefits for luxuries like food: Able-bodied people should be able to pull jobs out of their asses and be employed. Forget about the fact that the economic downturn has forced formerly self-sustaining people to obtain food assistance (nearly a thirdof the population is currently on some form of food assistance); and forget the part where entire industries have been obliterated during the recession.

And another thing – has Cantor ever heard about the “working poor,” has he ever Googled “food stamps and working families?” I did – during the recession, only 1 in 6 households receiving SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) were non-working households. Yoo-hoo, Cantor: Due to decreased wages, the highest level of income inequality in history, and jobs that still aren’t quickly coming back, people can work and be too poor to feed their families.

Of course, improving education and raising the federal minimum wage would both help boost the economy, but, alas, House Republicans have shot all realistic effortsto do either in the proverbial foot.

“Question,” Wallace posed to Cantor, “Are you willing to give, are you willing to compromise on the $109 billion dollars in automatic sequestration cuts starting in October?”

“What we need to have happen is leadership on the part of this President and the White House,” Cantor talking-pointed. ” . . . What we have always said . . . is that we want to fix the real problem. The real problem is entitlements . . . We’ve always said, President, come join us . . . .”

The real problem, House Republicans, is you. The real problem is that ideological fervor and the “spoiled child syndrome” on the right has overtaken responsible governing. The real problem is that Republican buzz words – such as the “growing deficit” – don’t match the facts, which is that the deficit is shrinking, not growing. And the real problem is that “President, come join us,” means, “President, come join us as long as you step to our tune,” and that tune includes de-funding the Affordable Care Act (which is legitimate, permanent law, and which the President made a reality for all Americans), throwing millions of people off food stamps, and trashing Social Security and Medicare.

The time is nigh for Republicans to get off the “making a symbolic statement” agenda – which includes passing ridiculous bills that will never see the light of day – and join the sane, sensible politicians who are uncomfortably aware of how devastating the House Republicans have been to forward movement. The statement made recently by Jim DeMint, a big fan of repealing Obamacare, is shocking evidence of the delusional thought process of Republicans: ”I wouldn’t shut down the government,” DeMint told Chris Wallace, “But if Obama would not accept a funding bill for the government that fully funds the government because it didn’t have his failed law in it, then he would be shutting down the government.” In other words, DeMint wouldn’t shut down the government unless the President insists on such pesky details as funding existing programs like the ACA. It won’t be Republicans’ fault, they say, it will simply be the fault of the President for not getting on board with their lunacy agenda.

When Congress returns from its lengthy vaca in September, we’ll watch from the stands as Republicans continue their tireless efforts to wreck America. But when even Fox has become exasperated with the muddled mess that Republicans try to pass off as reasonable political dialogue, we seem to have cleared a hurdle.

julie driscoll

Julie Driscoll
Smoking Hot Politics
Sunday, 11 August 2013