Posted by AzBlueMeanie:
Late last month, political scientists Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein wrote an op-ed, Let's just say it: The Republicans Are The Problem in the Washington Post that generated a great deal of discussion. (Oddly enough, the op-ed was not republished in either The Arizona Republic of the Arizona Daily Star, despite those newspapers subscribing to the Post's stable of syndicated columnists and often republishing Post editorials).
The premise of their op-ed is the same as in their new book, It's Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided With the New Politics of Extremism:
We have been studying Washington politics and Congress for more than 40 years, and never have we seen them this dysfunctional. In our past writings, we have criticized both parties when we believed it was warranted. Today, however, we have no choice but to acknowledge that the core of the problem lies with the Republican Party.
The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.
When one party moves this far from the mainstream, it makes it nearly impossible for the political system to deal constructively with the country’s challenges.
Mann and Orrnstein also had harsh words for the corporate media villagers as well:
We understand the values of mainstream journalists, including the effort to report both sides of a story. But a balanced treatment of an unbalanced phenomenon distorts reality. If the political dynamics of Washington are unlikely to change anytime soon, at least we should change the way that reality is portrayed to the public.
Our advice to the press: Don’t seek professional safety through the even-handed, unfiltered presentation of opposing views. Which politician is telling the truth? Who is taking hostages, at what risks and to what ends?
Also, stop lending legitimacy to Senate filibusters by treating a 60-vote hurdle as routine. The framers certainly didn’t intend it to be. Report individual senators’ abusive use of holds and identify every time the minority party uses a filibuster to kill a bill or nomination with majority support.
Look ahead to the likely consequences of voters’ choices in the November elections. How would the candidates govern? What could they accomplish? What differences can people expect from a unified Republican or Democratic government, or one divided between the parties?
In the end, while the press can make certain political choices understandable, it is up to voters to decide.
As you might expect, the corporate media villagers, in particular the Sunday morning bobbleheads, don't accept the criticism of Mann and Ornstein, even though they are considered the high priests of "centrism" within the DC Media bubble and have been frequent guests on the Sunday morning shows in the past.
Greg Sargent posted at the Plum Line Only one party’s to blame? Don’t tell the Sunday shows:
It turns out neither man has been invited on to the Sunday shows even once to discuss this thesis. As Bob Somerby and Kevin Drum note, these are among the most quoted people in Washington — yet suddenly this latest topic is too hot for the talkers, or not deemed relevant at all.
* * *
“Not a single one of the Sunday shows has indicated an interest, and I do find it curious,” Ornstein told me, adding that the Op ed had well over 200,000 Facebook recommends and has been viral for weeks. “This is a level of attention for a book that we haven’t received before. You would think it would attract some attention from the Sunday shows.’
Ornstein also noted another interesting point. Their thesis takes on the media for falling into a false equivalence mindset and maintaining the pretense that both sides are equally to blame. Yet despite the frequent self-obsession of the media, even that angle has failed to generate any interest. What’s more, some reporters have privately indicated their frustration with their editorial overlords’ apparent deafness to this idea.
“The piece focused on press culpability — it would be hard to find a more sensitive issue for the media than the question of whether they’re doing their job,” Ornstein said. “We got tons of emails from some of the biggest reporters in the business, saying, `We’ve raised this in the newsroom, and editors just brush it aside.’”
All of which is the long way around for me to get to today's column by Arizona's own version of the "patrician prevaricator," George Will, in the The Arizona Republic, Robert Robb. Blaming Republicans -- for everything. Robb sniffs and dismisses true scholarly work as elitist in favor of tea party wisdom (sic):
Those in the "tea party" movement frequently assert that the country's "establishment elites" are out of touch with mainstream voters.
[T]o the extent tea partyers have a point, congressional scholars Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein have volunteered to serve as Exhibit A.
If there is an establishment elite, Mann of the Brookings Institution and Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute serve as senior theorists.
There you have it. Robert Robb, part of the fact-free world of the anti-science, anti-intellectual movement in the Tea Party.
In the words of the fictional character Donny Dark in the play Butterflies Are Free: "There are none so blind as those who will not see." Mann and Ornstein were talking about you, Robb.
UPDATE: Paul Krugman on the Mann/Ornstein Sunday show blackout:
When future historians write about the fall of the American Republic, they will of course lay primary blame on the extremists of the right, who set out deliberately to destroy it. But they will also lay heavy blame on all the “centrists” and Serious People who not only refused to admit what was happening, but ostracized and silenced anyone who tried to point it out.