By "this," I mean why do I keep watching these Sunday morning political gas-bag shows? You could call it research for the blog, I suppose. It's not particularly enjoyable. As I type this, the third of the major four shows, CBS' Face the Nation with Bob Shieffer has just begun.
On FTN, the first thing I noticed is that New Mexico Governor Bob Richardson has gotten a makeover, sporting a goatee and a nice new haircut. A far cry from his look during the Presidential primaries. Maybe he's trying to increase his chances of being Barack Obama's VP choice?
The "big story" this week on these first three shows is that of Obama's decision to forgo public financing. This is a very "inside the beltway" story, one that you'd likely find little interest among the public. Except that the shows and the right-wing are making a very big stink about it, trying their hardest to make it a big deal. Gov. Richardson is the first I've seen so far to point out that John McCain bounced like a ping-pong ball from public to private financing during the primary. He didn't go far enough though, as McCain actually broke the law doing it.
Over at FOX "News" Sunday, Tom Daschle (a nice enough guy, but very milquetoast) battled out the issue with Tom Ridge (who while fiddling with his earpiece demonstrated an odd tremor in his hand). Ridge was completely willing to excuse McCain's flip-flop on oil drilling as acceptable because of $4/gal. gasoline. Situations change, policies change. Apparently it escaped him that the logic also applies to the public financing situation: things change, policies change. On the pundit side, the most interesting thing to me was that Brit Hume, stalwart conservative, approved of Obama's decision, while the "liberals" on their panel thrashed Obama for it.
NBC's Meet the Press with(out) Tim Russert discussed the financing and oil issues too, showing a disturbing single-mindedness between at least three of the networks. Do they all get together and agree on what to cover? This time it was Joe Biden defending Obama, and Lindsey Graham thrashing him. Biden was very direct about Obama's change in position, and gave clear reasons why--though he did not point out McCain's more serious finance flips. Lindsey Graham--looking more like a constipated turtle than ever--feigned utter disgust at Obama's decision.
[Sidebar: Lindsey, disgust on your face is very unbecoming. I mean it, watch the tape of the show if you don't believe me.]
What I've learned this week is that the Democrats (at least on these shows) defend themselves without getting too twisty or bendy about it, and will cop to a change of position on an issue. Republicans--who sound very much like they've been given an outline with bullet points to follow--will criticize Democrats for "flip-flopping"--and then excuse their own side by saying "facts changed on the ground." Facts didn't change for Barack Obama on campaign finance? Um, yes they did. You can't have it both ways, Republicans, but I know you'll keep trying.