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MONDAY, JUNE 13, 2011

The man who sent Bush to the White House: Jack Welch has been one of the most consequential players in the American journalism of the past thirty years. Almost surely, he’s the biggest media fish the liberal world has agreed not to notice or fry.

As CEO of General Electric, Welch assembled the NBC news team of the Clinton/Gore and Bush years. He recruited Tim Russert into the news business. He then made Russert a multimillionaire; he did the same for Brian Williams (largely) and Chris Matthews (totally). During the 1990s, he assembled NBC’s weirdly ethnic news division—a team of East Coast Irish Catholic home boys, a team built in Welch’s own image.

These players made their multiple millions due to Jack Welch’s largesse. Russert and Matthews even bought multimillionaire-dollar summer homes on Nantucket so they could huddle at the right cheek of their maker. Joining them there was Robert Wright, the (East Coast Irish Catholic) president and CEO of NBC. See THE DAILY HOWLER, 11/24/04.

The liberal world completely ignored this ridiculous corporate cavorting even as it took careful note of everything Rupert Murdoch thought, did and said.

We thought you might want to review the political beliefs of Welch, the man who assembled the NBC team which worked to bring down President Clinton, then savaged Candidate Gore.

Last Wednesday, Welch did the full hour with Piers Morgan, perhaps the biggest toady ever unloosed on American television. (Morgan has replaced Larry King in CNN’s 9 PM time slot.) As usual, Morgan was fawning mightily at the start of his session with Welch. “I can't think of a better person to ask about the economy, the financial crisis,” he told his guest. “To many people, for many decades, you personified America PLC.”

Welch also personified the journalistic wars which sent George W. Bush to the White House, although career liberals have agreed that they must never tell.

Eventually, Morgan stopped his brown-nosing long enough to ask Welch who he likes in the race for the White House. (To read the full transcript, click this.) Welch said he wouldn’t support Sarah Palin—but then, he rendered the judgment which follows. Gaze on the man who assembled the team which worked to send Bush to the White House:

MORGAN (6/8/11): Do you see anybody emerging on the Republican side who is the kind of leader that you're looking for?

WELCH: You know, Piers, this is a great question, because if you asked me that a month ago, I would have said, well, Mitt Romney might be best guy, etc.—the most obvious guy.

But everything I see Tim Pawlenty say in the last month appeals to me.

Now, he's not the jazziest guy in town. He's not the most exciting. But if you look at what he says and his vision for America and that plan he put out in the last 48 hours—every time I see him, whether it would be your show or somebody else, the guy makes sense.

“He definitely does,” Morgan said, toadying like a true expert.

There may be a summer home on Nantucket in Piers Morgan’s future! But consider what Welch said about Pawlenty and his new budget plan.

Last week, Pawlenty presented one of the craziest budget plans ever advanced by a supposedly serious White House candidate. Yes, we know: Genuine, unvarnished budget lunacy is now a requirement on the GOP side. When we say these budget plans are insane, it’s no longer clear that we are speaking metaphorically or hyperbolically. Here’s the shape of Pawlenty’s plan, as sussed out by Ruth Marcus:

MARCUS (6/10/11): His economic policy runs the gamut from delusional to reckless.

The delusional part is obvious. "Let's grow the economy by 5 percent—instead of the anemic 2 percent currently envisioned," he urges. "Such a national economic growth target will set our sights on a positive future."

But why think so small? Why not 7 percent? Why not 10? If we can send a man to the moon . . .

[…]

Which gets to the reckless part. The centerpiece of Pawlenty's plan—the magic wand he waves to produce this growth—is massive new tax cuts. The corporate tax would be slashed from 35 percent to 15 percent. Capital gains taxes, taxes on dividends and interest, the estate tax—all would disappear. Families would pay a 10 percent tax rate on the first $100,000 of income, 25 percent on everything above that.

If you're thinking—oh good, flatter, fairer tax system, think again. Pawlenty is lowering individual income tax rates and keeping the existing hodgepodge of deductions and credits. This is the worst of all possible worlds (lower revenue and a complex tax code).

And at what cost? The Pawlenty campaign told me that—even assuming his outlandish 5 percent growth projections come true—the tax cut would bring in $2 trillion less in revenue over 10 years than currently projected. If growth remains at the expected level and does not soar in the wake of the Pawlenty tax cut, the cost would be a whopping $5.8 trillion. The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center puts the number even higher: at $11.6 trillion compared to current law, as the Pawlenty campaign also assumes. The top 1 percent of taxpayers would receive an average annual tax cut of $261,000…

The way to understand the craziness of the Pawlenty plan is to compare it to the Paul Ryan budget that passed the House. Ryan proposes lowering individual income tax rates—but only along with broadening the tax base (in other words, eliminating deductions) so that the same amount of revenue is generated. Ryan makes clear that he would do what is necessary to keep taxes in the 18 percent of GDP range. Pawlenty's tax plan is all dessert, no spinach.

Marcus is much too kind to Ryan when she suggests that his plan won’t lower projected revenues. But even Marcus uses these terms for Pawlenty’s budget plan: Delusional, reckless and crazy.

To Jack Welch, Pawlenty’s plan seems to make perfect sense! On Morgan’s show, the lunacy, and the sponge bath, continued:

MORGAN: When you look at somebody like Tim Pawlenty, I think he's a smart guy. I've enjoyed having him on the show. He makes all the sense that you say. I can see the temptation. But in your heart, do you think he can beat someone like Obama?

WELCH: I'm going to find out over the next 15 months—hopefully, the next six to nine months because they're going to pick somebody in the primary. But, I mean, I just have found him—

You know, I was at the gym this week talking to some guys who never would have thought this. And I said what I just told you: This guy's starting to intrigue the hell out of me, and then he came up with his plan. And I talked to some guy, he said, “I'm going to have a fundraiser for him.” I almost dropped dead. This guy would never support Tim Pawlenty in his life. He's a Democrat. He's going to do a fundraiser for him.

MORGAN: Why do you think he's doing that?

WELCH: He likes what he says. He likes what he says. There's some buyer's remorse on the Wall Street crowd over the Obama selection, whether you want to buy that or not. There is some buyer's remorse.

Welch may be completely sincere in what he said to Morgan. He may believe that Pawlenty’s plan would do great things for the nation. But if we make this assumption, we’re saying that the man who assembled the NBC team is a raving lunatic on such budget matters. And this is the man who invented Russert’s career—the man who made Matthews so wealthy.

Jack Welch is crazy out of his head—and he invented Russert and Matthews! Do these facts have any connection to Russert’s endless pimping of right-wing talking-points concerning Social Security? Does this help explain the vicious work Matthews performed in 1999 and 2000 as he savaged Candidate Gore? Did Welch help the boys assemble their views as they took the breeze with him on Nantucket—perhaps in one of their summer cottages, or maybe down at the club?

(Matthews’ paid $4.4 million for his cottage. Today, he pretends to be very upset by all the money Newt Gingrich spent for his jewels!)

Russert, Matthews and Wright all huddled with King Welch on a multimillionaires’ spindrift island! But so what? The career liberal world has let this comical (and remarkable) story go, from 1999 right through to the present. Why have your heroes looked away?

It’s good to appear on Meet the Press. It’s a very good thing to play Hardball.

Coming Wednesday: The return of political history! And our second annual fund drive, delayed from January.

Special report: Life in the tribal belt!

PART 1—SACRED SCRIPTURE (permalink): Progressives should be very busy at this point in time.

For one thing, progressives should be insisting that major newspapers cover the increasingly ludicrous GOP budget plans in substantial detail. When someone like Tim Pawlenty presents a delusional budget plan, that should qualify as major front-page news. That said, your big newspapers won’t want to go there. Progressives should be pushing such newspapers hard, even if that might jeopardize someone’s future employment.

Even if it might jeopardize some career liberal’s party invites! Even if it makes for awkward chatter at the club!

A second obvious task: Progressives should be brain-storming, every day, looking for ways to speak to average voters. In this morning’s New York Times, Paul Krugman lays out very important facts about the nature of Medicare. But most average voters won’t read that column. Progressives should be looking for ways to bring this sort news to the public. Progressives should be inventing forums average voters will hear about. In conducting these forums, they should be using spokespeople voters will trust.

On Friday, we saw no sign that major progressives or major career liberals were actually doing such things. At Salon, liberals were instead being encouraged to paw through Sarah Palin’s e-mails in search of some holy grail. In this sad and pathetic report, the “SALON STAFF” reported on the great hunt. Here’s how the foolishness started, ridiculous headlines included:

SALON STAFF (6/10/11): Revelations from the Sarah Palin emails

Highlights from this afternoon's coverage of today's 24,199-page release

At 9 a.m. Juneau time—that's 1 p.m. ET—a small cadre of journalists camped out in Juneau, Alaska, started to open boxes full of previously unpublished emails sent by Sarah Palin while she was governor of Alaska. Here are the highlights of what they've discovered so far.

“Here are the highlights of what they’ve discovered,” these pitiful losers wrote.

(The “SALON STAFF” didn’t sign their names. We can’t say that we blame them.)

What “highlights” had Salon’s pseudo-journalists spotted? In the pitiful mind of today’s career liberal, “revelations” like the following met that test. In each case, the time the revelation came to light is noted:

SALON STAFF: 1:20: The Daily Beast's Shushannah Walshe tweets: "The first e mail I took out of the box. A poem sent to a group including the gov of Alaska.

[…]

2:30: Over at the Mother Jones liveblog, Tim Murphy notes: "Even in professional correspondence, Palin had a propensity for the folksy expressions that have become her hallmark." E.g. "Unflippinbelievable."

[…]

2:40: ABC News's liveblog, updated by Michael Falcone and Shushannah Walshe in Juneau, notes that Palin may have "had her eye on" the VP slot "months" before she was nominated. Falcone and Walshe cite several emails from the summer of 2008, in which supporters encouraged Palin to join the race—all of which were forwarded on by Palin to her aides.

[…]

3:00: [T]he LA Times writes that Sarah Palin and her team were "swamped" (that's Palin's word) with media requests in the weeks following her addition to the McCain ticket. Palin responded to an email in which her communications director listed several of the questions he'd received like this:

"Arghhhh! I am so sorry that the office is swamped like this! Dinosaurs even?! I'll try to run through some of these in my head before responding. And the old, used tanning bed that my girls have used a handful of times in Juneau? Yes, we paid for it ourselves. I, too, will continue to be dismayed at the media and am thankful you and Sharon are not part of the stange [sic] goings-on in the media world of today."

[…]

4:20: At the New York Times, Michael Shear points out an email from early August, 2008, in which Palin complimented a speech given by then-candidate Obama."[Obama] gave a great speech this morn in Michigan," Palin told her aides—before moving on to accuse her soon-to-be-rival of "[stealing] our Energy Rebate $1000 check idea [and] our TC-Alaska gasoline talking points." Her conclusion: "He did say 'yay' to our gasoline. Pretty cool. Wrong candidate."

Among the “highlights” of the day’s “revelations:”

Palin used the term "unflippinbelievable." Some unnamed person once sent her a poem. Palin was swamped with media requests after becoming McCain’s running-mate. And she mistyped “strange” in an e-mail! (That “sic” was included by the eagle-eyed SALON STAFF.)

By the way: Everyone has always known that Palin was being promoted for the VP slot by some supporters in the summer of 2008, even by a few major players. There’s no “revelation” in that. And by the way:

That “TC-Alaska gasoline” was actually the TC-Alaska gasline. Did Shear perhaps introduce a mistake into the text of these emails?

We don’t know. No sane person would check.

Heroically, some Salon commenters complained, quite bitterly, about the utter stupidity of this breathless report. But then, the brainlessness of the modern “liberal” enterprise has rarely been quite so clear. Your nation is in enormous peril. There are many serious actions liberals and progressives ought to be taking, actions in which we might start to make up for decades of “liberal” passivity. But within the modern liberal world, a silly tribal mindset reigns. This is especially true where career liberals sell their wares to us unsuspecting rubes, thereby increasing their publications’ popularity and profits.

Or the profits of their cable channel.

Many ranking liberals encourage you to adopt this silly mind-set. Some of them are simply hustlers; they make money off the gullibility of their tribe, much like Rush and Sean before them. But many are full-blown tribal believers; to them, correction of Sarah Palin’s mistakes carries the full force of scripture. They live in a thoroughly tribal world—you might even say, in the tribal belt. For these shrunken minds, politics consists of one thing: Showing that our tribe includes the good/smart people, while their tribe is very bad/stupid.

Sacred scripture takes many forms. Some people believe in the literal word of the Bible. Others take this same cast of mind to their love for the tribe. On Saturday, some tribal believers at Salon encouraged us to be very dumb. But then, a whole lot of that tribal dumbness has been on display in the past few weeks.

We’re good and we’re smart; they’re bad and they’re stupid. They are the hypocrites; we never are. If you live in the tribal belt, people around you believe this way.

Progressive interests can’t be advanced in this self-pleasuring manner.

Tomorrow: Wouldn’t take yes for an answer