On This Week With George Stephanopoulos this morning, Sen. Jim DeMint got pummeled by Barney Frank, as Blue Texan rightfully notes. But there was more going on there than the debate between two diametrically opposed worldviews. Did you notice Google CEO Eric Schmidt attempt to shut that debate down? Now, he didn't literally shut either DeMint or Frank up but he repeatedly took Frank and DeMint to task for...arguing...on a debate show.
Take this exchange between Schmidt and Frank:
SCHMIDT: And, by the way, you guys need to get this thing fixed. What we need is very simple. We need some form of a jobs program, something that causes jobs to get created, and we need credit to get -- get going again. That's what we should be talking about as a country. And we can debate exactly how to do it, but get it going now.
FRANK: Well, excuse me. You dismissed...wait, it's called democracy, Eric. I'm sorry, but it's inevitable.
Followed later by this:
SCHMIDT: Chairman, the fact of the matter is, that if the government simply told everybody what you all were doing...and then people could track it and figure out whether it's actually working...
FRANK: But we are going to do that.
SCHMIDT: ... we could get through these classic fights that you all have.
FRANK: Well, no, I differ -- differ with you on that. Please. Let's not obviate democracy. There are legitimate different philosophical differences between Jim DeMint and myself. Please don't treat them as some sideshow.
Now, on substance I agree with most of what Schmidt said on the show but the subtext of Schmidt's complaints here is the classic "partisan bickering is the reason nothing gets done in Washington." Yawn. Give me a break. Glad to see Barney Frank shut Schmidt down.
You see, this idea that partisan bickering is what's wrong with Washington is an invention of the Village denizens in order to perpetuate the myth that both parties are equally to blame for the last eight years and thus immunize themselves against the (accurate) charge that they enabled the real perpetrators of the disaster we're trying to dig ourselves out of: the Republican extremists who ran this country for 8 years.
In fact, the lack of debate for fear of its being labeled "partisan bickering" is one of the ills that's plagued Washington. Just think what might have been different if there had been MORE debate about the destructive post-9/11 Bush policies and if Democrats had stood up to Bush and the Republicans when they were popular rather than caving at every turn. Also, consider all those people who voted for George W. Bush or, perhaps more significantly, Ralph Nader in 2000 because "there's no difference between the two parties."
As Blue Texan observes:
The stark contrast between the two parties was on full display this morning.
So, while Schmidt overall clearly agreed with Frank more than DeMint on This Week, his perpetuation of the myth that Frank's and DeMint's arguing is the real problem rather than the fact that DeMint represents a failed governing philosophy and a caucus intent on obstructing rather than working with Democrats to solve America's problems is really unhelpful.
More of this please:
DEMINT: One is for the government to take it out of the private sector through taxes and then decide where it's going to go through political manipulation, as they've done in the House. The other is just to leave more money in the private sector for consumers to spend and businesses to invest.
And that's the American way. And that's -- that's the approach we're pushing. [...]
FRANK: I regret Senator DeMint saying that this is the American way. Let's -- let's just agree that we're all Americans here, Jim, and that nobody's got the American way versus presumably the non-American way.
And as far as spending versus tax cuts, I think we need to fix some highways and bridges. I never saw a tax cut fix a bridge. I never saw a tax cut give us more public transportation. The fact is, we need a mix.
We need -- and I think we've suffered from an extremism in this country in the past of relying only on private-sector activity and having too little government. It's possible to have too much government, no question. But it's possible to have too little. And some parts of this stimulus -- extending unemployment benefits, helping with food stamps -- you know, we have two purposes here. One is to stimulate the overall economy. The other is to go to the aid of some people who, through no fault of their own, have been damaged. You can't just look at the aggregates. [...]
FRANK: The largest spending bill in history is going to turn out to be the war in Iraq. And one of the things, if we're going to talk about spending, I don't -- I have a problem when we leave out that extraordinarily expensive, damaging war in Iraq, which has caused much more harm than good, in my judgment.
And I don't understand why, from some of my conservative friends, building a road, building a school, helping somebody get health care, that's -- that's wasteful spending, but that war in Iraq, which is going to cost us over $1 trillion before we're through -- yes, I wish we hadn't have done that. We'd have been in a lot better shape fiscally. [...]
FRANK: I also disagree that we're taking money, quote, "out of the economy" if we improve public transportation, if we improve highways. That's your concept. You're taking money out of the economy if you make sure a bridge doesn't fall down.