Political prognosticator Charlie Cook appeared on National Public Radio on July 11 and summarized perfectly the media narrative on the debt-limit battle. Speaker John Boehner, Cook said, "is not a burn-the-barn-down, break-the-china kind of guy, (and) he does not necessarily reflect the views of a majority ... of the House Republican Conference, who are of the burn-the-barn-down, break-the-china mold."
Hold on here. Why is it destructive to insist on a limited government? Why is fiscal sanity equated with pyromania? Cook was brought on as a "nonpartisan" analyst, but there's nothing either civil or accurate in casting conservatives as barnburners.
This is the "nonpartisan" Washington narrative of the budget talks: Reasonable Obama vs. Dangerously Unhinged Republicans. The establishment is imbibing deeply of the David Plouffe spin that somehow, a reckless, unsupervised Congress spent all the money and Barack Obama was too busy golfing to notice, as if he didn't sign every spending bill. It's as if he didn't aggressively shovel Obamacare and almost a trillion dollars of "stimulus" on top of the deficit mountain.
Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen got the ball rolling on July 4 by describing the GOP as the "Grand Old Cult" that needs a "mental health professional," and its presidential field was "a virtual political Jonestown."
On July 5, MSNBC star Chris Matthews started "Hardball" by comparing conservative Republicans to foreign Islamic militants: "Well, the GOP has become the Wahhabis of American government, willing to risk bringing down the whole country in the service of their anti-tax ideology." They were "willing to risk economic Armageddon in the name of religion -- that is, the religion of no taxes." By the next morning, Newsweek editor-in-chief Tina Brown upped the ante and called the Republicans "suicide bombers."
So who, exactly, is unhinged in this debate?
On NBC, White House "reporter" Chuck Todd pointed fingers: The problem was that new "tea party caucus" that can't back "anything that remotely looks like a tax hike on anybody." Ever heard of liberal Democrats who can't back "anything that remotely looks like you spent less than last year"?