The last time Brian Williams showed up in primetime for a splashy special on public policy was an enormous tribute to the then new president, Barack Obama -- making a run for hamburgers with him, hailing how he displayed apples everywhere, and bowing to him and wishing him a pleasant evening after NBC chronicled his glorious day of saving America from recession. You know, just like Williams treated Bush.
Everyone knew the way the wind was going to blow on this show. Williams was so nervous about the Tea Party he was actually suggested House Speaker John Boehner might be a force for good. Weirdly playing snippets of the old Jimmy Dean tune "Big Bad John," about how nobody gives lip to Big Bad John, Williams announced, "By all accounts the big meeting with his fellow Republicans is tense. In no uncertain terms the Speaker tells hardline conservatives, who are in no mood to compromise, to get in line behind his bill."
Notice the labels. Somehow, Williams never spent a second on his Obama special asking the president how he was going to handle the demands of "hardline liberals" -- or any kind of liberal, for that matter. The only hardliners are conservatives who want to stop the spending madness. What this country desperately needs are more "hardline conservatives" to dismay network anchormen.
Williams undermined his own musical intro by questioning Boehner's grip on power. "Mr. Speaker, is it fair to say you have a bit of a rebellion on your hands?" Sadly, Boehner tried to play along. "I've got a little rebellion on my hands every day. It comes with the territory."
Williams pulled out The New York Times, not exactly where Republicans go to look good. "You don't look happy on the front page of The New York Times. It says 'Boehner's Grip on His Caucus is Put to Test in Standoff.' Feel like you're being tested?" Boehner agreed. The question is whether Boehner wants to pass that test by pleasing liberals like Brian Williams, or by pleasing conservatives.