The government shutdown has made it abundantly obvious that the anti-conservative news media and the anti-conservative Republican establishment have joined together to the point where it's almost impossible to see where one ends and the other begins. Some might say they merge every day on the set of "Morning Joe."
The media have designated as Public Enemy No. 1 a recalcitrant bloc of tea party stalwarts who have declared their intention to stop Barack Obama's statist juggernaut from imposing the Obamacare monstrosity, running up trillion-dollar deficits year after year and in so doing destroying the private sector. Amazingly, liberal Republicans have demonstrated the same wailing and gnashing of teeth.
Look no further than the media-thrashing given to risk-takers such as Sen. Ted Cruz. Politico's Roger Simon wasn't really joking when he wrote, "Question: If Ted Cruz and John Boehner were both on a sinking ship, who would be saved? Answer: America."
The media don't even have to say this themselves. They can simply quote the "moderates" who use immoderate language. A lot of senators are leaking pure venom anonymously to reporters about Cruz in the hope of suppressing the uppity conservative rebellion.
Pundits are more obvious. On MSNBC, host Alex Wagner feasted on the tweets of former Reaganite Bruce Bartlett: "Bruce refers to the 'tea party clowns,' and I think a lot of people would agree with that designation, but the question is, where, what happens at the end of this in terms of national standing? And, in particular, I want to focus on Ted Cruz." Wagner quoted Bartlett: "There's a slight possibility that Boehner is a genius and the tea party will die a well-deserved death in the next few days. Fingers crossed."
Quoting Republican critics of a Republican senator is reasonable professional journalism -- and the liberals in the media know it. So, too, do the Republican critics, especially the cowardly "anonymous" ones. (It's just too bad journalists can never seem to find Democratic critics of a Democratic president -- e.g., Sen. Max Baucus presciently observing that Obamacare would be a "train wreck.")
The media were especially excited about the latest NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll showing a 53 percent negative rating for the Republican Party, and just 24 percent positive. NBC's Savannah Guthrie pounded away at Sen. Bob Corker about how the results are "absolutely devastating to Republicans."
Does that mean to all Republicans or just the conservatives? On "Hardball," Chris Matthews explained it:
"John McCain, very recently the Republican nominee for president, has come out and said, basically: Cruz, you're out to lunch. These polls are real. You got to stop blaming the ref. And you're beginning to look ridiculous. We have to accept reality. The Wall Street Journal-NBC poll is probably the most respected poll in the country. It's always been where it is. And it gives information to both parties. And there's McCain saying yes, yes."
The same line was repeated by reporters going on -- and on -- and on -- and on. Oh, the games Washington plays.
Matthews failed to note that the "bipartisan" poll his network buys came from Democrat Fred Yang and Republican Bill McInturff, a longtime pollster for ... John McCain.
McInturff delighted liberals by calling the poll result "an ideological boomerang." He told his clients the poll was "consequential," but then he wrote this regarding the next elections: "This type of data creates ripples that will take a long time to resolve, and there will be unexpected changes we cannot predict at the moment as a consequence.
"From a Republican perspective, there is comfort, though, that the next federal election is a year-plus away. Whether it be the impeachment vote in early 1999 or the use of force votes about Iraq, there have been episodes people assumed would drive the next election, but those votes/events were so far from the election they simply were not a factor by the next election."
Translation: There is no there there.
There is more.
There was questionable sampling: Democrats were 43 percent of the sample, compared to 32 percent Republicans. There were 9 percent more Obama voters than Romney voters (44 percent to 35 percent), while Obama only won by four points. In fact, most incredibly, in this poll, fully 20 percent of the respondents said they or a family member work for the government (federal, state or local). This is known as stacking the deck.
The media and liberal Republicans want to take the GOP back to the glorious Nixon-Ford era of the 1970s, transforming the tea party into a fringe element and shredding the party platform as meaningless. Or perhaps the destination is 1968, when every rational Republican knew the future would be bright with Richard Nixon or Nelson Rockefeller, and not that California man who could never win: Ronald Reagan.