The Limit To Foolishness on Television

Posted: Jul 29, 2011 8:56 AM

The atmosphere in the green room at the Sean Hannity Show was amped up. On ordinary days I will banter with Beckel and talk radio shop with Sean as we both tell Levin stories, a friend of both of ours for years.

But Thursday night was tense. Juan Williams and Ann Coulter weren't yucking it up, but were watching the House maneuvers on Boehner 2.0. Once on set Coulter pushed for passage over Hannity's serious objections, and then Juan and Sean went two pretty heated rounds on the issue of where responsibility lay for the unfolding fiasco.

A truncated Great American Panel followed with Carol M. Swain who has a new book out, Be The People, pollster Pat Caddell, and me.

The segment began quietly enough. Caddell was struggling to recall the name of Aba Eban which I gladly supplied him. Carol praised the Tea Party, and I declared support for the Boehner deal based on the unsettling and very large cash flows out of money markets, an echo of the panic of 2008.

Then Caddell launched into one of his rants about everyone being irresponsible, which is just absurd cant, and when Caddell resorted to the old trick of demanding the right to talk in ever louder volume, I kept saying no. Bullies on panels are like bullies everywhere --give them an inch and they will rant for an hour. Caddell's schtick is old and tired but the crisis is real and immediate. The president and his Democratic allies have been radically irresponsible. Speaker Boehner is trying to lead but without any other serious leader in play save perhaps Mitch McConnell and Jon Kyl. When Caddell or anyone lumps in Kyl with Harry Reid, or Jim Jordan and Rand Paul with Bernie Sanders, and John Campbell with Barney Frank and Chuck Rangell, a gentleman rises to the defense of his friends. Caddell objected to be interrupted in his slander, and raged even to the point of grabbing my arm, an amusing breach of cable decorum.

Another excitable ideologue eager to impose some nonsensical theory on the simple problem of a president committed to a radical restructuring of the American economy no matter the chaos it requires.

Such is the atmosphere around the issue because the issue of the vast federal spending is genuinely that important. A repeat of the panic of 2008 would take a weak recovery and turn it into a deep recession as consumer confidence crumbles. Representatives should rally behind the plan that signals a plan to move away from the cliff the president has forced us to. That's the Boehner plan.

Cash flows out of money markets have been accelerating, including $9 billion on Thursday. The president's serial assaults on every proposal other than massive tax hikes has clarified his willingness to take the economy down the panic road. Markets notice. Consumer confidence falls.

It really is time to shut down the Caddells and all the other talking heads who want to pretend all politicians are alike. They aren't. Some are very good and some are very smart. And others are like the Senate Majority Leader and the president. The good ones need to pass a bill and then craft a law. Now.