It is all too easy to become cynical about the mainstream media.
Last week Vice President Joe Biden uttered the now famous, “I’m going to get into trouble for saying this. This ain’t your father’s Republican Party. This is the Republican Tea Party.”
As it happened, this kindhearted warning to voters of the insidious transformation of the GOP was all but identical to a line of attack he took in 2008. At that time he said, “I don’t get it, really, all kidding aside. … This is not your father’s Republican party. These are people who talk about middle class tax cuts and the definition of what’s middle class – well, I guess below $4 million. Give me a break!” (http://tiny.cc/n2v41 )
The vice president didn’t like cuts to spending and taxes in 2008. He hasn’t liked them at anytime in his career. He doesn’t like them now. He is a centerpiece of the “political class” that pollster Scott Rasmussen talked about with the Wall Street Journal’s John Fund this past weekend (http://tiny.cc/0tbs1).
As Fund reported, “To figure out where people are [between what Rasmussen calls the Mainstream Public and the Political Class], [Rasmussen] asks three questions: Whose judgment do you trust more: that of the American people or America’s political leaders? Has the federal government become its own special interest group? Do government and big business often work together in ways that hurt consumers and investors? Those who identify with the government on two or more questions are defined as the political class.”
As to the size of these two groups, Rasmussen adds: “Before the financial crisis of late 2008, about a tenth of Americans fell into the political class, while some 53% were classified as in the mainstream public. The rest fell somewhere in the middle. Now the percentage of people identifying with the political class has clearly declined into single digits, while those in the mainstream public have grown slightly.”
Where does the Mainstream Public come down on Mr. Biden’s resistance to reductions in spending and taxing? As Fund reports:
“Mr. Rasmussen argues that Mr. Obama misread the data from early on in his administration. ‘People remember from his 2008 campaign that he promised to cut taxes for 95% of all Americans,’ he says. But Mr. Obama’s stimulus package only grudgingly included modest tax cuts as part of an effort to secure Republican votes in Congress. ‘The week it passed, our poll found 62% of voters wanted more tax cuts and less government spending in the stimulus,’ he says. ‘We shouldn’t be surprised people now think the stimulus has failed.’”
Nevertheless, despite being so out of touch with the general public, this week, for once, the vice president was rescuing the president, not the other way around.
After his fumbling insertion of himself into the Ground Zero mosque controversy, Mr. Obama spent the week walking back, as political consultants put it, his Ramadan dinner statement. Yet, he so ineptly defended what he apparently intended to be a straightforward endorsement of religious tolerance that pundits have begun to question whether he might have decided not to run for reelection in 2012 (http://tiny.cc/7q3vm ).
What can you say? The president’s delivered a performance of Bidenesque proportions.
Which made it all the more astonishing that Mr. Biden was the one with the turn of phrase that sent the mainstream media scurrying after it down the rabbit hole.
For the MSM is as much a fixture of the political class as Mr. Biden and Mr. Obama. So this week’s Sunday talk shows seemed at times to be a duel, which story would dominate, Mr. Obama’s mosque fiasco or Mr. Biden’s “Republican Tea Party” remark?
It is clear that the Democrats and their friends in the media feel that the Tea Party brand can be turned around to make the GOP seem unpalatably extreme to the Mainstream Public. It is as good a play as they may have at this stage of a game that is going badly against them. Former House GOP majority leader and Tea Party cheerleader Dick Armey gave them reason to hope on the weekend’s Meet the Press. When questioned about various proposals to reform Medicare, he didn’t seem to know that it and Social Security are already essentially bankrupt. To do nothing will be to destroy them. Reformers are the rescuers.
Still, the spontaneous Tea Party movement began over alarm about the extremism in spending, taxing, and assertions of arbitrary power by the Political Class. Poll after poll in the past year has shown that this alarm is shared throughout Mr. Rassmussen’s Mainstream Public.
The mainstream media may not get the Mainstream Public. Those who do get it and are capable of heeding its call for reforming, limiting, and returning to solvency the United States government will shape the nation’s politics in the decade to come.