Friday, February 8, 2008


I don't know how many Viewpoint readers watch MSNBC's evening lineup, but the programming there ranges from liberal to very liberal. That's okay, in fact it's healthy to have ideological diversity on cable television. Chris Matthews (liberal) and Keith Olbermann (very liberal) offer a counter to conservatives like Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly at Fox.

In any event, it's amusing that some of the MSNBC people, given their avid support for left-wing politics, have gotten themselves into trouble with the Clinton campaign twice in recent weeks, not over matters of political substance but because of ill-considered remarks by their anchors.

First Chris Matthews made the comment that Hillary Clinton is where she is only because her husband was a philanderer. Now I happen to think there's a lot of truth to that, but the Clinton campaign was incensed and Matthews dutifully delivered an abject on-air apology. Then came this on Thursday:

A distasteful comment about Chelsea Clinton by an MSNBC anchor Thursday could imperil Hillary Rodham Clinton's participation in future presidential debates on the network, a Clinton spokesman said.

In a conference call with reporters, Clinton communications director Howard Wolfson Friday excoriated MSNBC's David Shuster for suggesting the Clinton campaign had "pimped out" 27-year old Chelsea by having her place phone calls to Democratic Party superdelegates on her mother's behalf. Wolfson called the comment "beneath contempt" and disgusting.

"I, at this point, can't envision a scenario where we would continue to engage in debates on that network," he added.

This was insulting in the same way that Don Imus' comments about the Rutgers girls' basketball team were offensive, and Shuster should be called to account for it. The irony is that Shuster, like Imus, probably didn't know until someone explained it to him why his remark has landed him in hot water.

Here's Shuster making the slur, along with his first apology:

Well. It seems Shuster is surprised that the Clintons got upset that he essentially called their daughter a whore. Can't they take a joke? Is Shuster really that dumb?

Update: Hot Air reports that Shuster has been suspended by NBC.


The Conservative Strategy

There is, I think, a good explanation for the apparent inclination of many prominent conservatives (Rush limbaugh, Ann Coulter, James Dobson, to name just a few) to abandon the Republican John McCain and let Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama coast to victory in November.

Conservatives feel that they have only one or two cards left to play now that McCain has all but won the nomination. The "Maverick" would be acutely aware that without enthusiastic conservative support he'd have very little chance of defeating the Clinton steamroller or of prevailing against Obama's winsome, if vacuous, political charms. He doesn't just need conservatives to vote for him, he needs them to work for him. He needs them to be excited about winning.

I suspect that conservatives are threatening to sit out an election that offers them a choice between McCain and Hillary/Barack not because they actually will but because they want McCain to think they will, or to at least think that their support for him will be so tepid as to be inconsequential. If he's worried enough that the base of the party will decide to mow the grass on election day he might be amenable to a quid pro quo.

Conservatives are no doubt hoping to extract some guarantees from McCain that he'll appoint Supreme Court justices like Roberts and Alito, that he'll not sign an illegal alien amnesty bill, that he'll sincerely work to secure our borders, that he won't sign legislation that normalizes gay marriage, and that he won't raise taxes. A credible pledge to fulfill all or most of these would go a long way toward mollifying the right and kindling some enthusiasm for his candidacy.

Whether he'd be willing to commit himself to such promises, or whether he would even keep the pledge if he made it, I don't know, but such a strategy is the only thing that makes sense out of the asseverations of some conservatives that they'd sooner see Hillary elected president than vote for John McCain. No conservative who cares about the country can say that and hope to be taken seriously.


Unremarked Remarkable Fact

It should seem odd, but doesn't, that the media don't show much interest in a couple of significant facts about the primary election campaign: The African-American Barack Obama is scoring heavily among white southern men, and the Mormon Mitt Romney was doing well among Christians before he pulled out and would have done even better were Mike Huckabee not in the race.

Since some in the media believe that the country is chronically and irredeemably racist and that Christians are narrow-minded religious bigots, and since we often fail to see what we do not expect to see, this state of affairs is floating unseen right past their eyes. As is often the case, the things that every liberal just knows to be true about race and religion in the U.S., aren't.

Nevertheless, it's a remarkable fact about where we are as a nation that Obama has such strong support among southern white males and that Romney had strong support among evangelical Christians.

Evidently a lot of Christians recognize that the values a man holds are more important to his qualifications to govern than are the beliefs which give rise to those values, no matter how peculiar and heterodox those beliefs may be. It's a shame that this example of Christian tolerance and good-will isn't getting more attention from the media.