Right-wing media fails again!

The conservative echo machine wants to compare Chuck Hagel to a failed Bush nominee, no matter the reality

Topics: Chuck Hagel, Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, Bill Kristol, Editor's Picks,

Right-wing media fails again! Chuck Hagel, John McCain (Credit: Jeff Malet, maletphoto.com)

It’s sometimes easy to forget just how different the world of the conservative closed information loop is from, well, reality.

So it’s always worthwhile to point out examples of it, and this week supplied a doozy: the idea that Chuck Hagel is, as Bill Kristol put it, “Obama’s Harriet Miers.”

I’m not sure where the first instance of it appeared, but the Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin used it in a Jan. 7 post. To her credit, I suppose, Rubin’s use of the Miers analogy at least fit the situation she described. The problem, unfortunately, is that what she described was completely removed from reality – a nomination so anathema to mainstream Democrats that Hagel might be forced to withdraw before a confirmation hearing. Of course, in actuality, every Democrat who took a position before Hagel’s hearing supported his nomination. Oops!

But that hasn’t killed off the increasingly wrongheaded Miers analogy. Not at all. It showed up after Hagel’s hearing from Kristol and from National Review’s Dan Foster, who called him “Harriet Hagel.”

So what’s so wrong with the analogy? Harriet Miers was the Supreme Court choice of a Republican president whose nomination sunk because conservatives believed she was insufficiently conservative, or at least not guaranteed to be sufficiently conservative. Sure, her qualifications for the job were dicey, and it’s possible she might have lost support over that, but everyone knew that the fight was about ideological reliability, and the fight took place within the president’s party.

Hagel’s nomination for secretary of defense is nothing like that. So far, at least, it’s a straight party-line split. Indeed, to the extent that there’s internal partisan argument, it’s within the out-party Republicans.

Nor did Democrats react to Thursday’s hearing by bailing on Hagel. It’s true that few people from any perspective thought he performed well, but Michael Cohen probably had the typical liberal response: that Hagel was unimpressive, but committee senators, especially Republicans, had made fools of themselves – that “[t]he hearing was, for lack of a better word, an embarrassment for all concerned.”

You Might Also Like

Now, I’m not arguing one way or another about who was right about Hagel. I’m just saying that conservatives – Rubin, Kristol, Foster – appear entirely clueless about what Democrats are up to.

And, really, how is one to do politics – real politics, not just partisan cheerleading – without any sense at all about what’s going on outside of one’s own cul-de-sac? It’s no wonder that conservatives have had a string of setbacks, both electoral and in policy showdowns. It’s hard to out-bargain someone when you hold a cartoon image of them.

So we get spectacles such as the “unskewed” debacle, in which by all accounts the Mitt Romney campaign and most of its supporters had no idea at all that Barack Obama was well on his way to a solid reelection. Or the decision to base the 2012 campaign on a few out-of-context quotations. Which seems to have been done in part because it was so easy to fire up Republicans inside the information loop that no one recognized that the campaign was offering next to nothing to anyone who didn’t spend all day listening to talk radio. Republicans inside the loop may not actually have realized that the weak economy was far better than the disastrous economy that Obama inherited, and therefore mistakenly believed that the fundamentals of the election favored Republicans.

Or the failure of Republicans to get much of anything out of the fiscal cliff negotiations, and their apparent surprise when they realized that Democrats had considerable leverage and believed they had considerable power.

Not every conservative, of course, lives in a cocoon of Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and the rest of it. But the evidence shows that many of them do – and, again and again, we see the consequences of that bubble.

Just ask Harriet Hagel.

Jonathan Bernstein writes at a Plain Blog About Politics. Follow him at @jbplainblog

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 13
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    DAYA  
    Young Daya has yet to become entirely jaded, but she has the character's trademark skeptical pout down pat. And with a piece-of-work mother like Aleida -- who oscillates between jealousy and scorn for her creatively gifted daughter, chucking out the artwork she brings home from summer camp -- who can blame her?

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    MORELLO   
    With her marriage to prison penpal Vince Muccio, Lorna finally got to wear the white veil she has fantasized about since childhood (even if it was made of toilet paper).

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    CINDY   
    Cindy's embrace of Judaism makes sense when we see her childhood, lived under the fist of a terrifying father who preached a fire-and-brimstone version of Christianity. As she put it: "I was raised in a church where I was told to believe and pray. And if I was bad, I’d go to hell."

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    CAPUTO   
    Joey Caputo has always tried to be a good guy, whether it's offering to fight a disabled wrestler at a high school wrestling event or giving up his musical ambitions to raise another man's child. But trying to be a nice guy never exactly worked out for him -- which might explain why he decides to take the selfish route in the Season 3 finale.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    BOO   
    In one of the season's more moving flashbacks, we see a young Boo -- who rejected the traditional trappings of femininity from a young age -- clashing with her mother over what to wear. Later, she makes the decision not to visit her mother on her deathbed if it means pretending to be something she's not. As she puts it, "I refuse to be invisible, Daddy. Not for you, not for Mom, not for anybody.”

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    SOSO
    We still don't know what landed Brooke Soso in the slammer, but a late-season flashback suggests that some seriously overbearing parenting may have been the impetus for her downward spiral.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    POUSSEY
    We already know a little about Poussey's relationship with her military father, but this season we saw a softer side of the spunky fan-favorite, who still pines for the loving mom that she lost too young.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    PENNSATUCKY
    Pennsatucky had something of a redemption arc this season, and glimpses of her childhood only serve to increase viewer sympathy for the character, whose mother forced her to chug Mountain Dew outside the Social Security Administration office and stripped her of her sexual agency before she was even old enough to comprehend it.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    CHANG
    This season, we got an intense look at the teenage life of one of Litchfield's most isolated and underexplored inmates. Rebuffed and scorned by her suitor at an arranged marriage, the young Chinese immigrant stored up a grudge, and ultimately exacted a merciless revenge.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    HEALY
    It's difficult to sympathize with the racist, misogynist CO Sam Healy, but the snippets we get of his childhood -- raised by a mentally ill mother, vomited on by a homeless man he mistakes for Jesus when he runs to the church for help -- certainly help us understand him better.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    NORMA
    This season, we learned a lot about one of Litchfield's biggest enigmas, as we saw the roots of Norma's silence (a childhood stutter) and the reason for her incarceration (killing the oppressive cult leader she followed for decades).

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    NICKI
    While Nicki's mother certainly isn't entirely to blame for her daughter's struggles with addiction, an early childhood flashback -- of an adorable young Nicki being rebuffed on Mother's Day -- certainly helps us understand the roots of Nicki's scarred psyche.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>