During the 2012 debates, Republicans were asked a simple question: would they accept a dollar in tax increases for ten dollars in spending cuts?
A friend asked them that question. It was not meant as a bullcrap question, but it is. The reason is because it generates a sound bite that advances a narrative that leaves out a whole lot of history.
As could easily be predicted, most every Republican said no and most every journalist used the occasion and answer to point out how unreasonable the Republicans were.
They all ignored Michele Bachmann who explained why it is actually a bullcrap question.
Republicans going back to Reagan and his tax reforms were always willing to raise taxes a bit in exchange for cuts. The problem was that repeatedly the tax increases stayed and the cuts were abandoned. So asking Republicans if they were willing to raise a dollar in taxes for ten dollars in cuts is essentially asking if the GOP is willing to raise taxes.
The cuts, if they every actually happen, are never permanent. The tax increases almost always are permanent. And the cuts, when they do happen, are most often cuts in the rate of growth and not actual, meaningful cuts.
The question oversimplified things and reflected a reality that is not.
The same thing is happening again. Members of the press are claiming we should all be able to recognize that Senator Tom Cotton’s letter to Iran was bad form. We all should be able to say it was a bad idea, even if we want to chide the press for not calling out Democrats who have done the same.
I must disagree.
The press routinely expects Republicans to condemn their own side for things Democrats routinely do. The press never does that to Democrats.
The outrage is always disproportionate against the GOP. It always is.
Just last week, the Democrats’ communications director said he wanted to kill Chris Christie dead. Were it the communications director of the GOP saying that about Hillary Clinton, we would be in the second week of news stories about the outrage. News networks would have daily coverage of Democrats getting threatened. See e.g. Elizabeth Lauten’s personal Facebook page.
I remember during the August recess town halls of 2009 and into 2010, I was just joining CNN. There was a segment on all the Democrats in Congress getting threats over their support of Obamacare. There were Republicans also getting threats for their opposition. The panel was not a partisan panel, but a regular news panel. The threats to the GOP were mentioned in passing, but the panel focused almost exclusively on Democrats.
Likewise, there were press stories about black Democrats walking down steps at the Capitol getting called the “n” word. Reporters who were actually present did not write about the story because it did not happen. But a number of reporters who were not present wrote about it when Democrats claimed it happened. And those press reports were not written about Democratic claims, but about the fact that the event happened even though it had not actually happened.
It is the same throughout the media. The biases are not just in what is covered, but in how much it is covered and where the coverage happens in the paper and in the segment placement and whether something is treated as claimed or true. Outrage over Republicans is always disproportionately higher. Republican statements are treated as claims and Democrat statements are treated as facts. It is not always intentional per se, but is always a reflection of the world view of those packaging the news. They view the tea party and conservatives as more disruptive, more malcontented, and more prone to bad behavior. So they focus on that as it conforms to a pre-conceived narrative.
I write all this to say that no, I will not be outraged by or condemn or speak ill of Senator Tom Cotton’s letter. I personally think it had its intended effect and completely threw the Obama Administration off its footing. John Kerry was forced to scramble and the whole Iranian affair has gotten a lot more attention than anyone in the press intended to give it.
And even if I did not agree, I would not be inclined to say much negative about it because the disparity in how the press treats Republican behavior and Democrat behavior need not be encouraged by my own side.
I won’t take ten dollars in cuts for one dollar in increases because the cuts will never come and I won’t moralize against the 47 Senators for writing that letter because I know the press would never, ever, ever spend equivalent time criticizing the Democrats for doing the same against a Republican President.
If the press has no intention of being fair, don’t expect the rest of us to be.