Wednesday, October 25, 2006

"Broken Government " is the disease - "Divided Government" is the cure

Hat tip to Scott Whitlock at News Busters for his blog post reviewing the CNN special "Broken Government" featuring a discussion of the benefits of divided government:

"CNN Special Advocates For Divided Government; Features Dan Rostenkowski as Expert"

CNN’s latest political special, "Broken Government: The Do Nothing Congress," featured Dan Rostenkowski as a quasi-ethics expert, agitation for divided government, and general trashing of the Republicans in Congress. Rostenkowski, for those too young to remember is the former Democratic Congressman who ended up being expelled from the House after being accused of, among other things, charging thousands of dollars worth of gifts to a congressional account. (CNN couldn’t find time to mention his transgressions until 34 minutes into the program.) But, mail fraud and prison apparently aren’t an impediment to being an expert on all things wrong with the GOP. Host Ed Henry used Rostenkowski as a springboard to call for divided government:

Rostenkowski: "The secret of my success, I think, is that, the 14 years that I was chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, 12 of them were under Republicans."

Henry: "It seems logical that divided government, Democrats in charge of one branch, Republicans running the other, might cause gridlock. But, when you think about it, it actually seems to produce better results."

Norman Ornstein (American Enterprise Institute) : "I have come to the conclusion, reluctantly -- and I don't have a partisan dog in the fight -- that divided government now may be a better way to go, simply because the incentive, if you're leading an institution that you -- in which you share the responsibility for governing, is to try and make your institution work, because the onus is going to be on you to do so."

What interesting timing? It’s unlikely that CNN had such an appreciation for divided government in October of 1994 ...'
Now, Scott got his panties in a bunch over the fact that CNN would have the temerity to cover corruption in congress two weeks before a congressional election. I can only guess that he thinks the proper time to cover corruption in congress is - oh, I dunno - maybe when Democrats have the majority. I am not too young to remember Dan Rostenkowski. I do remember the coverage of his corrupt and criminal activities, and also remember that the "liberal media" were like pit bulls on the story at the time. Coverage of the Dan Rostenkowski corruption scandal was widely credited with helping Newt Gingrich and the Republicans take the majority in Congress. Apparently, Scott also does not think that CNN should use a corrupt ex-congressman to provide insight into the current crop of corrupt congressmen. It actually makes perfect sense to me, who would know more about congressional corruption than a corrupt ex-congressman?

In any case, it is Norm Ornstein and not Dan Rostenkowski who is making the case for divided government in the CNN special. Norm Ornstein is a widely respected scholar who has been writing about congress for decades. As readers of this blog know, Norm Ornstein has been on the news show circuit since July, stumping for his book "The Broken Branch: How Congress is Failing America and How To Get It Back On Track" where he outlines the problems with single party congress and the benefits of divided government. We have been covering his work for months, including this review, and this appearance on Hardball broadcast in early September. There is nothing new here Scott. Just because you have not noticed Norm Ornstein's work before the CNN special, does not mean it was not there. In this clip from the show, Colorado Republican Congressman Joel Hesley is prominently featured as a pillar of ethical virtue. Examples of both Republican (Randy Cunningham) and Democratic (Jim Trafficant) corruption are explored. Scott Whitlock observing bias in this CNN special is telling us more about bias in the observer, than bias in the observed.

Look, I am not saying there is no liberal bias in mainstream broadcast media. It is there, just as there is Republican bias at Fox News. I don't have a problem with either. But in this particular example, I have only one thing to say to Scott: "23". If all you do is look for the number 23 all day, you are going to find a lot of them. Sometimes the 23 you find means something. Sometimes it does not. This time Scott found a 23 that means nothing. BTW - I just noticed that the episode Scott is complaining about was broadcast on October 23. Hmmmm.

Scott - try this exercise: Spend one day looking for liberal bias on Fox, and conservative bias on CNN. You'll find that too.

In any case, I am grateful he called my attention to it, I suggest everyone watch it, and if you cannot catch it, the full transcript is here.

Divided and Balanced.™ Now that is fair.

Just Vote Divided.

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