What has the Wall Street Journal got against talk radio? The way the editorials have been reading lately, it sounds like they think their News Corp. colleague Sean Hannity is a bigger problem for America than President Obama is.
The theme began with a July 13, 2011 editorial: "The tea party/talk-radio expectations for what Republicans can accomplish over the debt-limit showdown have always been unrealistic."
Today's editorial also targets talk radio, specifically Sean Hannity, who, like the Journal editorialists, works for Rupert Murdoch's News Corp.:
The same supposedly conservative Republicans and their talk radio minders may denounce this deal as a sellout, but we'll be charitable and assume they've climbed so far out on the political ledge they don't know how to climb back without admitting they were wrong. They're right that this deal doesn't "solve" our fiscal crisis, but no such deal is possible as long as liberals run the Senate and White House.
The debt ceiling is a political hostage the GOP could never afford to shoot, and this deal is about the best Republicans could have hoped for given that the limit had to be raised. The Jim DeMint-Michele Bachmann-Sean Hannity alternative of refusing to raise the debt limit without a balanced-budget amendment and betting that Mr. Obama would get all the blame vanishes upon contact with any thought.
For what it's worth, President Obama is putting out the same message. Here's a passage from President Obama's July 22 press conference:
the fact of the matter is that's what the American people are looking for, is some compromise, some willingness to put partisanship aside, some willingness to ignore talk radio or ignore activists in our respective bases, and do the right thing....And for us not to be keeping those folks in mind every single day when we're up here, for us to be more worried about what some funder says, or some talk radio show host says, or what some columnist says, or what pledge we signed back when we were trying to run, or worrying about having a primary fight -- for us to be thinking in those terms instead of thinking about those folks is inexcusable.
Around here I try to judge ideas not by whether they arise on talk radio or in print newspapers, but on their content. The Journal editorial assumes that what would result from a failure to raise the debt ceiling would be "blame" rather than "credit." I actually think that if the issue is properly framed, it doesn't have to be that way. Here is one way to put it: "The federal government is now spending double what it did at the end of the Clinton administration, and is spending a trillion a year more than it takes in. Do you think Congress should authorize borrowing of another $2.1 trillion, for total debt of $17 trillion? Our GDP is only about $15 trillion a year, so this could put our debt over 100% of GDP. Or do you think Congress should cut spending back so the deficit is nowhere near the trillion a year it has been running, and we don't have to keep borrowing from the Chinese or future generations to meet our obligations? This could be done simply by restoring federal spending levels to those at the end of the Clinton administration."