Friday Talking Points [71] -- Historically Speaking (From A TelePrompTer)

[ Posted Friday, March 27th, 2009 – 17:15 UTC ]

Those who do not know history are, as we all know, doomed to repeat it. But there should be some sort of special doom reserved for those who actually do know their history, and choose to ignore it anyway. Amy Domini recently wrote a wonderful article in The Huffington Post about this phenomenon as it relates to our current financial crisis. She went back and dug out a New York Times article from when Congress passed the bill which created this whole mess. While there are some minor factual errors in her writing (as I remember it, George Bush was "elected" in the year 2000, not 1999), reading the reprinted Times article is just absolutely stunning. It covers the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, the financial regulatory law that was passed as a result of the Great Depression to keep the banking industry from doing stupid and reckless things.

Anyone who is currently pointing fingers at Republicans for championing "deregulation," and demonizing them for doing so needs to read this, to brush up on their history. This Clinton-era bill passed the House 362 to 57, and it sailed through the Senate with a whopping ninety votes for it, and only eight against.

In other words, there's lots and lots and lots of blame to go around -- which includes most of the Democrats, as well. The quotes from Democratic lawmakers are simply jaw-dropping in their hubris. The best one isn't from a lawmaker at all, but rather from Clinton's head of the Treasury, who (it should be pointed out) is now a key player in Obama's financial team of experts:

"Today Congress voted to update the rules that have governed financial services since the Great Depression and replace them with a system for the 21st century," Treasury Secretary Lawrence H. Summers said. "This historic legislation will better enable American companies to compete in the new economy."

How's that "21st century" system, or that "new economy" working out now, Larry? It's only fair to ask, it seems.

Paul Wellstone, not surprisingly, was one of the very few who got it right:

Senator Paul Wellstone, Democrat of Minnesota, said that Congress had ''seemed determined to unlearn the lessons from our past mistakes.''

''Scores of banks failed in the Great Depression as a result of unsound banking practices, and their failure only deepened the crisis,'' Mr. Wellstone said. ''Glass-Steagall was intended to protect our financial system by insulating commercial banking from other forms of risk. It was one of several stabilizers designed to keep a similar tragedy from recurring. Now Congress is about to repeal that economic stabilizer without putting any comparable safeguard in its place.''

Seriously, anyone who wants a little history lesson on how both our political parties are equally culpable in this mess really needs to read this blast from the past.

This doesn't have anything to do with this week's Friday Talking Points. I just wanted to point it out to any Democrats who are feeling overly sanctimonious right about now, and are contemplating beating Republicans up for the evils of deregulation, that's all.

Of course, as we all know, Ronald Reagan was the beginning of such deregulatory nonsense. And I was thinking of Reagan anyway earlier this week, after the national media proved once again that it has the intelligence (and memory skills) of your average houseplant, in the media's reaction to President Barack Obama's second prime-time press conference. I was reminded of Reagan due to one of the media's trivial pursuits this week -- Barack Obama's use of a TelePrompTer. [Editorial note: I realize I must be the last person on Earth (outside of the sticklers at The New Yorker, of course) who still capitalize this brand name correctly, as everyone else has decided it's a common noun... but I refuse to bow to modern convention, so deal with it. Hrrmph.]

Seriously, I wonder to myself, this is all you guys in the big, big media have got? You get paid the big bucks to (supposedly) report on the stories of the day, and you think the American people actually care whether Obama reads what he says off a piece of paper, or off a "modern" gizmo?

Here's some breaking news: the TelePrompTer was invented when Eisenhower was president (so that -- you can't make this stuff up -- Lucille Ball could read commercials on television). It is not exactly a "news flash" that politicians use them in the year 2009. I mean, seriously, can we get real here for just one tiny moment? The economy's crashing down all around us, and this is all you've got? When it has existed for over half a century?!?

I would caution smug media mavens with a bit of history, here. [Ron Fournier especially, as well as Carol Lee (who seems to think her bastardized capitalization "TelePrompter" is somehow "cool," since she can't really think it is correct in any way) and Peter Baker -- I'm looking in your direction.] Because the last time the TelePrompTer was an issue for a president, his name was Ronald Reagan. The press ridiculed Reagan, both for not knowing how to use a TelePrompTer... and (later) for using it too well.

My key point: does anyone remember this now? Or does everyone remember Reagan as "The Great Communicator" for his style? This is my note of caution to the press. In plain, simple language: "This is a stupid issue. There's nothing to it. Please move along. Stop obsessing over this non-issue. Please?" I would bet the farm [Note: I do not actually own a farm] that in 20 years, nobody's going to remember that Barack Obama used a TelePrompTer to speak to America. Any takers?

Don't believe me? Here are some choice excerpts from articles written in the first year of Reagan's first term (1981). [I apologize for the lack of links, I got these from Lexis/Nexis, which is a subscription service.]

The Washington Post, (5/10/81)

Personally, I am reassured by the easy manner in which the president sidesteps his own hard-line rhetoric and overheated ideology in favor of pragmatic political decisions. That confirms what longtime students of Reagan, particularly The Post's White House correspondent, Lou Cannon, have always insisted was the core of Reagan's political style. One eye on the teleprompter and the other eye on the voters.

The New York Times, (7/12/81)

For seasoned watchers of President Reagan, his mid-week speech in Chicago was a familiar scene gone slightly, and tellingly, awry. His trusty index cards had given way to a teleprompter. The crisp cadences of his off-the-cuff orations were replaced by long and harshly partisan sentences that visibly wearied both Mr. Reagan and his audience. Despite the last-minute effort by aides to correct a "mistake" in the speech text, Mr. Reagan admitted that his appointment of Judge Sandra Day O'Connor to the United States Supreme Court culminated a "search for a highly qualified woman."

The Washington Post, (9/28/81)

In one of his many stumbles and omissions of words or phrases apparently because of difficulties Reagan had reading from a teleprompter, the president dropped the second clause of that sentence when he delivered the speech at the Rivergate Convention Center here.

The Globe And Mail (Canada), in an article titled: "How to keep Reagan's foot out of his mouth" (12/18/81)

The former Hollywood actor impresses his audiences when there is a TelePrompTer rolling out a speech for him to read or when the points he should make are written on three-by-five-inch cue cards. But give him a question for which he can't recite an answer and he flounders about, offering vague generalities and giving every indication of an embarrassing lack of knowledge.

I have to salute the Canadians for their capitalization. Hrrmph.

But my favorite clip is from the New York Times in August of '81, which grudgingly predicts how history would eventually see Reagan:

Sound booms, television cameras, klieg lights and, on some oncamera figures, makeup, contributed a distinctively theatrical aura to the occasion. In fact, business seemed to take a back seat to the media event. What color shirt shows best on television? How does one gracefully read a speech from a Teleprompter? Most importantly how does one communicate credibly with an unseen audience? Chief executives might begin by studying the technique of a current master of the small screen, Ronald Reagan.

Writing a story about TelePrompTer usage is only really relevant when some sort of gaffe happens -- which did happen to Reagan quite a bit (although nobody remembers it now). There was one valid Obama TelePrompTer story two weeks ago (on Saint Patrick's Day), when there was a snafu with loading an Irish leader's text, but it actually was mostly ignored by the American media. Whoever was running the TelePrompTer cued up Obama's speech by mistake (for the Irishman), which he then began reading... and then Obama made a joke of it by immediately thanking him as "President Obama"... much to the amusement of the press, who laughed loudly at Obama's ad lib. But when no gaffe exists, no story exists. Or "should exist," if the media universe was a rational place.

The mainstream media needs to get over themselves, and they really need to realize that making fun of Obama for using a TelePrompTer is the most idiotic thing they've come up with yet to criticize about Barack Obama -- because in today's world, it's like making fun of someone for watching cable television, or for using a personal computer (how ridiculous would a story be that began: "President Obama used one of those new-fangled personal computing devices today..."?).

Actually, it's worse. Neither of those were widely available to the public until over three decades after the TelePrompTer became a common communication tool.

As Joe Bob Briggs, one of my philosophical gurus, is wont to say: "I'm surprised I have to explain this stuff."


OK, enough of that, let's get on with the show. History class is dismissed. Yes, this will all be covered on the quiz. Hrrmph.


Most Impressive Democrat of the Week

Before I get to the awards (I didn't know where else to stick this, sorry), some congratulations are in order. Yesterday was Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi's 69th birthday. Happy birthday, Madam Speaker, and many happy returns! And, on a more personal note, Mrs. Chris Weigant is now a United States citizen, and for people who are not regular readers of my blog (incredibly, there still are a few...), I invite you to read her essay on why she chose to do so now. And after her essay (as an addendum) are twenty of the questions on the citizenship test, if you really do want to take a history quiz (thought I was joking about that, didn't you?).

OK, with that out of the way, let's get to the good news of the week. The Democrats in the House of Representatives were most impressive this week in not only moving forward on the 2010 budget blueprint, but also by "touching second base" and leaving in the possibility of using the budget reconciliation process to cut off Senate Republicans at the knees. I admit I've been beating the reconciliation drum for a while now, and I was pleased to see that the House realizes that it would be a good thing to allow these bills to pass with Senate votes that cannot be filibustered. But, while Nancy Pelosi is strongly defending the practice, it appears to have been a joint effort in the House, so I'll just give all House Democrats an honorable mention here for now. The real fight is going to be when the House and Senate gets together in conference committee to hammer out a single bill to vote on, so stay tuned....

President Barack Obama continued to impress this week, in all sorts of ways, but he has set the bar so high on his own impressiveness that he wasn't considered for an award for doing so this week. He's just so darn competent that he's going to have to really do something spectacular to be considered (unless, of course, it's a slow news week otherwise...).

This week's Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week award goes to none other than Secretary of the Treasury Tim Geithner. He started the week off by unveiling his plan to deal with the toxic... oh, excuse me... "legacy" assets on Wall Street. Later in the week, he unveiled a plan to introduce much stronger regulation to the financial industry before Congress. And the stock market approved, by reversing its plummet and actually starting to rise once again.

Geithner took a lot of heat a few weeks ago for "not having a plan," and for (if you watched the news) being personally responsible for the stock market's fall. Now that these things have been proven demonstrably false, I'm still waiting for the gigantic "We were wrong, we're so sorry!" apology coming from the television talking heads. Let's all pause, so they can apologize for being incredibly, monstrously wrong, shall we?

[Sound of lone cricket chirping.]

Yeah, I didn't think so. While I am no economist and cannot rationally debate the merits and drawbacks of Geithner's plan personally, I have to say the stock market certainly seemed to approve. But, apparently, that's not news anymore, because it doesn't fit in the "Obama is failing" narrative. Maybe talking about TelePrompTers was more important. Or something.

Snarkiness aside, congratulations to Secretary Geithner, for having an all-around impressive week.


Most Disappointing Democrat of the Week

While he is ineligible (since I don't know if he's a Democrat or not), NBC's new Washington chief Chuck Todd deserves a special mention here for coming up with the most ridiculous (not to mention "out of touch") question at Obama's press conference this week. Chuck apparently lives on another planet, where Americans are not having to sacrifice during this economic crisis. I used to like Chuck, back during the campaign, because he seemed so fact-based and rational (as opposed to the normal talking heads), and even wanted him to get the Meet The Press hosting gig. But since Obama's election, he has been drifting rightwards, which makes me wonder what's going on at NBC News these days.

Dianne Feinstein also gets a "dis"-honorable mention this week, for her "investigation" over the fiasco of the Inauguration's crowd control efforts (which I wrote about yesterday), and also for appearing to back away from her support of the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), which she had co-sponsored in previous years. But she hedged her language on EFCA, so she doesn't rise (sink?) to the level of a Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week award. Yet.

Harry Reid also deserves a mention this week, for... well... being Harry Reid. Can we please get someone a little less Harry-Reid-ey to run the Senate? Just asking.

President Barack Obama also, sadly, deserves a mention here in the MDDOTW category, for "addressing" the issue of marijuana during his online town hall meeting, by turning it into a joke. Politically, it is understandable why he would want to push this issue to the back burner, and he does deserve some credit for even mentioning the issue in the first place, but still.... Next time, maybe the question needs to be more focused on realistic moves Obama could take on the medical marijuana sub-issue.

Instead, this week's MDDOTW award goes to all the Senate Democrats who are fighting hard to remove the prospect of reconciliation. Yes, sadly, you heard that right. Now, you'd expect Republicans in the Senate to be miffed about the maneuver, but these are Democrats we're talking about. From a recent article in Time magazine:

The House bill includes a controversial provision for so-called reconciliation -- which would leave the door open to piggyback massive programs on the budget like universal health care in case they fail to make it through the regular legislative process. House Democrats and the Administration support such a move specifically for health care -- though, theoretically, the provision would allow for anything, including energy, to be pushed through the Senate with just a simple majority rather than a filibuster-proof 60 votes. Several moderate Democratic Senators, including Ben Nelson of Nebraska, have said that inclusion of reconciliation instructions in the final bill would be a deal breaker for them.

A deal breaker? Are you kidding me? "Please, please, don't force us into passing a bill that Republicans can't filibuster! Because that would be, you know, horrible!"

It's hard to even conceive of any reason why Ben Nelson (and the rest of them) would take this position. Just because the possibility of reconciliation exists does not mean they can't work with Republicans to have some bipartisan support, but it does mean there is a threat that if bipartisanship doesn't work, that a good bill can be passed anyway.

Who in their right mind could be against that?

Ben Nelson, apparently. Which is why he (and his unnamed co-conspirators) are hereby awarded the Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week award. Now I'm starting to understand how Harry Reid got elected leader in the first place. Sheesh.

[Contact Senator Ben Nelson on his Senate contact page to let him know what you think of his actions.]


Friday Talking Points

Volume 71 (3/27/09)

This article (as usual) is getting way too long, so I'll try to be brief here in the talking points. These are provided on a weekly basis for Democrats to use when being interviewed this weekend. But feel free to use them yourself, around the water cooler.


   We can't wait!

Dan Froomkin noticed this earlier this week, although it flew under most of the media's radar. Barack Obama now seems to have a great answer to critics who keep pounding him for "doing too much" or "attempting too much." Froomkin even asks: "Is 'we can't wait' the next 'yes we can'?" Here is his report of what Obama said recently at a D.C. fundraiser:

Obama: "Now, let me just say that there are those who say, you know, you're taking on too much; say the budget is too ambitious, we should only focus on one problem at a time."

Audience: "Nooo!"

Obama: "But we know -- we're smarter than that. (Applause.) We know the challenges are too big to ignore. That single mom out there trying to figure out whether she can have health care for her family -- she doesn't think -- "

Audience Member: "She can't wait."

Obama: "She cannot wait. (Applause.) I'm not going to wait until we've got another $4-a-gallon gasoline before suddenly everybody says, why don't we have an energy policy? We can't wait. (Applause.) I'm not going to wait until suddenly we find out that our children can't compete for the jobs of the future. That's why we're going to fix education now, not later. We can't wait. (Applause.)"


   98 percent

President Obama's team is in full-court press mode to sell their budget proposal to Congress and the American people. Earlier in the week, the media (including even some lefty media) were talking about how congressional Democrats were "taking an axe to," or "slashing" Obama's proposal. This feeds the "all conflict, all the time" theme of the media; but when the dust settled, it appeared that (once again) the media were reporting on a tempest in a teapot. Because what emerged from the House and Senate was almost exactly what Obama asked for.

This needs pointing out.

"President Obama got 98 percent of what he wanted from Democrats in Congress in the budget blueprint. Allow me to repeat that figure: 98 percent. The media tried to make it seem like there was some enormous intra-party battle over the budget, when in reality, Democrats showed an amazing amount of party unity during the process. I must have missed all those screaming 72-point headlines with the figure 98 percent in them. Unless, of course, the media is just not doing their job."


   Maybe not twins, but definitely brothers

But White House Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag got the best line off on this subject, so I will just turn the talking point over to him:

"Not only do [the House and Senate versions] embody the four key principles that the President has put forward for the budget, but they are 98% the same as the budget proposal the President sent up in February. The resolutions may not be identical twins to what the President submitted, but they are certainly brothers that look an awful lot alike."


   Numbers? We don't got to show you no steenking numbers!

Actually, because everyone in the world (including that headline) gets this quote (from The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre) wrong, here is how the full quote should read: "Numbers? We ain't got no numbers. We don't need no numbers. I don't have to show you any stinking numbers!"

Just for the record.

President Barack Obama smacked the GOP in the face with a gauntlet during his press conference, saying in essence "put up, or shut up" on the budget. He challenged them to come up with their own budget if they didn't like his, or continue to wallow in their irrelevance and obstructionism.

They responded right away. But, harking back to Obama's presser once again, they apparently didn't take the time to think about it. What ensued was a disaster, in full view of the media's harsh glare. Because in their 19-page "pamphlet," they forgot to give any numbers. You just can't make this stuff up.

Hari Sevugan, from the Democratic National Committee, had such a wonderful reply, I find I cannot improve on it at all:

"After 27 days, the best House Republicans could come up with is a 19-page pamphlet that does not include a single real budget proposal or estimate. There are more numbers in my last sentence than there are in the entire House GOP 'budget.' "


   You know, actual numbers

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs got in on the action as well. Even just reading this quote, you can sense that he is straining mightily to contain himself and not get too snarky.

"It's interesting to have a budget that doesn't contain any numbers. I think the administration is glad that the Republicans heard the president's call to submit an alternative. We just hope that next time it will contain actual numbers so somebody can evaluate what it means."


   Next time, just use Twitter

Next time, maybe they should just use Twitter and save themselves the embarrassment of appearing on television to answer over and over again the question: "Where are the numbers?!?"

It's fun to come up with a 140-character-or-less version of the Republican "budget" -- try it at home!

"More big tax cuts for rich folks. Obama budget bad. Bad bad bad! GOP budget doubleplusgood!"


   Brought to you by the number zero

The fun-loving folks over at the Democratic National Committee seem to be on a roll. Maybe I should just rename the seventh talking point "this week's DNC snark" or something. After the Republicans rolled out their numberless "budget," the DNC put together an ad eviscerating it. Watch the ad if you want a laugh this week.

The talking point comes from the title of the ad itself:

"I was watching Sesame Street the other day, and saw the Republican budget pamphlet introduced, brought to you by the number zero."


Cross-posted at: Democratic Underground

Cross-posted at: The Huffington Post


-- Chris Weigant


18 Comments on “Friday Talking Points [71] -- Historically Speaking (From A TelePrompTer)”

  1. [1] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    I have to say, Chris, that the FTP column this week is destined - on so many levels - to become one of my many favourites!

    This whole TelePrompTer issue sums up, in a nutshell, all that is wrong with the media - in general and present company excepted, of course! And, damn...leave it to the Canadians...Globe and Mail, no get the capitalization right. I just knew there must be a good reason why that word hasn’t been looking quite right to me! Though, I'm not quite ready to start paying attention to the Canadian media again. Sigh.

    I would bet the farm - even if it’s in Iowa - that the media as we know them are well on their way to irrelevancy and obsolescence. One thing is for sure - they are not going to be able to keep up with President Obama...not a chance!

    I couldn’t agree more with your choice this week for MIDOTW award - I’ll make a prediction now that this will be one of many MIDOTW distinctions that Secretary Geithner will receive over the next several months and years...though, it seems there won’t be much of a shortage of candidates in the Obama/Biden administration deserving of the honour. This is just too darned refreshing!

    And, by the way...don’t even think about trying to be brief! Others may need to be brief or forget about it altogether...but not you!!!

  2. [2] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Elizabeth -

    Hey, check it out, I have another Canadian fan over at HuffPost!

    I want to see some polling numbers on the MEDIA instead of the politicians. I bet their approval rating is sinking, personally...


  3. [3] 
    LewDan wrote:


    Have you considered the enormous clout a 59 seat Senate majority gives each Dem senator? Given how costly even one defection would be? And how the reconciliation process would also make Democratic Senators dispensable? Sadly, Republicans hold no monopoly on putting politics above country.

    As for the media -- Cheap shots, Chris.

    They're such easy targets. Newspapers failing, network ad revenues and ratings dropping, "journalism in crisis."

    They're just giving us what we want. Just ask them! Its not their fault if we -- uh -- Don't want it!

    "That's En-ter-tain-ment!"
    And I have to take issue with you on the teleprompter spelling. When brand names like Kool-Aid, Google, Polaroid, TelePromTer, etc. enter the English language as nouns and verbs, (particularly new technology) they take on standard capitalization.

    Would you have no way to distinguish words from trademarks, or trademarks excluded as words? (Litigators would love that!) Capitalization no longer indicating proper nouns? The inclusion of words from every other language don't make English spellings tough enough for you? You want words with random capitalizations? You want WALL STREET IN CHARGE OF ENGLISH SPELLINGS!?

    ... Why does Chris Weigant hate English speaking schoolchildren?

  4. [4] 
    Michale wrote:

    It's just NO fun when everyone agrees with me that Democrats are no better than Republicans..

    It takes all the wind outta my sails... :(


  5. [5] 
    Michale wrote:

    I do have to ask, though...

    Is the GOP's "no numbers" better or worse than the Obama's numbers of 2+ TRILLION dollars in the hole???

    THAT is the question...


  6. [6] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    LewDan -

    Yeah, I really need to start separating my criticism into "print media" (which generally does a decent job) and "teevee talking heads" (which generally don't). Point taken.

    As for brand names, business fight like cornered rats to avoid the "common noun" or "verb" status of their brand names. Fighting hard (but losing) this battle today are Kleenex and Band-Aid, since they're both well on their way to being normalized. Also, believe it or not, Dumpster.

    It's interesting to me that different English-speaking countries do this to different brands. Ask someone from Britain, and they'll tell you it's a "plaster" not a "bandaid". But then they'll be confused if you talk about a "vacuum," and not a "hoover."

    I don't even think it's a brand name anymore, to tell you the truth. TelePrompTer (the company) was absorbed by Westinghouse in the 1980s, I believe.

    Having said all that, I still think TelePrompTer is cool (how many words have three capitals in them?) and will continue to use it. Schoolkids will continue to ignore me, and we'll all get along fine.

    And I just can't resist, but it really should be "English-speaking schoolchildren" -- I'm a stickler for hyphens on compound modifiers as well!

    Heh heh.

    Michale -

    I thought you'd like that first section somehow. I forgot to give applause for Barbara Boxer (one of my senators) for voting "nay" in the Senate. Boxer is always overshadowed by Feinstein, but she is a consistent progressive vote in the Senate and deserves more attention for it.

    The GOP was afraid to put numbers on their budget precisely because of the deficit. They have two stark choices: admit that even with their ideas the deficit is going to be enormous for years to come; or slash so much out of their budget they would be cutting the government by enormous percentages -- which isn't the best idea in a recession.

    Personally, I applaud Obama for boldly sweeping away a lot of the accounting tricks introduced under Bush (5-year budgets instead of 10, for instance). Or, I should say, "attempting" to do so, since Congress put most of the tricks back in the budget anyway.

    But still, 98% is pretty good in Washington.


  7. [7] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    I saw that nice comment on HuffPost and it brought a wide grin to my face...frankly, I should think that FTP would be on everyone's short list of favourites...maybe you should team up somehow with that guy who does the quasi-live blog/wrap-up of the Sunday morning talk shows and judge the credibility, or lack thereof, of the guests on the basis of your talking points.

    But, then wouldn't be fair to that blog as it wouldn't be long before FTP became the only place to be - before, during, and after the Sunday political mele. Of course, you wouldn't have a spare moment to yourself anymore, either!

    As for the credibility of the media and their approval's currently at zero and going backwards at a pretty good clip, as far as I'm concerned...and it doesn't matter much whether we are talking about the 'print' or 'talking heads' or any other variety since there is little or no daylight between them.

    As for the TelePrompTer designation - as much as I like to see it in print and type it out myself, the media (all moving parts of it)/blogosphere/punditocracy) had better collectively put their special brand of TelePrompTer idiocy to bed or risk hastening their impending demise. Yes, I have about had it with the lot of them!

  8. [8] 
    Michale wrote:

    the media (all moving parts of it)/blogosphere/punditocracy) had better collectively put their special brand of TelePrompTer idiocy to bed or risk hastening their impending demise.

    IMNSHO, the Media's obsession with the tele-thingy is the LEAST of the indications of their idiocy....



  9. [9] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    IMNSHO, I couldn't agree more!

  10. [10] 
    kevinem2 wrote:


    "That guy", Jason Linkins, is by far the best Huffpo staffer...Admittedly, he's not as good as Chris, but he's in the ballpark and ahould be treated with a little more respect. :-)
    Glad to know that you check out his Sunday talking heads column...that and Chris's FTP are the highlights of my weekly surfing. Along with Bill from Portland Maine's weekday Cheers and Jeers columns in the Daily Kos. Good, witty writing all around.

  11. [11] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    Actually, I'm not much of a fan of Jason Linkins' sunday column Sunday...he may be in the ballpark, but he's not playing in the same league as Chris...not even close!

    I was just saying that by teaming up with him, Chris could easily attract a good number of people who love a little reality-based political commentary and lively debate and entice them over here.

    Too many people are missing out on what Chris is doing here. And, that's just not right!

  12. [12] 
    kevinem2 wrote:


    I didn't phrase that very well, and I concede your point. I too look at the number of comments Chris's work gets on Huffpo, and want to scream at my monitor "you idiots!! this is great stuff and why aren't you reading and reacting to it."

    In my defence, I've posted here several times my wish that Chris had an influential position in the Obama government. He is BY FAR the most thoughtful and constructive writer amongst my internet favourites.

    I'm almost afraid to mention again my other Huffpost fav's; Bob Cesca, Cenk Uygur, and Frank Schaeffer. I hope they meet with your grudging approval.

    At least we can agree on Mr. Weigant's supremacy. :-)

  13. [13] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    Yes we can! agree on Mr. Weigant's supremacy.

    Now, as for your other HuffPost favourites...let me know if any of them have ever had anything good to say about Joe Biden - the senator and/or VP - and I'll let you know if they meet with my approval, grudging or otherwise! :-)

    By the way, I'm thinking that Chris's latest blog may just have gained him all sorts of new fans, eh?

  14. [14] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Elizabeth -

    I like the Sunday Talking Heads article, although at times he gets a bit too frisky for my liking. But sometimes he's hilariously funny, too.

    But there's a big difference between me and him -- he gets paid for what he does at HP. When they start paying me, I'll consider working Sundays, how's that?

    Michale -

    While I would argue with your use of "least" I am, in essence, in agreement with you on the subject of the television media.

    kevinem2 -

    Got a link to the Maine guy? I've got friends in Maine who would be interested in checking it out.

    Elizabeth and kevinem2-

    I have to start posting these things earlier on Fridays, maybe that will help. Part of the problem of getting noticed on HuffPost these days is that they've become a victim of their own success. The last time I heard Arianna talk publicly, she said there were over 2,500 bloggers at HP. That's a lot of competition!

    I've tried convincing the DNC to put a link up on their site's blog (they have a rather limited blogroll list) to just the Friday Talking Points, but they never got back to me. I'm not suggesting writing them an email or anything (ahem) but I think such a link might help get the FTP to the correct (and wider) audience, personally.

    Anyway, thanks to all for the kind words!


  15. [15] 
    kevinem2 wrote:


    Showing my age, I feel like Claude Rains in Casablanca...I'm shocked, shocked to find out that you're not familiar with the Daily Kos from your research. Anyhow, here, hopefully, is the link for Bill from Portland Maine..

    The trick is to click on the highlighted "there's Moreville" part of his took idiotic me about six months to discover that most of his column was unveiled by making that leap/click..

    Chris, I really am surprised you didn't know about him...I assumed you read Kos if only to check out the competition... It is pretty hard not to stumble across him if you check out the site each morning...

    Elizabeth - I've never made fun of your Biden fandom. From my admittedly sparse knowledge, he's a good, intelligent man. (If anything, I'm a fan of his son for his convention speech about Jill Biden.. I think I could have a crush on her...)

    As a fellow voteless Canadian, I lean slightly more towards Kuchinich after his "Wake Up America" speech at the convention. To cut to the chase, I mildly resent your need for Biden-friendly content in my other preferred writer's work. Even our Chris-God has minimal Biden references...:-)

  16. [16] 
    kevinem2 wrote:


    P.S.- Here in British Columbia we're about to have an election in six weeks where we'll probably re-elect a Bush-lite clone named Gordon Campbell...sigh. American politics are so much more interesting...they've got hope with Obama and we've got ciphers like Harper..Yech.

  17. [17] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    It’s not so much a need for Biden-friendly content that I’m after...I mean, it’s not like I’m obsessed, or anything...geez! ;-)

    No, it’s the idiotic storyline on Biden that the media/blogosphere/punditocracy have used to perpetuate their asinine national Biden myths of epic proportions. If your favourite writers - at HuffPost, or anywhere else - have contributed to any of this idiocy, in any way, shape or form, then they have very little credibility with me - on any subject!

    After all, there are not enough hours in the day to waste reading stuff that I have to constantly question the veracity know? Now, I realize that I may be missing out on a lot of good writing as a result of my very selective screening process but, I just don’t have the patience or the ‘intestinal fortitude’ anymore to deal with the multitude of disparaging Biden tripe that emanates from ALL political directions.

    By the way, IMNSHO, you live in the most beautiful part of the country...and, just a glorified hop, skip and jump away from Hawai’i, too!

    And, Canadian politics may be on the verge of becoming very interesting and, dare I say, relevant in the world...IF we are smart enough to elect Michael Ignatieff as our next Prime Minister. Of course, I won’t be waiting with bated breath since my political picks aren’t exactly always on the say the very least!

  18. [18] 
    kevinem2 wrote:


    I've so many thoughts this morning...I'd humbly request that you check out Cesca, Uyghur, and Schaeffer on Huffpo. Schaeffer can be a tad tedious constantly reminding you he used to be a leader of the Religious Right ala Falwell/Robertson et al; but since he came to his senses he's interesting.

    Cesca and Uyghur are consistently intelligent and witty. On Kos, Bill from Portland Maine is the type of Gay man I'd like to have for a friend if I knew many/any gay people.

    NONE of them to my recollection has ever taken a shot at Biden. Harry Reid, however is a different story. But then his brand of timid innocuosness is often deserving of a poke with a sharp stick. (I think Chris may have a special one with Reid's name on it).

    More on Biden...for me, a large measure of how I view a person is who they choose for a partner in life. Both Biden and Obama were attracted to, courted, and won the heart's of women who were at minimum their intellectual peers, if not their superiors. Going back, I gave Bill Clinton huge brownie points for being married to Hillary. (To REALLY stretch this point, the only civil thing I could say about George Bush is that he married "up" with Laura. She's GOT to be much brighter than he is, although sadly that's a pretty low bar to beat).

    I could drone on, but seriously Elizabeth, I think you should check my writer's out and get back to me with your opinion. That goes for all the people who frequent this happy home...(That goes for you, too, Chris; if you don't read them already).

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