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[h/t Heather at Video Cafe]
This week while everyone in the news media was obsessing on Hilary Rosen's remarks about Ann Romney and making them seem far more important than they were, the North Koreans had a disastrous attempt at a missile launch, Mitt Romney lied and fearmongered in his NRA speech, President Obama launched a full-court press on the Buffett rule, a landmark study was released by the USDA showing that the food stamp program is critical to alleviating poverty, the jobs report caused worries that the economy may be slowing down, the CFPB announced its consideration of new rules to help homeowners manage their mortgages before they melt down, even as federal funds for jobless training run out. In other news, Bobby Jindal is poised to gut public education even more in Louisiana with his "education reform" efforts, and a looming student debt crisis casts a dark shadow on students entering and graduating from college. Oh, and lots of corporate sponsors dropped their sponsorship of ALEC.
These all happened this week. They all matter to most of us on one level or another. As a parent of an about-to-be University of California student, the costs frighten and frustrate me, and will mean some kind of change in our lifestyle to get her through college without piling up the student loans. Others are dealing with health crises, job insecurity, and other very real, deep issues of concern. But here's what George Stephanopoulos wants to talk about:
STEPHANOPOULOS: Before we leave this [mommy wars] issue, I tend to agree with you all that this particular dispute is going to flare up and flame out, but, Melody, I wonder if the president has a -- has a continuing problem with Bill Maher? You know, you saw those comments he made on Friday night. He's given $1 million. He's the biggest single contributor to the super PAC aligned with the president. This has now happened a couple of times. Do you think the president is going to have to cut ties?
BARNES: Well, you know, I listened to those comments, and my grandmother's voice came in my head. I thought about the phrase, "Home training." You know, the language, the sentiment are problematic, and the campaign has -- and the president has said, look, the civility is -- it matters. The way we talk to each other matters. And they're going to have to, as you said, make a decision. I saw David Axelrod in earlier situations when comments have been made by Bill Maher say, I'm not going on your show. I'm backing away. I'm distancing myself. So it's a conversation...
Now last time I looked, Bill Maher was not an influencer in Democratic politics. He wasn't someone who could just pick up the phone and get right through to the White House. But to George Stephanopoulos, this is so important he actually has to spend time on his show "wondering" whether the President should cut ties with Maher. What ties?
Thank heavens for Katrina Vanden Heuvel and her level-headed, polite response. It was much nicer than I would have been.
VANDEN HEUVEL: But to pick up on what Cokie says, I think these discussions about Bill Maher and the Hilary Rosen, Ann Romney, much of that plays into a view that our politics are failing to deal with the massive deep-seeded problems this country has, whether it's, how do you send your kid to college or how do you not get evicted from your home? Or why do have inequality akin to Egypt's?
I think that's -- people talk about the elites. There are people in this country who are looking perhaps at us right now on this roundtable and saying, you're not connecting to my problems or my life. Let's get with it. Forget Bill Maher.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So just ignore it completely...
Yes, George. The media has become quite adept at playing through the politics of distraction with these ridiculous non-issues. Who cares what Bill Maher says, really? If you don't like what he says, don't listen to him. That's what I do, because I'm not a fan of Maher or anyone who just says outrageous nonsense to get some attention. If you like that, fine. If you don't, fine. But as long as he has no influence he's not relevant to the reality of daily life, which is what VandenHeuvel pointed out so perfectly.
If every single stupidly phrased, framed or otherwise offered remark by pundits is going to become the topic of the Villager buzz every single week, it's going to be a long and ignorant election season. We can't afford another one of those. That was 2010. This is 2012.
In 2012, we have ALEC sneaking through the back door to get laws passed state-by-state until they are national whether or not our national legislators support or back them, and those laws threaten our democracy in ways not imagined. In 2012, the real "Mommy Wars" aren't over whether women can choose to stay at home or work. They're over whether women will have much of a say at all in whether they even want to be mommies. In 2012, they're about whether black men can walk down a street in a hoodie without being shot by someone with a gun and a grudge, and have the shooter be excused under the law.
George Stephanopoulos' obsession with Bill Maher and Hilary Rosen is a distraction. If he cared at all about really informing people with this hour he has on Sunday morning, he might have tried looking at Hilary Rosen's corporate connections, and what their agenda is. Her firm represents bogus education reformers, drug companies, food manufacturers and most egregious of all to me, Michelle Rhee's right wing Students First organization, which is dedicated to destroying our public schools in favor of for-profit K-12 education.
One more time, George: No one cares or needs to care what Bill Maher said. Most people would probably not even know what he said until you decided to bring it up and pique their curiosity. What people really do need to care about and know is how the public and democratic institutions in this country are being sold to large corporate interests, one turnkey law at a time.