David Gregory and Republican strategist and "No Labels" founder Mark McKinnon do an excellent job of proving many of the points Frank Rich made in his op-ed The Bipartisanship Racket, while completely ignoring the substance of that op-ed. Quite a
December 19, 2010

David Gregory and Republican strategist and "No Labels" founder Mark McKinnon do an excellent job of proving many of the points Frank Rich made in his op-ed The Bipartisanship Racket, while completely ignoring the substance of that op-ed. Quite a trick.

GREGORY: We're back, joined by our political roundtable, and look at this finding from our latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll about how people feel about where the country's headed. Look at that, 63 percent think the country's off on the wrong track. Mark McKinnon, you know as a political pro, that that is a really good indication of the independent vote and where that independent vote might actually go. This was a scene this week, the No Labels launch, the idea of an independent political movement that could somehow break ties. And you had some pretty big figures on the right and the left, but you've also been accused of "childish magical thinking." That was Frank Rich in The New York Times today. The idea that the heavy lifting of moving the country forward could be accomplished by a no labels group is on many, on the left and the right, just unthinkable.

McKINNON: Well, the political--63 percent of Americans are disenfranchised with what's happening in Washington because they see this harsh, poisonous environment and harsh partisanship. A thousand people from--representing all 50 states came to New York to help launch this effort called No Labels, which is designed to bring more civility to politics and address the hyperpartisanship. And we've had a great success already because we brought together the harsh partisans on the left and the harsh partisans on the right, Rush Limbaugh, Frank Rich, they're all attacking us because they don't want--they think it's magical thinking when Cory Booker works with Governor Christie, working together for solutions. They don't want that because it doesn't help their ratings, it doesn't help their profits. And Frank Rich attacked us in The New York Times today saying we only had three black speakers. Well, he obviously didn't watch the event or he's doing sloppy research because we had three prominent featured African-American speakers, including Mayor Booker, who spoke about all the things that he's doing as mayor there. So it's been a tremendous response we're getting from the middle of America who think that we need to work together like the, like the vice president said.

So what did they forget to mention about the Frank Rich op-ed? Well let's start with the title -- The Bipartisanship Racket. Rich's column may have gotten the number of black participants wrong as McKinnon was carping about, but other than that, the substance of what he wrote about is spot on.

This "No Labels" group is nothing but a way to push more Republican and DLC policies that reward the rich at the expense of the working class. And it's also just more re-branding from Republicans who are still trying to distance themselves from the damage that George Bush inflicted on their party, even though they were willing participants in inflicting that damage. Frank Rich is exactly right that what Americans are sick of is the corruption in both parties, not whether corrupt politicians are going to play nice with each other. You'd never know what from listening to David Gregory and Mark McKinnon here.

Go read the whole thing but here are a few highlights.

But attention must be paid. In its patronizing desire to instruct us on what is wrong with our politics, No Labels ends up being a damning indictment of just how alarmingly out of touch the mainstream political-media elite remains with the grievances that have driven Americans to cynicism and despair in the 21st century’s Gilded Age. [...]

The notion that civility and nominal bipartisanship would accomplish any of the heavy lifting required to rebuild America is childish magical thinking, and, worse, a mindless distraction from the real work before the nation. Sure, it would be swell if rhetorical peace broke out in Washington — or on cable news networks — but given that American politics have been rancorous since Boston’s original Tea Party, wishing will not make it so. Bipartisanship is equally extinct — as made all too evident this month by the pathetic fate of the much-hyped Simpson-Bowles deficit commission. Less than a week after the panel released its recommendations, the Democratic president and the Republican Congressional leadership both signed off on a tax-cut package that made a mockery of all its proposals by adding another $858 billion to the deficit. Even the Iraq Study Group — Washington’s last stab at delegating tough choices to a blue-ribbon bipartisan commission — enjoyed a slightly longer shelf life before its recommendations were unceremoniously dumped into the garbage.

The No Labels faith in kumbaya as an antidote to what ails a polarized Washington isn’t derived from any recent historical precedent but from the undying Beltway anecdotes about how Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neill used to bury the hatchet over booze in times of yore. Bipartisanship is also a perennial holy grail in Beltway punditry — as typified by David Broder, who hailed the Simpson-Bowles commission as “historic” in The Washington Post just hours before its findings were voted down by commission members on both the left (Representative Jan Schakowsky of Illinois) and right (Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin). [...]

Yet what’s most disturbing about No Labels is that its centrist, no doubt well-intentioned leaders seem utterly clueless about why Americans of all labels are angry: the realization that both parties are bought off by special interests who game the system and stack it against the rest of us. Indeed, No Labels itself is another manifestation of this syndrome. Its two prime movers are a political consultant, Mark McKinnon, a veteran of the Bush and McCain campaigns known for slick salesmanship; and a fund-raiser, Nancy Jacobson, who, along with her husband, the pollster and corporate flack Mark Penn, helped brand the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign as a depository for special-interest contributions.

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