Is anyone else as tired of seeing this man compare apples to oranges day after day on CNN? I've had about a belly full of him ever since he came on th
February 25, 2010

Is anyone else as tired of seeing this man compare apples to oranges day after day on CNN? I've had about a belly full of him ever since he came on the air and compared Ed Schultz and Alan Grayson to Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin in his weekly "Wingnuts" segment on Saturdays. In this segment it was Nancy Pelosi somehow being equal to Rush Limbaugh and Dick Armey in John Avlon's world.

First of all, Nancy Pelosi does not "run the Congress". She is the Speaker of the House and she has no control over what happens in the Senate. And she's "polarizing" because flame throwers like Armey and Limbaugh love to beat up on her night and day and paint her as some evil flaming liberal that's out to destroy the country with her "socialist agenda". Nancy Pelosi is not out there race baiting and working wingnuts into a lather day after day like Armey and Limbaugh are.

I've got issues with Nancy Pelosi but it's for allowing the Bush administration to have a pass afer the Democrats got the House back and took impeachment off the table.

Transcript below the fold via CNN.

YELLIN: Creating jobs, jump-starting the economy. That is what matters to all of us. But in Washington, it sure seems like the priorities are getting lost in partisan bickering, political mud- slinging, even, frankly, in the self-serving agendas of the politicians in office.

So no secret that most Americans think our government is broken, and we know many people are responsible. So to tonight, we've one isolated some of the key culprits who some say have done more to bring the business of the nation to a standstill than any others.

Author and Daily Beast columnist John Avlon has compiled a list of top offenders. And Peter Beinart, also with the Daily Beast and a contributor at "TIME" magazine, oh, he has some picks of his own.

So they're both joining us now. I want to take (UNINTELLIGIBLE) first. John, let's start with you. You actually had a list of 20 top offenders.


YELLIN: But I want to isolate -- there are probably many more -- three. First, Nancy Pelosi. Why?

AVLON: Nancy Pelosi, well, look, she's in charge of Congress, overwhelming majority. Become one of the most polarizing figures in American politics. And now presides over Congress. The approval rating lower than Bush when he left office. She's been seen as undercut, being more partisan than President Obama campaigned and, therefore, undercutting the kind of hope and change that tethered him to independents.

YELLIN: That's a Democrat. On the other side of the aisle, Dick Armey.

AVLON: Dick Armey, retired guy. The author of the ultimately creepy saying "bipartisanship is another name for date rape." And he also...

YELLIN: Date rape?

AVLON: Yes. But more importantly, he leads an organization now which has been pumping up the Tea Parties, and he's really a symbol of how people are using hate to pump up hyper partisanship in this country right now.

YELLIN: OK. And finally, Rush Limbaugh?

AVLON: Four words: "I hope he fails." He ended up starting the entire Republican strategy at a time during President Obama's honeymoon. He set the gauntlet down and ended up showing that talk radio now has got more influence than party leaders when it comes to strategy.

YELLIN: All right. We'll come back to you, folks.

Peter, to you. Your list of top offenders who are blocking bipartisanship. I want to show all three at once so folks can see them. Frank Luntz, Mitch McConnell and Olympia Snowe. Olympia Snowe is the moderate Republican who tries to work with Democrats. Start there. Why her?

PETER BEINART, THE DAILY BEAST: Well, you know, back when George W. Bush was president and the Democrats were filibustering on judges, Olympia Snowe is one of the people who said that only in extraordinary circumstances, quote unquote, should the filibuster be used.

But in fact, she supported filibusters in a whole host of situations, including on health care. She voted for it in committee and then actually filibustered it on the Senate floor. That doesn't seem to me like an extraordinary circumstance that would warrant a filibuster to me.

YELLIN: I think you're just trying to surprise us. But it is a good one.

Frank Luntz, he's the Republican pollster?

BEINART: Yes. Frank Luntz authored this extraordinary memo that pertained to financial regulatory reform, where he said, "Basically, look, we want to kill any kind of reform. We don't want any change. But let's pretend that we're against this because it's too weak when in fact we're against it because we don't want to do anything at all."

YELLIN: And Mitch McConnell, he is the Republican leader in the Senate. You're just going to say he's Dr. No, huh?

BEINART: No. I've got a specific example. Mitch McConnell demanded that Barack Obama support this Deficit Reduction Commission. Obama turned around and reluctantly did support the Deficit Reduction Commission. And then McConnell filibustered the Deficit Reduction Commission, because he didn't want Obama to have a political victory.

YELLIN: Not the only one who did.

Let me put a question to you, John. Barack Obama campaigned on a promise of bipartisanship. We're in gridlock. He doesn't belong on the list? Is he making good on his promise to try for bipartisanship?

AVLON: He has certainly not been able to change the culture in Washington. And that takes time. But that takes leadership.

And I think President Obama has opted too often for photo ops centrism instead of substance. I think he can be faulted.

But I think he's also been genuinely trying to reach out and has been met more often than not with a closed fist rather than an open hand.

YELLIN: And Peter, you put a lot of politicians on your list, not sort of talk-show hosts. So do you think the politicians are really leading the charge, not the talk-show types?

BEINART: Well, they're under pressure from the talk-show hosts. I think that's certainly true.

But I think the fundamental -- the most important thing to understand about why it's been so difficult to get things done since Barack Obama was elected is the fact that Republicans have filibustered 80 percent of major legislation, which is absolutely historically unprecedented.

In the 19th century, filibusters happened about once per decade. Now they're the norm. We're a kind of permanent filibuster, which means you need 60 votes to get anything done.

YELLIN: All right. Well, we didn't get to Sarah Palin. But maybe that's for the next discussion. Thanks to both of you for joining us this evening. Fun discussion about politics and bipartisanship.

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