Back in 1994, as the MRC's Brent Baker recalled earlier today with video, Tom Brokaw derided the Contract with America as "long on promises, but short on sound premises." So on the very day that Republican House members were set to announce their Pledge to America, who did NBC's Today show bring on to discuss it? House Minority Leader John Boehner? Rising Republican star Paul Ryan? No, on Thursday's Today, Meredith Vieira invited on Brokaw to, once again, rain on the GOP's parade as he claimed the Pledge doesn't "address, in many ways, some of the toughest issues that are still before us, Medicare, Social Security." [audio available here]
Brokaw, also demonstrating he isn't exactly plugged into the conservative movement claimed: "You think about it, nine months ago, a year ago we didn't know about the Tea Party." Apparently Brokaw missed the reports that his own network did that started bashing the Tea Party as early as April 2009.
The following exchange between Vieira and Brokaw was aired on the September 23 Today show:
MEREDITH VIEIRA: Let's start with this Pledge to America that the Republicans are gonna unveil later today. Unlike the Contract with America that had the full support of Republicans, there are only 12 Republicans who have signed on to the Pledge so far. So what does that tell you about the shape that the party is in right now?
[On screen headline: "A Pledge To America, Will GOP Plan Win Over Midterm Voters?"]
TOM BROKAW: Well I think that the party is trying to catch the Tea Party wave and what they're attempting to do is to capture some of the magic of 1994, again. They don't address, in many ways, some of the toughest issues that are still before us, Medicare, Social Security. And they fail to point out that a lot of the programs that they're protesting against started in the closing years of the Bush administration when Hank Paulson, the Treasury Secretary, was trying to keep the economy from going over the cliff. Take health care, for example. It's 17.5 percent of our GDP. No question about it, this health care bill is problematic for a lot of people, but what are the answers? Not just repealing it. So, you know, the games are well underway. And I've been doing this for a long time, Meredith and I've never seen so many plates moving at the same without having a keen sense of where they're gonna end up.
VIEIRA: Have you ever seen anything quite like the Tea Party?
BROKAW: No, I haven't. You think about it, nine months ago, a year ago we didn't know about the Tea Party. But the power of the Internet cannot be overstated here. And the first rule of politics is don't let your opposition define you. Tea Party is using the Internet, their people are motivated, they're passionate, they're turning out.
VIEIRA: To define Obama.
BROKAW: Guess who used the same techniques to get elected President of the United States? Barack Obama. And he finds himself now on the defensive. Just this morning Bill Clinton is saying he's got to start pushing back harder than he has so far. So this is a, this is a very ripe time in America.