If only Ted Kennedy were still alive, so might the 29 miners killed in a horrific explosion at Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia, at least according to liberal radio host Ed Schultz.
Schultz wasted little time last week piling on Don Blankenship, CEO of the company that owns the mine where the disaster took place, as a corporate fatcat cozy with the GOP and indifferent to his workers' safety.
In the process, Schultz gave Democrats a pass for their alleged inability, despite control of Congress and the White House, to enact legislation that Schultz claimed would mean safer conditions for miners.
On his radio show last Thursday, two of Schultz's callers challenged him, with Schultz responding in shabby fashion to both. Here is how the first call went (click here for audio) --
SCHULTZ: Let's go to Bobby in Greenville, N.C., your time on the Ed Schultz show, thanks for calling.
CALLER: Hey Ed, I love your show. I just want to weigh in on this. It's obvious that the Bush administration and this guy, this mining company, were you know in bed together and I think it's a terrible tragedy. With all the violations they should have been shut down a long time ago. And you mentioned hypocrite a while ago and I'm going to give you two good examples. I've heard you rant and rave the last hour about the Republicans and how this is their fault and they should have done something about this. I've not heard you one time say anything about the 500 violations last year and the 40-some serious violations from this mine and the Obama administration hasn't done a thing. And you haven't mentioned that at all. The Obama administration ...
SCHULTZ: Actually Bobby (crosstalk), we talked about that yesterday, Bobby. They passed it in the House and then it was stalled in the Senate after Ted Kennedy got sick. Gotta listen all the time, my man, good to have you with us. Chad in Atlanta, you're on the Ed Schultz show ...
Ah, that explains it. Notice how quickly Schultz opened a trapdoor beneath the caller, lest anything else inconvenient slip through.
Schultz boasts of his show as "Where America Comes to Talk." More accurately, it's Where America Can't Have Its Say.
Turns out the next caller, Chad from Atlanta, described himself as an occupational safety consultant and accused Schultz of politicizing the deaths of miners at Upper Big Branch (here for audio) --
CALLER: Yes, Massey is accountable because they're the employer. I'm not deflecting fault from that point by any means but whether it's a Democrat administration or a Republican administration, you know, people can slam George Bush for this all they want to, but occupational fatalities under the Clinton administration were double that of the Bush administration. The Obama administration, he hasn't been in office long enough for any statistics to come out, so I can't say what that may be.
However, in my opinion, and I'm just speaking my opinion, it's the Department of Labor who has just not ramped up their efforts and regards to enforcing the rules. And if they never do anything beyond issuing citations that are minor, it's never going to get any better. No company is going to do the right thing as long as the system works that way.
SCHULTZ (awkward pause as Schultz realizes he's outgunned): OK. Good to have you on, Chad.
... followed by second call in a row that Schultz abruptly ends after finding himself on losing end of an argument. Not surprisingly, Schultz then takes a potshot at second caller no longer in a position to challenge him --
SCHULTZ: I guess what I say just doesn't get into the ears and heads of people sometime. Yesterday on this program I spent quite a bit of time talking about Rep. George Miller, who's the chairman of the labor committee. And how they passed a law in the House and moved it over to the Senate that, like hundreds of others, have (sic) stalled. And one of the reasons why it stalled in the Senate is because there was nobody to pick up the baton and go with it because Ted Kennedy got sick and eventually died, that would have brought in stricter safety standards on mine operations.
I thought I talked about that. Maybe Chad didn't hear it.
Hmm, wasn't health reform much more of a Kennedy signature issue than mining safety? And yet Democrats somehow passed the health bill last month despite Kennedy's departure from the Senate. By what passes for logic from Schultz, Democrats would be incapable of such a feat without the liberal lion from Massachusetts.
Come to think of it, doesn't the current longest serving member of the Senate, Robert Byrd, hail from West Virginia? And Byrd's still alive, right? (Right ...?) That presumably being the case, wouldn't the safety of coal miners in his state be of singular importance to Byrd? And with Democrats running Congress and the White House, passing the legislation cited by Schultz ought to be a snap.
What Schultz can't bring himself to admit is that Democrats on Capitol Hill, and an Obama administration otherwise capable of leaping tall buildings, would have passed the bill had it been a priority to them.