HuffPost's Fineman Tries to Tar Cruz, Trump with Political Damage from Flint Water Crisis

Perhaps hesitant to let a local government mismanagement crisis in Michigan go to waste, the Huffington Post's Howard Fineman sought to tie the Flint water crisis as an albatross around the necks of both Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and GOP primary frontrunner Donald Trump. Fineman made his remarks during a brief appearance on the January 20 edition of MSNBC's Hardball.

"Trump wants to abolish the EPA altogether. Cruz claims not to want to abolish the EPA but wants to get rid of virtually every program in the EPA," Fineman complained to host Chris Matthews. "That's their attitude, and their antagonism to government is what Flint is all about." [see transcript and video at bottom of the post]

Earlier in the segment, after Matthews aired clips of Trump and Cruz separately answering reporter inquiries on the Flint crisis, Fineman sneered:

Tell the Truth 2016

One guy is oblivious and ignorant, and the other guy is purposefully antagonistic. And that summarizes why these two guys are in the lead.... I think it summarizes the political situation in the country and the conversation as a whole.

The sense of community and the role of government in the community in basic things has been hollowed out in this country by debt, by politics, by disengagement, by disdain, and there's no greater symbol of it than Flint.

Of course Flint is just one of many cities in the nation run by a liberal Democratic monopoly. What's more, if activist government is the solution, isn't it rather curious that Fineman isn't hitting Obama for refusing to declare a disaster in Flint to free up more money for cleanup?

Yes, the administration's response would be that federal law ties their hands in their regard because the disaster in question is manmade – government incompetence – not a natural one, but this is an administration which seems to excel at executive and administrative fiats that essentially re-write the law to take advantage of crises, real or imagined, for political benefit.

MSNBC
Hardball
January 20, 2016; 7:33 p.m. Eastern

CHRIS MATTHEWS: The two GOP frontrunners, Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, once so close but now can't even agree on an approach to Flint's water crisis. Trump's always talking about building walls but, when there's a question of tackling contaminated water in American cities seems stumped here. Cruz goes after the politicians but doesn't offer, really, an answer to how to fix the problem. Well, take a listen to both of them.

[...]

MATTHEWS: Well, there's a common theme. You know, those are interesting rhetorical devices. One doesn't want to talk, doesn't want to offend the governor, the political establishment of Michigan, and the other guy does his usual angry rant.

HOWARD FINEMAN: Right, well, it's, one guy is oblivious and ignorant, and the other guy is purposefully antagonistic. And that summarizes why these two guys are in the lead.

MATTHEWS: And, by the way, you got the word betrayal in there.

FINEMAN: OK. Yes, exactly. In the sense of doom and everything.

I think it summarizes the political situation in the country and the conversation as a whole. The sense of community and the role of government in the community in basic things has been hollowed out in this country by debt, by politics, by disengagement, by disdain. And there's no greater symbol of it than Flint.

[...]

FINEMAN: So the state sends people in to oversee and cut costs to try to reach a bottom line in bankruptcy without any real feel for the local community and the warp and woof of those communities.

MATTHEWS: And, and, and, cost cutting doesn't get you to greatness.

FINEMAN: Right, exactly. And so, but, both Trump and Cruz, in their own way – First of all, Trump wants to abolish the EPA altogether. Cruz claims not to want to abolish the EPA but wants to get rid of virtually every program in the EPA. That's their attitude. And their antagonism to government is what Flint is all about.

MATTHEWS: Trump should act more like the builder –

FINEMAN: Yes.

MATTHEWS: – than like the, the showman.

 

Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd is a writer living in New Carrollton, Md.