In the middle of a rather comical exchange on PBS's "Inside Washington" Friday evening, Washington Post columnist Colby King accused fellow panelist Charles Krauthammer of being "cranky" concerning President Obama's State of the Union address.
Not at all surprising to fans of the Fox News contributor, Krauthammer struck back and did so quite impressively (video follows with transcript and commentary):
MARK SHIELDS, PBS: There are two kinds of conservatives historically. There’s what I call the five minutes to midnight conservative, that is things are bad and they’re dark and they’re going to get darker, or the five minutes to dawn conservative. And certainly I put in that second category Jack Kemp and Ronald Reagan, who between them put a smiley face on conservatism. And I think Paul Ryan, unfortunately for his national debut, someone who is well-regarded by many, fell into the category of the five minutes to midnight: things are dark and they’re going to be bleaker and this is the time for cold showers and root canal.
GORDON PETERSON, HOST: Five minutes to dawn, five minutes to midnight?
CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: There are two kinds of Democrats: those who spin and those who tell the truth. What we got from the President was a remarkable speech of spin. He didn’t, the main issue of the November election was debt, size of government, expansion of government. He didn’t even use the word "debt," the President, until he was 35 minutes into the speech. And what he proposed was essentially nothing, the most trivial of cuts, in a speech in which the first half was all about new stimulus. It’s as if nothing had happened. It’s as if he was going to continue exactly as it was. It’s as if he thinks that the electorate is not serious when it says it wants serious government, shrinking of government and control of debt.
NINA TOTENBERG, NPR: The electorate is not serious, and we see that all the time. They want it generically but not specifically. They are not willing to pay to trim programs from…
KRAUTHAMMER: In those circumstances, a president should lead and not pander to the, an irresponsible electorate that allows three consecutive years of $1.5 trillion of debt. Everyone knows it’s completely unsustainable, or would you say otherwise?
PETERSON: Colby, he’s talking about education , innovation, rebuilding the infrastructure of the country, but again, how you do that with a $1.5 trillion debt?
COLBY KING, WASHINGTON POST: Gordon, there are two kinds of panelists. You have one set that are just cranky. Cranky, cranky, cranky. And then there are the other kind where the milk of human kindness just flows just so freely from them. I am the latter.
KRAUTHAMMER: Colby said it was a good speech. We really have to talk about the quote-unquote "investments," which of course is what Democrats say when they want otherwise to say spending but they won't use the word. And then he said it was okay on that, except that it didn’t address spending, which is a bit like saying, “Yes, but other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?"
KING: Cranky, cranky, cranky.
KRAUTHAMMER: Spending and debt is the issue of the day. That is the President’s own deficit commission had said, and I thought all of you un-cranky liberals had approved their conclusions.
Indeed they had, which raises another interesting point.
Totenberg said the electorate is not serious about trimming the budget. She later commented that the cuts being discussed are trivial because discretionary spending is a small part of the budget, and no one wants to talk about reducing entitlements.
We've been hearing this a lot lately from liberal media members. Now that the Republicans control the House, folks that came out en masse against any plans to reform Social Security in 2005 are now teasing this subject again.
As such, it is really the press that want entitlement cuts generically but are going to balk and balk loudly at the specifics. This is important because what we saw in 2005 is how powerful the media can be in impacting public opinion and preventing legislation.
George W. Bush was re-elected with a strong mandate having been the first President since Roosevelt in 1936 to win back the White House while expanding his Party's majority in both chambers of Congress.
The public was ready for significant Social Security reform, but the media wasn't having any of it. Instead, so-called journalists - led by minority leaders Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid - went on a full-court press to shamefully convince the American people the program was fiscally sound for decades to come, and Bush was lying about its imminent insolvency to scare the public into supporting his agenda much as he did with weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
Now, six years later, these same folks are mocking any attempts to cut spending by ridiculing Republicans for not going after Social Security and Medicare.
It makes you wonder not only how they sleep at night, but also how they so effectively manage their hypocrisy instinctively knowing which side of an argument they need to be on when it fits the prevailing template.
Gotta hand it to 'em - this takes talent.