MSNBC host Contessa Brewer derided Republicans for using the word socialist in reference to Barack Obama's economic policies on Wednesday, complaining, "Well, maybe they think Americans are a bunch of idiots." Speaking of an upcoming vote by the Republican National Committee over whether or not to label the current Democratic leadership as socialist-leaning, the "MSNBC News Live Host" worried, "Have we reverted to a bunch of junior high schoolers, 12-year-olds with the name calling?"
Of course, Brewer is on the same network that repeatedly, and gleefully, used the juvenile "tea bag" humor to describe Republican protests over taxes. So, this argument is somewhat hollow. Washington Post political reporter Perry Bacon talked to the host and tried to explain the GOP's anger towards the massive spending that has been going on in Washington. After Brewer played a clip of RNC Chairman Michael Steele on Tuesday slamming Democrats, such as "Barney Frank, who nobody understands," the journalist could barely contain herself. She fretted, "Class and dignity. Was that it?"
The MSNBC host proceeded to cite fresh polling data showing that the number of self-identified Republicans has dropped five percent since 2001. She lectured, "...You have these staunch conservative talkers, people like Newt Gingrich and Rush Limbaugh, who insist that if you don't toe the party line, and the one that they see as being on the far right, then you should just leave the party all together."
Brewer never explained how massive new spending, partial nationalization of businesses and taking over control of the auto industry isn't at least moving in the direction of socialism. Nor did she tell her viewers how it was undignified of Michael Steele, the chairman of a partisan political organization, to attack the policies and leaders of the Democratic Party.
A transcript of the May 20 segment, which aired at 10:05am EDT, follows:
CONTESSA BREWER: The full Republican National Committee will vote this afternoon on a revised resolution that would officially label the Democratic Party as a bunch of socialists, the wording of the resolution has sparked a heated debate among conservatives, so much that RNC leaders changed it from Democratic/socialist Party to say instead that Democrats are taking the country in the direction of socialism. The push to re-brand was in full force last night on Fox News.
[Montage of FNC anchors using the word socialist.]
BREWER [Laughs]: Perry Bacon is national political reporter for the Washington Post. Have we reverted to a bunch of junior high schoolers, 12-year-olds with the name calling?
PERRY BACON (Washington Post): Uh, I think the Republicans have a genuine concern. I think Michael Steele talked about Obama is spending too much money and they're worried about tax increases, as well. I don't- I think that even Steele argues using the term socialist is not particularly useful. But, I think there's a debate they're trying to push about the spending and debt levels the government has right now.
BREWER: Well, maybe they think Americans are a bunch of idiots. But, you know, Michael Steele was preaching to these RNC leaders. He says it's time for a new era of class and dignity. Let me play it.
MICHAEL STEELE: We've seen strategists writing memos and doing briefings, urging the Republicans avoid confronting the President, steer clear of any frontal assaults on his administration. They suggest that instead, we should go after Nancy Pelosi, who nobody likes, or Harry Reid, who nobody knows. Or this Tim Geithner fellow, who nobody believes, or maybe even Barney Frank, who nobody understands.
BREWER: Class and dignity. Was that it?
BACON: His point was that the Republicans should focus more on attacking Obama and not use proxies like Geithner or Barney Frank. I think he made a pretty substantive political argument about different policy views he has. He feels like Obama has it that the Republicans would agree with [sic]. It was more of a policy point, but I think the socialist thing is something they're trying to get away from a bit.
BREWER: You know it's interesting, because you have this Gallup poll that shows the Republican Party identification, people who will them that yes, I'm a Republican. Look how dramatically that's dropped off. 44 percent in 2001 to 39 percent today. And the thing is is that you have these staunch conservative talkers, people like Newt Gingrich and Rush Limbaugh, who insist that if you don't toe the party line, and the one that they see as being on the far right, then you should just leave the party all together. Is that the way they're going to turn around their failures and find success?
BACON: I thought the part of Steele's speech that was so interesting was that he said the Republican comeback has begun. The renaissance has begun, was the term he used. And all the polling evidence which you just showed, some of it there, suggests that's not true at least right now. Republicans at their lowest moment historically in more than a decade. So, it's interesting he's already saying the comeback has happened, when it looks like it, for now, has not happened.
BREWER: Republican fund-raiser, Perry, Fred Malek ranks Mitt Romney as the GOP's number one contender in 2012. Who else do you think now, in terms of a party thinking how can we recapture the White House, who are they going to look for?
BACON: I think right now Romney has emerged as someone who a lot of conservatives feel like is a consensus. He has some of the same economic views they have, small government kind of views and also some of the views on social issues they agree with. I suspect you will also see Mike Huckabee, the governor of South Carolina, Mark Sanford is making some sounds about potential runs. So, I think there are other people out there. We may not know who the 2012 nominee is right now but Romney is definitely putting himself in position for that.