I haven't Bob Woodward's new book ("The Price of Politics.") about the Obama White House but I just heard Chris Mathews interview him relative to what caused the debt ceiling crisis. I wanted to write this now because it relates to a diary I wrote earlier today.
Woodward blames Republican leaders, especially Boehner, because they coudn't stand up to Tea Party extremists. He blames Obama equally (in the interview anyway) because he also couldn't stand up to extremists in the Democratic Party, and he named Reid and Pelosi!
At the time I kept hearing pundits and politicians and economists wondering how the Republican Party could be so crazy as to take the country so close to causing a world economic disaster.
Aside from the asinine comparison of the two parties' extremes, Woodward makes the same mistake many political observers have been making for years. They read, watch, and interview, but have no clue what the right's most important media tool is doing. I suppose it's not entirely their fault because there is nothing they can read that will allow them to factor it in.
Lately Rush Limbaugh has been blaming Obama for the credit downgrade. That's hilarious because he spent weeks leading up to the deadline assuring his listeners that not only would defaulting not be a big deal, it would be good because it would force Obama to make the cuts they want.
Limbaugh made it politically impossible for Boehner and other Republicans to give up anything to the Democrats and Obama. His listeners are the talk radio/Republican base and the loud, coordinated, and well-disinformed constituents of the Tea Party representatives, and likely many of the Tea Party representatives themselves. He was a major enabler, maybe THE major enabler, of the crisis, and recognizing that is important as we approach the rerun.
If Obama is to blame it is in the continuing White House and Democratic Party failure in not knowing what Limbaugh and talk radio was doing and giving it the importance it deserved.
I wrote a diary earlier today "That's what Limbaugh said" should be a regular response from Democrats. before I saw the Mathews interview.
If Democrats and progressives had been regularly crediting Limbaugh in some way as one of the main intellectual architects of the debt ceiling crisis Boehner would have been in a much better position to compromise. Tea Party Republicans should have had RUSH tattooed prominently on their foreheads in any media appearance and on the floor of congress. There might have been a real debate instead of the idiotic yelling about Obama borrowing the country into a death spiral.
As long as our political observers like Woodward keep leaving talk radio out of our history we're going to keep repeating it.