Ron Fournier on Morning Joe, because of course he is.
You might remember Ron Fournier for such hits as "failed Beltway political startup
HotSoup.com", almost quitting his reporter job to go work
for John McCain's presidential campaign, and "sending email to Karl Rove encouraging him to 'keep up the fight
HotSoup.com was pretty awesome, actually.
A bipartisan group of prominent political strategists on Tuesday announced an Internet information venture designed to interact with America's opinion leaders and serve as an antidote to the right-left clash that typifies political discourse on the Web.
The nation so desperately needed an antidote to the right-left clash that HotSoup.com promptly crashed and burned, and Fournier was back to his reportorial hackish ways. These days, it manifests in headlines like
Obama Wins! Big Whoop. Can He Lead?
And of course, "leading" means capitulating to the GOP and cutting Social Security and Medicare. And I mean that quite literally:
Does he have the guts to anger liberal backers with a budget deal on Social Security and Medicare?
Is he willing to engage sincerely with Republicans?
He's also someone who thought that Sonya Sotomayor had to explain away
her "[looking] different than every other family-loving American" during her confirmation hearings. He didn't know
that Sen. Chuck Grassley inserted the language requiring senators and their staff go on the exchanges. He thought that Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer's opposition to gun control was a flip flop
(it wasn't). You get the idea ...
Whatever. Hacks are a dime a dozen in the media world. But what makes Fournier particularly interesting is that he's the editorial director of the National Journal, a respected Beltway publication with a subscription price of over a grand a year. So, you know, you'd expect the person running its newsroom to know a thing or two about politics. But what he lacks in basic political knowledge, he more than makes up in love and affection for Third Way and, not coincidentally, hatred of me. If you're into catty back and forths, meet me below the fold!
A few weeks ago, during the filibuster reform saga, he tweeted this out:
@daveweigel @tackettdc Honestly? This issue makes my head hurt.
Weird. The issue isn't complicated at all: The filibuster prevented a majority of the chamber from passing stuff. That's [good/bad]. If you think it's bad, then you eliminate the filibuster to allow for majority rule. If you think it's good, then you fight for the status quo. So yeah, not rocket science. And particularly something that shouldn't vex the EDITORIAL DIRECTOR OF THE NATIONAL JOURNAL
. So, I tweeted as such:
Editorial director of National Journal -->MT @ron_fournier: Honestly? This issue [filibuster reform] makes my head hurt.
Pointing out his job title was apparently TOO MUCH for Fournier, so he shot back with this witty rejoinder:
WH press sec --> MT @markos: Editorial director, National Journal -->MT @ron_fournier: This issue [filibuster reform] makes my head hurt.
Umm. Okay. Mine was a factual statement. His was ... weird. Particularly since the White House had nothing to do with eliminating the filibuster. Maybe "Reid's press sec" would've made more sense. Or something. And then he doubled down on nonsense:
.@markos You, sir, are lucky, not having to think for yourself or to reconsider a 1st impression. Your brilliance and certainty humbles me.
Okaaaay. Fact is, we were promoting filibuster reform way before a single other person thought it was even a remotely credible option, so if we weren't "thinking for ourselves", then I'm not sure what we were doing. Certainly not parroting Beltway 101 Conventional Wisdom. Like Ron Fournier. And somehow, we pulled it off without having our head hurt. Bonus! In any case, that little kerfuffle passed because I was too busy celebrating that partial demise of the filibuster. But it was clear to me, even then, that I was not doing so well in Beltway 101.
Then yesterday happened.
Even as we all mocked the Third Way's hilariously bad oped in the Wall Street Journal, Fournier was tweeting this out:
Thorough Third Way takedown of professional Left's magical thinking: http://t.co/...
cc @ThirdWayMattB @EricBoehlert @BrendanNyhan
Huh? I wanted more info on this so-called "magical thinking", so I tweeted back at Fournier:
The part they lie about Colorado initiative? RT @ron_fournier: Thorough Third Way takedown of professional Left's magical thinking
It's true, the Third Way op-ed argued that a Colorado ballot initiative raising taxes "on the rich" had failed, thus invalidating the electoral effectiveness of populism. Except that the ballot initiative in question raised taxes on all Coloradans
. And that wasn't even taking into question Democratic base performance dropoff in the off-off year election.
Or where they think cutting SS will help Dems win? RT @ron_fournier: Thorough Third Way takedown of professional Left's magical thinking
And that was true too! Third Way argues that if Democrats want to win elections, they need to cut Social Security and Medicare! One doesn't have to be a genius to see that gutting those programs would be a guaranteed electoral loser. Heck, even Republicans mask their attempts to gut those programs with blather about "privatizing" and "block grants". And it's no accident that Republicans today resuscitated their discredited "Democrats cut Medicare" lie
Fournier was silent on those questions, but he was happy to retweet a Third Way analyst coming to his defense:
Woah, a link, to a poll ... DATA! Okay, this I could work with. Heck, I might learn something new, something like "Millennials hate Social Security and it's a political winner to destroy it because they hate it so much that they'll turn out in droves to support candidates who want to make it more difficult to support their parents in their old age." So I followed the link to that Pew study
, and learned ... that Fournier didn't follow the link. Nor that Third Way analyst, apparently.
Because it's true, that while millennial support for maintaining Social Security and Medicare benefits over deficit reduction is the lowest among the current generations, they still opted for maintaining current benefits by a 53-43 margin.
So if the argument is that "cutting Social Security and Medicare is an electoral winner, because young people", then, uh, Fournier and that Third Way analyst fail basic math. Fifty-four is a bigger number than 43. So I pointed that out:
@MichelleDiggles @ron_fournier Umm, even in that poll, majorities of Millennials oppose cutting Social Security.
And the response?
.@markos @ron_fournier True. But more closely divided than other generations.
I guess we can call that progress, but it still doesn't get us to "Dems win by cutting Social Security and Medicare", which Third Way and Fournier think is the BESTEST ARGUMENT EVER and is totally not magical thinking at all!
So I pressed on.
Sen. Bob Kerrey was elected in 2012 on a platform of cutting Social Security. Popular! Right, @ron_fournier?
Democrats won in red states like Montana and North Dakota, but Kerrey got crushed in Nebraska. The difference? Jon Tester and Heidi Heitkamp didn't think that "cutting Social Security" was a path to electoral success because they're not Third Way morons. Kerrey, on the other hand, based pretty much his entire campaign on that premise. Fournier's response?
Damn that dude is weird. But if he wants to compare political knowledge, I'd definitely put myself up against him or any of his crew. Heck, I was the most accurate
election prognosticator of 2012. Meanwhile, National Journal's
Hotline Politics Editor Josh Kraushaar was busy predicting a Romney victory
. But hey, I'm not in DC, where you fail upward. You know, still failing Beltway 101.
True. I don’t believe cutting SS wins elections. I fail Beltway 101. RT @ron_fournier: @markos you are a brilliant political scientist.
On the other hand, @ron_fournier, simple concepts like filibuster reform don’t “hurt my head”, so there’s that.
I'll let Fournier have the last word:
In two weeks or so, he's called me clever, classy, charming and brilliant (twice). Definitive proof that I never had a chance to pass Beltway 101.