An Ignorant Congressman
January 16, 2012 - 5:51 AM
So, it will come as no surprise to you that when MSNBC emailed asking if I would schlep out to their studios at the NBC bureau on Nebraska Avenue for a 4 minute spot at 10:30 on Saturday morning, I couldn't type "SURE!" fast enough, and I'm a pretty fast typist.
It turned out I was going to be on with former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell to talk about South Carolina.
Rendell didn't know who I was and/or couldn't remember my name, so I only referred to him as "the Governor" as if I couldn't remember his name, either.
I'll get back to that segment in a minute, but I want to talk to you about the segment which preceded us that featured South Carolina Congressman James Clyburn talking with host Alex Witt.
Witt asked Clyburn about a previous interview in which he had compared Gov. Mitt Romney's Bain Capital with Bernie Madoff.
Clyburn talked about Bain buying, then shutting down a factory in Gaffney, South Carolina by declaring it bankrupt which, he thought, made his case.
Clyburn had obviously read the Democratic House Caucus Talking Points, but hadn't read the morning newspapers. His crack staff either hadn't read Saturday's New York Times, or had read it but decided not to bother their boss with an absolutely on-point story.
A lot of Romney's opponents had pointed to the Gaffney, South Carolina example, but then someone from the New York Times actually went to Gaffney, South Carolina and asked folks about the devastation Bain Capital had caused.
Turns out not one in Gaffney knew that particular factory had ever been there, and so they didn't know it had been shut down.
According to Kim Severson's reporting, even the publisher of the local paper that "seems to cover everything from stolen mopeds to the Y.M.C.A. basketball league" didn't remember it and nothing in the microfilm files indicated the "Gaffney Ledger" had ever written so much as a sentence about it.
Back to Clyburn who is not from Gaffney but represents Columbia, SC.
He used the Gaffney example to bolster his Mitt-as-Bernie argument and went on to make the point that while Romney was taking companies bankrupt and firing people, President Barak Obama was doing wonderful things like resuscitating General Motors.
GM, the day before, had reclaimed the title of world's largest automaker.
By this time, sitting in a studio 400 miles away from Congressman Clyburn I was quaking with frustration and wiping little white flecks from the corners of my mouth.
When the Clyburn segment finally ended and Alex Witt came to me and Governor What's-His-Name I started by saying I wanted to go back to something Clyburn had said.
I said that GM (and Chrysler) were in business because President Barack Obama had effectively bought control of GM, had taken it into bankruptcy, and had closed dealerships and fired people, while leaving the bondholders with worthless paper.
Talk about 'cher vulture capitalism. Obama is Vulture-in-Chief.
My point being, Clyburn either had no idea what he was talking about or was perfectly happy to lie about what he did know. I'm betting on the former.
For a senior member of the Democratic House Caucus to be so abysmally ill-informed about how the General Motors situation went down tells us a lot about why Congress, generally, is sitting on a 13 percent approval rating.
The nameless former Governor from Pennsylvania didn't choose to chime in on this discussion because, I presume, he didn't want to have to defend the indefensible.
Our segment wasn't terribly interesting because I had done my homework and the Phantom Governor from Pennsylvania had not, but I was on good behavior and didn't point that out to the MSNBC audience.
I have to go. I'm waiting for a call to be on BTV again this week.
On today's Secret Decoder Ring Page: Links to the Wikipedia entry for Jim Clyburn, to the NY Times Gaffney, SC story and to a Congressional Job Approval summary page. Also a Mullfoto left over from Iowa and a Catchy Caption of the Day.