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Friday, December 21, 2007

Watching Hardball

I was just watching and listening to Harball on US TV. As a blogaddict, I have read many complaints about Hardball, but until now have never seen it.

It is worse than I imagined possible.

We have Did Romney see his father march with King. Romney guy got out the words "grosse pointe 1963" In spite of my spellling handicap I googled up this (why am I going to the UK for US news).

Mr Romney's claim appeared unfounded after a longtime Michigan civil rights activist told a Detroit newspaper that George Romney never marched with Dr King in the city in 1963. When Mr Romney joined a demonstration in Grosse Pointe days later, Dr King was not there.

This is a debate about what the word "saw" means and about difference measured in days between two protests in the same place advocating the same position on the same issue. This is the visiting Texas with James Lee Witt of 2008.

Matthews sternly interrogated the Romney flak for minutes on this. I turned off the sound. I hate Romney, but Matthews almost made me sympathize with him.

The the "cocaine" debate about who is trying to distract the cocaine addled voters from the issues by mentioning a candidate and "blow." A heated argument in which the claim that Matthews was the one forcing them to talk about cocaine was treated as a slimy cocain effort to evade the debate over the non cocaine issues.

The point, as has been explained to me by many on the web including Atrios and Yglesias, is to have dramatic conflict in which a tough journalist forces someone to answer questions he doesn't want to answer. The fact that they are not important issues is irrelevant.

update: It seems that, in addition to being obsessed with trivia, Matthews was wrong on the facts according to Eric Kleefeld at TPM

It's looking like Mitt Romney might have been judged too quickly on the Martin Luther King business. Two witnesses have now come forward to The Politico, insisting that they saw the late Gov. George Romney (R-MI) make a surprise appearance alongside King in 1963.

The campaign has also posted a collection of citations — including a contemporary account from the Detroit Free Press — attesting that it happened.

It is not clear if Romney senior marched or just walked normally. I'm sure that Matthews will be ruthlessly cross examining someone on the point tomorrow.

As Brad DeLong said of the Bush administration "worse than you imagine possible even when you take into account that they are worse than you imagine possible." n Quite literally this time.

Update II The claim that Romney Sr and Martin Luther King Jr were at a demonstration at the same time at Grosse Pointe has been contested via atrios. King evidently was in New Jersey at the time (although as yet I know of no one who has claimed he didn't demonstrate in Grosse Pointe at about the same time as Romney Sr).

This is crazy. We know that Mitt Romney is dishonest (his flip flopping could not be sincere) and we know his father was a solid supporter of the civil rights movement.

update II: This is what is not being debated by those arguing about whether George Romney marched with Martin Luther King Jr

These are just some of the powers which Romney -- and, among the respondents, Romney alone -- claimed the President possesses, either by explicitly claiming them or refusing to repudiate them when asked directly:

* to eavesdrop on Americans with no warrants, even if doing so is in violation of Congressional law (Question 1);

* to attack Iran without Congressional authorization, even in the absence of an imminent threat (Question 2);

* to disregard a congressional statute limiting the deployment of troops (Question 3);

* to issue a signing statement reserving a constitutional right to bypass laws enacted by Congress (Question 4);

* to disregard international human rights treaties that the US Senate has ratified where said treaties, in his view, "impinge upon the President's constitutional authority" (Question 8)

Update III

Same Hardball episode (I know because it is the only one I ever watched)
Chris Matthews said that Rudy Giuliani was slimed about how the security team for his trips to the Hamptons to see his then mistress was paid.

Josh Marshall notes that TPM reported everything Matthews considered news weeks ago, that Giuliani was cooking books and that he also had the NYPD walk her dog.

There may have been bits on that Hardball which were not both unrelated to important policy issues and factually dubious, but I must have missed them.

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