Political Book Summaries, Reviews and Opinions

Political Book Summaries, Reviews and Opinions

Tag Archives: hardball

Book Summary: HardBall by Chris Matthews

HardBall by Chris Matthews

HardBall by Chris Matthews

Chapter 1: It’s Not Who You Know; It’s Who You Get to Know

Good politicians get to know a lot of politicians. Lyndon Johnson would take four showers a day and brush his teeth over and over again so he would be in the same room with a bunch of politicians and he could talk to them briefly and make good connections. Lyndon Johnson also hired a man who would later turn corrupt named “Bobby” Baker who answered phones for the White House cloak room (a cloak room is like the break room for politicians.) With Bobby Baker, Johnson was able to know the inner workings of politics. Ronald Reagan also worked very hard to have good relationships in politics although he talked about Washington as if he’d never visited the place. Read more of this post


Interview as Blood Sport: Lawrence vs. Culberson

I am not really a fan of unbiased journalism because for the most part I don’t believe it exists. I don’t like when people have a bias but pretend they don’t. You can have mostly unbiased news reporting, but real journalism, the stuff that matters, it has to have some heart behind it to matter. Even if the person is wrong then, a little bit of angry journalistic interviewing is great for democracy. Which is why I really liked the Hardball interview of Rep. John Culberson by  Lawrence O’Donnell. Lawrence opens up and just goes for the jugular. Here’s one of his closing lines, it’s brutal.

“You lie to America about the evils of government-run health care because you people, not one of you liars about government health care is willing to repeal Medicare, to stand up and be consistent… ‘I hate government health care so I want to repeal Medicare’… That is a lie that you perpetrate every day.”

Lawrence makes a few really good points, first being that Medicare and Social Security are Socialist programs, second that Medicare is a government-run healthcare option, and lastly, that if the Republicans were really anti-socialism and anti-government-run-healthcare, they’d also be against Social Security and Medicare. They aren’t. That’s the “lie” Lawrence is talking about. On that point, he really nails Culberson down pretty good.

I didn’t like the start of the interview, he starts on on track, some lady from some town hall that went all hardcore emotional and then didn’t listen to the answer that Specter gave her. Lawrence asks Culberson to answer the question, and then realizes it was a bad question. (The question was, what are you doing to do bring America back to what the founders wanted in the Constitution?) The question essentially allows Culberson to begin talking about his pet peeve and a bill he’s written to bring more accountability to the way grants work. Frankly, it was a good answer and I’d have liked to hear the man’s whole answer and argument. Lawrence didn’t give him a chance, he then accused him of spinning and turned sharply to the whole social security/medicare thing.

Like I said, I think Lawrence makes a great point, but by asking one question, being annoyed by a good answer to it and then spinning sharply into a new question, it turned the interview hostile way too early and for very little gain. Lawrence should have let the guy answer the first question, and then calmly, should have asked his second question. I think it would have worked really much better.

What I’d like to see in the future, is every Republican against the public option or government having a place in Healthcare, every news reporter should get them on record either being for or against repealing medicare and social security. When they all refuse to try and repeal them, ask them for the difference. Oh, and I’d like to see Culberson’s ideas on the grants. He seemed to have a bit of a good point, but I didn’t get to hear the answer.