Monday, May 01, 2006

# Posted 10:44 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

AUGGGGHHHH!!! (A SUNDAY MORNING ROUND-UP): This week, it was all about oil and I have never seen so much shameless pandering in my (short political) life. Frankly, it made the opponents of the Dubai ports deal sound like deep-thinking statesmen. As it so happens, Democrats were responsible for all the mindless rabble-rousing on this week's network talk shows, but Arlen Specter has called for a windfall profits tax and the President has encouraged the mob by pretending that an investigation of price-gouging is a good idea.

Anyhow, here's who was on the shows: Condi was the headliner on both ABC and CBS. On ABC she was followed by Chuck Schumer and oil rep/retired Sen. Ben Johnston. On CBS, she was followed by Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Maria Cantwell. NBC featured a five-man hour long panel on oil prices, with Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman, Dick Durbin, oil rep Red Cavaney, MSNBC man Jim Cramer and author Daniel Yergin. Here are the grades:
Sam Bodman: B-. Not ready for prime time.

Dick Durbin: A-. Cynical demagogue or sincere moron? I'm really not sure. If this were an economics exam, I'd give him a 'D'. But when it comes to connecting with angry voters, Durbin did his job well.

Red Cavaney: B+. Made lots of reasonable points, but still sounded too much like a lobbyist.

Jim Cramer: B+. Made a fair number of interesting points. I don't know enough to evaluate them, however.

Daniel Yergin: A. A true voice of sanity. Kept making points about the intersection of economics and geopolitics that were far more sophisticated than anyone else's remarks. Russert should've shut up and let him ask the questions.

Condi on CBS: B. Always good. But when will the administration drop its line about there being enough troops in Iraq in April 2003? If I thought Condi were responsible for this nonsense, I'd give her a C-. Instead, I think she just had to go out and catch the spears intended for other members of the Cabinet.

Lisa Murkowski: B+. Very reasonable.

Maria Cantwell: B+. Sincere or cynical? I don't know. Again, a 'D' for economics, but elections aren't academic debates.

Condi on ABC: B+. Same as above on Iraq, but got to say reasonable things about other subjects, too.

Ben Johnston: B+. Very reasonable, but a little inflexible.

Chuck Schumer: B+. Same as Cantwell and Durbin. At the Democrats agree with each other for once.
And now for the hosts:
Russert: B-. The panel was a good idea but his questions were terrible. Yes, there were some nice 'gotchas'. But Russert should've been forcing the pols on his show (especially Durbin) to answer some real questions about economics.

Schieffer: A-. There was fire in his belly! He hit back hard on almost all of Condi's answers.

Stephanopoulos: B. Soft on Condi, but not excessively so.
See you next week, if I can stand the pain.
(5) opinions -- Add your opinion

David, Unless he is a former state senator, there is no former United States Senator Ben Johnston.
Good example of grade inflation. No one flunks.

Your grades for Durbin, Cantwell and Schumer are wrong. These people are supposed to be leaders, which sometimes means actually explaining difficult truths to the electorate. By not only failing to do so but also actively encouraging ignorance and anger, they should all be given F's.
J. (John) Bennett Johnston was a Democratic Senator from Louisiana (1972-1997). Perhaps I was wrong to call him Ben?

For Johnston's bio, see: here.
Also, I understand the concerns about giving out too many high grades.

I put a lot of emphasis on performance rather than substance since I don't want the grades to be primarily a measure of how much I agree with a given guest.

Roughly speaking, my goal is to put up grades with which a Democrat is just as likely to agree as a Republican.
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