Steve Benen is something of a legend as a blogger. And now he pretty much single-handedly writes Maddow Blog. He is really good, but I often have problems with him. They are usually the same problems I have with Rachel Maddow and the whole of the MSNBC nighttime lineup. First, they are too actively partisan. Second, they are not very effective in their partisanship. I think of them very much the way I think of Obama: in a perfect world, we largely agree. But given political constraints, their priorities are very often not mine.
Today, Benen took an opportunity to go after Rand Paul. That’s all fine. Paul is an idiot. But the framing was all wrong. Benen compared Chris Christie’s “practical conservatism” with Paul’s “ideological conservatism.” Then he argues that there isn’t even much to Paul’s ideological thinking. But he leaves the impression that Christie somehow is practical and therefore, at least somewhat reasonable.
There is a reason that Paul claims the “ideologically purity” throne and Christie claims the “get stuff done” throne. Paul is a United States Senator. Chris Christie is a governor. It is the nature of their jobs. Christie is no less ideologically rigid than Paul. In fact, if you look at the men’s last battle, it was Christie talking about how Rand Paul should shut up regarding NSA surveillance because Christie has to look in the faces of the widows. It was pure politics of the lowest common denominator—absolutely vile, disgusting stuff.
In addition to that, Rand Paul’s position is the liberal position in that fight. I’m sure that Steve Benen has no trouble understanding that regardless of how effective “stop and frisk” may be (it isn’t), if it isn’t constitutional, it’s still wrong. But he’s more than willing to give a shout out to Christie in his political campaign for the surveillance state.
Christie isn’t just a vile man on this and most other issues. He is also running for office. Rand Paul isn’t running for another four years. If you’re going to be a partisan, be an effective one. Christie will likely win his re-election bid with lots of help from liberals who just don’t know what they are voting for. And here is MSNBC portraying him as the anti-Rand Paul, even though Christie is actually worse on the issues than Paul. Brilliant!
The title for this article is a reference to an earlier article I wrote, MSNBC Winning Battles, Losing War.