MSNBC host Dylan Ratigan is mad as hell and he doesn’t care who knows it. Actually, he does care and he hopes that everyone knows it; Ratigan’s on-air meltdown this week on America’s financial mess has gone viral, and he has heartily embraced the enthusiastic response he has received for “telling it like it is.” Ratigan’s “mad as hell” moment, which he now modestly refers to as “America’s mad as hell moment,” has earned the business reporter newfound fame.
Unfortunately, Ratigan’s rant was misguided and incoherent. I guess that’s why they called it a “rant.”
Ratigan erupted while presiding over a panel discussion on “political panic” after the U.S. credit rating downgrade. Democratic consultant Karen Finney was discussing President Obama’s supposed $4 trillion debt reduction package when Ratigan jumped in: “What are you talking about, $4 trillion? We owe $70 trillion! We don’t need to walk out a $4 trillion solution which is basically just a way for the Democrats to avoid dealing with this until 2017. I’m not talking about plans to deal with this ’til 2017. I’m saying we’ve got a real problem and I’m tired of Republicans and Democrats — Republicans who want to burn the place to the ground, and Democrats, with all due respect, who want to offer a plan that gets it through the second term of their presidency, and then screws me and my kids when it’s over.”
It’s tempting to give Ratigan credit for blaming Democrats as well as Republicans. But Ratigan’s is a false bipartisanship that relies upon the pat assertion that Republicans want to “burn the place to the ground.” The large majority of Republicans — and indeed the large majority of Tea Party Republicans — voted last week for a bipartisan compromise that aims to reduce the growth of our debt by less than $2.5 trillion over 10 years. Out of one side of his mouth, Ratigan implied that Republicans were dangerously radical on the debt; out of the other side of his mouth, he complained that the compromise debt deal they supported wasn’t nearly radical enough.
As Ratigan continued railing, I have to admit that at one point I got totally lost. Perhaps I became distracted when I started to notice how Ratigan, as he screamed and gesticulated, bore a striking physical resemblance to Mel Gibson. Ratigan at one point yelled: “The United States of America is being extracted!” I wasn’t sure what he meant, and could only wonder: “Oh, yeah, from whose mouth?”
Ratigan really got rolling after panelist Finney asked him what he would like President Obama to do about all of this. The following is the heart of Ratigan’s rant, but reading it doesn’t do it justice; you should view the video to experience it as it played on television, without interruption for commercials, punctuation or breathing:
“I would like him to go to the people of the United States of America and say: People of the United States of America, your Congress is bought. Your Congress is incapable of making legislation on health care, banking, trade or taxes because if they do it they will lose their political funding and they won’t do it. But I’m the president of the United States and I won’t have a country that is run by a bought Congress, so I’m not going to work with a bought Congress and try to be ‘Mr. Big Guy I’m Working with a Bought Congress.’ I’m going to abandon the bought Congress like Teddy Roosevelt did and I’m going to go to the people of the United States and I’m going to say, ‘You’ve got a bought Congress and until we get rid of the bought Congress — which is [liberal lobbyist] Jimmy Williams’ constant point, which is get the money out of politics — and until the president says that’s the problem and says he’s going to fix it, there is no policy that I can possibly see no matter how brilliant your idea may be or your idea or my idea or her idea or your idea at home is, that idea will not happen as long as there’s a capacity to basically fire a politician who disagrees with me by taking funding away from him. Is that a fair assessment?”