‘Hostage’ metaphor is liberal commentators’ new talking point

Paul Conner Executive Editor
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Listen to liberal commentators opine about the recently enacted debt ceiling deal, and you might hear a common theme: Republicans took the government hostage.

In newspaper editorial pages and on cable TV programs, left leaning talkers — some of whom are the very same folks who criticized Sarah Palin’s rhetoric — have compared Tea Party lawmakers’ resistance to a quick debt ceiling increase to hostage-taking.

Thomas Roberts, host of MSNBC’s “The ED Show,” 8/3/11:

“Democrats are very worried their leaders will buckle to political hostage-taking of the Republicans just like they did with the debt ceiling earlier.”

Rev. Al Sharpton, host of “MSNBC Live,” 8/2/11:

“The possibility of a disastrous default was held hostage to the extreme conservative ideology of choking the federal government.”

Dylan Ratigan, host of MSNBC’s “The Dylan Ratigan Show,” 8/2/11:

“We are, in many ways, forced to lead our show with the political, pro-wrestling shenanigans with the threat of a hostage crisis that could bring our country to the brink.”

Eugene Robinson, Washington Post columnist and MSNBC political analyst on MSNBC’s “Rachel Maddow Show,” 8/1/11:

“One of the reasons the president was so set on getting something that at least takes us past the election is that they did see, Aha, gee, they are going to hold us hostage on the debt ceiling again in the next few months.”

Chris Matthews, host of MSNBC’s “Hardball,” 8/2/11:

“What we saw — what I saw, at least, was one guy with a knife and the other trying to avoid being cut. It was a thug attacking a victim. It was a mugging.”

Lawrence O’Donnell, host of MSNBC’s “The Last Word,” 8/1/11:

“The president’s instincts were good on how to handle the Somali pirates when they took hostages, but here the president knew he was dealing with a hostage-taking, and he never came out and said, ‘Ok, here are the limits.'”

Laura Flanders, host Grit TV on MSNBC’s “The ED Show,” 8/1/11:

“The problem we are facing is not a handful of Tea Party hostage-takers. The problem in the country is the headlock that a few corporate interests and some very wealthy elites have put on our revenues.”

Hilary Rosen, Democratic strategist, on CNN’s “Piers Morgan Tonight,” 8/3/11:

“They took John Boehner hostage. They forced to do a plan that was unrealistic politically, and then the grown-ups in the Senate — Sen. Mitch McConnell and Sen. Harry Reid — had to kind of takeover and come up with a compromise and force it on the House.”

Michael Lind, policy director of the Economic Growth Program at the New America Foundation writing in Salon magazine, 8/2/11:

“The debt ceiling crisis is the latest case in which the radical right in the South has held America hostage until its demands are met.”

Editorial page, The New York Times, 7/31/11:

“The deal would avert a catastrophic government default, immediately and probably through the end of 2012. The rest of it is a nearly complete capitulation to the hostage-taking demands of Republican extremists.”

Fareed Zakaria, CNN host, on “Anderson Cooper 360,” 7/29/11:

“So, instead of accepting some compromise that can get through the democratic process, what they’re saying is we’ll blow up the country if you don’t listen to us. We’ll hold hostage the credit of the United States, the good standing of the United States and we’ll blow it up.”

Dana Milbank, columnist for The Washington Post, 8/3/11:

“But the Federalist Papers make no mention of the sort of hostage situation that unfolded in recent weeks. The Founders were silent on the rights of a small group of lawmakers, claiming they received marching orders from God, to bring the nation to the edge of default. The Constitution doesn’t specifically mention negotiating walkouts, Satan sandwiches and deeming budgets into law without votes.”

Ruth Marcus, columnist for The Washington Post, 8/3/11:

“Welcome to the new Washington normal: endless rounds of legislative carjacking … One side wanted the car, had a gun and wasn’t afraid — certainly not afraid enough — to use it. The other had a child in the back seat.”

And it’s not just talking heads. Lawmakers and President Barack Obama, himself, have used similar rhetoric.

Rep. Chris Coons, on MSNBC’s “Jansing & Co.,” 8/2/11:

“What I had expected would be a high-stakes game of poker months ago as we moved towards this deadline, it turned into a game of Russian roulette, and once the Tea Party folks in the House picked up a gun, it became a hostage crisis.”

Rep. Charlie Rangel, on MSNBC’s “Hardball,” 8/1/11:

“I have to admit if my vote meant the difference between default and survival of our great nation, it would have been a conscience vote, but I guess I could have done it, but to hold the president of the United States hostage when this has never happened with any other president, to hate him so much and the policies that Democrats have had, that they would risk the good faith and credit of the United States of America, I don’t see how anyone be happy with what they have done.”

Rep. Maxine Waters, on Fox News Channel’s “Megyn Kelly Live,” 8/1/11:

“What we have here is a small number of people, a relatively small number of people, who have held hostage not only their only caucus, but they are holding the Democratic Party and the American people hostage.”

Rep. Peter Welch:

“We’ve crossed a Rubicon. We’ve given a tool, never before used in this country to a willful minority in the Senate or a willful majority in the House to hold hostage our full faith and credit, our triple-A credit rating.”

President Barack Obama:

“The debt ceiling should not be something that is used as a gun against the heads of the American people.”