KSL’s recent coverage of the ouster of Senator Bob Bennett from the United States senate apparently as a result of the Tea Party’s activism appears superficial and is noteworthy for a number of reasons. For example, on Friday night editorial director Duane Cardall read the following statement:
It’s unfortunate the general populace didn’t have opportunity to decide whether or not he should be retired at the end of his third term. Instead, his fate rested in the hands of a few thousand delegates at last weekend’s state GOP convention who seemed determined to defeat him, whatever the cost.
Senator Bennett certainly has solid conservative credentials, but also an understanding of the art of political compromise and the ability to work closely with those of all persuasions. It is a gift sorely lacking in today’s divisively toxic political climate. And, sadly it is an attribute that likely contributed to his defeat as anti-Washington fervor spreads across the nation.
KSL doesn’t endorse candidates, and our criticism of what happened last Saturday should not be construed necessarily as support for Senator Bennett’s re-election. Our concern is the way he was so unceremoniously, even boisterously defeated by a system that rewards extremist rhetoric more than rational dialogue. That this dedicated and capable public servant would be roundly booed, even vilified by resolution, speaks volumes about the tenuous nature of politics today.
For all he’s done for Utah, Bob Bennett deserved better.1
While the editorial rightly pointed out the polarizing nature of political debate in a two-party system, it entirely missed the point that Utah citizens deserve more from its elected officials. Senator Bennett serves in the senate at the behest of the citizens of the state – not the other way around. Also, while political compromise may seem laudatory, at what point do the statist policies of an ever encroaching government end and personal responsibility and accountability stand firm?
State delegate Connor Boyack recently commented on the senator’s seeming lack of principle:
Senator Bennett did not lose because of TARP, his health care bill, or any one vote. He lost because his voting record as a whole was substandard and without excuse. He lost because he had shown through repeated votes that he was no friend of the Constitution. He lost because he was not a truth teller; last year he derided the Constitution as “an outmoded document for an agrarian society,” while as recently as last week, while trying to court Constitution-loving delegates, said such things as “I yield to no one in my respect and love for the Constitution,” and “My oath of office to uphold and defend [the Constitution] is as sacred to me as any other covenant I have ever made.” He even went so far as to state that he refers to himself as a “constitutionalist”. In the end, Senator Bennett’s record spoke far louder than his words—especially those preceding an important election.
Our beloved commentator referenced above concluded his diatribe with the following: “The departure of Senator Bob Bennett is a small event in a national tidal wave of witless extremism and thoughtlessness.” He errs in assuming that the delegates have given no thought to their actions. To the contrary, most delegates spent several hours per day assuming their duties and preparing to cast an informed vote. Far from extreme, these delegates have been selected as guardians of the party, and ultimately determined that the incumbent did not sufficiently adhere to the party’s platform and the Constitution to which he swore an oath, despite his alleged respect and love for it.2
This morning in KSL’s Sunday Edition, Bruce Lindsay interviewed Senator Bennett and followed that up with an interview with Utah Tea Party organizer David Kirkham. Part of the first interview focused on Bennett’s support of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). In this exchange, Bennett said:
I believed that the crisis was real, I still believe that the crisis was real and I still believe that if TARP had not passed we would have financial and economic problems far worse than we have now. Looking back on it I believe that it was the correct vote and I would cast it the same today if faced with set of facts.3
Like many other elected officials, he seems completely unaware of the underlying principles of Keynesian economics and the history of government intervention in the economy.4 For whatever reason, Mr. Lindsay simply did not pursue Bennett’s understanding of economic policy nor China’s role in precipitating the bailout.5 Senator Bennett only seems convinced that more government intervention was necessary in order to preclude another economic depression.
Following that exchange, the focus then turned to Utah’s Tea Party movement:
Sen. Bennett’s ouster at the Republican convention was supported by the Tea Party movement. David Kirkham says he does not know if the movement orchestrated the ouster, but it was one of the goals.
The movement’s primary objection to Bennett was his vote for TARP. Sen. Bennett “voted for TARP and that was a vote that basically pushed us off a cliff,” explains Kirkham. Kirkham does not believe the vote saved America from a depression. He says, “The American people would have figured out a way to resolve the problem.”
Another concern of the Tea Party movement is making sure politicians are listening to the people. Kirkham says even though Sen. Orrin Hatch also voted for TARP, Hatch has listened to their group, unlike Bennett.
Kirkham started the Tea Party because of Bennett.
“It’s an issue of responsibility. Those votes were absolutely irresponsible with our finances and our future. We don’t care which party you’re from, if you are irresponsible we will vote you out. And if you are responsible, regardless of party, we will vote you in,” Kirkham says.6
While there was certainly not sufficient time, surely KSL could have explored Kirkham’s purported views of “fiscal responsibility” in expanded online coverage of the exchange or a follow-up series of interviews.
The lack of any real substance in the short editorial and interviews only underscore the broadcast corporation’s role in continuing the myth of the mainstream media (MSM) and its role in perpetuating the “establishment”, whether in Utah or other city states. Seemingly, neither KSL nor the MSM can figure out the tea party.
What do you make of all this?
- “Senator Bennett”. 14 May 2010. KSL.com. 16 May 2010.↩
- “Why Senator Bennett Lost”. 12 May 2010. Connor’s Conundrums. 16 May 2010.↩
- “Sen. Bennett and the Tea Party Movement”. 16 May 2010. KSL.com. 16 May 2010; hereafter Bennett and Utah Tea Party.↩
- For example, see the posts on Keynesian Economics and Savings and Participatory Fascism; see also Henry Hazlitt’s The Failure of the “New Economics” and Congressman Ron Paul’s statement before the U.S. House of Representatives in the second paragraph of “The Austrians Were Right”. 20 Nov 2008. Lew Rockwell. 16 May 2010.↩
- See Congressman Peter DeFazio’s comments in the post China and the Bailout.↩
- Bennett and Utah Tea Party.↩