NYTimes, David Frum and The Daily Show Hold GOP's Pledge Accountable
Matthew C. Nisbet, Ph.D. is Associate Professor of Communication Studies, Public Policy, and Urban Affairs at Northeastern University. Nisbet studies the role of communication and advocacy in policymaking and public affairs, focusing on debates over over climate change, energy, and sustainability. Among awards and recognition, Nisbet has been a Visiting Shorenstein Fellow on Press, Politics, and Public Policy at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, a Health Policy Investigator at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and a Google Science Communication Fellow. In 2011, the editors at the journal Nature recommended Nisbet's research as “essential reading for anyone with a passing interest in the climate change debate,” and the New Republic highlighted his work as a “fascinating dissection of the shortcomings of climate activism."
The National Review and conservative commentators such as Ross Douthat describe the GOP's Pledge as "bolder" and more align with conservative values than 1994's Contract with America. Yesterday, in critiquing the language and framing of the Pledge, Frank Luntz appeared to give it an "A minus."
From an expected place, however, comes criticism as well as context on the Pledge. In an editorial appearing Saturday, the New York Times sums up the Pledge as follows:
Its breathless mimicry of the Declaration of Independence — the “governed do not consent,” it declares, while vowing to rein in “an arrogant and out-of-touch government of self-appointed elites” — would be ludicrous, if these were not destructively polarized times.
While it promises to create jobs, control deficit spending and restore Americans’ trust in government, it is devoid of tough policy choices. This new “governing agenda” does not say how the Republicans would replace revenue that would be lost from permanently extending all of the Bush tax cuts, or how they would manage Medicare and Social Security, or even which discretionary programs would go when they slash $100 billion in spending. Their record at all of these things is dismal.
The best way to understand the pledge is as a bid to co-opt the Tea Party by a Republican leadership that wants to sound insurrectionist but is the same old Washington elite. These are the folks who slashed taxes on the rich, turned a surplus into a crushing deficit, and helped unleash the financial crisis that has thrown millions of Americans out of their jobs and their homes.
From more unexpected places, criticism and accountability for the Pledge's claims are also offered. Conservative David Frum writing at Canada's National Post calls the Pledge " a pledge to do nothing."
And at the Daily Show last week, Jon Stewart observes that after a lot of soul-searching, the GOP came back with fresh new ideas that sound just like their old ones [video below]. The parody compares clips from the 2010 Pledge announcement to statements from GOP leaders going back to 1994, with leaders such as John Boehner captured on tape repeating the exact same talking points across more than a decade.
This juxtaposition of elected officials' statements, countering the preferred framing of the GOP leadership, is an example of the type of satirical accountability journalism that The Daily Show has pioneered: