After all the complaining I've done about the media ignoring Thomas Mann and Norm Ornstein of late, it's only fair to note that the two respected political scientists finally got some must-see airtime on a Sunday show over the weekend. The fine folks at "Up With Chris Hayes" welcomed the scholars to the show yesterday for three -- count em', one, two, three -- segments on the program.
For those looking for a quick refresher, Mann and Ornstein -- celebrated and respected figures of the Washington establishment -- recently argued in an impressive op-ed, "Let's just say it: The Republicans are the problem." It's part of a thesis explored in their new book, "It's Even Worse Than It Seems," and by all appearances, it's the kind of argument that should spur some debate within the political establishment. By and large, the opposite has happened.
For Mann and Ornstein, blaming "both sides" for what ails Washington is no longer accurate, and only exacerbates the problems posed by the radicalization of today's Republican Party. "When one party moves this far from the mainstream," they argued, "it makes it nearly impossible for the political system to deal constructively with the country's challenges."
Mann and Ornstein added in print, "The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition."
It's the kind of provocative argument that warrants serious national debate, but which has instead been met with silence from the establishment.
On the air with Chris yesterday, the two were able to elaborate on the thesis, and the segments are definitely worth your time.
Remember, Mann and Ornstein aren't just two random political scientists with a striking book and op-ed. Mann and Ornstein enjoy almost unparalleled credibility with the Beltway establishment, and are generally accepted as centrist observers, not ideologues or partisan bomb-throwers. For years, these two have been cited constantly as objective experts.
That is, until they decided to drop the "both sides are always to blame" canard, at which point, their phones stopped ringing. It's as if these two broke an unwritten rule, and the Sunday shows that used to keep Mann and Ornstein on speed dial decided their respected insights were no longer welcome.
I fear this will serve as an example that sends a message to the larger political world: no matter how credible you are, if you accurately hold Republicans responsible for their misconduct, without blaming Democrats with equal force, you'll be shunned.