Chris Matthews Punks Pelosi

Our Saturday nights often get spent sending emails and reading very good books, so it’s no surprise we were perky and bushy-tailed for the Sunday talk shows. We caught Chris Matthews first. Hillary Clinton chatter was on the front-burner, and the election was the topic for the whole half hour.  But as they were wrapping up, this exchange happened:

“Nancy Pelosi’s going to Greenland, to visit a melting glacier.”

<whole panel explodes into genuine laughter>

Matthews, smiling: “yeah, that’s a great photo op, Nancy Pelosi on a Glacier.”

(The quotes are paraphrased, of course — when the transcript comes up here, we’ll re-edit, or you can check for yourself.) They moved on to a comment by Howard Fineman, a panelist, who said that we couldn’t expect any congressional action on global warming, saying that it was “too difficult” an issue, even for Democrats.

The exchange, in which all 5 panelists erupted in reflexive laughter at the very idea of Pelosi’s trip, carried the whiff of cliquishness. Political fashion is a funny thing inside the beltway, and a powerful thing too. It was pretty clear that whatever the merits of Pelosi’s trip, the one certain truth is that, to this panel, it was really, really dweeby.

To be fair, we don’t read minds: perhaps they were anticipating Matthews’ comment about the poor-quality photo op. Perhaps editing, to tighten the show, gave the wrong appearance. But we know what we saw; the trip got a laugh but no substantive discussion.

And another point to reinforce our impression: the other Sunday shows expended hours on people restating the same political talking points about Iraq, and very little time on global warming.

This disinterest in environmentalism by pundits is ironically juxtaposed with several advertisements on during their shows. PR ads by the freight rail industry boast of the fuel-efficiency of moving freight on trains; Honda promotes its fleet as the most fuel-efficient on the market today. Another PR ad by oil and gas interests pushes back against concerns over gas prices and over climate change.

Perhaps Matthews and his panel will look at who funds their show and the respect they give to environmental issues.

No troubles with the Fineman comment here, though, it’s illuminating. First, Dems don’t want to fight with John Dingell (a 51-year party leader from Michigan and defender of the Big 3, interviewed by Grist’s Amanda Little here). Also, as usual, a policy that anyone could disagree with (other than their ridiculously fumbling war strategy) is generally orphaned by the blue party.

Both the laugh and Fineman’s comment reinforce the wisdom that global warming activism needs to think global and act local. Working your zoning boards, city councils, state legislatures, and getting involved in direct action to ask people to make personal changes will work far better than banging on the stone face of the US Capitol.


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