I thought that reboots had officially gone too far when PBS announced they were bringing back “Firing Line” with Margaret Hoover in William F. Buckley’s place.
It’s bad enough when not one but two Hawaii-centric reboot series are on CBS (“Hawaii Five-O” and “Magnum P.I.”), but did we really need Buckley’s famous interview/debate show resurrected as a sop to the conservatives irked at paying for a publicly funded network that shares none of their values?
Let this be a mea culpa, then: I was massively hasty in dismissing “Firing Line 2.0.”
While the program is still finding its footing, Hoover has proved more than adept at hosting and has already given us one of the great political viral moments of the last year. (For those of you who have forgotten, it was Hoover’s probing of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s positions on Israel that gave us the legendary quote, “I’m not the expert on geopolitics on this issue.”)
And now the show has given us its second truly epic interview, this time involving California Democrat Rep. Eric Swalwell.
Swalwell, you might remember, is the guy who wants us to surrender all “assault weapons” and joked about using nuclear bombs against those who didn’t comply.
If you thought that was a one-off gaffe, Swalwell’s “Firing Line” interview should manage to disabuse you of that notion.
In a world where the media scrutinized liberal solecisms as much as they do tweets from the president, the Friday interview would have promptly arrested the ascent of one of the Democrats’ newest stars. As it is, it’s an eye-opening look at how much of a reflexively anti-Trump drone that we’re dealing with here, one who knows as much about economics as he does about how targeted nuclear weapons can be.
There were plenty of great takeaways from the interview — we’ll get to the equally hilarious part about Russia in a bit — but let’s start with their exchange on the economy.
“Complete the sentence: The state of America’s economy is…” Hoover said.
“Insecure. It’s not working,” Swalwell said. “So right now, about 78 percent of Americans, according to CareerBuilder, are living paycheck-to-paycheck.”
Hoover wasn’t buying it.
“It is hard to argue with 3.9 percent unemployment, highest wage growth in this last year — in 2018 — than any of the past years in the past decade,” she shot back.
“I mean, many of the fundamentals and the confidence of the economy are far better since Trump took office than they were under the previous eight years of President Obama’s presidency. And I wonder if it’s just too difficult for Democrats to give the president a win.”
Margaret Hoover grills Eric Swalwell for refusing to give Trump credit on anything: “You just seem completely unwilling to say anything positive about this economy in relation to the leadership over the last 2 years. Are you allergic to saying anything positive about Trump?” pic.twitter.com/HsyJ1AJSDa
— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) January 27, 2019
Well, that’s just because those numbers are all for the privileged people, Swalwell responded.
“No, I think if you look at this like a building, if you work on the top floor of the building, you’re doing really well, and those fundamentals matter,” Swalwell said. “The stock market matters cause you’re invested in it. If you’re working on a lot of the floors below, where–“
“Yeah, but wages are up,” Hoover said.
(Look, Margaret — what part of the whole “facts are for privileged people” thing did you not understand?)
“Today, over half of Americans couldn’t weather a $400 emergency,” Swalwell responded. “And wages going up, they’re not matching the cost of health care, the cost of transportation and housing.”
Inflation, by the way, is currently at 1.9 percent, a relatively low rate by historical standards. Also, in terms of health care costs, I wonder who Swalwell believes is responsible for that. But I digress.
Hoover pointed out that it was difficult to argue that the Tax Cut and Jobs Act didn’t help the economy, but Swalwell was prepared to argue it.
“There’s no evidence that it’s helping out,” he said.
Hoover then asked the Democrat why he thought the economy was doing so well, to which he responded it was only doing well for CEOs.
“You just seem completely unwilling to say anything positive about this economy in relation to the leadership over the last two years,” Hoover said. “Are you allergic to saying anything positive about Donald Trump?”
It was clear Swalwell couldn’t answer honestly.
So he responded by saying he thought Trump’s “approach on North Korea was the right one.” Well, there’s a compliment.
This, mind you, was the same interview where Swalwell called Trump an “agent of Russia” without any evidence.
“He betrayed our country and I don’t say that lightly,” Swalwell said, also not saying it with any concrete evidence:
Margaret Hoover presses Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) about claiming, without evidence, that President Donald Trump is “an agent of Russia” pic.twitter.com/PBeuCh9ngC
— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) January 27, 2019
As I said, if this guy weren’t a Democrat, this would have been career-killing. But he’s a liberal, so this is just another Friday to him.
That being said, Hoover has given us her second truly memorable interview. There’s another great clip here in which Hoover asks Swalwell if he faults Trump for our political polarization.
“Oh, yeah. Yeah,” Swalwell responded. “No, I do.”
The point wasn’t that he was debunked (which he was). The point is that he calls the president an “agent of Russia” without evidence, refuses to give him credit for the economy with evidence and thinks that the polarization is all Trump’s fault.
Please, please, please give this guy more visibility and power, Speaker Pelosi. I beg of you.
The more we see of this guy, the easier Republicans will have it.
Just don’t give him access to nuclear weapons. That’s all I ask.