I have had some unkind things to say about Lawrence O’Donnell in the past, but last night he was very watchable as he covered the “debt ceiling deal” at some length. His commentary was thoughtful and smoothly delivered and he had guests who provided reasoned and reasonable discussion. It helped that his first guest was Barney Frank, as that somehow seemed to set a tone for the evening’s show. He and his guests were critical of all parties involved in this debacle, without denigrating anyone. It was, to me, pretty much precisely the way news and commentary should be done.
You can see Barney Frank here, and the next two segments here and here.
O’Donnell also did a commentary on the term “socialism” and it’s misuse in political commentary. He said that no economy in the world is purely capitalism, including ours, and none is purely socialist, but that all are mixtures of the two in varying degrees. He went on to say that “socialism is good and socialism is bad” and likewise for capitalism. It was a good piece, very well written and delivered.
I would quibble slightly with O’Donnell and suggest that socialism, and capitalism, are actually neither good or bad. Both are merely economic models which are morally neutral. It is the implementation of them which is either good or bad.
When O’Donnell says, “There is the capitalism which pollutes our rivers,” I would suggest that it is not capitalism which is polluting our rivers but rather the management of the companies who are doing it. Capitalism happens to be the form under which they manage those companies, but it is not integral to their pollution. The Soviet Union, while under a socialist regime, was one of the worst polluters the world has ever known.
That’s a minor point, though, in what was a good night for The Last Word. I watched the whole thing without using the “fast forward” button even once.