Don Lemon to Dems: You are weak! You are weak, and it's not our job to sell your agenda!

No, he hasn’t become a Republican. Although I did get a kick out of the fact that the House GOP was able to turn part of his rant last night into some Republican Twitter fodder.

Lemon’s coming at Democrats from the left, of course. This is the big-media version of the righty populist lament that their team never seems as competent as the other guys are and never fights half as hard as they do.

Lemon resents that congressional Dems like Bernie Sanders have taken to scapegoating the press lately for the public’s ignorance of what’s in the party’s social-welfare reconciliation mega-bill. After all, it’s not CNN’s fault that voters are confused about the legislation. Democrats have made two major errors with it:

1. They kitchen-sinked the package, piling all manner of disparate programs and spending increases into it until all that was left was a glutinous legislative blob.
2. They’ve spent the past six weeks bickering with each other over the contents, producing shiny-object political drama that’s distracted voters from the substance of what they’re doing.

Put those two together and how can the average joe keep track? Progressives and centrists have been $2 trillion apart on the scale of the legislation at times; every day seems to bring a new Joe Manchin demand, like means-testing or tossing out the climate program at the heart of the bill, that keeps the contents in a wild flux. Essentially the conversation between Democrats so far boils down:

Lefties: “We’re going to pass literally everything on our agenda in a single bill.”
Manchin and Sinema: “No, we’re going to do less.”

The public is left to try to deduce what’s in the package by splitting the difference between “it will make all of our progressive dreams come true” and “it will not do that.” Good luck.

But Lemon is right that it’s not the media’s “job” to push the Democratic agenda. That’s more of a labor of love for them. Volunteer work, essentially.

That’s the part that the GOP clipped from Lemon’s spiel. Here’s the part they didn’t clip, for obvious reasons:

“Republicans … are going around the country and they are winning with a lie. They’re able to get people on their side with a total lie and Democrats can’t get people motivated with the truth that will help them,” he said elsewhere. “They’re better at the messaging than you are! That’s what it is! It’s not the Republicans’ fault, it’s your fault. You have yourself to blame, Democrats. Get it together.” That’s the eternal cry of the disappointed partisan, that they have the better policies but their devious opponents are superior at facile PR than the good guys are.

Hear me out: What if Americans aren’t excited about the bill because they’re understandably anxious about inflation and disinclined to drop another nuclear spending bomb on the economy, especially amid supply-chain disruptions? What if it’s not Joe Biden mumbling through his press conferences that has the public spooked but rather the fear that eventually they’ll be fighting over loaves of bread at the supermarket like two moms who stumbled across the last Christmas toy at Walmart on Black Friday?

Maybe it’s the policy more so than the messaging that sucks.

Another cost of what should be called the Build Back Better Broke plan is increased inflation. Trillions of dollars of additional spending would devalue the existing currency. The legislation’s myriad social welfare programs, including free college and universal basic income for families, would exacerbate the ongoing inflationary labor shortage.

Last week, the Labor Department announced that inflation increased at 5.4 percent in September on a year-over-year basis — the fifth consecutive month of 5 percent-plus inflation growth. Americans are seeing costs rise in their everyday purchases. The price of gas has increased by approximately 50 percent since Biden was elected. Proctor and Gamble announced this week that inflation is forcing it to raise prices on its consumer staples. According to the Job Creators Network Foundation’s Monthly Monitor poll, inflation is the biggest concern facing small business owners. Numerous surveys show rising prices are Americans’ top economic concern…

Small business taxes, runaway inflation, declining wages. These are the kitchen table issues Americans actually care about — not the effort to remake the country to make more people dependent on the government from cradle to grave.

A shrewder party would have split the reconciliation bill into its component parts and passed those parts in sequence, ensuring that each element got its fair share of public attention. Maybe that drumbeat of spending would have alienated Manchin and Sinema more than a single blockbuster multi-trillion-dollar package would have, leading them to spend less cumulatively than they’re presently prepared to do. But it would have created a public perception that Democrats are Getting Things Done even if negotiations over any single component bill stalled out for awhile. Voters would have been given time to digest what each newly passed component in isolation will do for them and their family. There would have been a “New Deal” vibe to Biden notching legislative triumphs every few weeks or months instead of betting everything on a single mega-bill, throwing the entire agenda at the wall and seeing what sticks before Virginians go to vote on November 2. Too late now.