Presidentiality: ‘Treason?’

“Presidentiality” is a weekly web series with Need to Know correspondent Win Rosenfeld that dissects what the candidates are saying, doing and promising on the campaign trail. Each week, “Presidentiality” deconstructs their rhetoric through the lenses of historical precedent, economic theory and science.In one of the more notable moments from Monday night’s Republican presidential debate, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman fired a barb at the front-runner and Tea Party favorite, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, for his record on immigration. “For Rick to say you can’t secure the border is pretty much a treasonous comment,” Huntsman quipped, prompting audible groans from the audience.

Huntsman’s gibe may not have scored points with the Tea Party faithful in the crowd, but it did revive a flare-up the Texas governor would probably rather forget: His controversial remarks at a fundraiser in Iowa last month, in which Perry accused the Federal Reserve chairman, Ben Bernanke, of “treasonous” behavior. Perry suggested that the Fed chairman’s policy of “printing more money” could warrant “ugly” treatment if he ever made his way down to Texas.

The Fed’s policy of monetary stimulus — injecting cash into the economy and keeping interest rates low — has attracted the ire of conservative activists and the Tea Party, who say programs like “Quantitative Easing,” in which the Fed buys long-term government bonds from private banks and financial institutions, has devalued the dollar and added to the mountains of government debt.

The charge of “treason” seems to stem, in part, from a misunderstanding of what the central bank is actually doing. The Fed hasn’t been “printing more money” in order to fund government programs and drive up the national debt. Bernanke and his colleagues have been buying government bonds from private banks in order to add to the reserves of those banks and keep lending rates low. The increase in the money supply eases the availability of credit — and credit, of course, is the motor oil that keeps America’s economic engine running smoothly.

So, how do Bernanke’s alleged crimes stack up against those of history’s most disdained and reviled traitors? To find out, “Presidentiality” combed through the annals of treachery, from Judas to Brutus to Tokyo Rose, to see just how high how the bar for “treason” really is.

 

Comments

  • whatever

    Perry’s nuts and now you know why Molly Ivins ridiculed him so much.  I wish she was still around to needle him  

  • whatever

    Perry’s nuts and now you know why Molly Ivins ridiculed him so much.  I wish she was still around to needle him  

  • whatever

    Perry’s nuts and now you know why Molly Ivins ridiculed him so much.  I wish she was still around to needle him  

  • whatever

    Perry’s nuts and now you know why Molly Ivins ridiculed him so much.  I wish she was still around to needle him  

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=855534409 Ruth Miale

    Perry did say ‘almost treasonous’, somewhat softer.  But the treat him ugly comment.  That is almost inciting.

  • Pinup_girl08

    I’d love to watch e video and make an insightful comment but since PBS is STILL only providing online video content in Flash format I, along with thousands of Apple mobile users, can not. Get on the HTML5 train, people!

  • Wandawprice

    Well, gee, gosh…npr is going to ”deconstruct their rhetoric through the lenses of historical precedent, economic theory and science”?  Was the little video the deconstruction? … cause it sorta just looked like a snarky liberal response to perry’s comment. maybe this is the real attack watch site. BB’s devaluing of the dollar through QE1, QE2, is truely taxation without representation.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_MPXIZYQSEEYYNQWK2YZLGFVX4Q bruce h

    Why are the tax dollars of all American taxpayers subsidizing the broadcast of a PBS program with as consistently a left wing [liberal] political slant as “Need to Know” ? !Especially in these most difficult economic times, this is a question that not only ALL [fair minded] American taxpayers and voters should be ”totally fed up !” with, but it’s something which the U.S. Congress should be specifically addressing, to the point of actual conclusive resolution, in the absolutely only truly FAIR way possible, which is simply totally obvious : NO [small, medium, or large amount of] U.S.taxpayer funds have any business whatsoever being spent on either the production or the broadcast of programs with as consistently a one-sided political slant as “Need to Know”.I of course have no objection whatsoever, nor should anyone else have any objection whatsoever, to programs like “Need to Know” being produced and then being broadcast, either locally or nationwide, to anyone’s heart content.But, producers and broadcast channels for programs like “Need to Know”, the totally obvious fact remains, and is now LOOMING LARGE : The time is long since overdue for you to figure out how to completely PAY YOUR OWN WAY !, and then quickly proceed to DO EXACTLY THAT !, if you wish to keep programs like this one on the air, people !

  • jan

     I suspect Christine Todd Whitman and Mr. Meacham will be surprised to hear you think they’re liberals.  In fact, let me be the first to congratulate them on being liberals.  Now they know how and why I became a liberal and a democratic voter after Reagan got into office. 

    Apparently the subject of cities selling off all their responsibilities and outlying income is also a liberal action and therefore should be taboo.  Schwartz, whoever he is, shouldn’t be saying a functioning economy needs a functioning transportation system because that’s a liberal position.  Dougherty, whoever he is, shouldn’t be saying that Romney needs to be bold.  I guess Romney’s also a democrat.  And Foust, whoever he is, shouldn’t be looking at a GOP foreign policy divide during a primary campaign.  Maybe they should just whisper it instead? 

    If anyone’s on the wrong website, its probably me, not you.