CNBC's Kernen Challenges Pa. Governor on Tea Party 'Wing-Nuts and Fruit Loops' Label

As we near the midterm elections, left-wingers will be reading from the same tired playbook – the attempted marginalization of the Tea Party movement, but just more of it. But more and more, they are discovering the tactics are tougher to defend, as their side has their own fringe, loose-cannon elements.


On CNBC’s Sept. 29 “Squawk Box,” hosts Joe Kernen and Michelle Caruso-Cabrera went after Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell for what seems to be hypocrisy – a willingness to attack one side for extremism, while ignoring extreme elements on the left. Rendell was asked by Kernen to elaborate on remarks he made earlier this month, that some Republicans are “fruit loops,” “whackos,” and “flat-out crazy.”

KERNEN: I want to talk to you about something, later about -- you're calling Tea Party people wing nuts and fruit loops?
RENDELL: Not all of them.
KERNEN: Not all of them? You saw the president, the president basically said that most of them, most of the Tea Party “are directed and financed by powerful and special interests lobbies,” this is in the Journal today. That's most of them and the rest of them are bigots. So you're either directed by special interests …
RENDELL: I don't believe it.
KERNEN: Seventy-one percent of Republicans, according to this poll today in the Journal identify – so, you've just trashed the entire half of the country.
CARUSO-CABRERA: He says slowly but surely, the GOP is taken over by whackos

KERNEN: And fruit loops and wing nuts --
RENDELL: There’s no question about that.


But Kernen pressed Rendell on this and asked why some on his side, including Ed Schultz, of CNBC’s sister network MSNBC’s “The ED Show” was held to a different standard.

KERNEN: But, Ed Schultz calls Gov. [Chris] Christie a cold-hearted fat slob and he's not a fruit loop? He's fat himself. He’s not a fruit loop?
RENDELL: We didn’t nominate Ed Schultz to be a United States Senator or Governor. There’s a big difference.

KERNEN: Blowhard.

RENDELL: No, no look - I think there's too much name-calling and I think Gov. Christie, by and large is doing the right thing.


Caruso-Cabrera, author of the forthcoming book “You Know I'm Right: More Prosperity, Less Government,” insisted that Rendell explain why, if he thinks there is “too much name-calling,” he name-called.

CARUSO-CABRERA: But, why did you name-call?

RENDELL: Because there are some people who are and you can’t deny it.
CARUSO-CABRERA: You’ll stand by that – that they’re still being taken over by whackos?
RENDELL: Yeah and let me give you an example.

KERNEN: Wing nuts and fruit loops are in the eye of the beholder and I guarantee you – you have half the country looking at the other side saying there's fruit loops and wing nuts. They use different words.


Almost laughably, Rendell insisted that the fringe elements on the left-wing progressive side weren’t as extreme. Rendell made this assertion, despite the backlash Obama has received from the so-called “professional left,” despite Obama admittedly being the most “progressive” president in the history of the United States.

RENDELL: Maybe. I don't think they're quite as extreme.
KERNEN: Oh my – are you kidding me?!?
RENDELL: One of our candidates –
KERNEN: Can you imagine President Obama is being pilloried by people who think he hasn't been liberal enough? Can you believe there are people that exist like that? He just said he is the most progressive, he just he passed the most progressive agenda in this history of the country. He concedes to that and yet it's not progressive enough for most of these people?


What does this alleged wizard-of-smart do on a business network to backtrack out his tough spot? He went straw-man and invoked some of the candidates’ stances on social issues.

RENDELL: Well look, I tell you absolutely. There are people on both sides of the political spectrum that are saying stuff that doesn't make sense. But we haven't nominated him nor senator or governor. You have people out there saying you must have the child of someone who rapes you, you must have the child. That is insane.
CARUSO-CABRERA: You're focusing on the wrong issues.
RENDELL: No, no.
CARUSO-CABRERA: This is about fiscal issues and you want to try to take it somewhere else.
RENDELL: I think that's important. Look, I think that is so important.

Kernen pointed out Rendell was probably glad to have Delaware’s GOP nominee for U.S. Senate, Christine O’Donnell with all her stances on social issues as a distraction. And Rendell showed his willingness to go to that well by referring to other left-wing favorite targets – conservative women including Sharon Angel and Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn.


KERNEN: We have to go. You are so lucky for the O'Donnell with the monkey brain, witchcraft. She is your dream candidate.

RENDELL: It’s not just O’Donnell. It’s Sharon Angel, it is Michele Bachmann.

KERNEN: She is your dream candidate.

RENDELL: I want to ask you something about Michele Bachmann.


Rendell didn’t get to ask about Bachmann, but Caruso-Cabrera did urge viewers to reply to Rendell’s seeming double standard by e-mail at