Two weeks ago, Neil Cavuto and John Stossel had an exchange on Fox Business Channel that was startling at the time, but seems even more relevant now.

YouTube video

For those who can’t watch clips from your work computers, Cavuto, Fox News’ vice president of business news, told viewers, “I would welcome a downgrade. I really would. I think it would be the pain from which we have a gain.”

Stossel added, “Maybe that would wake people up.”

They didn’t really elaborate why they would “welcome” the “pain,” or what Americans were supposed to realize after having been awoken.

The point, though, is that conservative rhetoric only makes sense today if you ignore the conservative rhetoric from July. Throughout the Republicans’ debt-ceiling hostage strategy, a wide variety of prominent voices on the right downplayed the threat, not only of default, but also of a downgrade. It was pure madness, even at the time, but that was their line and they stuck to it. Don’t worry about the consequences of the hostage plan, conservatives said, just focus on the ransom.

And yet, notice what happened after the downgrade actually occurred — suddenly the consequences the right “welcomed” are necessarily President Obama’s fault, reality notwithstanding.

Indeed, two weeks ago, Fox viewers were told a downgrade might be a good thing. This morning, Fox viewers were told repeatedly that the downgrade the GOP caused is a tragedy that must be blamed on the White House.

There’s a good reason Fox viewers seem so confused so often.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.