Sunday talk show highlights, May 2, 2010

This Monday, Meet The Press and This Week.

On Meet The Press, host David Gregory was proud to show off the new set and announce that Meet The Press is now broadcasted in HD (the last renewal happened under host Tim Russert back in 1996).

In Gregory’s interview with Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano (former AZ governor, also on the SCOTUS short list), Gregory asked whether or not she thinks the Arizona immigration law “invites racial profiling”:

SEC’Y NAPOLITANO: I think it certainly could invite profiling. And, again, you know, as an Arizonan I think this law is the wrong way to go.

Gregory posed the same question to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton:

SEC’Y CLINTON: I don’t think there’s any doubt about that because, clearly, as I understand the way the law is being explained, if you’re a legal resident, you still have to carry papers. Well, how is a law enforcement official supposed to know?

Drawing a link between the three-party race in Great Britain at the moment and the Tea Party Movement, Gregory wanted to know “whether there’s a movement that could spread,” and whether Clinton could see “a third party becoming viable in the United States”:

SEC’Y CLINTON: Well, let’s see whether it’s viable in the U.K. I don’t know the answer to that. We had, in my lifetime, and certainly long before, viable third party candidates. We’ve had Ross Perot, John Anderson, you know, just within my voting history. I think there’s always room in a democracy for people to bring their views to the forefront. But I think one of the real strengths of our system has been our two-party approach, where each party may frustrate some of its own members because they, they do have a broad cross-section of voters and opinions. But, look, I’m going to be as interested in anybody in seeing what happens in the election in Great Britain.

Gregory also interviewed “Republican” Governor of Florida Charlie Crist, and he wanted him to explain his decision to run as an independent for the Senate seat left empty by George LeMieux (R):

MR. GREGORY: Just 35 days ago, during an interview on Fox News, you were categorical about this. The question was, “Are you willing to pledge right here, right now that you will run in the Republican primary for the U.S. Senate and not run as an independent?” Your response: “I’m running as a Republican.” Did you determine in those 35 days that the Republican Party had rejected you?

GOV. CRIST: I think the primary part of the Republican Party. The, primary Republicans, if you will. And what ensued in those 35 days was a lot of listening on my part, David. The next weekend was Easter weekend. My wife, Carol, and I went down to Useppa Island and had the opportunity to start listening to people around the state, whether in southwest Florida or in Miami or Jacksonville or my home of St. Petersburg, or in the Panhandle where I am today. And the consistent message that I got over and over and over again was that people were frustrated, they were tired of the gridlock, tired of the bickering in Washington, D.C., and that we needed a new way, a better path, if you will, and encouraged me to run independent and get to that November ballot so that the people of Florida, all the people of Florida, would have a much truer choice when it came to this race for the U.S. Senate.

MR. GREGORY: But, Governor, you were elected as a Republican. The Republicans of Florida know you best. And here is your standing in the polls, you’re now some 20 points behind Marco Rubio. What a change from back in October, when you had a pretty commanding lead over him. You say listen to the people. Have the people not spoken?

GOV. CRIST: Well, in a sense they have. But again, I would, I would emphasize that those are primary Republican voters. It’s very different from the November Republican or Democrats or independents. And I think what’s happening in our country is unfortunately there’s a lot of primary fear. And what I mean by that is, you know, I see people in Washington in the House or the Senate and they’re so concerned about being faced or challenged in a primary that they can’t speak their true sense, their free will. They feel kind of shackled, if you will, by what the primary voters might do. And I think what we need to have is a true, honest discussion about what democracy is supposed to be about. Let all the people have their say…

MR. GREGORY: All right.

GOV. CRIST: …give them a true choice, and that’s why I’m going to November.

MR. GREGORY: I was struck in an interview on Friday, you made a point by saying you’re not deserting the Republican Party. … If you are elected as a senator, will you caucus in the Senate with Republicans?

GOV. CRIST: I’ll caucus with the people of Florida. And, and as I said earlier this week, I’ll caucus with anybody who will help my fellow Floridians.

MR. GREGORY: But hold on, Governor. You have to make a choice when you’re in the Senate, Republicans or Democrats. Who do you caucus with? As a matter of business, you’d have to decide.

GOV. CRIST: Well, when I’m an independent, I’m going to do what I think is in the best interest of my people, and that’s my decision. And that’s what I’m going to do for Floridians. And that’s what people want. They don’t want you to say, look, you have to either go with Democrats or Republicans. You have to go with your gut and with your heart. That’s what this country needs now more than ever, and that’s why I’m running independent.

From an analytical perspective, Charlie Crist used some interesting terms: “Primary Republicans” and “November Republicans.” Now, what did Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) say about Crist’s decision to run as an Independent?

When he changed his mind, I changed my mind about him. I’m very disappointed by that. I mean, it really undermines the ability of people to participate in our politics. We’ve got a lot of alienated people in America right now. They want a place to have their say. So we say, “Come on in to our primary if you want to put a check and a balance on runaway government.” So he did, and now he says, “I’m not doing so well by the rules, so I’m going to go another direction.” That’s what primaries are for.

New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson (D) described the events in the Florida Republican Senate primary as “an ideological litmus test.”

On a different note, Richardson referred to Congressman Mike Pence (R-IN) as a “moderate” – and Pence felt the need to correct the record:

REP. MIKE PENCE (R-IN): I’m still trying to recover being called a moderate by Governor Richardson.

MR. GREGORY: Yeah.

REP. PENCE: You know, I’m a, I’m a conservative.

MR. GREGORY: Something tells me he didn’t really mean that.

REP. PENCE: Yeah, I…

GOV. RICHARDSON: I was trying to be nice to you.

REP. PENCE:  Yeah, yeah, it was nice.

On the issue of Arizona’s immigration law, Gregory played a tape of one of President Obama’s jokes at the White House Correspondent’s Dinner this weekend:

PRES. BARACK OBAMA: Unfortunately, John McCain couldn’t make it. Recently he claimed that he had never identified himself as a maverick. And we all know what happens in Arizona when you don’t have ID. Adios, amigos.

Unsurprisingly, Mike Pence struck the holier-than-thou-tone:

REP. PENCE: Well, let’s be clear for a second. This is no laughing matter for the people of Arizona who have been profoundly affected by the fact that there’s nearly a half a million illegal immigrants and a rampant drug trade and human trafficking trade that’s been besetting. Phoenix, Arizona, is, is the kidnapping capital of the United States of America. I don’t know if this law is perfect, but I do know that it is wrong for officials in this government to throw stones at the people of Arizona as they’re trying to reassert the rule of law in the wake of the fact that this administration and this Congress have been systematically cutting funding to border security since the Democrats took control.

Lamar Alexander had something similar to say:

Instead of joking about the Arizona situation and suing Arizona, the president ought to work with the governor and secure the border. … That’s his job, he’s the commander-in-chief. It’s a federal responsibility. When the border’s secure, then we can deal with the people illegally here and how they become citizens or not.

On This Week,  the Roundtable discussed the fallout of the oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico, and Bill Maher had the following to say:

MAHER: You know, he [President Obama] owns this issue now, because it was only a few weeks ago that he came out for offshore drilling. And I would say philosophically this is — you know, the problem, I think, a lot of people on the left have with this country and have for many years, is that there’s no one who really represents our point of view. There’s two parties who want to fight the war on terror with an army in Afghanistan. There’s two parties who want to drill offshore. Where is the other side on this? So, you know, I could certainly criticize oil companies, and I could criticize America in general for not attacking this problem in the ’70s. … But it is very disappointing, I think, for this president to be taking a position, as he had — and I guess he’s backpedaling now on it, I hope. I mean, I hope there’s a flip-flop I can believe in there. But…

TAPPER: There’s a slogan for you, flip-flops I can believe in.

MAHER: I could believe in that one, and I hope he does.

On the issue of the Arizona immigration law, the discussion got lively between the Reverend Al Sharpton and Bill Maher on the one side, and George Will on the other. In short, there is a lot of “CROSSTALK” in the transcript…

Trying to frame “show me your papers” as something unproblematic (though sell!), Will said the following:

To enter Mr. McDonnell’s Capitol building or to enter the House office building where Connie Mack works, you have to show a government-issued ID. I mean, this is synthetic hysteria by a herd of independent minds called our political class right now that has decided to stand up and worry about the Constitution being shredded by measures that have ample history of being sustained against constitutional challenges.

Sharpton’s response:

When you say, Mr. Will, that if you go to Mr. McDonnell’s building or Congressman Mack’s building, you have to show ID, that is the point. Everyone has to show ID. They do not have guards stand there and say, “Only you that I deem to be reasonably suspect because I think you come from a particular group that may be entering the building to do harm, we’re going to search you.” Everyone is searched.

This is not the case in the Arizona law. This is not the case of what’s going on in the raids with Sheriff Arpaio there. And this is not what we’re protesting. If everyone was subjected to that, like the buildings you referred to, there would be no cause for concern.

On the issue of racism, Bill Maher sparked off a back-and-forth with George Will with the following statement:

The government intrusion, you know, government power is something that really bothers conservatives, unless it’s directed toward people who aren’t white. You know, I mean, it does seem like there’s some of that going on there.

Will’s “interpretation”:

Now, Mr. Maher just said, if I heard him right, that conservatives basically are racists and they like government intrusion only against people who aren’t white.

Maher’s retort:

Let me defend myself. … I would never say — and I have never said, because it’s not true — that Republicans, all Republicans are racist. That would be silly and wrong. But nowadays, if you are racist, you’re probably a Republican. … And that is quite different.

… I’m not calling you a liar, but…

In the end, who had this Sunday’s most memorable phrase? George Will’s “this is synthetic hysteria by a herd of independent minds called our political class” was good, but Bill Maher had the best one:

I hope there’s a flip-flop I can believe in there.

If it’s Monday, it’s Sunday talk show highlight time.

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