Posts Tagged ‘Tea Party movement’

The “Outside the Mainstream” argument

August 26, 2010

ACCORDING TO THE “OUTSIDE THE MAINSTREAM” ARGUMENT, certain (extreme) views must be disregarded since they (1) aren’t supported by a majority of voters (the numbers might or might not stem from cherry-picked polls), and (2) because they disregard the conventional political wisdom. The framing varies, but the argument is the same: X is too “extreme”, too “radical” or too far “left” or “right” to be taken seriously.

Intriguingly, the argument might prove counterproductive for Democrats (and Republicans) in the current political climate. With certain segments of the electorate high on anti-incumbency sentiments, one might actually contribute to the continued rise of so-called extreme candidates by labeling their ideas and campaign promises as reckless opportunism and crazy talk. If the driving force behind the tea party movement is that the mainstream political movement is out of whack, then it might not be such a good idea to paint tea party candidates as “far outside the mainstream.”

Governor Jennifer Granholm (D-MI) did just that on Meet The Press this Sunday (August 22, 2010) in a debate with former  House majority leader Dick Armey (R-TX) (Freedomworks founder and author of the new book Give Us Liberty:  A Tea Party Manifesto):

MR. GREGORY: One of the arguments that Democrats make about some of the candidates who are supported by the tea party is that they’re, frankly, too extreme for … the mainstream of the Republican Party [and] too extreme for the mainstream of the political country.

REP. ARMEY: Well, first of all, each one of these candidates [Ken Buck, Sharron Angle, Rand Paul and Mike Lee] won a Republican primary as a Republican candidate with a variety of different stresses on different issues. I am not going to take the Democrat (sic) Party’s characterization of a Republican Party candidate’s position on any issue as the gospel truth. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but politicians say insincere things; and, frankly, I don’t quite listen to the Democrats on the candidates. But the voters paid attention to the candidates and made their choice. Now, the Democrats … have a guy down in South Carolina who wins the primary and, and is then convicted of a felony. They ought to concern themselves with, “What is the quality of our candidates, and can we meet the challenge of trying to race against these candidates” who are going to beat their person in the fall.

MR. GREGORY: Governor, is this an example of what they’ve called a mainstream political movement, some of these candidates and their views?

GOV. GRANHOLM: Well, you know, no. I think it’s far outside the mainstream…

Time will show.

Mr. Armey’s response was spot on: If politicians such as Ken Buck, Sharron Angle, Rand Paul and Mike Lee are indeed “outside the mainstream”, then voters will say so in November. And if they don’t, then it is in fact the proponents of the “outside the mainstream” argument who are out of touch and unable to connect with the electorate.

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Sunday talk show highlights, May 2, 2010

May 3, 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.

Sunday talk show highlights, April 11, 2010

April 12, 2010

This Monday, Meet The Press and This Week. In short: The White House’s defend-President-Obama’s-Nuclear-posture-review-effort was headed by Secretaries Clinton and Gates, and the roundtables’ focused on the upcoming replacement of Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens.

On Meet The Press, host David Gregory played a videotape of President Obama talking about the desired qualities of his future Supreme Court nominee:

It will … be someone who, like Justice Stevens, knows that in a democracy powerful interests must not be allowed to drown out the voices of ordinary citizens.

My first reaction was that Obama was talking about a nominee who would oppose the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Citizens’ United case since President Obama framed his opposition to that ruling in strikingly similar terms.

Now, who will Obama pick?

The shortlist includes about ten names, including the following: Judge Diane Wood (7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals), Elena Kagan (the solicitor general of the United States), Judge Merrick Garland (judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals in the D.C. Circuit) and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano.

My view? Take it away Tony Blankley (the conservative voice on KCRW’s “Left, Right & Center”): “I’m not sufficiently familiar to really discuss that intelligently.”

On the issue of Hamid Karzai’s latest statements, Gregory posed the following question to syndicated Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker:

Kathleen, you write in a column this morning about this complicated relationship with allies like Hamid Karzai in Afghanistan. And, again, you saw that exchange. What was noteworthy is a shift in the administration. Here you had the secretary of Defense and the secretary of State saying, “We’re not going to react to some of these things. We’re going to be more sympathetic toward Hamid Karzai. He’s the guy that we have to deal with.” That was, that was a significant change.

Parker answered:

Yeah, that was a shift as of right this minute, right? We’ve been pretty hard on him, and he is the guy that was elected and he is our man. We, we created Karzai. And he’s been under siege from everyone. I mean, Obama pretty much came out swinging during his campaign, and he’s had, you know, every European parliamentarian coming after him. Everybody is on Karzai’s back. And, and naturally, he’s going to react. This is the testosterone axis of the world, and you don’t insult a leader in public and then expect him to just sit back and take it.

David Gregory then turned the roundtable’s focus to the Southern Republican Leadership Conference held in New Orleans last week:

MR. GREGORY: Well, let me go a little bit larger here and talk about presidential leadership and put it in the political context, because there is an opposition party, the Republicans, and they’re trying to figure out how to mount that opposition, as we are in an election year. And there was a gathering of Republicans that got a lot of attention, the Southern Republican Leadership Conference. And you heard two prominent Republican voices, Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin, talking about how, again, Republicans position themselves to counter President Obama (videotape):

MR. NEWT GINGRICH (R-GA): What the left wants to do is say we’re the party of “no.” …  And so here’s what I want to ask you to encourage every candidate you know, every incumbent you know, every staff person you know, every consultant you know, I think we should decide that we’re going to be the party of “yes.”

MRS. SARAH PALIN: There is no shame in being the party of no if they’re proposing, the other side, proposing an idea that violates our values, violates our conscience, violates our Constitution. What’s wrong with being the party of no.  …  Or better said by the good governor of this state, he said, “The party of `no’? Nah, we’re the party of `Hell, no!'”

Gregory then asked The New York Times’ David Brooks to assess the GOP right now in terms “of mounting this challenge, figuring out where it’s going to be in 2010 and 2012”:

MR. BROOKS: You’re turning to the party of “maybe” over here. So this is a bad move for you. Listen, Palin is great TV. She’s really attractive. Gingrich is sort of great TV. He’s got a billion ideas, 600 of which are really good. But the fact is the, the Republican Party is not Palin and it’s not Gingrich. The Republican Party is Rob Portman, who’s running for senator in Ohio. It’s Mark Kirk, who’s running for, for senator in Illinois. It’s Governor Christie in New Jersey. These are the people who are actually governing. And I happen to feel we pay a little too much attention to people like Palin, who’s sort of a sub reality figure on some TV show. But these are the people that are actually running, and they’ve actually got it figured out.They’re against a lot of what Obama’s doing, but they’re the party of “yes.” They’ve got a whole series of policies.  Paul Ryan from Wisconsin has–can wonk your ear off. And so that’s the real party. Palin, the tea parties–listen, the tea party movement is a movement without a structure, without an organization. No, no party, no movement like that lasts.

On This Week, the Roundtable focused on Justice John Paul Stevens’ retirement, and George Will’s opening remarks emphasized the fact that the confirmations of Supreme Court nominees were much smoother and went much faster back in the good old days. Furthermore, and as host Jake Tapper pointed out, the confirmation of Justice Stevens was the last one that wasn’t televised.

Perhaps it was easier to be bipartisan when the voters weren’t watching?

In the end, who had the most memorable phrase this Sunday? Tip of the hat to David Brooks for his description of Sarah Palin:

I happen to feel we pay a little too much attention to people like Palin, who’s sort of a sub reality figure on some TV show.

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

Postscript: Cokie Roberts mentioned the cartoon we picked as “Political Cartoon of the Week, April 4-10” when she described the upcoming debate on President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee.

Sunday talk show highlights, April 4, 2010

April 5, 2010

This Monday, Meet the Press, This Week, and Face the Nation. In short: Easter break, cherry blossoms, and yellow ties. What else?

On Meet the Press, host David Gregory talked about the growing anger aimed at Washington, and posed the following question to Senator Joe Lieberman (D-CT):

In this highly charged political atmosphere, where you’ve got so much passion, so much disagreement, this takes it, of course, to a different level. But we’re also operating in a recession and at a time where there’s a lot of anger at Washington. How has the nature of that threat escalated, in your view?

Lieberman answered:

Well, the threat has definitely escalated. And all the conditions that you mentioned, David, are there to encourage people. Look, I would say a word of caution to my colleagues in both political parties and, frankly, in the media. The level of discourse about our politics and about our country are so extreme and so incendiary that if you’re dealing with people who may, may not be clicking on all cylinders and, and may have vulnerabilities personally, there’s a danger that they’re going to do what this group of militia planned to do this week. I would not overstate this threat. It is not as significant as the global threat of Islamist extremism, but it is real.

Discussing the same topic, Gregory brought Tim McVeigh and the Oklahoma City bombings into the debate in a question to Michael Chertoff, the former Secretary of Homeland Security:

You know, people may forget, if you go back to the Oklahoma City bombings, Tim McVeigh first went to Waco not to protest the government’s role there, but to protest the Brady gun law. So this notion of the government doing things to you is a very powerful motivator to some.

Chertoff answered:

Well, you know, you always get fringe groups on both sides of the spectrum, going back, as you say, to Waco and Ruby Ridge in the early ’90s, and that culminated, of course, in the Oklahoma City bombing. And then that depressed this a little bit. But it always lurks in the background. And we see it also with some of the extreme anti-globalization and animal rights people on the left. So I think we’ve learned how to manage this. I agree with Senator Lieberman, this is not of the order of magnitude of what we see with global terrorism. But, look, the fact that people can get on the Internet, and they can see the tactics that are being used in Iraq and Afghanistan creates a risk that those will be copycatted here. And, frankly, we’ve seen that in Mexico. In northern Mexico, the criminal groups, which are not politically motivated, actually have adopted beheadings and other tactics of terrorism as part of pushing their agenda against President Calderon.

On a similar note, Gregory asked Time Magazine editor Richard Stengel about how President Obama is trying to make sense of the Tea Party Movement, and Stengel answered:

I think it’s hard. You know, there’s that great famous American bumper sticker, “I love my country, but I fear my government.” That’s what tea partiers are about. They’re mainly Republicans, but there’s this disenchantment in the land with government as a whole. The USA Today/Gallup poll the other day showed three-quarters of Americans are basically disenchanted with governmental institutions. They are plucking people from that. But the issue for Republicans and for Democrats, and for, and for Barack Obama in particular, is how do you lure back those independents? More and more people are identifying themselves as independents, and how do I, how do I bring them back in? And, and even to go back to your previous question, I mean, remember, you know, Mario Cuomo famously said, you know, “We campaign in poetry and we govern in prose.” He’s got to govern with a little bit more poetry, I think, to get some of those folks, too.

As I see it, Obama needs to show the American people that his number one priority is getting people back to work, and I think this should be done in prose, so to speak, but it wouldn’t hurt to sweeten the packaging with a little poetry.

Addressing the editor of The New Yorker, David Remnick, Gregory wanted to know where President Obama is politically after the passage of health care reform, and Remnick answered:

Well, anytime you have 10 percent unemployment, you’re not going to have soaring approval. Anytime the, the economy is troubled in many areas, you’re not going to have soaring approval ratings, despite the personal popularity of Barack Obama. I think, you know, he’s not in trouble, but he’s not going to be able to lift all Democratic votes in November. It’s going to be a tough road in November.

Remnick should’ve added: Although Obama isn’t in trouble at the movement, incumbent Democrats seeking re-election certainly are.

Having just released a book entitled ”The Bridge: The Life and Rise of Barack Obama”, David Remnick had the following to say about Barack Obama’s performance as president:

He’s a man of the center left, but a deep pragmatist, and his, his style is conciliation, his style is to put his arms around as many people as possible and try to bring them into a compromise. We saw that at its apogee in the healthcare situation. But the question is, will it apply in some of these other big questions that you raise, like, like nuclear Iran? I don’t think putting your arms around Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is going to work, and he’s got to get the U.N. on board.

On This Week, host Jake Tapper conducted two dull interviews with Larry Summers and Alan Greenspan. During the Roundtable discussion, Tapper posed the following question to George Will:

George, the president says he’s encouraged by the job numbers. Are you?

Will’s answer:

He’s easily encouraged.

Will obviously went on to describe why the positive March job numbers aren’t really that good after all.

On the topic of the Republican National Committee (RNC) and bondage themed strip clubs (!), Matthew Dowd’s comments stood out:

You know, obviously, I’m not a rocket scientist, but when you have lesbian bondage strip club associated with your name, it’s never a good thing for anybody (Tapper added: In politics), unless you’re employed at the strip club. You know, the only difference between Democratic officials at a strip club and Republican officials at a strip club is Democratic officials say hi to each other.

Haha. OK, continue Mr. Dowd:

I think the problem is hypocrisy, is purely hypocrisy. It’s not the strip club and all that. It’s Republicans go out there and talk about fiscal responsibility and they talk about family values, and they have a party leader and party officials who go to a strip club, who are involved in this process, that say that their private actions or their actions of donors’ money does not match what their message is, and that’s the problem.

Robert Reich added:

Well, you know, there’s obviously a kind of an off- message problem here for the Republicans. And, Matt, when you talk about hypocrisy, yes, but hypocrisy is not exactly something new in this town.

On Face the Nation, host Bob Schieffer abandoned his usual format and started off with a roundtable discussion. During that discussion, Georgetown University professor Michael Eric Dryson talked about President Obama’s positioning on the right-left continuum:

On the one hand, he’s got to recognize that he’s governing all of America. And as a result of that he has to, you know, give in to, so to speak, and make concessions to conservative basis, not right wing, but conservative basis. And at the same time tact toward the middle as he’s done after winning a perceived left victory, although the left is laughing and guffawing, saying it’s not a left victory. But in realistic terms and realpolitik, the fact is that he got the health care through. Now he’s got to go back and let’s talk about, you know drilling on shores from the tip of Delaware down, you know, past a hundred and sixty-seven miles. So the reality is he’s trying to balance it out. He doesn’t want to give to the tea parties on the one hand, although, he can see some legitimate points and anger. At the same time he has to govern according to a vision for which he was called in to office.

That is to say reform health care, deal with the student loan, to deal with nonproliferation [with] Russia. I mean he had a heck of a week when you look at it in real terms. The guy had a great week and now he’s suffering polls that are declining. I think what it suggests is that is that it’s an up and down, it’s give and take. And I think Obama understands that. Though some of us who are progressives, some of us who are leaning toward the left wish that he might make more grand overtures in that fashion. The reality is he’s trying to govern through the middle. He’s taking a page out of the Clinton playbooks, so to speak.

In the end, who had the most memorable phrase this Sunday? Sadly, no one, but at least the following quote from Matthew Dowd made me laugh:

You know, the only difference between Democratic officials at a strip club and Republican officials at a strip club is Democratic officials say hi to each other.

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

Sunday talk show highlights, March 28, 2010

March 29, 2010

This Monday, Meet The Press, This Week, State of the Union and Fox News Sunday.

On Meet The Press, host David Gregory interviewed Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC). During the interview, Graham lost his connection with Washington twice, and Senator Schumer didn’t seem to mind:

Hey, I like the show this way. … It’s pretty good.

When Senator Graham got his audio back, he didn’t have any problems responding to Schumer’s talking points:

MR. GREGORY: But you, you have the floor here. You know what some of the discussion has been. What is your view?

SEN. GRAHAM: Yeah, I do, I do. Well…

During his time on the air, Graham was able to voice his own talking points as well, and he managed to squeeze in the phrase ”ponzi scheme” – referring to the cost of the health care bill – four times.

During the roundtable discussion, presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin had this to say about the signing of the health care bill:

I think the key thing that the legacy is not simply what this is going to do for the future but what it’s done, which you started on, to Obama’s leadership. You know, when LBJ got civil rights through in ’64, he said it felt so incredible inside to have done something that will make life better for millions of Americans. He said, ‘Now I’m going for voting rights. Now I’m going for Medicare.’ It emboldens a president. The fact that it was so tough in the Congress, and it became difficult, they’re in the trenches together, they’ve come out more unified, the Democrats. The party has its morale back up. Even the sense of the countries abroad, he’s a winner, he won something. I agree with you that the battle’s only begun, because the battle of public sentiment was never won by the Obama people. The Republicans won it with the ‘death panels,’ they won it maybe with falsehoods, but still the majority of the people still don’t feel good about this bill. So they still have a lot to do, I think, to compress their arguments and make sure that they reach the country. Lincoln once said … that ‘He who molds public sentiment is more important than he who passes laws.’ … That with public sentiment, everything’s possible. Without it, nothing is. Public sentiment still has to be won.

As Mark Twain once said: “Its name is Public Opinion. It is held in reverence. It settles everything. Some think it is the voice of God.”

Moving along, the following exchange took place between Democratic strategist Bob Shrum and Republican strategist Mike Murphy:

MR. SHRUM: … The Scott Brown era is the shortest era in the history of American politics, and he helped us pass the bill. Because once he got there, once he got there, the Democrats said, “We can’t ping-pong this back and forth between the Senate and the House. The House must pass the Senate bill, then we’ll fix it in reconciliation.”

MR. MURPHY: That was a freight train of disingenuous sound bites, and I can’t try to address them all.

MR. SHRUM: It was actually … the march of truth.

MR. MURPHY: It was baloney. I worked on the Romney healthcare bill, you didn’t. I know you don’t. Here’s my question for you.

MR. SHRUM: I do know the Romney healthcare bill. He helped write it with Senator Kennedy.

Flashback to the 1988 vice-presidential debate between Lloyd Bentsen and Dan Quayle:

QUAYLE: … I have as much experience in the Congress as Jack Kennedy did when he sought the presidency. I will be prepared to deal with the people in the Bush administration, if that unfortunate event would ever occur.

BENTSEN: Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy, I knew Jack Kennedy, Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy.

On a different note, Sarah Palin has been campaigning for Senator John McCain (R-AZ) in his re-election bid against former Representative J.D. Hayworth, and in her appearance she tied herself, McCain and the Republican Party to the Tea Party movement:

And let me clear the air right now. We might as well call it like we see it, right, and not beat around the bush. In respect to the tea party movement, beautiful movement. You know what, everybody here today supporting John McCain, we are all a part of that tea party movement.

Palin’s statement led to the following remarks:

MR. GREGORY: Is that true? That’s probably what Republicans hope is true, that the tea party is part of the Republican Party.

MR. MEACHAM: I think perhaps that crowd, perhaps it was true there. … But I don’t think so. … You know, when you have these extreme, more vociferous and ferocious movements, it doesn’t always help. As Churchill once said in another context, ’It’s a good starter but it’s not a good finisher.’ And the way parties absorb these things–and we’ve seen it a thousand times; we’ve seen it with Wallace, we’ve seen it with Perot–is they take some part of the grievance, address it and press forward. I think we’re–you know, partly we’re built for argument. I mean, we–the system wasn’t created to really resolve much.

At the end of the show, host David Gregory gave a short history lesson to put Democrats’ prospects in the upcoming mid-terms into context:

Forty-five years ago in Washington there was another heated debate about providing health care to Americans. Despite vigorous Republican opposition, a Democratic president and a Democratic Congress passed sweeping reform. July 30th, 1965, the country’s largest ever expansion of public health care, the Medicare program, was signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson in Independence, Missouri, the hometown of President Harry Truman, who had fought for a national health insurance program 20 years prior. A year later, Republicans made some big gains in the midterm election due in large part to President Johnson’s unpopularity. The GOP netted 47 House seats.

On This Week, guest host Jake Tapper moderated a debate between Governors Haley Barbour (R-MS) and Ed Rendell (D-PA). In a question to Governor Barbour, Tapper stated that he didn’t want to “pick on Mississippi”, but then he did:

Studies indicate Mississippi is last in the nation when it comes to health care, when it comes to access, quality, costs and outcomes.Your state ranks worst in the country for obesity, hypertension, diabetes, adult physical inactivity, low weight birth babies. It has one of the highest rates of infant mortality.

Ouch.

Later on, Governor Barbour stated that he was surprised to find that the percentage in favor of the bill isn’t higher than it is, considering the “liberal media’s” biased coverage in the days following the passage of the health care bill:

And candidly, I am surprised that the numbers in the Washington Post poll weren’t better. I mean, since this thing passed last weekend, we have seen the longest wet kiss in political history given to the Obama administration by the liberal media elite, and every day that goes by, it gets sloppier.

During the Roundtable, George Will took a stab at Paul Krugman’s Nobel Prize by stating:

Paul’s prizes in economics, not practical Washington wisdom.

Discussing Sarah Palin and the Tea Party Movement, Democratic strategist Donna Brazile stated that:

For the Democrats, I don’t think it hurts us at all to have Sarah Palin out there, whipping up the base, whipping up the tea parties. Stir up as much tea as you want. It’s producing a lot of coffee drinkers within the Democratic Party.

Switching shows, host Candy Crowley of CNN’s State of the Union focused on the aftermath of last Sunday’s tea party protest in Washington, D.C.:

SARAH PALIN: Hearing the news reports lately, kind of this ginned up controversy about us, common- sense conservatives, inciting violence because we happen to oppose some of the things in the Obama administration–

CROWLEY: FOX’s Sean Hannity had more than doubts.

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: And this is denied by a lot of people. I am not seeing the videotape that confirms this yet. If anyone has it, send it to me, I want to see it, of racial slurs, anti- gay slurs being made at the tea party movement. Do we have any evidence that corroborates this at all?

CROWLEY: Two FOX reporters responded that they had seen no evidence. So we begin by trying to set the record straight. There is video. Watch Congressman Emanuel Cleaver as he approaches the man on the left. Cleaver confirms that this man spit on him. He confirms that this is the man whom Capitol Police detained. Cleaver chose not to press charges. From where they were positioned, CNN microphones did not pick up racial epithets.

As for anti-gay slurs, a CNN producer heard the word ‘faggot’ yelled at Barney Frank more than once in the House Longworth Building. The producer cannot say for sure whether it was coming from one person or more.

What to make of it? I find it astonishing that instead of simply denouncing the actions of a set of angry and hateful people, the talking heads over at Fox News and Sarah Palin (who is also a contributor to Fox News) have decided to go the usual route of attacking the “liberal media” by questioning their accounts. Come on. Attack the content of the health care bill all you want, but it shouldn’t be hard to simply denounce anyone uttering the N-word or “faggot”. The paranoid style in American politics is alive and kicking when reports of hateful remarks aren’t met with a backbone reflex to denounce, but with  questions of the truthfulness of the media’s account.

Over on Fox News Sunday,  host Chris Wallace moderated a debate touted as the “Florida Senate Showdown” between Florida Governor Charlie Crist and former Florida Speaker of the House Marco Rubio.

Wallace quoted the number of jobs created or saved by the stimulus money accepted by Governor Crist (87,000), to which Rubio replied the following:

If it’s bad for America, it can’t possibly be good for your state.

I guess if you think it’s bad for America to create or save jobs, it’s also bad for Florida to save or create jobs in Florida. Crist should’ve used those words against Rubio, but he didn’t.

Like Palin, Rubio has his own vision of the Tea Party Movement:

The Tea Party movement has been mischaracterized in the press as some sort of an organization. Tea Parties are where people go and what people do. It’s not what they are …, it is not an organization. It is a broad-based group of everyday Americans from all walks of life.

To summarize the debate: Crist would’ve voted for the stimulus, Rubio against it. Marco Rubio’s favorite Senator is Jim DeMint (R-SC), while Charlie Crist’s favorite Senators are John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC). Rubio has been endorsed by Mike Huckabee, Senator DeMint and Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI). Crist has been endorsed by Senators McCain, Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN). Crist opposes parts of the health care bill, while Rubio would repeal the whole thing.

The essence of Rubio’s message: We can’t trust Governor Crist to stand up to Barack Obama. The essence of Crist’s message: Rubio can’t be trusted – he won’t even reveal his tax returns! Also, “I’ll put Floridians first, that’s why I accepted the stimulus.”

In the end, who had the most memorable phrase this Sunday? Shrum’s “Scott Brown era” was good, but the one that stuck was Governor Barbour’s “longest wet kiss in political history”:

Since this thing passed last weekend, we have seen the longest wet kiss in political history given to the Obama administration by the liberal media elite, and every day that goes by, it gets sloppier.

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

Happy Easter!


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