UP with STEVE KORNACKI
September 22, 2013
Guest: Norm Ornstein, Amanda Terkel, Michelle Bernard, Steve Latourette,
Pat Brady, Iron Carmon, Carole King, Shawna Thomas, Jeff Smith, Glynnis
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC ANCHOR: The heat is broken, but the fever hasn`t.
Why fall in Washington doesn`t look good?
And starting this Sunday morning, we`ll see you a little nostalgic -
members of Congress eventually look back on what`s about to unfold in
Washington, the coming weeks, maybe months have all but guaranteed crisis.
How will the leadership be remembered?
Is it how they would like to be remembered? More on that in just a moment.
We`ll also be traveling by ferry and horse and buggy to Mackinac Island,
Michigan, where I heard the trees are just the right height to discuss the
Republican Party`s plans for the future. Is it where the rest of the
country wants to go? If we learned anything from the news this week, it is
that this isn`t your father`s Democratic Party anymore. In fact, depending
on date of your driver`s license, it may not even be your Democratic Party
anymore. Stick around to find out who has gained control of the keys to
the party bus. And the amazing Carole King, yes, that Carole King, will be
joining us as a panelist. That is coming up later in the show. When among
other things, we`ll be talking about the political TV shows that we love to
But first, there is an immediate drama playing out in Washington. It will
be short, maybe days, no more than a couple of weeks. At issue is funding
of the government. There may yet be a shutdown, there may not. We talked
about it yesterday. But that drama, that is really just a small part of a
much bigger drama and a much bigger story. It is the story of why
Washington is going to be such a dreadful and depressing place for the rest
of this fall. For the rest of this year, maybe for the rest of Barack
Obama`s presidency. How dreadful and depressing a place it has been for so
much of the Obama presidency. And at the heart of both of these dramas,
the small one over a shutdown and the big one about everything is one man
and the philosophy he embodies. Ted Cruz. The question of whether
Republicans will force a shutdown of the government over the funding of
President Obama`s health care law has everything to do with Cruz. He`s the
one who came up with the idea and he more than anyone popularized it on the
right, and he more than anyone is responsible for the fervor that is now
fueling the conservative movement and is now fueling the Republican Party
to exhaust literally any means, even theoretically possible, to exhaust
means that aren`t even possible to gut Obama care.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TED CRUZ, (R ) TEXAS: If Republicans stand together and say we will
not fund government that funds Obamacare, you`ll have an impasse. How do
we win this fight? Don`t blink.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: But it is more than that. Because the government shutdown --
the government shutdown fight didn`t just come out of nowhere. It`s been
here before. We have been in situations just like this. Up against a hard
deadline, with ghastly consequences looming and the clock ticking so many
times since January 2011. When Republicans took back control of the House.
Brinksmanship has been the rule of Washington for three years now,
continuing resolutions to fund the government, debt ceiling deadlines, the
possibility of default, fiscal cliffs. And why? There is more than one
reason, but the overriding one is this. The Republican Parties elected
representatives in Washington, dedicated themselves from the very beginning
of the Obama presidency to a strategy of absolute resistance to the White
House and absolute confrontation with the White House. There is no one in
the Republican Party today who better personifies that spirit, who better
channels, better shapes the attitude of the party`s base than Ted Cruz.
The idea that there is no purer expression of conservatism than to oppose
loudly and overheatedly and relentlessly to oppose everything attached to
or connected with President Obama, Cruzzism. It is the spirit that
animates the Republican base. It has toppled one Republican establishment
giant after another in primaries, that has instilled fear into the hearts
of every Republican office holder today that the biggest threat, maybe the
only threat to their job security is being judged by the GOP base to be
insufficiently conservative. To fall short of the standard that Ted Cruz
and those like Ted Cruz sets. There was a strange sound coming out of the
Republican Party this week. It was actual frustration with Cruz, actual
anger toward Cruz. It came from some House Republicans. A few senators.
These are Republicans who don`t want to shut down the government over
Obamacare funding, who don`t want a debt ceiling default because of
Obamacare funding. They haven`t been that loud for the last three years,
but they were this week.
REP. PETER KING (R ) NEW YORK: This is not the way it should have been
done. It is the situation that the House was put in. And I went along
yesterday for the purpose of moving the process forward and hopefully
exposing these small group of Republican senators who are holding the
entire Congress hostage.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Is that right? A small group of Republicans holding the whole
party hostage? Is Ted Cruz are the Ted Cruz types really just a fringe
element exerting undue influence over the rest of the party? The rest of
the country? Or is Cruzism more widespread in the GOP than Peter King
gives it credit for? Is he actually the outlier? Are Republicans like him
the outliers? Like I said it`s probably going to be a long and ugly fall
in Washington. But what does -- but what does today`s Republican Party
really want out of all of this? Do they even know? We`re going to tackle
those questions right now. To do that, we have Norm Ornstein, the
journalist and co-author of the book "It`s Even Worse Than It Looks: How
The American Constitutional System Collided with the New Politics of
Extremism." He`s also a resident scholar at the American Enterprise
We also have Michelle Bernard, she`s an attorney, political analyst and the
president of the Bernard Center for Women, Politics and Public Policy.
Former Congressman Steve LaTourette of Ohio who`s now president of the
Republican Mainstream Partnership, Organization of Centrist Republicans,
and Amanda Terkel, she is the senior political reporter and politics
managing editor of The HuffingtonPost.com. She joins as well. Thanks to
all of you for being here today. I guess that the best place to pick this
up is that quote from Pete King that we just heard, so he voted for this
bill that went through the house on Friday, that would attach defunding of
Obamacare to the funding of the government and he`s basically saying, we`re
trying to set up, you know, Ted Cruz, we`re going to expose Ted Cruz and
the Ted Cruz types by putting the onus on them and then proving that they
can`t deliver what they promise. And I guess that will change something.
Do you buy, Norm, I guess, listening to what Peter King said, do you buy
his contention that this is a small element of the Republican Party that`s
holding the rest of the party hostage?
NORM ORNSTEIN, AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE: Not exactly, no. And in
fact, if you wanted to really show up Ted Cruz, the Republicans in the
House could have passed something that could actually make it through the
Senate. But, in fact, 40 or 50 House Republicans have held the speaker
hostage and basically you`ve got what is a significant group of people in
both Houses, more in the House than in the Senate in numbers who are
pushing this insane policy. And I have to say, Steve, you know, we call it
Obamacare. We could call it Grassley care or Hatch care or Dornberger (ph)
care. This is a policy that is not some liberal socialist plot. It is
actually almost identical to what the Republicans in 1993-`94 put out. No
public option. It`s exchanges that use private insurance. What`s happened
is other Republican leaders have whipped a constituency into a frenzy over
this policy, and now they`re reaping the rewards of it and the benefits.
Cruz may be the frontman for this, but this goes much deeper.
KORNACKI: And so, we fortunately have a former Republican member of
Congress here who can speak to this. And I know, obviously, you know,
Steve, you know speaker John Boehner pretty well.
STEVE LATOURETTE, FMR. REP. (R ) OHIO: Yes.
KORNACKI: So what -- what Norm is talking about there, what is the
decision-making behind, you know, from Boehner`s standpoint, we`re not
going to put something on the floor that can pass the Senate, that can be
signed by the president, we`re going to have this confrontation, we`re
going to play this out. From Boehner`s standpoint, what is going on there?
LATOURETTE: Well, a couple of things. I have to disagree with Norm. It
is a small group. And the small group, if you go back to the beginning of
the last Congress and look at the roll calls, it is 40, 50, 60 House
Republicans, which is not the majority of the Republican conference. It is
holding it hostage. And what they have done is they have kept Boehner from
getting 218 votes. When you can`t get 218 votes, you`ve lost the power of
the majority, and you only have a couple of choices: you shut things down
or you go across the hall and you talk to Nancy Pelosi and the bill doesn`t
become more Republican. So, he`s chosen, I think to preserve his
speakership, to follow the Hastert Rule that if it doesn`t have the
majority, if you can`t pass it with Republican votes only, we`re not going
to do it.
KORNACKI: But I guess the question there is, if it is only, you know, 30,
40, 50, 60, whatever the number is, if it is a small minority on that side,
why haven`t we heard -- we heard Pete King this week come out and say this.
But that`s not been the story for the last three years. I have not heard
many Republicans for the last three years standing up to this minority and
trying to isolate it and trying to say, you know, to stop having to placate
them, we need to stand up to them.
LATOURETTE: Well, I`ve got to tell you, I mean I left on January 4th, I`ve
called them chuckleheads, monkeys, idiots and there`s a number of folks in
the House that have done the same thing. But if there is 30, 40, 50 of
them, maybe there is 25 or 30 of us, but we have been singing that song for
the entire time. But it is like any organization, it`s nothing unlike the
Democratic caucus in that you have people on either wing, and everybody
else sort of in the middle, they`re a little sheep-like, where, oh, man, it
is going in this direction, I think I`d better - you know, I like being
with the winner, and so I`m going to go in that direction.
That explains, if you look at the farm bill, how did you get seven full
committee chairmen to vote against the farm bill? It`s because they looked
up on the board, that`s in the floor of the House of Representatives, they
saw that this thing was going south, and they decided to get on board
before it went .
KORNACKI: Wait a minute. It speaks to some of the pressure from the base
there, too. We`ll get to that in a minute. But Amanda, I mean you cover
this stuff, you cover Capitol Hill. What do you make of the dynamic, what
we`re seeing right now?
AMANDA TERKEL, HUFFINGTONPOST.COM: Well, I mean I think that for many of
these members, it is hard for them to stand up to the base because they
want to be re-elected. Right now what they`re doing is basically letting
Ted Cruz and the Tea Party implode. I mean Ted Cruz right now is his own
worst enemy and he basically walked right into their plan to screw this up.
I mean John Boehner wanted to put forward a deal that would allow the
government to be continue -- to continue to be funded. And Ted Cruz and
the Tea Party said no. And so they said, fine, we are giving you exactly
what you want, and it is playing out, I think, as they want it. He is --
they are now allowed basically to attack him because he, you know, they`re
saying he`s the head of a secret left wing cabal. He`s trying to
infiltrate the conservative movement and take it over for liberals and
basically commit political suicide. I mean this is - you know, he has
walked right into their hands showing that the Republican - you know, the
Tea Party is more about nihilism than it is actually about governing and
KORNACKI: Michelle, do you think that`s going to work, though? So, now
this - the bill to fund the government with Obamacare, defunding attached
to it, it is going to the Senate, Ted Cruz is now talking about
filibustering that bill because otherwise the Democrats have a way of
taking the defunding portion out of it. Do you think what Amanda
described, is it actually going to work?
MICHELLE BERNARD, POLITICAL STRATEGIST: It is not going to work, but I
don`t think - and I think he knows it is not going to work, but I don`t
think they actually care whether it works or not. I think there are two
things going on here. I think one of the largest things that we see is
that it is just not Republicans in the House that stand for the Republican
Party, but Fox News stands for the Republican Party. All of the major
conservative radio hosts, quote/unquote, stand for the Republican Party.
And I think a lot of these people, at least public perception is, are
pandering to, for example, the Rush Limbaughs and Laura Ingraham and Ann
Coulters of the world.
But secondly, I think, From Ted Cruz`s vantage point, they`re also thinking
about 2014, 2016, party activists and how they deal with Democrats in
largely conservative red states. And I think that they want to get
Democrats and the red states on the record, as saying that they believe in
quote/unquote, Obamacare and hope that that will threaten their
electability in 2014.
ORNSTEIN: You know, Steve, I think we have to take it to another level as
well. If you look at public opinion and look at the last few years,
Democrats and independents, by very substantial margins, have said if we
have got a confrontation, we should find a compromise. Republicans, by
very substantial margins, say don`t compromise. Hold your ground. So Ted
Cruz is now, perhaps, inciting a bunch of people, but he`s also playing to
what has now become a mantra for a broad base and it is even more true for
those who turn out and vote in primaries. And getting to Steve`s point,
you know, there are 25 or 30 at most of the Steve LaTourette wing of the
party. But if you go back and look at what happened on the votes on the
fiscal cliff, 89 senators, including the vast majority of very conservative
Republicans, voted for a compromise to keep catastrophe from happening.
You could barely get 70 House Republicans to support it. When John Boehner
tried to come up with an alternative to give him some traction and
negotiate, a majority of the House Republicans rejected it. Overwhelming
majorities rejected a compromise on aid for Hurricane Sandy. They almost
all voted against the Violence Against Women`s Act. You`ve got a very
different Republican Party in the House now. And it reflects a public,
which has been incited by Fox News, by talk radio, but also the leaders are
going along. And now you got John Boehner basically saying, all right,
let`s not shut down the government, let`s put it all on the debt ceiling,
which is insanity.
KORNACKI: There is - there is - I want - we have a clip here from the few
months ago, this is - it`s from Ted Cruz. We`re going to play it and we`ll
come back, because I think it shows why he`s been able to exert so much
influence over the Republican Party in Washington and why I guess I would
be skeptical that even if, you know, Boehner sort of gets his way
ultimately in the continuing resolution here, I don`t think anything really
is going to change. I`ll play that clip and we`ll talk about it when we
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CRUZ: There are a lot of people that don`t like to be held accountable.
But here was their argument. They said, listen, before you did this, the
politics of it were great. The Dems were the bad guys, the Republicans
were the good guys, now we all look like a bunch of squishes.
CRUZ: Well, there is an alternative. You can just not be a bunch of
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: So that`s Ted Cruz, back in April, we probably all remember that
clip. Ted Cruz versus the squishes. But Steve, I keep thinking of that
moment, I think about it right now with the shutdown, I think about it with
the debt ceiling thing, and I just think about it in general with the
dynamics in the Republican Party and the reason I`m kind of skeptical that
anything is going to change in the near term future is that Ted Cruz
basically defines himself as the voice of purity. And he`s backed up by
talk radio and he`s backed up by Freedom Works and the Club for Growth and
with the Senate Conservative Fund, all these groups and they create all
this noise sort of around what Ted Cruz is doing. And if you`re a
Republican in Washington, and you have any interest in governing right now,
it necessarily means you`re going to have to compromise because you don`t
control the White House. So, any kind of governing in Washington requires
compromise. And the slightest bit of compromise allows Ted Cruz to stand
up and say, there go the squishes again, giving in to President Obama,
giving in to big government. And I don`t know if the base craves purity,
how you can actually beat that.
LATOURETTE: Well, how - first of all, I was the chairman of the squish
caucus for 18 years.
LATOURETTE: And I was Representative. And they actually did call me
that, first of all. Second of all, Ted Cruz doesn`t really speak for the
Republican Party. Rush Limbaugh doesn`t speak - They have an outside role
on the airwaves in terms of what is going on. The basic tenets to be a
good Republican, you don`t have to follow some Ted Cruz litmus test. But
they have turned it into this bullying tactic that if you don`t toe the
line on what we say is pure, we`re going to come after you in a primary.
KORNACKI: But the thing is, they have backed that threat up in the last
few years. That`s when - when I see that Lugar losing in the primary, when
I see Christine O`Donnell winning in Delaware, I say what that does,
Amanda, to the average member of Congress, the average Republican member of
Congress, I think, even if they don`t believe in what Ted Cruz is saying,
better to go along and keep the seat.
TERKEL: Yeah, but it is so bad for their party in the long run. I mean
the Tea Party, you know, they helped get rid of all these moderates who
would have won the general election in the Senate seats. And what it did
is it paved the way for Democrats to pick up seats. They scuttled the
grand bargain between John Boehner and President Obama in 2011, 2012.
Which would have cut Social Security benefits and Medicare and many
progressives didn`t like it. The Tea Party objected and so the Republicans
in the end got something that they didn`t want. So they keep saying that
you have to toe the line, but in the end, it is just bad for their party
politically and policy-wise, it is not accomplishing anything.
BERNARD: It is not just bad for the party, it is destroying the country
and they don`t seem to care in the slight bit. I mean, this is a -- what
we now see particularly in the House of Representatives is a party that is
governing by crisis. We can`t pass a budget, so we`ll just let the
sequester go through. And sort of chip away at things a little bit at a
time because it is too difficult to - I mean the only thing that they vote
on is defunding, again, Obamacare, and you`ve looked back and you think
about the gun, you know, the gun control bill, the Violence Against Women
Act. I mean children being slaughtered in Newtown and all over the
country, and we can`t pass simple pieces of domestic legislation and the
only thing they can focus on is the health care act because they want to
destroy the president`s legacy. Something is wrong with that.
KORNACKI: Well, so, Norm, pick up that point, maybe - can you look at the
rest of this year and maybe game it out for us. What do you see happening
in Washington? I mean right now we`re dealing with the issue, the
shutdown, if that gets resolved, the debt ceiling comes up next. And if
the shutdown issue gets resolved, it will only be for three months, we`ll
be dealing with this again in December. Are we just going to keep going
crisis to crisis or do you see anything coming out of this that could
change that dynamic at all?
ORNSTEIN: I wish I could, but I can`t. I`ve tried to game through
scenarios where we get better. The one thing that I hope will emerge from
this, and I really fear that we`re going to have to have a default before
we get there, is maybe we institutionalize what became known the last time
we had a default crisis as the McConnell rule, where in effect you can stop
having these showdowns over the full faith and credit of the United States.
The president can raise the debt ceiling. Congress can oppose it, but then
he can override a veto. Or he can veto and keep them from overriding it.
Without that, we`re going to go from crisis to crisis. We`re now focusing
on the shutdown. Remember, we have this farm bill, which is another
triumph of the lunatics. And frankly, Eric Cantor bears a substantial
amount of the responsibility. They`ve decided to decouple food stamps from
the coalition that used to build farm bills and now they have passed the
most punitive, cruel and outrageous measure to make hungry people starve,
and if we don`t get a farm bill by the end of the month, then milk prices
are probably going to go to $10 or $12 a gallon. We have got that waiting
for us. If we resolve the shutdown, it is not for long. And we may careen
from default to default. I don`t see anything out there, with leaders who
have only encouraged this process, it was the young guns, Eric Cantor,
Kevin McCarthy and Paul Ryan who crafted the strategy of using the debt
limit to win the 2010 elections and now the country`s reaping what they
KORNACKI: And Steve, this is what I keep hearing from, I guess, the Ted
Cruise crowd - the Ted Cruise types on the right. I hear about the issue
debt default, I think it was Fleming from Louisiana this week who said what
happens if the - what happens if we default on the debt. He said nothing
happens. And so, there is that mindset. This is harmless to do that. And
then the issue of the shutdown, simply from a position of self-interest, if
you`re the Republican Party, you`re looking at the potential political
damage to the brand from that, you can look back to what happened when Bill
Clinton was president, they shut down the government, but to listen to Ted
Cruz, to listen to Stockman from Texas this week, they`re basically saying,
no, actually, we didn`t pay a price in 1995. You got the history on that
wrong. So, where is the incentive here for the Republican Party to say
there is damage in any of this?
LATOURETTE: Well, 1995 was my first year in the Congress. And I was there
for the shutdown and we did pay a political price, but so did - so did
President Clinton. The country didn`t like the fact that people weren`t
working together. I mean that`s the bottom line. I do have to correct
something that Amanda said, however, that John Boehner and the Tea Party
didn`t walk away from that deal in August of 2011, if you watch the
frontline show on PBS, it was President Obama. They thought they had a
deal on Sunday and President Obama wanted $400 billion more and that feeds
into this. I mean I`m all for trashing my party, but I`ll tell you .
LATOURETTE: It feeds into this because that, and a couple of other
occasions, have destroyed the trust that needs to exist between the top
leadership of the White House, the speaker, the head of the Senate, they
don`t trust each other. And if you don`t trust each other, you can`t then
do the finessing that needs to be done and legislating to work something
out. That, then will create a vacuum - that`s a crazy (inaudible) come in
and the monkeys run the institution.
KORNACKI: OK, well, Washington, D.C. Republicans battle it out with each
other over this, some people actually want to lead the party nationally,
think they can lead the party nationally. Can they lead the party
nationally? We`re going to talk about that next.
KORNACKI: That is somewhere in time, the 1980 time travel love story
starring Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour that one of our producers is a
fan of. And why am I telling you about that? Because the place where they
are stuck in the past is Mackinac Island, Michigan, and that is the very
same Mackinac Island, Michigan, where prominent Republicans are meeting
this weekend. Will a leadership conference in the way back machine turn
things around for the GOP? We`ll tackle that next.
KORNACKI: So, let`s take a trip to an idyllic place, Michigan`s Mackinac
Island. It is in Lake Huron, right between the state`s upper and lower
peninsulas. Mackinac Island is spelled Mackinac, that`s pronounced
Mackinaw, we`re on it this week, it is known as the "jewel of the Great
Lakes." There are no cars allowed except for a fire truck. People
actually travel around by horse and buggy. Writer Alexis de Tocqueville
visited there nearly 200 years ago, when he traveled the burgeoning United
States. There is the grand hotel with the world`s longest porch, it`s an
oasis of tranquil relaxation. The Mackinac Island has also been the site
of political history, particularly for the Republican Party, and
particularly in September of off - of off election years. In 1943, 70
years ago, National or Republican Party leaders gathered there to plot a
course it defeat FDR after three consecutive losses. They failed. In
1963, George Romney`s moderates and Barry Goldwater`s conservatives came to
an uneasy truce there. And in 1987, "GOP rage and hatred" was the headline
after the September Mackinac meeting which brought about an early standoff
between supporters of George H.W. Bush and Pat Robertson.
With this weekend`s biennial Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference,
party members are there again. Some with hopes of writing the party`s next
chapter. Scheduled speakers included Governor - include Governor Scott
Walker of Wisconsin, Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, Senators Rand Paul and John
Thune, establishment figures like Karl Rove and National Party chairman
Lance Priebus, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder also took part in the
conference and said that he`s going to seek re-election next year. Local
Tea Party activists who are upset with Snyder`s support for expanding
Medicaid in the state were hoping they`d recruit a challenger before the
conference, they were unable to do that, though. For more on the battle
over the future of the National Republican Party, I want to bring in former
Illinois Republican State Chairman Pat Brady, and he joins the rest of the
And, Pat, you know, we`ll start with you, because you have a different
perspective on this slightly. We`re talking about the Washington, you
know, battle going on, the Republican Party, there is sort of the national
battle and you`re out there in the states. When you look at what is
happening in Washington right now and you think ahead to the 2014 elections
and you look at party leaders in Washington flirting with a shutdown,
flirting with a debt ceiling default and you look ahead to 2016 and saying,
we`re going to have to field the candidate nationally who can run against
Hillary Clinton maybe or somebody like that, do you have any optimism when
you`re watching what is happening in Washington right now, the Republican
Party is positioning itself well at all for those elections?
PAT BRADY, FMR. ILLINOIS GOP CHAIRMAN: And I think Washington hurts as if
we do get a government shutdown, I think, that`s going to be toxic for
Republicans, but what we did see, I think, in Mackinac are some of the
future leaders, the people are going to be our candidates, Scott Walker,
Bobby Jindal, real serious thinkers, good candidates. And the best comment
I heard, I think originated in New York where they talked about the
Republicans need to let people know that we`re on your side. That the
conservative principles of the Republican Party, we`re out for you, we want
to help your kids get educated, and we want to help your kids get a job, we
want the country to be strong. And I think guys like Walker and Jindal are
able to articulate that message. And also I feel optimistic about that,
but I think a government shutdown is going to be bad news for Republicans
KORNACKI: Well, so, whoever it is, Steve, on the Republican side who is
trying to emerge right now and be a viable national candidate, I just see
the national Republican Party branders, polling their backsters up - is,
you know, at a point where it was basically when the Republicans forced the
impeachment of Clinton in 1998, it`s a very - it`s a toxic number right
now, how can a Republican in aspiring nationally Republican Party be
appealing to the national general election audience and distance himself or
distance herself from the national party without alienating that base we
were talking about in the first part of the show?
LATOURETTE: No, you can`t. But I don`t think anybody`s approval ratings
are doing real well, by the way, from the president and the Democrats. I
think it pops on all houses. But to the point that in my mind the fight
that is going on in the Republican Party at the moment is that you have
this group, this conservative group, that believes that the reason we`re
not winning national elections is because we`re not conservative enough and
they point to the fact that the evangelicals and others sat at home during
the president`s re-election. I don`t happen to believe that. If you look
at the numbers, I think that the independents got scared, and they left us.
Just like they left Nancy Pelosi in 2010, because she was scaring them with
some stuff. And until we settle that, why are we not being successful
nationally? Is it because we`re not being - feeding enough red meat to the
base? Well, again, in Ohio, I`m from a swing state, and you`re from a
swing state .
BRADY: Hopefully, we`re trying to make it a swing state.
LATOURETTE: This president`s on stage, by the way.
LATOURETTE: It is like a pendulum in a clock. But the, you know, until,
we are not going to win swing states until we appeal to a broad brush. If
you look at Ohio, I mean Romney thought he`d won Ohio, we knew because
Obama had gone in in August, with all the Bain Capital stuff and so on,
fiscally conservative, moderately - socially moderate women were never
coming back to him. And that`s how you win elections.
KORNACKI: So, Michelle, it is -- it seems to me it is the same dynamic.
We`re talking about Republican elected officials in Washington, members of
the House, members of the Senate, looking at their next primary and saying,
you know, if I`m judged insufficiently pure by the Ted Cruz wing, by the
Club for Growth, by all these social conservatives, I`m going to lose my
primary, any Republican who wants to run for president in 2016 has to, you
know, has to be competitive in Iowa, in South Carolina, and all these
states where it is the same base and who sort of take their cues from the
same, you know, national leaders.
BERNARD: And this is what I think -- why we`re seeing such a large
splinter in the Republican Party. How do you win elections but also govern
the country and run as a reasonable candidate? To me, the most interesting
story about Mackinac over the weekend is who wasn`t there. Chris Christie
was not there. Jeb Bush was not there. These are people, to me, that are
-- that are -- they are reasonable Republicans, they know how to increase
the base, they know how to reach out to Hispanics, they know how to reach
out to African-Americans, they know how to reach out to women, and still
maintain quote/unquote conservative principles, but for many people in the
Republican Party with the loudest voices in the Republican Party, a
Republican who is friendly to Hispanics, for example, is - what was the
BRADY: I have to take issue with that a little bit, with the two - those
two folks you mentioned not being there. But the rhetoric I heard out of
this was not the far right bomb throwing stuff that we heard in the last
couple of months. I think it was actually out of pretty good vision of
what we need to do, saying just what you said. I think so did Scott Walker
and so did Bobby Jindal. We - I`ve seen a lot ..
KORNACKI: What are they saying it is different than what is coming out of
Washington? What are they saying that is going to sound any different to a
voter who looks at Washington and says I can`t believe what these
Republicans are doing right now? What are they saying that is different?
BRADY: I think what they`re saying and this week, to me, was amazing, in
one respect, I mean it`s not a total respect as a Catholic. The Holy
Father this week to me was the best political consultant .
BRADY: . that anybody could have. He said, hey, we have to not change our
priorities, but we need our principles, but maybe change our priorities.
We don`t need to focus on gays and contraception, and abortion. Let`s talk
about the issues that we can help people on, get on your side on, which the
Republicans do well on the economic issues, on the national security
issues. I think you saw a lot of that out of this conference this weekend,
which, to me, shows that the people that you`re talking about, that scream
and yell a lot, don`t control the party and those are the people at the end
of the day aren`t going to win.
KORNACKI: Well, we have - there actually was a little bit of news that
came out of it from Rand Paul who did participate and he made some news.
We`ll tell you what that news is when we pick it up after this.
KORNACKI: So, I`m saying that Rand Paul did make some news at the Mackinac
Republican Conference this weekend, he was talking to reporters and he
said, as this crisis is sort of unfolding in Washington, he said "I am
acknowledging we can`t probably defeat or get rid of Obamacare. But by
starting with our position of not funding it, maybe we get to a position
where we make it less bad."
Norm, that`s kind of a striking quote for a couple of reasons. One, that
it breaks with Ted Cruz and what sort of the Ted Cruz wing has been saying
a little bit. But also, I wonder, does this now pass for what is moderate
in the Republican Party?
ORNSTEIN: That`s about what passes for what is moderate. What is
interesting is that you`ve had this trio, it is Mike Lee, Ted Cruz, Rand
Paul, all together. Paul, I think for very strategic reasons, has decided
to get a little distance here. He must see a train wreck ahead and decided
to get a little bit apart from it. But you`re not seeing that in other
cases. And maybe Bobby Jindal was a little bit more moderate, but this is
a guy who said we shouldn`t be the stupid party and has basically veered
sharply to the right as most of the presidential candidates have. Marco
Rubio has decided to compensate for his support for some immigration bill
by going off into Ted Cruz territory, including on Obama care. You have a
presidential nominating party that is dominated by the south and a party
that otherwise is dominated by a bunch of House members who are in
districts that are homogenous echo chambers that are all pushing them to
the right. And maybe Chris Christie, maybe now Rand Paul can move away a
little bit away from that and provide an alternative. But most of the
other candidates are crowding over to the defund Obamacare blow up the
KORNACKI: That - and maybe somebody can explain this, because what really
struck me about the last few years, and particularly in the wake of the
2012 election, when Barack Obama gets re-elected, I`m thinking back to how
the Republican Party handled losing in the 1990s. And there was
definitely, the opposition, from Republicans back then, in a lot of cases
very overheated, we had impeachment and all that, I don`t mean to
understate any of that, but if you look back at how the party evolved in
the late 1990s, they did sort of evolve toward the middle of the spectrum
in response to Clinton winning. That`s where George W. Bush and
compassionate conservatism - conservatives started calling big government
conservatism, that`s where it came from, it was a response to Clinton
beating them and saying we need to get more where the middle of the country
is. I`m seeing the exact opposite response in the last - I`m seeing a
Republican Party that with every defeat gets more and more conservative.
BERNARD: As the one woman on the panel today, and as a woman who believes
in the free market and who believes in limited government, I think one of
the things that we have to say is that the Republican Party, at the
national level, is in serious need of a major dose of estrogen. I mean as
long as we have party leaders talking about vaginal probes, voting against
the Violence Against Women Act, that really not doing anything to put forth
a sound education policy, Republican Party leaders who are scared to say
anything about, for example, the killing of Trayvon Martin, I mean, these
are all social issues that really matter. And even for Republican women,
who believe in the economic message of reasonable conservatives, you`re not
going to get the women`s vote and you are not going to win national
elections without women, Hispanics and African-Americans.
KORNACKI: So, the issues that Michelle is raising - why we don`t hear a
lot about that, a lot of what she`s saying from national Republicans, is it
they just simply don`t believe any of that or is that they feel unsafe
saying it in the party today. What is going on there?
BRADY: Well, I agree with her assessment. But I have been hearing that
out of some of the governor candidates and the more reasonable people. I
think the people at the end of the day, they are going to be more
successful, the guy like Scott Walker, I know, he just enrages people on
the far left. But Scott Walker actually runs pretty mainstream -- gives a
pretty mainstream speech. And you`re right, we need more women. We need
more Hispanics. But I think the tone has changed. I think people realize
that. And I think we`re moving in that direction. That`s what I saw this
weekend. But I completely agree that we need more of that representation
of the party or we`re done.
LATOURETTE: Three quick points. I think Rand Paul, Senator Paul`s
observations are made by a guy, it`s like the dog who got the car. So, uh-
oh, the House really sent us this, we don`t have 60 votes for a filibuster,
what are we going to do? So, he`s trying to get out of the way of the
train. Michelle is right. But you saw the chairman of the party say after
the president was re-elected that 58-page manifesto, we have to -- we`re
not going to win elections if we don`t have gay Americans, Hispanics,
African-Americans, women voting for us and we have to be embracive. But
what`s happened then is others have tried to take that message and just
yank it with all of their force to the right, and, again, this will not be
settled until the debate within the party is, do we have enough people to
vote for a Republican national figure to regain the White House or do we
not -- or will we always be the majority party in the House based upon
redistricting the regionals.
KORNACKI: OK, the key question there - and I want to thank Michelle
Bernard and former congressman Steve LaTourette from Ohio.
The battle lines that are dividing Democrats. We`ll get to them, that is
KORNACKI: So, you know, how I can tell it is not the 1990s anymore. Well,
for one thing, I don`t think anyone`s trying to sell laser discs anymore.
And I can`t remember the last time I met anyone with a subscription to a
prodigy or CompuServ. Now, it has also been a long time since I`ve seen
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Stop the insanity!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: All of these things are very good signs that we are no longer in
the 1990s. And so is this. These two men. More than anyone else, almost
anyone else, they symbolized what the Democratic Party was and what the
Democratic Party became in the 1990s. Back then, Larry Summers was a
leading figure in the Clinton administration. He went to the Treasury
Department in 1995 as the top deputy to Robert Rubin, it`s the same Robert
Rubin who previously had been the co-chairman of Goldman Sachs and whose
partnership with Bill Clinton in the 1990s marked the birth of a new cozy
relationship between the national Democratic Party and Wall Street. The
party, it meant access to huge previously unavailable stores of campaign
cash. For Wall Street it meant friendly regulatory policies from a party
that hadn`t been much of a friend before. When Rubin stepped down it was
under Treasure Secretary Larry Summers that Glass Steagall was repealed in
1999. For months, it`s been no secret that Barack Obama wanted to make
Summers the next chairman of the Federal Reserve and that should have been
easy. But not after the 2008 economic meltdown. One by one, Democratic
senators stood up to say no and on Monday, Summers raised the white flag
and said he was withdrawing his name from consideration. Then there is the
other those two men we showed you at beginning, that is Bill Daley. And in
the 1990s, he was Clinton`s pointman for passing NAFTA. Then later as he
served as Secretary of Commerce. After Clinton left office, Daley was made
Midwest chairman of JPMorgan Chase. Two years ago, Obama asked him to
become his White House chief of staff.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The gentleman who had spent the last seven years with
JPMorgan Chase on Wall Street --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He brings a real vast business background.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A man who has extensive banking and business
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He knows the business community. They know him.
KORNACKI: Democrats who were upset couldn`t stop him back then, but now
they can. And they just did. Daly has been back home in Illinois, running
for governor against the incumbent, Pat Quinn, in next year`s Democratic
primary. Quinn`s numbers were and are still poisonous. But still were
Daley`s ties to the banking world. Activists rose up to stop him, to send
a message about the type of Democratic Party he represented. And Quinn
seized on the opening, making it a fight between Wall Street and Main
Street. "I fight hard for folks who don`t have lobbyists, who don`t have
political action committees who aren`t in high places, Quinn said. I`m
quite a bit different from Bill Daley, he has a better tailor than I do."
And this week, Bill Daley dropped out of the race for governor of Illinois.
This is not the kind of race that a candidate like Daley would have lost in
the 1990s, but in post meltdown America, he didn`t have a prayer. To talk
about what happened to Bill Daley and to Larry Summers this week, we`re
joined at the table by msnbc.com reporter Irin Carmon. She joins everybody
else who is still here. And Pat, actually, we have somebody from Illinois.
You can maybe tell us a little about - a little bit more from an Illinois
standpoint about exactly what happened with Bill Daley. And I know you`re
a Republican. So you have sort of a biased take on this, but .
LATOURETTE: It`s quite on Daley, so.
KORNACKI: But I imagine, actually, you guys - you`re probably happy as a
Republican, you probably would rather run against Quinn next year than
Daley. Were you surprised by what happened in the Democratic Party?
BRADY: Yeah, I was sure that presumptive nominee of the Democrats for
upcoming governor race is going to be a guy with like 30 percent approval
rating, but I do take a little bit of issue with your introduction. Bill
Daley was a highly successful and has been a highly successful political
operative for years. He ran his brother`s campaign in 1980 for state`s
attorney, which he wasn`t supposed to win. He actually went to the White
House and worked on NAFTA. He won the 2000 campaign if you listen to some
of the Democrats. So, I think with Bill Daley and I know him a little bit
and he`s, I think, well regarded in Illinois, not just as business person,
but a leader and a guy, he`s a nice guy. I mean, it is a big state
campaigning, I`m not sure if he ever got comfortable with it, I`m not sure
if Governor Quinn`s statements about his ties to the financial community
pushed him out. It is a hard state to win, particularly against an
incumbent, and I think that`s more -- I take him at face value, he got out
of that because he didn`t want to spend the next five years doing the
campaign and then inheriting a state, which because of the Democratic
control of the state is just in an absolute fiscal mess versus this idea
that he was pushed down because of his ties to the financial community.
KORNACKI: So, whether - whatever the exact reasons were that Daley got
out, clearly, the banking stuff was being used against him by people who
didn`t want to see him win that nomination, Amanda, and clearly ties to the
Wall Street regulatory record of Larry Summers from the Clinton years and
sort of where the Democratic Party is right now on Wall Street were central
to the resistance to Larry Summers that we saw.
TERKEL: Right. I mean, with Bill Daley, you didn`t see the progressive
community nationally get behind him and get excited. You didn`t see PCCC,
for example, come in and endorse him. So, I mean there is certainly right
now, you know, I feel like a few years ago it was people like Obama, who
said that they opposed the Iraq war, they weren`t going to pursue that sort
of neocon foreign policy. Those people in the Democratic Party were sort
of popular, that`s what people are focused on. Much more now it is the
economy. It is looking for a more progressive, more sort of populist
economy. It is people who are concerned that they haven`t done well and
that safety net isn`t there. And people like Bill Daley, Larry Summers,
are sort of not in vogue with the party now. They`re much more of a
Clinton era, and now the Obama administration, I think, probably, for the
first time with Gene Sperling stepping down, Tim Geithner no longer there
and now Larry Summers won`t be there, you don`t have the Clintons -- the
Clintonites sort of running the Obama economic policy.
KORNACKI: Irin, and were you surprised at all by sort of the outcome of
the fight over Larry Summers here? I mean he was never, you know, formally
nominated or anything, but clearly he was going to have trouble getting
confirmed. Clearly, the president wanted to nominate him. Were you
surprised that it played out this way?
IRIN CARMON: I mean I have as experience being an undergraduate under
Larry Summers. I started with him. He lasted a year after I graduated.
And I think that what you -- the prevailing feeling is Larry Summers, as
believed by the president, is a brilliant man and we should listen to this
brilliant man as if there isn`t a sort of series of normative judgments
that comes along with it. I think when you think about the Clinton era
prosperity, that is what helped sort of justify a Democratic alliance with
Wall Street. While things were going well, while you could make the
argument that what`s good for Wall Street is good for America, then you
could that - you could believe that this was going to be good for everyone
and wasn`t going to threaten the other coalitions in the Democratic Party.
Larry Summers may be in some ways a sacrificial lamb, but he`s not
unjustified. He represents this sort of ark that says in fact we didn`t
have prosperity for everyone under the regime prescribed by people like
ORNSTEIN: You know, there`s a couple of broader points to make here,
Steve. There are a lot of changes going on within the Democratic Party.
Some of this is a second term president`s usual phenomenon. But base turns
against the president. They think it is their turn to get everything that
they want. And a lot of this is disgruntlement over Guantanamo, over --
for labor now, the health care law. They haven`t gotten their priorities.
It is the NSA, it is drones.
KORNACKI: It`s disgruntlement over Wall Street too, over Wall Street
ORNSTEIN: And a real backlash over Wall Street that goes back to the
beginning of the administration. Another part of it as Peter Beinart
pointed out in his really terrific piece on the new, new left, is, you`re
seeing a generational change, a millennial generation that is now
conditioned by the kind of populous anti-Wall Street views and then there`s
a third component, which is that the conservative or moderate wing of the
Democratic Party, the blue dog Democrats, have been hollowed out themselves
in this larger process. They have been the targets in campaigns by
Republicans, there are fewer of them, so you`re seeing a Democratic Party
move to some degree to the left. But I have to tell you, it is a
Democratic Party that is moving if we use the football field analogy from
the 40 yard line to the 30 yard line. And the Republican Party is behind
their own goal post.
KORNACKI: We`re going to take up that point, on the Democratic Party,
(inaudible) Republicans a little earlier, but we`re going to - we`re going
to - that idea of a generational change now taking place in the Democratic
Party and what happened with Summers and what`s happened with Daley and
Bill de Blasio in New York and others being sort of symptoms of that.
We`re going to pick that all up in the next hour.
First, we`re going to say thanks to former Illinois Republican Party
chairman Pat Brady.
BRADY: Thanks for having me.
KORNACKI: We`re talking about the Republicans, we`ll dismiss you, but
thanks for coming in today. I appreciate it, and we`ll pick it up right
KORNACKI: `90s were a great time to be a friend of President Bill Clinton.
It was even acronym created to talk about it: FOB, the friends of Bill.
Remember them? And if you were an FOB, if you were like Larry Summers or
Bill Daley, you were and FOB, if you were one of them, life was good and
life was still good these past - for the past two when another president
with a B name entered the White House in 2009, at least until this week.
More recently the Democrat named Bill you really want to be friends with is
New York City mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio. He used the populous
rhetoric of Occupy Wall Street to catapult himself to the Democratic
nomination for mayor. Posing Clinton era, causing this with high finance
that wins you Democratic primaries these days. Be the guys who are
actually doing the cozying up, and the base will tell you it is time to go
hit the golf course. In provocative new piece called "The Rise of the New
Left," the "Daily Beast" Peter Beinart argues that this is no accident. He
says it`s the direct result of an entire generation of young people coming
of age politically in the period of prolonged economic anxiety. If you
graduated from high school after the year 2000, you`ve seen wages tumble 13
percent. You`re also carrying three times more student debt than your
parents did. Americans under 30 are the only group to describe themselves
as have-nots. And that`s just the warmup. Here is Beinart`s statistical
bombshell. While older Americans favor capitalism over socialism by
roughly 25 points, Millennials say they favor socialism. Maybe by a narrow
margin, but socialism does win. Which means this might not just be some
fleeting liberal rebellion that this younger generation will grow out of,
it could very well be that the political allegiances the young voters are
making now will hold and that they will keep having a profound impact on
American politics for years to come.
Here to discuss all of this, we have and I`ve been looking forward to this
all week, legendary singer, songwriter and activist Carole King. It was a
very busy year, President Obama presented her with a Library of Congress
Gershwin Prize for popular song. She received the Lifetime Achievement
Award of the Grammies, and it was just announced for the next year`s
ceremony, Grammy organizers will honor her as "Music Cares" person of the
year. Also still here at the table, Amanda Terkel from the Huffington
Post, the columnist and author Norm Ornstein with the American Enterprise
Institute and msnbc.com national reporter Irin Carmon, also my former
colleague from Salon. We`re going to get that salon plug in there too.
CARMON: Sure, salon love.
KORNACKI: So, let`s, you know, Norm, you started to get into a little bit
- in the last hour, you started to talk about this Peter Beinart piece that
caused a lot of conversation this past week, that is basically putting the
idea out there that the Democratic Party is being changed, and as a result
American politics are being changed because millennials whose experiences
have been watching this country get bogged down in these two intractable
wars, it`s their own experiences with debt, and sort of the unemployment
problem, the great recession that this is sort of moving the Democratic
Party, moving millennials far, you know, to the left, almost radicalizing
them in a way. Amanda, I just wonder basically, what do you make of the
premise that Peter Beinart put out there this week.
TERKEL: Yes, I think there is a lot of truth to that. And it is
increasing what is sort of separating members of the Democratic Party. Are
you more one of these Clintonite figures or are you more in the mold of
Elizabeth Warren and Sherrod Brown. I mean the Democratic Party is
becoming much more unified on issues like reproductive rights, gay rights,
and so what is now distinguishing these candidates in the primaries is
often this economic issues and as you have these younger people, who are
dealing with student loans, who can`t get a job, they`re looking at sort of
this model from the Clinton era and saying, you know, Wall Street just
really hasn`t done it for me.
KORNACKI: And Irin, do you see it`s -- from a millennial standpoint,
millennial correspondent Irin Carmon, what do you think of it?
CARMON: Well, I would say, actually, that the economic issues and the
social issues are intertwined. Because a lot of the unfinished business of
racial justice and gender justice intersect with economic issues, whether
it`s care giving, whether it`s paid family leave, whether it is the fact
that we have no affordable day care in this country, the fact that the pay
gap is more stark when it comes to people of color, especially women of
color, and I think all of it -- and SNAP benefits being voted on this year.
I mean I think those are crucial -- those are issues that people show up
and vote for Democrats for, right? Of course, with the Republican Party,
all of these examples that Beinart used are examples, in which there was
not a crazy right wing Republican opposite so you could move to the left.
There was no danger of a Tea Party right wing sort of opposition there.
And yet, you know, and I think where there is room to have a discussion
about this, you can say, you know, these quote/unquote social issues are
also economic issues, it is what happened in de Blasio versus Quinn, with
Quinn delaying paid sick leave, in California, a Domestic Workers Bill of
Rights being vetoed by Jerry Brown, and now they`re trying again. So, I
think, you know, people are also seeing the limits of this sort of mold
that Democrats proposed in the `90s and the 2000s, I`m socially liberal and
KORNACKI: But the interesting thing, Norm, when I`m thinking about all of
this is in a lot of ways what we`re talking about here is younger
generation looking back at sort of the Clinton years, the consensus in the
Democratic Party, the Clinton years and saying we don`t -- we reject that,
we want something completely different. At the same time, the Clintons
have never been more popular than the Democratic Party.
ORNSTEIN: Yeah, and I still think that`s going to continue and Hillary
Clinton becomes a presumptive nominee and probably a presumptive president.
One of the things that`s most interesting here, though, Steve is that there
is an opening for somebody who is a little bit more libertarian. While you
get a narrow plurality of millennials saying, they prefer socialism, there
is an antipathy towards government there in a lot of ways. And also, of
course, on foreign policy we`re already seeing left and right come together
CARMON: And on criminal justice.
ORNSTEIN: Yeah, and on criminal justice, a rejection of the old consensus.
So there may be an opening for something a little bit different. The
problem that Republicans are going to have in that front, Rand Paul among
them, is they`re not rejecting the social conservatism that is anathema to
that generation, not only to them, but to a whole lot of others and they
aren`t reaching out more broadly. The Democratic Party is going to go
through some significant upheaval here and my guess is that Hillary
Clinton, if she runs, and I`m assuming she will, may have to adjust a
little bit to recognize this reality.
KORNACKI: So, Carole, what do you make of -- you`ve been active in
Democratic politics, you know, for years. And what do you make of, you
know, the party, watching the party, first of all, go from -- you had the
1980s, when it was, you know, Carter gets defeated and Mondale gets
trenched, and Dukakis gets trenched (ph), and then the party sort of moves
to the middle under Bill Clinton, you have the Democratic Leadership
Council and all that in the 1990s, and do you see another pivot point here,
do you sort of expect what Beinart is saying? Is that how you look at it?
CAROLE KING, SINGER & ACTIVIST: I actually do. First of all, there is
another sort of -- people talk about all the millennials and the Latinos
and the African-Americans and the women, but there is another group of
people that I think is going to be represented more, not necessarily
calling themselves Democrats, but maybe voting for Democrats and that is
people who identify as Republicans who are starting to realize that the
framing that they`re getting, hey, we`re on your side, is actually not
happening. When you cut funding for food stamps and cut funding for Head
Start, you`re not helping these people. And these are people like my
neighbors in Idaho, many of whom would never vote for a Democrat, but when
they start to think about it, it is, like, wow, wait a minute, you know,
the Republicans are cutting our funding for things we need and that`s a
group that I think we`re going to get.
KORNACKI: It is interesting. So, I grew up in Massachusetts and now we
think of Massachusetts, you know, as the capital of blue state American and
everything. But to watch - you know, there was a strong Republican
tradition in Massachusetts at one point and it has sort of been -- it sort
of disappeared as the two parties have evolved and as the national
Republican Party has moved more to the south. But Amanda, so hearing all
this, looking at it from the Democrats in Washington, you know, in Congress
and in the House and in the Senate, how - do you see them sort of changing
right now, evolving, modulating in response to sort of the messages that
are being sent in some of these elections and some of these - some of these
TERKEL: Well, I think you saw it in the 2012 elections, too. People who
were supposed to be in danger, like Sherrod Brown in Ohio, I mean he was
running up, I think, against a pretty flawed candidate in Josh Mandel. But
at the same time, he ran as a very, very progressive candidate. He did not
move to the middle at all. And he came out very strong. And you had
Elizabeth Warren, I know it is Massachusetts which is now very blue, but
incredibly popular. You know, I think that if she decided to run against
Hillary, that would make it a very, very interesting race. Because I know,
I actually know a lot of people who are big Hillary fans, but they like
what probably said they would probably vote for Elizabeth Warren even more.
So you saw this in the 2012 elections. You saw now this block of people
like Sherrod Brown, Elizabeth Warren, Jeff Merkley becoming even stronger
in the Senate. And that hasn`t been for a while, you haven`t seen those
strong progressive senators really start of leading that discussion.
KORNACKI: Veteran Congress watcher here. What do you make of seeing what
Amanda is just describing?
ORNSTEIN: Well, one thing to keep in mind, this is populism. And Sherrod
Brown, who is a brilliant guy and knows how to communicate that message and
Elizabeth Warren as well, but you look at some other issues, Elizabeth
Warren is not some crazy leftist. I mean she`s pragmatic on a lot of
things. She`s tough on those issues, and now with difficult economic times
and the fact that not a single Wall Street individual was prosecuted for
anything that happened, that creates a kind of backlash. One of the other
things that`s happening though, Steve, is that I think moderate Democrats
or Democrats who wanted to compromise, and they`ve been through now a few
years of seeing the scorched earth approach of the other side, what Ted
Cruz and his colleagues are doing is pushing Democrats further to the left.
It is why should we even offer moderate principles or policies or
alternatives when these guys are going to vote against everything no matter
what we do.
CARMON: And they`re going to call Obama socialist. They do it.
ORNSTEIN: Yeah. If you get a movement that is so far in one direction, it
almost inevitably breeds a counter-reaction. And that`s a challenge for
Obama now too. What may help him, and the same thing happened to Clinton,
by the way, that would have been a reaction against him, except the
impeachment process, the craziness of going after him united Democrats
behind him. If some of these crazies on the right actually prevail more,
and create more turmoil, it may give Obama more traction than he now has
with the rebellious left.
CARMON: If I could say something as the special millennial, of course .
CARMON: I think .
KORNACKI: Wait a minute - we are not millennials?
CARMON: Amanda and I am.
KORNACKI: One or two. Co- millennials.
KORNACKI: Yeah, it`s true.
CARMON: But I think that there is -- what people thought they were getting
in Obama was this sort of change, this diversity, this idea that it was the
anti-Clintons and I think a lot of people projected on to that thing that
he wasn`t necessarily, that he is a fundamentally, temperamentally and
politically moderate person and yet as you say, if he is already going to
be targeted as a socialist, I mean, of course, this is joke on the left, if
only Obama were who they say he is, so I do think that there is a feeling
among Democrats in Congress and among activists and the base and saying, if
even compromising, say, for example, chained CPI, if compromising on what
used to be the core principles of the Democratic Party, is just dragging
everybody to the right, what is the point? They`re also providing a
strategic left flag or where at least Obama can be in the middle as opposed
to everything being dragged to the right.
KORNACKI: And I don`t say this to pass judgment or anything, but it`s just
terrible, one thing that struck me to pick up on what Irin says, is for all
of the sort of the heatedness of the Clinton and Obama primary in 2008, and
some of the things that Obama said about the Clinton years back, then he
talked about how Reagan was the transformational president, maybe Bill
Clinton wasn`t. I do think, you know, for better or worse, you could say
that the Clinton - the Obama presidency really has been sort of the logical
extension of the Clinton presidency, from a Democratic standpoint. Do you
see it that way?
KING: I don`t see it that way. It might have started from that direction,
but, you know, to your point, that if he, you know, giving up the chained
CPI and everything, I think he`s a -- what he is, is a thoughtful person
and he thinks things through. And if things change, he goes along with the
change and takes it in in a very intellectual and thoughtful way. And I
think he put that out there as an attempt to come to some agreement. Now
having seen that there is no rationality in the majority of the Republican
Party, he is sticking to the things that make sense to more people on the
left. And I think he had to try that.
KORNACKI: We will pick it up. So, we have, you know, still a couple of
years left of the Obama presidency and the question of what is next for the
Democratic Party, so we`re going to get into what is next after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL CLINTON: We know big government does not have all the answers. We
know there is not a program for every problem.
CLINTON: We know and we have worked to give the American people a smaller,
less bureaucratic government in Washington. And we have to give the
American people one that lives within its means. The era of big government
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: So that might have been the most famous, the most definitive
quote of Bill Clinton`s two terms as president. "The era of big government
is over," he said that at the start of 1996, the year he had gone through
the shellacking of 1994, the Republican revolution, he`d come back, he won
in`96 re-election over Bob Dole, and I wonder, you know, maybe to take a
minute here, since we`re talking about how - what Democratic parties is
going through right now is a reaction to Clintonism in a lot of ways, can
we put Clintonism and what happened in the 1990s in some historical
context. How did the Democratic Party reach that moment? What was the
purpose of what Bill Clinton was doing, and what sort of the long term
historical significance of what happened in the `90s?
ORNSTEIN: But you can make a case that you had a Democratic Party that had
gone off to the left in the `60s and into the `70s. It took losing three
presidential elections in a row with Reagan and George Herbert Walker Bush
to give it a jolt. You lose once or twice, you can say it is our
candidates or it`s circumstances. Three times you got to say you`re out of
sync with the country as a hole. So, Bill Clinton who`d been the head of
the Democratic Leadership Council, emerges and as a president, brought the
Democratic Party to the center and there was great success. And now, of
course, one of the questions is will the Republicans lose three times in a
row and will that jolt them back. But almost inevitably, once you have
some success, you win a few elections in a row, and you get a different
backlash against that movement to the center. And we`re starting to see
that a little bit now. But I don`t want to push it too far, Steve. You
know, if it is not Hillary Clinton, you`re going to have some other
candidates out there. One of them maybe Andrew Cuomo. Andrew Cuomo is not
exactly somebody who has moved to the left. He`s been much more of a
centrist. You`re not going to see Jerry Brown as a presidential candidate
KORNACKI: Are you sure about that?
KORNACKI: Because I`ve been wondering for a while. He`s got one more .
ORNSTEIN: He`s actually got an enormous amount of energy, but, you know,
Jerry Brown has moved the California Democratic Party to the center. Now,
on the other hand, my former student Martin O`Malley is somebody who is
taking that position much more on the left, and is getting a lot of
traction there. You`re going to see it struggle, I think, an ideological
struggle of sorts. Bu again, it is something that operates with a wider
band and more opportunities to still capture the center than you`ll find on
the other side.
KING: Can I jump in with something?
KING: First of all, nobody`s mentioned Joe Biden. If Joe Biden is
running, you have a race potentially between Hillary Clinton .
KING: . and Joe Biden. And Joe would probably run to the left of Hillary.
KORNACKI: He actually - he was out in Iowa last week, and it was
interesting, he was at the - it was the Tom Harkin`s event in Iowa, the
steak fry they have. And Biden made a point of talking about gay marriage.
And if you remember how the Obama sort of position change came about a week
after Biden gone on "Meet the Press" and nobody knows for sure, was it
accident, was it intentional or whatever, but in the speech Biden made this
like - this was an act of conscience in this party. I could not stand by
any more and stay silent on this issue and people, you know, around me were
saying not to and then I stepped in anyway. And it was -- I remember at
the time thinking this was sort of an indication of where the Democratic
Party was going, that that was on Joe Biden`s mind. It was interesting to
see him now using that.
TERKEL: Yes, and the administration often uses him when they need to reach
out to progressives. I remember they had to give a speech to I think -- it
was sort of a conference call with the labor community. They used Joe
Biden because he does very well with them. He`s really -- so the base
loves him. He`s really fun. Yes, he got a lot of - you know, he spoke out
on marriage equality, which I think everyone sort of knew where he was, but
the fact that he did it and then he pushed Obama, I think that`s earned him
a lot of sort of lobbying credibility with the progressive base. And so,
so I think -- and at the same time, though, Biden has a lot of experience
with Congress. And it`s often stepped in to sort of help the
administration reach out to Congress, which is sort of seen as a deficiency
of the president. So, I think that he would be running as much more
progressive. I don`t know if you`d see him go as far left as maybe some of
the other people out there, but he wouldn`t run to the left and I think the
base really does like him.
KORNACKI: We keep talking about the sort of generationally, like, you
know, it is the millennials who are moved by these appeals against Wall
Street. But somebody pointed out, it is true if you look at New York City,
Bill de Blasio winning this primary overwhelmingly here in New York City as
an example of the rise of the new left. De Blasio did just as well, maybe
better among elderly voters, among older voters. This wasn`t just
CARMON: I think part of it - It`s not just generational. It`s also
circumstances change on the ground. I mean I think it`s on the one hand,
it is instructive to look back at the past, but I don`t actually think
marriage equality is such a salient issue. Yes, we have moved a lot of --
a long way due to the dogged work of activists, but I think it doesn`t cost
anything. A lot of the things that are really fault lines are things that
involve redistribution, they involve economic justice and those are a much
higher uphill climb. In New York City there is a feeling that there is so
much money to go around and it is only going to a very small demographic,
who would have thought that we would have seen a re-evaluation of criminal
justice after all of the years of the `70s and the `80s in New York City
and beyond of the crime wave. You know, now here we have Bill de Blasio
questioning "Stop and Frisk." We have Republicans and Democrats
questioning mandatory minimums. That`s because circumstances change.
People can imagine a world in which, first of all, it is not a total
economically depressed thing, you don`t have to beg Wall Street to come in,
you have to regulate Wall Street and second of all, in which it feels safe
for some people and unsafe for others.
ORNSTEIN: You know, there is an interesting twist here, which is on
foreign policy. Because Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton would both have to
run with Obama`s foreign policy, maybe get a little bit of distance, but it
is going to be an aggressive internationalist foreign policy. And you`re
seeing the significant backlash there. And one question is if there are
other candidates, whether it is in Elizabeth Warren or Kirsten Gillibrand
or Martin O`Malley, are they going to move much more towards a dovish
posture. Because there is a real division in the party now on those issues
and I don`t think that`s going away. After Syria, we`re going to see more
things that may exacerbate those divisions.
KORNACKI: And I don`t - you know, part of that discussion too, Amanda, is
where we`re talking about, you know, the sort of -- within the party, maybe
a revolt is too strong of a word, but backlash and then in some ways over
Larry Summers or whatever - but we can lose sight sometimes of the fact
that if you look at the approval rating of Barack Obama among Democrats, it
is as healthy as it could be for any president with this party. I mean
we`re not talking about Jimmy Carter losing the party base - Obama is - has
been the entire time extremely popular president with Democrats. So, there
is not a huge move away from Obama that I`m thinking up here on the
TERKEL: Right. I mean progressives don`t hate Obama. They just would
like him to be a little bit better. And I think, you know, that`s the role
of activists, which he`s actually said, you need to keep pushing me so that
you can take the left flank and then I can perhaps find some compromise and
move to the middle a little bit, so that I`m not pushed all the way to this
very far center right position. But, you know, I mean, President Obama,
when he ran against Hillary, he took that more dovish foreign policy
position, actually, and so, you know, if a candidate sort of runs away from
that, which would be even more interesting, and I think it is that foreign
policy has moved even farther away from where Obama ran in 2008, simply
being against the Iraq war, is it enough, but at the same time, I think if
Hillary runs, the fact of her Iraq war vote, it won`t play quite as heavily
as it sort of did in 2008. And I think she`ll benefit a bit the fact that
she is the secretary of state during this - all this serious stuff.
KORNACKI: Yeah. It hit the timing .
KORNACKI: But it will be 14 years in 2016 since she cast that vote?
Anyway, I want to thank Norm Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute,
Irin Carmon of msnbc.com and Amanda Terkel of "The Huffington Post."
The Emmys are tonight. And there is a show about politics is up for nine
awards. And I don`t want it to win any.
KORNACKI: I`ll tell you why next.
KORNACKI: So, I like to think that I`m a pretty level-headed person, kind
of even keeled, don`t lose my cool that easily, I like to think that at
least. But sometimes I can`t help myself.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: It tells at one point that the balance in the House is 218
Democrats and 216 Republicans. So it is pretty narrow. And he literally
murders one of his own Democratic members.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What kind of a whip would do that?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: That is going crazy, I was losing my cool, I was talking about a
TV show, it`s "House of Cards," it`s up for nine Emmys tonight. I go crazy
thinking about it. I`m going to try to explain it. That`s after this.
KORNACKI: So, a guy goes to a doctor and he says, doctor, it hurts when I
do this. The doctor says, so don`t do that. Sorry, it`s an old joke. But
also, it is pretty good advice, if it hurts, don`t do it anymore. The same
for when you hate something. Like a television show. If you don`t like
it, then don`t watch it anymore. But it turns out a lot of us have a big
problem following that simple piece of advice. So, even given rise to the
phenomenon of hate watching. People who actually get enjoyment out of
hating what they`re watching, and sharing that non-enjoyment with others.
They blog about their hate watching, they live tweet their hate watching,
all of it. A lot of people I know in the news business, for instance, love
to point out all of the flaws and all of the inaccuracies in the Aaron
Sorkin show "The Newsroom." And when it comes to political television, I
have to admit, I teased it earlier, I`ve got my own hate watching passion.
It is "House of Cards." Did I like the Netflix series that is up for nine
Emmy awards tonight? No. I hated it.
KORNACKI: But that did not stop me from binge watching all 13 episodes of
it. When "House of Cards" premiered, I couldn`t wait to watch it. I love
politics. I love to watch a good, original, dramatic series about
politics. But with each episode, my disappointment grew. And some were in
the middle of the season, that letdown turned into pure unadulterated
animosity. By the end, I wasn`t sure if I was - if I kept watching out of
some vague ill-defined hope that it would somehow get better or if I
actually wanted it to be bad, so I could tell everyone I know how bad I
thought it was. All I know is that they`re apparently making a second
season and I have a feeling I`m going to be watching that too. Granted, I
am proudly holding the show to too high of a standard. I write about
politics, I do a show about politics, I bore people at parties with stories
about politics from 1978, so, I`m sure I exaggerate the show`s crimes
against political reality. I`m also sure it works the other way. Never
takes more than a few seconds on Twitter to realize there are plenty of
people who hate watch me. So, it`s only fair. If I`m going to dish it
out, I better be able to take it.
But please don`t think I hate every show and every movie about politics.
There are some good ones. For instance, I loved the British version of
"House of Cards," which aired in the early 1990s, and yes, I hate that I
just said, because saying you prefer the British version of something is
probably one of the definitions of pretension.
But anyway, here we are on any Sunday, there is a political show up for a
bunch of awards, there is a show on HBO that`s about a political news show,
there`s another show on HBO about a vice president. So, let`s talk about
political television, let`s talk about hate watching. Maybe we`ll try to
redeem our souls a little bit, too and talk about what we like. And here
to help us do that, we still have with us singer, songwriter and fan of the
show "VIP," we`ll get into that, Carole King. We have Glynnis MacNicol,
she`s a writer and cofounder of "The List," the contributor to "Capital New
York." She wrote the weekly recaps for "The Newsroom." They weren`t
exactly the most positive recaps of that show. Although she has some
competition in that regard, which brings us to NBC News White House
producer and prolific life-twitter of "The Newsroom" Shawna Thomas and we
have Jeff Smith, he is a former Missouri state senator. The lawmaker who
has written about what "House of Cards" gets right and what it doesn`t.
So let`s start with "House of Cards." I will try to make my indictment
against the show. If you watched it, hopefully you can follow along with
this. I don`t particularly like the Kevin Spacey character. And Kevin
Spacey plays the House Majority whip, the Democratic whip in Congress. And
I don`t like him because I think they miss a basic element of any
politician. That is how does this guy get elected? Who would ever like
this guy? Who would ever want to vote for this guy? He doesn`t even fake
the nice guy thing. Doesn`t even pretend to fake nice guy thing. Just
constantly walks around angry at the world, you know, contempt for
everybody around him, doesn`t even mask it. I don`t buy that. But the
thing I really don`t buy about the show, this is - this is - he`s the House
majority whip, he`s charged with counting votes in the House of
Representatives. He has, we find out at one point he has 218 votes, it`s
like the bear minimum you can have. And he takes one of his members, one
of his fellow Democratic members and he murders him.
KORNACKI: What the heck kind of a whip would do that?
JEFF SMITH, (R ), FMR. MISSOURI STATE SENATOR: It may have been a very
safe district that .
SMITH: They win it in the special election.
KORNACKI: Typical of (inaudible), but OK.
SMITH: It`s going to be three or four months, so we would need that vote.
KORNACKI: That`s right. Yeah, that`s right.
GLYNNIS MACNICOL, THE LIST: Don`t you look at the current elected
officials and think how did many of these people get elected? I don`t
think they present him as the -- you don`t see him as sort of the forward
facing person he puts to the public, I think "House of Cards" is the behind
the scenes view of what is really going on. And I think the country right
now thinks what is really going on because there doesn`t seem to be a lot
happening in D.C. So I think -- I find that more believable.
KORNACKI: That`s true. On my list of 7,000 indictments of "House of
Cards," that`s number 5800. So, I probably shouldn`t have led with it.
But you got me - but no .
SHAWNA THOMAS, NBS NEWS WHITE HOSUE PRODUCER: There is something -- I do
like the show. I think it has some issues. I have some real issues with
how the female journalists are portrayed in the show. But there is
something about a show that is based around the guy who is the House
majority whip that is an inside D.C. person, which I will totally coop to,
I am an inside D.C. person, I enjoy that idea. I enjoy this idea that he
has to find votes and has to count them and that that is part of actually
what happens in Congress. So that part I really like. I also like the
relationship between the two lead characters. Kevin Spacey and Robin
Wright`s character. I think there is something very real in this idea of
two people who are together not just for convenience, there is some kind of
love there, but there is some passion and need for success that they have
made a deal with each other. And you have some shades of Clinton in there.
And I am fascinated by that relationship.
KORNACKI: We have a clip from it here. Let`s play this - I think this is
one of the - this is one of the first things you see if you start watching
the series, this is like the first minute or so of the first episode, Kevin
Spacey and a wounded dog. Let`s play that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEVIN SPACEY: It`s OK. There are two kinds of pain. The sort of pain
that makes you strong. Or useless pain. Sort of pain that is only
suffering. I have no patience for useless things. Moments like this
require someone who will act and do the unpleasant thing, the necessary
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: So he murders a dog and we`re off and running. Welcome to
"House of Cards," ladies and gentlemen. Jeff, you have written about what
do you make of this series?
SMITH: First of all, I do like it. So I think you`re outnumbered on your
KING: I`m with Steve.
KORNACKI: Thank you.
SMITH: But to your point, Shawna, about the counting of votes, there was
another scene that really tested reality. You know, it is 218-216 House
and you`ve got the House majority whip and the bill sponsor having
champagne while the votes going down. Anybody who`s ever served as a
legislator as an aide on Capitol Hill .
KORNACKI: They are not even in the building when that happens, right?
SMITH: Well, they are across town, isn`t that what - he`s (inaudible)
across town, when they votes happen.
SMITH: If you`re a whip or the bill sponsor, you`re on the floor.
SMITH: You`re counting every no, somebody might be in the bathroom,
somebody might be in traffic and you`re just trying to make sure that you
have every single vote. So, that really, you know, it tested my faith in
the reality of the show. However, I think overall, they do a really good
job, but Willimon, the writer who is from St. Louis, as I am, he does a
really good job of taking characters, writing them, doing terrible things
and actually creating some pretty likable people whereas Aaron Sorkin on
"The Newsroom" does the exact opposite, which he`s trying to write
characters doing good things and they`re all terribly unlikable.
KORNACKI: Well, let`s get into that then. Let`s because - this is -
Shawna, this is your hate watching passion.
THOMAS: It is.
KORNACKI: Why? Tell us why?
THOMAS: It is my hate watching passion. I think as a television news
producer, I was excited. I like Aaron Sorkin shows. I loved the "West
Wing" still love the "West Wing". Really excited about an inside the news
kind of show. And then I get this where it appears that he didn`t ask
anybody how making television news works. So I have that problem. I have
issues with, like, the way they are in the control room, just all the
little things which are the nitpicky things I talk about on twitter. But
also, the women, I think are not written very well. I think the E.P. of
the show, I think the A.P. in the show, that these are women who have if
they acted the way they do on that show, if they were hysterical, if they
were crying, if they were worried about their relationship, right before
every episode is going to air, they wouldn`t have those jobs in television
news. It did not represent me at all and that really upset me.
MACNICOL: Yeah. Exponentially I agree with everything you said. I think
just to bring it back to the opening of "House of Cards," they set up a
premise of drama and sort of a suspension of disbelief as required to think
Kevin Spacey is talking to the camera and as he would address you. In the
Newsroom, right out of the barrel, Aaron Sorkin sets up this show to be a
critique of the media as it happened and, by the way, here is everything
you did wrong. And throughout the show, he gets everything incorrect. So
he`s telling the media that these are all the things you did wrong and I`m
going to correct you, but I`m not going to do due diligence on my end to
figure out how it actually works.
KORNACKI: It is strange, like the way that show is set up, it`s events
from two years ago, this - so he gets the benefit of hindsight to tell you
this is how it should be, but it doesn`t look forward and say this is how
it should be.
MACNICOL: But he hasn`t actually bothered to figure out how it was. I`m
not sure he spent any time on the Internet to understand the Internet`s
influence on the news media cycle at all. I mean it was astounding to me
how many things he got incorrect or how many storylines he didn`t bother to
write as it would have actually happened or the influence of Twitter, even
four square, and then little things, and then going back to a point about
the women characters were just so relentlessly insulting that by probably
through the middle of the second season, I thought - I think he is doing
this on purpose. I think he`s bored and he`s trying to troll us.
KORNACKI: Carole, what do you hate to watch? Do you hate watch anything?
KING: I don`t.
KING: Life is too short.
KORNACKI: You`re a too nice person.
KING: No, life is too short. I mean if I couldn`t really get through the
"House of Cards." I tried to watch a few episodes, I just couldn`t get
through them. It`s like I hate this. Sorry. But the thing to be
recognized is that it is entertainment. The primary purpose of these shows
is to entertain. And at that, they`re successful. People are watching
them, whether they hate them or they like them. What upsets me a little
bit about it is yes, it is entertainment, but it has an influence on
people. And if people think that`s the way news media works or that`s the
way television -- politics works, that`s a little bit of a problem.
KORNACKI: We`ll pick this up on the other side. I will explain my -- the
number one problem I have with Aaron Sorkin, I guess, through "The West
Wing." I know there is a lot of disagreement on this set about "The West
Wing." We`re going to continue that. We`ll get to that. And we`ll also
talk about what we like. We`ll did a little bit of it, too, after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Of course,
everybody has got plenty of advice, Maureen Dowd said I could solve all my
problems if I were just more like Michael Douglas in "the American
OBAMA: And I know Michael is here tonight. Michael, what is your secret,
man? Could it be that you were an actor in an Aaron Sorkin liberal
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: I think that was my favorite line from the president`s speech at
the correspondents` dinner earlier this year. It does get me to - the
Sorkin thing kind of drives me crazy. I`m not the biggest fan of "The West
Wing," of "The American President." I have a lot - my number one gripe
about all the Sorkin stuff, actually, has nothing to really do with
politics, it`s for the characters never say um. Every single character is
the most selfish, self-possessed, who can launch into this just seamless -
I wrote about it - I`m already going to say um right now, because I can`t
know what I`m going to say next. But every character for Aaron Sorkin just
so self-assured, so self-confident, I just - I wished - they all seem the
same to me. That`s my biggest problem with Aaron Sorkin, but the thing
that Obama`s point there is kind of interesting too, and it`s like, how
many people watch a show like -- watch a movie like "The American
President," watch a show like "The West Wing," watch a show like "The
Newsroom" and say this is the reality and their expectations for reality
are maybe distorted in a not helpful way by that?
THOMAS: I think - I think maybe a little in that, you know, it is the --
the West Wing is a liberal - liberal fantasy world. And so, you get to
pretend like, you know, the president will always do the right thing. But
what it did, I think was introduced a lot of people across the country,
when, you know, NBC kept the show on the air, to the idea of politics, in
Washington, and I think there is something to be said for that, even if it
is a liberal fantasy and it wasn`t done exactly in the way that it actually
MACNICOL: But I think, too, it was a much different time period those
shows came out, we`re talking about the Clinton administration, Lewinsky
scandal and a lot of very -- the sort of country turning very cynical and
Aaron Sorkin rewrote this idea of what we hoped the president would be, or
what we hoped Washington would be like. And I think it was a fantasy, but
a fantasy in a way that made people -- reminded people what we should be
wanting out of our government, which I think is different than leading
people to believe this is actually how the government worked.
KING: Absolutely. It lifted people, it made people think of higher
aspirations and "House of Cards" is an example of something that I think
does the opposite. And you mentioned whip, because I wrote you an email,
so - what I love about whip, it`s like there is no way you`re going to
think that`s real. No one is going to think that`s real. It is purely
entertainment, it is like in the curb mode, you know, it`s like no one is
that much of a, you know what.
KING: But that`s what .
KORNACKI: It captures the indignity of the vice presidency or anybody who
has a job sort of with the same, you know .
KING: Yes, and the extremes, to which somebody could take being shallow
and callous and self-centered, but in a way where, you know, you almost
believe this -- these people in "House of Cards," but, you know, you don`t.
And the other thing I just want to say about the whole concept of lifting,
I want to come back to that, because in my work, look, everybody knows, oh,
yeah, Carole King, Pollyanna (ph), you know, everything is great, you know.
Well, I try, I try to get things there in my own music, in my own work.
And I just wish more people would, you know, be able to do that with the
conviction, with the authenticity. Because I know millennials, for
example, as we discussed before, millennials are pretty cynical. But I
think they`re also yearning for somebody who`s really authentically wanting
to lift us. And I think in a way, Obama was that guy in 2008. And now
he`s the guy who still wants that and he`s constantly going like this,
fending off attacks and fending off just utter stupidity and .
KORNACKI: So there`s that yearning, but then we get Frank Underwood, Kevin
Spacey`s character in "The House of Cards."
SMITH: Yeah, well, still a couple of points about President Obama`s
speech, first of all. As somebody who, you know, supported him and went to
Iowa five times to knock on doors for him, before the caucus. If anybody
raised expectations on Barack Obama, it was Barack Obama. So it`s hard for
him to blame someone else for that. Now, to your point, Carole, about the
cynicism that shows like this breed, when we see the clash between our
idealism and what a frank underwood looks like, I think we have to also
think about what`s going on in Washington today. People are lamenting the
polarization, you know, you have these far-right guys and nobody can get
along with them. And, you know, "House of Cards" portrays a world totally
different than that. "House of Cards" portrays a world where people don`t
care about policy or ideology at all and are just playing a game. You can
say that hey, it`s a show we should be cynical about, but actually, maybe
we should be happy. And I`m not condoning the Tea Party`s tactics, but
these are people who strongly believe in a lot of the things that they`re
doing. And so the picture that a lot of people are disappointed in
Washington today is very different from the cynicism that pervades "House
MACNICOL: I also think it`s important to remember the Internet has
introduced the level of transparency into the workings of every industry
that doesn`t allow for a lot of fantasy or idealism. That we get to see
the nitty-gritty. Politicians, celebrities, whoever, that doesn`t allow us
to sort of put them on such a pedestal and believe that they`re capable of
only good and no evil. And I think what we`re seeing is that filter down
into our television on every level. And it would be very hard, I think,
for -- I love "the West Wing" and I`ve gone back and watched it just to
make sure it`s still a good show, but I think it would be very heart for
"the West Wing" to succeed as a show today. I don`t think we have the
capacity for that sort of phantasy right now, I think it - to nitpick the
"Newsroom" is one thing, I think, if "The West Wing" arrived today, your
head would explode five minutes in.
KORNACKI: I felt that as a Washington real-time. I might go - I go re-
watch "The West Wing" for a very different reason, but (inaudible) I know
I`m outnumbered on "The West Wing" I will stop saying stuff about it.
What should we know today for the week ahead, our answers are coming right
KORNACKI: So it`s time to find out what our guests think we should know
for the week ahead. And we`ll start with you, Shawna.
THOMAS: So, what I think we should know is that since we were talking
about television and Emmys, Kerry Washington is nominated for an Emmy
tonight as best lead actress in a drama series. A black woman has never
won in the 65 years of prime-time Emmys, never won. Only nine nominations,
only five women have been nominated, and it will be interesting to see if
she makes history. And I don`t think it`s about the awards itself, I think
it`s about the entertainment business. I think there are enough roles for
black women. So, when you tune in tonight, she may make history, she`s a
fellow GWU alum. So, go, Kerry Washington.
KORNACKI: I`ll cheer for her. Especially if she`s up against someone from
"House of Cards."
SMITH: This coming weekend, the Conservative Political Action Conference
has their annual conference in St. Louis, and one of the sponsors is Right
on Crime. That`s the sort of libertarian leading group, and Rand Paul has
been a leader in the movement from the right, making what sounds an awful
lot like a progressive critique against mandatory minimums in this country.
And Ari Melber, your replacement on "The Cyclist," talked eloquently about
it. It`s something to really watch in the weeks and months ahead.
KORNACKI: OK. And Carole?
KING: In nine days on October 1ST, anyone who doesn`t have health
insurance can go to healthcare.com and sign up and get affordable, quality
care. You should do it. For you and your family.
KORNACKI: The exchanges are opening. And Glynnis?
MACNICOL: There is a really interesting piece that ran the other day,
about "Grand Theft Auto Pie" was just released, and huge, huge thing. It`s
sold out hundreds and millions of copies. It was just talking - we talked
about HBO series, there`s the new novel, and there was a really interesting
piece about video games of this sort of detail being the new novel and what
that means to storytelling. And 45 percent of games are women, and so I
think there`s a lot of interesting things to think about how we portray
women in storytelling and, you know, the creative nature of going forward
in this new platform.
KORNACKI: OK. I want to thank NBC`s Shawna Thomas, former Missouri State
Senator Jeff Smith, Carole King, and Glynnis MacNicol of "The List."
Thanks for getting up and thank you all for joining us today. Next
weekend, our guests will include Woodrow Wilson biographer A. Scott Berg,
and the "Victory Lab" author, journalist Sasha Issenberg and up next is
Melissa Harris-Perry and we`ll see you next week here on "UP."
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