UP with STEVE KORNACKI
October 27, 2013
Guest: L. Joy Williams, Robert George, Reid Wilson, Norm Ornstein, Bob
Franken, Kate Nocera, Evan Thomas
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC ANCHOR: The prognosis for post-shutdown Washington
isn`t good, and there is a reason. We`re all feeling a little lonely, so
we`re special glad you decided to join us today. Spend any time looking
for the political middle these days, you`ll find yourself in a no man`s
land, wondering where anybody else has gone. Was our system designed to
work in an era of hyperpolarization? We`ll explain in a minute.
Also, he is marching even farther to the right the way for the Republican
Party to win back the White House? There is a real time test playing out
right now and the results aren`t very encouraging for the Tea Party. We`ll
tell you about that test in a little bit. You know how every political
scandal gets branded a gate, as we mark the anniversary of the Saturday
night massacre, we`ll revisit the scandal that started it all and we`ll
talk about what it has to say about presidential authority today. And
finally, other political talk shows may promise you they`ll have no spin,
but we`ll be embracing the concept this morning in a very literal way.
We`ll tell you about that in a little bit.
But first, this is the bull weevil, it`s a minuscule beetle, it`s just six
millimeters in length with a huge snout designed to gnaw through cotton
buds, the tiny pests. Since no pesticide can fully eradicate it, it has
the power to destroy thousands of acres of cotton bite by bite. Bull
weevil crippled the Southern economy throughout the 1920s and then in the
1950s it made a comeback as a political symbol. There have been the
donkeys and there have been the elephants for decades, but now Southern
Democrats who oppose their national party`s shifts toward racial
integration and more liberal economic agenda were proudly calling
themselves bull weevils. Moniker picked up more steam in 1980s when
Democrats controlled the House. Massachusetts liberal Tip O`Neill was the
speaker. But because there were dozens of Southern bull weevils happy to
buck their party, President Ronald Reagan actually had functional control
of the chamber for the first two years of his presidency. And bull weevils
of the 1980s were Democrats like Larry McDonald, who was named chairman of
the far right John Birch Society in 1983. McDonald appeared on a very
early, very funny to watch now version of CNN`s "Crossfire" that year and
faced questions about the Birch Society`s attempts to steady a right wing
takeover of local parent teacher associations.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOM BRADEN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to "Crossfire." I guess there`s the
new chairman recently named chairman of the John Birch Society.
Congressman Larry McDonald, the Democrat from Georgia. Mr. McDonald, your
predecessor believed that the PTA was too left wing and that - and John
Birch Society at one time tried to infiltrate it or so he said, used the
word infiltrate. Is that part of your program now?
LARRY MCDONALD: Well, I think when the PTA comes out in this program for
the test ban treaty and when the PTA comes out for gun control, and comes
out for others national legislative programs that have been linked with
liberaldom, having nothing to do with education of our children, like many
people are wondering what in the world is the PTA doing and that includes
members of the John Birch Society.
BRIDEN: Well, I wonder about you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Yes, that was a Democratic member of Congress and there were a
lot like him back then. Larry McDonald was tragically killed just a few
months after that taping. When the Soviets shot down Korean Airlines
Flight 007, he left behind dozens of conservative Democrats in Congress
just like him. Around the same time, on the other side of the aisle, there
were Northern liberal Republicans who voted a lot more like Democrats than
the bull weevils did. Take, for example, New York Republican Senator Jacob
Javitz. After two decades in the Senate as a Republican, he was defeated
in 1980 by a primary challenger from the right, Al D`Amato. But the
Liberal Party, an old institution of New York state politics, had a ballot
line of its own and offered its endorsement to Javitz, who took it and ran
against the motto in the general election.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: Jacob Javitz, 24 years in the Senate, and D`Amato made much of
Javitz age, health and liberal views.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, I see you`re wearing a Javitz button.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah, he`s my candidate.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you kidding? He`ll be 82 if he finishes his term
and he voted with Jimmy Carter 82 percent of the time.
ANNOUNCER: So, now Javitz is officially a liberal, running on the state`s
Liberal Party ticket. But still planning to vote for Reagan and finding no
contradiction in that.
SEN. JACOB JAVITZ (R) NEW YORK: I will appeal to all the people of New
York on the ground that I can the best represent them all, whether they`re
Democrats, Republicans, Liberal Party, independent, conservative. I can
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Javitz candidacy ended up splitting the Democratic vote and it
made Al D`Amato a U.S. Senator. But still, a sizable contingent of liberal
Republicans in Congress back in those days and like conservative Democrats,
they also self-identified with an insect, the gypsy moth. (INAUDIBLE), he
was a liberal Republican from Connecticut said he chose the term because
the leaf eating gypsy moth is as much of a nuisance in the North as the
bull weevil is in the South. Well, these metaphorical pests, these
political factions tormented their parties throughout the `70s and the
`80s, even into the 1990s. They`re now mostly extinct. By and large
liberal Republicans either switched parties or lost elections. The same is
true for the bull weevils. And Democratic and Republican Parties were once
big tents that incorporated extensive geographic cultural, even ideological
diversity. But that era looks more and more like a historical fluke, a
blip. It played out in the decades after civil rights legislation upended
the two political parties.
When Democrat Lyndon Johnson championed the passage of civil rights
legislation, he was backed by Northern Republicans, and he was bucked by
conservative Southern Democrats. For a while, these progressive
Republicans and conservative Democrats stuck with their party heritage.
But steadily over the ensuing decades, liberal northerners migrated to the
Democrats, conservative southerners to the Republicans. And each national
party became more ideologically uniform. And voters have recognized this
shift. 40 years ago, a third of voters would split their votes for
Congress and for the president between the two parties. They were ticket
splitters. Back then there were both Democrats and Republicans that
appealed to the same individual voter. Compare that with last year when
not even one in ten voters split their votes between the parties. It`s a
record low. If you`re right of center today, if you identify with the
conservative tribe, with red America, there is little reason to vote
anything but Republican, and likewise, if you`re left - If you`re identify
with the left of tribe, with blue America, there is little reason for you
to vote anything but Democratic.
The parties have basically sorted themselves out which leaves few natural
bipartisan coalitions in Congress anymore. One party believes in the right
to abortion, the other doesn`t. One party believes in large cuts to the
social safety net, the other doesn`t. One party believes in raising taxes
on the wealthy, the other doesn`t. So, it encourages the two parties to
function as distinct entities that never really cooperate, that never
really work together. But are at war with each other. And that means
using every legislative tool to fight the other party. In the Obama era,
the Republicans have taken this concept to a whole new level. They have
perfected obstructionism. First, they killed off simple majority rule in
the Senate. The upper chamber now requires a super majority of 60 votes to
pass pretty much anything. Senate Republicans have also effectively
hamstrung the executive branch with filibuster threats against dozens of
Obama`s nominees. And now with Republicans controlling the House, they
managed to shut down the government for the first time in 17 years. The
first time since the last time a Democratic president and Republican House
tried to co-exist. And they also nearly caused the U.S. Treasury to
A party that has zero interest in cooperating with the other party, a party
whose base draws its energy from the conviction that it must fight the
other party on everything has the power to do all of this in a political
system that depends on some level of bipartisan cooperation when there is
divided government. And as Washington emerges from the shutdown drama this
past month, as we all ask what now, well, it looks like we`re going to be
stuck in this mess for a while. It`s hard for Democrats to look back at
the last three plus years and not conclude that the only way that it will
accomplish anything substantial is if they control the White House, a 60
vote super majority in the Senate and the House, all at once, like they did
for part of Obama`s first two years in office.
But the absolute earliest they could take back the House is 13 months from
now, in the 2014 midterms. The odds of them pulling that off, even though
the GOP is racking up epically terrible poll numbers right now, the odds of
that are not very good. Divided government is very likely to be the rule
for the rest of the Obama presidency and maybe well after it.
We dodged a default earlier this month and the government is open for
business again. Is there any reason to think the gridlock that has defined
the last three years will end in any meaningful way anytime soon? Was this
system of ours designed to work and in the time we`re now living, in a time
of ideologically sorted out parties, of ideologically sorted out voters, a
time of intense polarization? We`ll talk about it, I want to bring in L.
Joy Williams, she`s a political strategist and founder of the public affair
from L.J.W of Community Strategies, we have Reid Wilson who covers state
politics and policy for the "Washington Post" govbit blog. Robert George,
columnist with the "New York Post" and former aide to then House Speaker
Newt Gingrich, Norm Ornstein, 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." Also a resident scholar at the
American Enterprise Institute.
And Norm, I`ll start with you. Because I think I bored heavily from what
you have written in the last couple of years about the state of Washington
right now, and specifically how things have changed in the Republican
Party, in the Obama era. And I guess the question I just start with you is
looking ahead, taking from now to the 2014 midterms, we`re out of the
shutdown, we`re away from the default drama, is there any reason to expect
that anything in Washington is going to change in the next year before the
NORM ORNSTEIN, "IT`S EVEN WORSE THAN IT LOOKS": It gets harder and harder,
Steve, partly because the midterms approach and especially over the next
six months. An awful lot of Republicans and now we see a number of them in
the Senate fearing primary challenges, all pulling them even further to the
right. And whether that results in any impetus towards a compromise, it is
hard to see it happening. You know, the frustrating thing here is as we
move towards this budget conference with the deadline of mid-December,
there is every reason objectively pragmatically for the two parties to get
this debt issue off the table for now. It`s not working to anybody`s
advantage. And it is not difficult if you`re in normal politics to find
the kind of compromise and give and take that could get us there. But
there is this huge obstacle in the way and that is the polarization that
you describe so well.
KORNACKI: And we can illustrate the polarization. Bear with me in a
second. We have a graph that sort of explains the evolution of the House.
This takes it from the last 30 years, 1982 to 2012 and it sort of shows the
ideological overlap in the House, where you basically - you take the most
liberal Republican, the most conservative Democrat, and how many members
from both parties sort of fit in between there. So, that`s where you - you
have a lot of room for sort of bipartisanship. And I mean look at that.
30 years ago, there were 344 combined between the two parties. And the
last year, the last time they took this, 11, that`s - I mean - that`s what
we`re left with. And I just - it leaves me with the question that I
started to raise there, I mean was this system of ours even really designed
to function when the two parties are sort of completely sorted out and
separate like that.
L. JOY WILLIAMS, POLITICAL STRATEGIST: Well, some of our founding fathers
said this, you know, talked about sort of the difficulty with people
aligning with the party, and people trying to hold on to party ideals
instead of thinking for themselves or thinking what is best for the
country. This is what they feared. John Adams, George Washington in his
farewell speech talked about parties and people following that leadership,
or following those hard lines and not particularly following what is good
for the country.
And we can`t have people -- we can`t function as a government where people
who are in government don`t believe in government, you know. It is
difficult to do that. And even though you can see sort of in Congress,
sort of this ideological shift, the American people are not like that.
People are identified as independents, you know, 37 percent, I think of
Americans identify sort of in the middle or moderate, so the American
people aren`t like that. And so, they`re not even listening to the people
they`re supposed to be governing.
ROBERT GEORGE, "THE NEW YORK POST": Well, the question is, though, maybe
they are, because one of the things your initial segment didn`t really
focus on is the fact that on the one hand, as you said, people are
identifying more as independent. In fact, as the parties actually
technically are shrinking, the people who think of themselves as
independent has grown. But the other side of it is they`re also
ideologically and geographically self-selecting. So people who end up
going to like, say, Texas and the South, you know, they start to -- even if
they didn`t necessarily think of themselves as conservative when they got
there, they start associating with various folks and then they become more
conservative. And the same thing happens to those people who end up in
blue parts of the country as well. So, it is not surprising that they then
end up sending people to Congress who start reflecting their values.
KORNACKI: You get to the point that I`m kind of interested in, I`m sort of
-- I`m trying to figure out, is there such a thing and really was there
ever such a thing as a real big vibrant political middle. Because like,
Robert, you can point out that the number of people who are registered as
independents or who will say they`re independents grows, but as we also
said in the introduction there, ticket splitting, people who go out and
vote, you know, I`m voting for Romney for president, I`m voting for, you
know, a Democrat for Congress, and trying to think of a liberal Democrat,
I`m blanking, but basically - you know .
KORNACKI: Carolyn Maloney, there is one. But it doesn`t happen anymore.
And it just makes me wonder was there ever much of a political middle there
or was it just more confusion?
REID WILSON, WASHINGTONPOST.COM: I think there was, and you got to it a
little bit in the beginning. There used to be four parties in Congress.
There were the liberal Republicans and the liberal Democrats, the
conservative Republicans and the conservative Democrats. What we`re seeing
now is a -- the parties themselves are becoming more homogenous. That`s
what "The National Journal" chart shows, that their vote rankings are
showing that Republicans are voting with Republicans more often, Democrats
with Democrats more often. And that reflects, I think, a - sort of a
broadening of how we play politics these days. All politics is local, Tip
O`Neill said. It is not really anymore. Because the conservative
activists and the liberal activists in Washington, D.C. or wherever they
happen to be based, I`m thinking of Erick Erickson and red state -
redstate.com, it can start playing in - yeah, moveon.org, all those - can
start playing in primaries where they`re completely separate from their
thousands of miles away.
I was really struck by a piece in yesterday`s "Washington Post" by my
colleague Paul Cane who went down to Tennessee, he was following Lamar
Alexander around, and Lamar Alexander`s opponent, one of the state reps who
was trying to primary Alexander from the right, said that he would really
have a great chance if all the outside money from Washington would come in.
The outside groups, Heritage Action Fund, Club for Growth, groups like that
get involved in that campaign. You now have a guy running for office in
Tennessee who is depending on money from Washington instead of building a
grassroots movement from Tennessee.
ORNSTEIN: There is a couple of problems here, though, worth pointing out.
You can have sharp ideological polarization and partisan polarization, the
plenty of issues which are not inherently ideological if you want to work
together. What has happened in part two is the phenomenon of the permanent
campaign. If you look at that era of the bull weevils and the gypsy moths,
the Democrats had hegemony in the House, because they had the conservative
Democrats join with the liberals to make a majority for 40 consecutive
years. For a good portion of that, Republicans decided that the only way
they could participate was to compromise and work together. After Newt
Gingrich took the Republicans into a majority in 1994, every election since
you can imagine the majority shifting and now you get this conscious
effort. If we work with them, it may reduce our chances of being in the
So what you`ve seen now -- it gets back to your original point and really
what is the thesis of the book, you have a conscious parliamentary minority
party on the Republicans. They`ve decided even in areas where they were
for things last month, they`re not going to be for them now because it
might work to the advantage of Barack Obama and Democrats. How you operate
and make policy in a situation like that is the dilemma we face and is
putting enormous stress on the system and on the economy.
KORNACKI: And we`ll pick this up after the break, one of the issues there
is that seems to have been if you look at Mitch McConnell, even some of the
public statements he made at the start of the Obama presidency, sort of -
there was an intentional calculation on the part of the Republicans, but it
was a calculation that in some ways has paid off and is continuing to pay
off for them politically. Even though they didn`t win the White House -
We`ll pick that up after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OLYMPIA SNOWE, FORMER U.S. SENATOR: Certainly there are broad elements
within the party now that are driving their own agenda for their own
advantage, irrespective of, you know, what implications it has for the
Republican Party. And certainly this isn`t a party that I recognize and
the party that I joined when I, you know, first enrolled. And that`s
regrettable. And this is not helping the Republican Party currently.
That`s for sure.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Ms. Olympia Snowe, former senator from Maine, she is one of the
last, you know, few authentic, I`d say moderate Republicans on Capitol
Hill. One of the few Republicans who voted for President Obama`s stimulus
at the start of his presidency. But it takes up to the point I was
starting to talk about before the break, and that is, you know, she`s
talking about how it is not helping the Republican Party. But if you look
at the state of the Republican Party when President Obama came to office in
2009, Democrats were looking at 60 votes in the Senate and overwhelming
House majority, they had control of the White House, and Republicans just
by basically adopting the idea of we`re going to obstruct and fight
everything, we`re going to be into daily partisan war, permanent campaign
mode, they won`t back the House the next year, they`re a lot closer in the
Senate now than they were at the start of President Obama`s term. They
didn`t win back the White House, but they have been able to get sort of a
foothold on Capitol Hill, a foothold in the federal government, and they
have been able to do - you know, I mean look, the government, we`re just
talking about a government shutdown here, we`re talking about, you know,
the sequester, we`re talking -- they have been able to do a lot with a
little -- without having the presidency. I wonder if you`re a conservative
Republican today and you look at this and you say, yeah, you know, there is
an incentive here for us to keep going.
WILLIAMS: Well, it`s definitely an incentive if the focus of - in the
whole mission is to win as opposed to governing. Right? So, if you`re
trying to win as you mentioned a permanent campaign and sort of constantly
be up and be won and we`re able to obstruct things, I mean yes, this works
for you. But if you want to actually govern the country, and actually do
something that affects American people, this doesn`t work. And that`s what
we`re seeing, and so you see - and I just want to get back to the American
people for a minute, because we`re talking about sort of the partisanship
of elected officials, but I wonder if we had a chart also to chart sort of
the extreme partisan and also the amount of people that actually
participate in the system or actually vote -- and then do we weed out
people who are not interested - you know, sort of not interested in that
fight and then get people or who vote who are invested in this partisanship
and then that`s why you have what we have now.
WILSON: One thing I think we`re seeing here is the -- a difference in
interests. You`ve got a small number of Republican leaders who are paying
attention to the interests of the Republican Party at large. And I would
put Mitch McConnell in that category, the guy who made the debt deal that
ended up, you know, reopening the government, I would put John Boehner in
that category, the sort of - the Republican leadership. But then you have
a lot of other members either running -- who want to run for re-election or
who want to run for president in 2016 who have self-interest in mind and
self-interest means being against that, which is not perfectly
conservative. There are 30 or 40 members in the House who would vote
against almost anything that the leadership endorses and certainly anything
that President Obama endorses because to their constituents, they can`t be
for anything that the president is for. And, by the way, anything that
House leadership is for is not sufficiently conservative. It helps them
with their constituents back home. So you`ve got that sort of divergent
interest here, one side looking out for the national party, the other side
looking out for their own re-election.
KORNACKI: What`s the difference between the two parties, Robert, though,
doesn`t it - because I`m thinking back to when George W. Bush was president
and Democrats, they gave him some cooperation, especially early in his
term, on some of his domestic agenda. And it just strikes me that --
GEORGE: And obviously on foreign policy after 9/11 too.
KORNACKI: Right. If the conservative movement, if today`s Tea Party
conservative movement really is just about like just dismantling the
government, they just - we don`t like the government, we don`t want the
government, we want to dismantle the government, then obstructionism sort
of plays to their favor because they can end up shutting down the
government without doing any deal-making, without reaching across the
lines. But if you`re a Democrat and your vision is a little - more
expansive government, and more vibrant social safety net, and you have a
Republican president coming to office and he offers you, hey, -- Medicare,
you know, Part D, No Child Left Behind, something like this, you`re going
to work a little bit because you`re getting a little bit what you want.
GEORGE: The Republicans from their base perspective, they were sent there
to do things like, you know, stop spending, and stop Obamacare and things
like that. So if their voters are telling them that the first thing that
they want them to do is stop, either on the spending side or a program
side, that`s what - you know, that`s what they`re doing. And amazingly
enough, I mean when Newt Gingrich took over in 1994, the Republicans had
the House and the Senate. And an argument could be made that the
Republican House is as effective or even more effective just in terms of
just the House in terms of stymieing what this Democrat wants to do.
Though I do want to say one other thing, we also are looking at trends that
are going across the parties, like, for example, we`re talking about the 60
vote -- the 60 vote level in the Senate. That actually started under the -
- under the Democrats when they were in the minority, blocking Bush
KORNACKI: It started really under Clinton with the Republicans. You know,
I think that`s -- in 1993, sort of the key date, I think, on the
GEORGE: Yeah, but each - at each time whoever is in the minority tries to
figure out how to maximize the leverage the minority has and that`s part of
the reason why we now -- it is basically 60 votes on every vote.
KORNACKI: There is more of an incentive for the anti-government party,
just uniformly obstructs --
ORNSTEIN: No doubt. And if you look at the filibusters, it`s like the
difference between jaywalking and vehicular homicide.
ORNSTEIN: But, you know, it is one thing -- it is one thing if you want to
dismantle government. I, you know, I watched Ted Cruz yesterday in Iowa
saying, you know what we should be talking about is jobs in the economy.
And I`m thinking, right, so you shut down the government, cost the economy
$24 billion, put lots of people out of work, there`s a good way to get the
economy moving. You know, when Cruz was doing his filibuster, a friend of
mine emailed me and said, remember what the King said in "Shrek." You
know, this -- in this operation some people may die, but that`s the
sacrifice I`m willing to make. It really is a destructive policy. And I
think ultimately destructive for the Republican Party, we`re seeing it in
the numbers now, even if they can hold the House, but it is really
destructive for the country. Even if you want smaller government, you
don`t want to shut the economy down.
WILSON: Here is what I would be worried about going forward if I were a
Republican strategist, sort of more in line with the Mitch McConnell, John
Boehner trying to be the adults in the room. Looking out for the party at
large. If they go through the 2014 elections and there are a couple of
Senate races where conservative members knock off more moderate members,
you know, something like Ted Cruz happens, the most conservative candidate
wins in Texas, than ends up in the Senate and Ted Cruz and Mike Lee have a
few reinforcements going forward what is to stop the Republican primary
voter in 2016 from saying, great, we got this, this is how we win, we go
all the way, you know, as hard conservative as possible and run the Barry
Goldwater purity ticket and then end up losing 45 states. So, if I were a
Republican strategist type, I would be rooting really hard for guys like
Lamar Alexander and Lindsey Graham and all the old guard establishment
Republicans who are running in primaries now who have got to win in
GEORGE: Except the way the states are basically locked in. I don`t - I
can`t see any kind of a repeat of the Goldwater -- I mean I see -- I take
your point and that could still happen, but I don`t see a case where it`s
going to be 45 .
WILSON: 45 is too high for ceiling, for 35 is possible.
KORNACKI: Yeah, we`ll pick that up on the other side. We still have more
to go with this and we`ll get right after this break.
KORNACKI: So, we`re trying to talk about how Washington could start
working at some point in the foreseeable future when you have two parties
that are just -- there is very little ideological overlap between two
parties and very little incentive to compromise. And I guess what I`m
always trying to figure out is if this is an issue of - is there some kind
of systemic reform that needs to take place, does the system itself need to
be changed. Because I`ve heard the argument that basically, you know, the
way things have evolved in Washington, it functions like a parliamentary
system, except that our system is not designed to be a parliamentary system
where the opposition party just says no to everything. Just fights
everything. So is there some systemic reform or I`ve also heard that the
case made that basically this is a problem of Republican Party dysfunction.
I know, Norm, that`s something you`ve written about, maybe you could just
talk about that a little bit.
ORNSTEIN: Sure. And, you know, half of the book is really on what can we
do about it. But the fact is unless you do a wholesale change in the
system, and, remember, the culture supports the system. Part of the
problem we have here is you look at the first two Obama years, there was an
awful lot done. We actually got this incredible set of legislative
achievements, but in our culture, if it is done by one party over the
vociferous opposition or the other, which is the way the parliamentary
system works, we don`t accept them as legitimate. Half the country and
half the political process view them as illegitimate.
So, you can`t just change the structures and suddenly expect that
everything will change. But we`ve got to change the structures to change
the culture. And that`s where I think the most important thing is outside
the political institutions, it is enlarging the electorate and taking away
some of the over-winning influence of the ideological extremes and it is
changing the money system back to a point where you can`t have a handful of
people and groups, the Club for Growth, the Koch brothers, Sheldon Adelson
and their ilk and that`s going to happen more on the Democratic side, too,
just dominating this process.
KORNACKI: I mean it just seems to me when you say Republican Party
dysfunction, one of the things that I have had trouble seeing the last
years is what really, what does the Republican Party want right now? Like
if you had to come up with an agenda item, it`s been, you know, we`re
against this that Obama did, we want to dismantle this that Obama did,
oppose this that Obama did - but where is the sort of the proactive policy.
I think back even like the 1990s, when it was Republicans against Bill
Clinton, it was very heated between the Republicans and Bill Clinton. They
impeached him. But Republicans had some agenda item like welfare reform,
or something that Republicans were pushing that Bill Clinton -- I haven`t
seen anything like that from Republicans except just basic opposition for
the last three years.
GEORGE: Well, I mean I think -- I think it is a fair point, and that
probably comes out partly because of the -- of what a large agenda, I
guess, that Obama was pushing through. And I think actually you`re
starting to see that Republicans are realizing they`re going to need to
start putting together an alternative to Obamacare if the current system,
which is - had been - has run into some problems of its own over the last
few weeks starts to fall apart. I think going into 2014, you know who
knows they may actually start to put together a broader platform. I don`t
know whether it`s going to be like contract with America or something like
that, but there definitely has to be more of a -- a pure proactive
legislative agenda going forward.
WILSON: Let me bring up two possible systemic changes. First of all, last
week with not too much fanfare, the House of Representatives passed a
really big bill on water infrastructure. Ports and waterways and canals
and things like that. There were a lot of earmarks in that bill. Earmarks
are not a bad thing. The Congress has the power .
KORNACKI: The return of earmarks.
WILSON: It`s supposed to be able to tell us how -- tell the country how to
spend its money and, by the way, earmarks also give leadership a carrot and
- or a stick. You know, if you vote my way, here you get a project in your
district. If you vote against my way, then I`m going to take the project
out of their district. That`s the in Congress side of the systemic reform
that has gone away in the last couple of years with Republican control of
the House of Representatives. On the electoral side, though, you know, we
hear a lot about gerrymandering, redistricting reform, I think there is
another answer to - how you can promote that sort of engagement of the
middle in both a primary election and the general election. It is
happening in two states right now. It`s the top two primary system,
Washington state and California, both elect members of Congress and all of
their elected officials through a top two system. The top two vote getters
in a primary, regardless of party, go to a general election.
The biggest one that we all paid attention to last year was Brad Sherman
and Howard Berman, two liberal Democrats running in the San Fernando Valley
to represent Hollywood effectively. And at the end of that race, when the
two -- those two Democrats, the most expensive House race in the entire
country, by the way, was one in which the seat was going to be Democratic
anyway, when they got to the general election, you saw both of these very
liberal Democrats trotting out endorsements from Republicans, trying to win
over that, you know, ten, 15, 20 percent of the vote that was going to end
up going to Mitt Romney. Well, they`ve got to vote .
KORNACKI: And that`s one of the things we talk about all the time is these
-- how many Republicans come from districts that Barack Obama won last
year, very, very few. They are all answering to Republican primary
electorates. But if you take an overwhelmingly Republican electorate and
you say OK, the general election now, you know, maybe is 20, 30 percent of
the voters in the district are Democratic, and you have the Tea Party
Republican and, you know, the more moderate Republican, the Democrats do
have a little bit of a voice there in that district.
GEORGE: Yeah, but I think you`re also seeing kind of a GOP establishment
striking back kind of -- coming into form for 2014 because in a certain
way, the Tea Party explosion kind of surprised the GOP establishment when
it started in 2010, 2012. Now some of them are getting -- are realizing
that what -- for want of a better phrase, more mainstream Republicans,
whatever that phrase means, they need support, they`re going to need
support on the ground, whether they are incumbents or whether they are
running for office, office themselves. And so, you`re starting to see
money going -- going to those candidates, Karl Rove`s operation and so
forth and others are -- wanting to support them as well.
WILLIAMS: But we - and you talk about reforms, you have to realize how
much of our party system goes down to the local level from picking election
administrators in terms of who purges lists, in terms of who are proposing
these changes to voter files and things like that, so it is not just a
system that happens in Congress, and Washington, D.C., but it goes all the
way down to who your precinct continent is, and sort of how does that
affect in change turnout and affect in change the people in the local
communities, right? Because there are all the way down from election
administrators to governors and state reps that are sort of doing this
legislation that nationally we`re fighting against.
GEORGE: But you`re also seeing in a number of states, I mean, New York is
happening too, where a lot of the states are becoming one party states and
that`s going down to the local level as well. I mean here, you know, here
in New York, where you`ve had sort of Republican leaning mirrors for the
last 20 years, the current candidate looks like he`s going to get .
KORNACKI: But that - and that is -- that is the sorting out that we`re
talking about, where it is not just the Congress sorting itself out, voters
have sorted themselves out and they go top to bottom, the same ticket.
Anyway, we`re out of time on this one. I find myself at times a bit
overwhelmed with the news out there, both in the paper and on the Interweb.
So, what a television - my producers are trying something new out. And
you, the viewers, we`re going to show you what that is ahead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: 200 point question, this Republican candidate for the U.S.
Senate in Wyoming branded John McCain, quote, a liberal Republican in the
fund-raising letter this week.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: I can still feel the suspense in the room. That was one of the
questions yesterday. What was the most intense, heated, white knuckle game
in the story, a two months history of "Up Against the Clock," our weekly
current affairs quiz show, it came down to the last question, the last
second was MSNBC`s own Susie Kin (ph) swooping in for a dramatic victory.
The question we showed you, though, is on deck for an encore appearance, in
a brand-new feature we`re about to inaugurate, it`s not a quiz show, there
is no snazzy prizes, or cheesy voiceovers, but it is fun and different and
we will show you what it is right after this.
KORNACKI: A lot that happens in a week. So many interesting stories in
the world of politics to talk about. And even when you have the luxury of
four hours every weekend to discuss them, making a decision about which of
those stories to choose can be very difficult. This week, my producers
have hit upon a new way to combat my chronic indecisiveness and crippling
doubt. It turns out I don`t have to choose.
KORNACKI: All I have to do is spin. This is our new segment which means I
also get to embrace my inner pat say jack (ph) or Bob Barker. They had a
wheel too. But the point is, that they show you the wheel now. Our
favorite contenders for the things we want to talk about until the top of
the hour are right here on this wheel. Things that came up in the news
this week. We weren`t sure which ones to choose. So it is as simple as it
seems. I want to spin it. Where the wheel stops, we`ll talk about it.
When I feel like it - if I feel like it again, we`ll spin the wheel again,
because now we have entered the all spin zone. So with that, here we go.
KORNACKI: Our first spin, I think its price is right rules, let`s go
around once completely. Well, that was easy. It did. All right. What do
we got? What do we got? What do we got? It looks like, oh, that looks
like Dick Durbin to me. That`s the number two Senate Democrat. So, let`s
talk about why Dick Durbin was in the news this week. Dick Durbin was in
the news because he posted on his Facebook page last Sunday that during the
government shutdown negotiations, one GOP House leader told the president,
I cannot even stand to look at you. And that one Facebook post set off
just days of controversy about how do Republicans say that, which
Republican said that and the White House basically put out a statement
Thursday saying that there was a miscommunication. And the White House
read out that meeting to Senate Democrats and we regret the
misunderstanding. And they basically -- the deputy chief of staff Rob
Nabors kind of became the fall guy for this. It`s interesting story to me,
because, first of all, the idea of the U.S. senator taking to Facebook to
launch sort of an inflammatory accusation.
WILLIAMS: Yeah. They need a vetting system, they use their own social
media tool to make sure .
KORNACKI: I mean it was Durbin just sitting there like .
GEORGE: And putting, you know, and putting any of these guys in charge of
their own social media feeds is probably a bad idea. And, I mean when .
ORNSTEIN: Call it the Weiner axiom.
GEORGE: This is quite true. I mean when you have got Dick Durbin, who is
Senate leadership, being on a completely different page from the White
House, I mean it makes them both look kind of petty.
KORNACKI: Well, he`s also -- he`s like the White House`s guy too.
WILSON: And that`s an important point, Steve. The -- we have talked a lot
today about the dysfunction of the Republican Party. Let`s not let the
White House off the hook here. They`re not good at dealing with Capitol
Hill. They have not been from the beginning. They have had very strained
relations with Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi for even when they were working
together and passing things. And what happened this week was after Dick
Durbin made this claim, Jay Carney came out and said, nope, it didn`t
happen. You don`t do that to your own leadership without giving the heads
up, especially when it turns out that your guy, your deputy chief of staff
was the one who threw the .
KORNACKI: And Durbin was, when Barack Obama was considering or running for
president back in 2006, 2007, it was Dick Durbin who told them yeah, you
should do this, don`t listen to the naysayers.
WILSON: It was stunning that the White House would put so much immediate
distance between themselves and one of their best allies on the Hill. And
good for Durbin for standing up to them.
KORNACKI: We`re going to spin this again, because that was - I`m enjoying
this. Here we go. All right. Big bucks. Big bucks. Let`s go. Tell me
it`s not Durbin again. All right, we got .
KORNACKI: Oh, yeah, Ted Cruz!
KORNACKI: Ted Cruz. Although it is a little misleading because we wanted
to put a recognizable photo up there. And this is more about Mrs. Ted
Cruz. Not even as recognizable as her husband, but Heidi Nelson Cruz, the
wife of Ted Cruz, gave an interview to the "New York Times" this week, it
was interesting interview for a number of reasons, but one of the little
anecdotes in here that got some attention, is that she said, yeah, Ted
Cruz, my husband is on my health care plan, through Goldman Sachs, one of
these like sort of gold-plated health care plans, and so he`s -- he`s on
her health plan and she`s sort of stepped out this week and it is a week
that, you know, Ted Cruz, we talked about this a little bit in the show
yesterday, he immediately -- he went to Iowa on Friday night, I don`t know
if he`s still there today, but he was speaking in Iowa on Friday night and
in that mode where it is like - you know, was there actually any damage to
Ted Cruz in Republican world from this whole shutdown?
ORNSTEIN: There wasn`t, but there probably should have been. And in this
case, what was most stunning is the statement from Cruz`s office. Yes,
he`s on our health care plan, but it doesn`t cost taxpayers anything. Give
me a break. The 20 plus thousand dollars a year that that health care plan
costs we finance because it is a tax free deduction. And that, of course,
on the Senate floor, when Dick Durbin and others prodded Ted Cruz about
where he gets his own health insurance and Cruz dissembled a little bit,
brings us back to another one of the flaws in some of the projections and
strategies used here.
GEORGE: There is also kind of -- also kind of interesting too, because if
you want to look at the old classic model of, you know, Republican wives,
quietly staying in the background, supporting their husbands and so forth,
in a sense, she`s supporting her husband. Because she is --
KORNACKI: She`s literally supporting --
GEORGE: If you think about the whole generation we have gone since Bill
and Hillary came in, you`ve got this very strong, confident, professional
woman, but obviously very -- they`re a conservative couple, and in a sense,
this is the new image we`re going to see of political couples going
forward, regardless of party.
KORNACKI: We have more spinning to do in the all-spin zone. We`ll do it
for another segment right after the break.
KORNACKI: Keep it going, we`re going to spin again. Wheel of life goes
round and round. And we have got -- looks like, the wild card. So this is
-- we have some sound cued up. I`m going to play it and we`ll talk about
it. Hillary Clinton, we have four wild card choices, I`m picking the first
one. Hillary Clinton this week, was the keynote speaker at the tenth
anniversary celebration for the Center for American Progress in Washington.
Here`s what she had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON: What it means to be a progressive in America and in the
world, to build the case for a progressive agenda, bold new progressive
policies, avowedly progressive values, progressive ideas have helped make
this country the greatest force for human liberty, dignity and opportunity
the world has ever known.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: I think she`s trying to deliver a message there, isn`t she?
WILLIAMS: She`s trying to drop little words in between the speech. I
don`t know what the count was sort of on that speech to give people -- but
I guess compared to where we are now, in terms of the political parties,
maybe she is, maybe --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s her next game, you need bingo. We hit bingo.
KORNACKI: I think somebody told me that -- I think it was -- I just -- you
look at the story of her collapse in 2008, and specific, Iraq and
everything, there was room to her left. It looks like she`s positioning--
ORNSTEIN: You need a lot of context here, which is this is the tenth
anniversary of the Center for American Progress, started by John Podesta,
who was Bill Clinton`s chief of staff, who is still very close to the
family. So this was a celebration of camp (ph) as much as it was anything
else. You can take that into account and still say when you use the word
progressive, all those times --
KORNACKI: It is true. The word progress is in there.
WILLIAMS: But I want to be clear that, you know, because of this -- well,
she`s going to run or whether or not she`s going to run, every single thing
she says, she goes to buy makeup, if it happens to be, you know, of a
different color, it is going to be construed as something of her changing
her mind set, changing her politics to run for office.
ORNSTEIN: Only if she progressively shops.
KORNACKI: We got one more spin, want to fit it in here before the end of
the hour. Who do we got? Hopefully not a duplicate. Looks to me like a
KORNACKI: Liz Cheney. Liz Cheney, this is the daughter of Dick Cheney, so
this was what we teased earlier, we had this question in the game show
yesterday, she sent a fundraising letter out on Tuesday saying that liberal
Republican senators like John McCain and Olympia Snowe, former senator,
have endorsed my opponent, talking about Republican incumbent Mike Enzi.
We must be doing something right if these folks are fighting so hard to
preserve the status quo. Dick Cheney this week, her father, this is the
Dick Cheney media tour week, he`s on ABC this morning.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`s got the book.
KORNACKI: He`s got the book. He`ll be on Morning Joe tomorrow morning.
He`ll be sitting -- I think he`ll be here, he`ll be on Morning Joe, I think
he is in the studio at 7:20 tomorrow morning, so we can watch for that.
This is sort of Cheney re-emergence week.
WILSON: Not only is it a Cheney re-emergence week. Let`s examine that
statement for a moment. Liberal Republicans have endorsed my challenger,
Senator Mike Enzi, a guy with a lifetime 80 something percent ACU score and
all the conservative boxes checked, never done anything that deserves to be
-- to get fired for, not only have they endorsed him, everybody else in the
Senate has endorsed him. You look at his FEC report that he just filed
last week, he`s gotten money from the most conservative senators, the most
liberal Republican senators. All the Republicans are -- here is once again
the establishment versus the outsider game within the Republican Party, and
who would ever have thought that Liz Cheney is the outsider.
ORNSTEIN: Look at what she`s done, though, in terms of divisiveness, even
in the state of Wyoming. She`s pitted herself against her sister, on gay
marriage, she -- her mother had this dustup with Alan Simpson and his
daughter, where she told Simpson to shut up, because he had been speaking
up for Mike Enzi. You know, talk about driving a wedge not just within the
Republican Party, within the state.
KORNACKI: And Alan Simpson wrote this epic 2,200 word essay about his run-
in with the Cheney family in classic, like, Alan Simpson folksy terms. Go
look for it. We`re up against the clock. So to speak. At the end of this
segment. We`ll do this again, it was pretty fun. My thanks to L. Joy
Williams, Reid Wilson.
Ted Cruz offered his roadmap Friday night for how Republicans can win the
swing states again, but it`s being discredited in the nation`s premier
swing state as we speak. We`ll explain, next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CRUZ: That`s based on the oh so clever idea that if your opponent is here
on the spectrum, that you want to be infinitesimally to their right, so
that you can capture every marginal voter right up to where they are. The
problem is if you do that, you destroy every single reason anyone has to
show up and vote.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: If you`ve been paying attention to American politics for, oh, I
don`t know, any point in history, you`ve heard some version of this before.
The base of the out of power party scoffing at the suggestion that moving
to the middle is the way to get back in the game, and insisting that long-
term permanent electoral glory is right around the corner, if and only if
the whole party would just move closer to where the base is. This is the
biggest animating principle of the Tea Party movement, that Barack Obama is
only our president today because Republicans weren`t far enough to the
right in the Bush years, that they haven`t been far enough to the right in
the Obama years, and if they would just move to the right and stay there,
then the presidency, the Senate, the House, every governorship, every
legislature, every local school committee and sewer board, everything,
everywhere in America will be theirs. That`s what Ted Cruz was out in Iowa
preaching on Friday. By the reaction of the crowd that packed the hall to
hear him, it is a message that the Republican base, the Tea Party base is
just as eager as ever to hear.
Here is the thing, though. The Republican Party by any rational standard
or any historical standard is already very far to the right. The story of
the last six decades from Robert Taft, to Barry Goldwater, to Nixon`s
southern strategy, to Reagan to Gingrich, and now to Ted Cruz and the Tea
Party. Not exactly a straight line, the center of power in the GOP has
moved steadily to the right. It is now further to the right than it has
ever been in modern times.
Cruz and the base still believe that the GOP is too moderate, it`s too
mushy, that the only way to win back the White House in 2016 is by becoming
Let me show you something. This is last November`s presidential election.
Almost 130 million Americans voted, when all of their ballots were counted,
here`s what they added up to. Barack Obama, with 51.01 percent. Mitt
Romney, with 47.15 percent. And now here are the numbers for last year`s
presidential election from the Commonwealth of Virginia. They have been on
your screen for a while, but here I am talking about them now. Barack
Obama 51.16, Romney 47.28. That is what you call a bellwether state.
Obama`s national margin over Romney was 3.86 points. And in Virginia, it
was almost exactly the same, 3.88 points. There was no other state in the
country that tracked as closely to the national result last year as
We live in an era of the ever-shrinking map. A generation ago, there were
easily two dozen states up for grabs in the presidential election. The
voters have sorted themselves out as we talked about earlier. Parties have
sorted themselves out, and now just a handful of truly competitive states
are left when it comes time to choose a president. Which makes those very
few swing states that are left more important than ever to each party`s
White House hopes.
And of the swing states that are left, as those numbers show, Virginia now
stands as the swingiest of them, if that is the right word. It really may
be the single most important battleground in the next presidential
election. Which makes the election that is playing out right now in
Virginia a potentially significant indicator of how swing voters are
processing the political upheaval of the past year. Everything that
happened, everything President Obama has said and done, everything
Republicans have said and done since last year`s election. The office of
governor of Virginia is open, and if Ted Cruz is right about what the
Republican Party needs to do to start winning again, then this is a race
they should win. Because Republicans in Virginia have nominated for
governor a genuine Tea Party hero. Ken Cuccinelli. He is the crusading,
far-right state attorney general who rose to fame by leading the legal
fight against Obamacare. Cuccinelli checks the box on every issue the Tea
Party says it cares about. He more than checks the box. He embodies the
movement. He came to prominence with the movement. He provided grist for
the movement, and he is hitting his Democratic opponent with every weapon
the Tea Party believes should be used against any Democratic candidate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEN CUCCINELLI, VIRGINIA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: I was the first to fight
Obamacare, but my opponent didn`t think it went far enough. Why would we
expand failure? Send Washington a message and say no to Terry McAuliffe`s
expanded Obamacare by voting for me on November 5TH.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: And about that Democratic opponent, Cuccinelli got a gift there,
because Terry McAuliffe is a profoundly unpopular candidate. Poll after
poll shows him with alarmingly high negative ratings. People don`t like
him. He ran for governor once before and he got crushed in the Democratic
primary. He is exactly the kind of Democrat, as one writer put it this
year, that Democrats have been waiting to vote against.
Here`s what McAuliffe`s campaign message amounts to.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TERRY MCAULIFFE, VIRGINIA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: My opponent will not
compromise. He`s a rigid ideological agenda. It is my opponent who
referred to gay Virginians as selfish (ph) and soulless human beings. Who
talks like that?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: And if you`ve seen the polls, you know which message is winning
in Virginia. Here is the latest of those polls, 46-39 for McAuliffe, and
it has been that way for months now. McAuliffe is significantly ahead in
this race. And barring an October surprise, he is probably going to win
it. There really is no excuse here for the Ted Cruz types. This is an
off-year election, Republicans are supposed to have a leg up in those.
There is a Democrat in the White House. Virginia almost always elects the
gubernatorial candidate from the party that doesn`t control the White
House. Democratic nominee is amazingly unlikable. This is a swing state.
And the GOP has nominated exactly the candidate that Ted Cruzes of the
world wanted them to nominate. And it is not working out.
If this isn`t a preview of what will happen if national Republicans make
the same move, if they nominate the same type of candidate, the national
equivalent of Ken Cuccinelli in 2016, then I don`t know what is, but is
that the lesson the Tea Party is going to take from a Cuccinelli defeat, is
it a lesson they can ever take from anything?
Here to help answer that, we have Robert George of the New York Post, Norm
Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute, and joining us, we have Kate
Nocera. She is a Capitol Hill reporter for Buzzfeed.com, and syndicated
columnist Bob Franken. Robert, as the designated conservative on the
panel, I`m going to start with you. OK. Admitting the possibility
something changes radically and Ken Cuccinelli somehow wins this race, if
he doesn`t, if all these polls we`re seeing are right, how is the
conservative movement going to interpret what is happening in Virginia now?
GEORGE: First of all, I think they`d look at the fact you have two very,
very deeply flawed candidates on the top of the ticket there, McAuliffe and
Cuccinelli. McAuliffe for all the reasons you mentioned before. I`d also
point out that I think the poll showed it, you got a libertarian candidate
that is getting 10 percent, and one would assume that two-thirds or more of
that would otherwise be going to -- would otherwise be going to Cuccinelli.
So I think they would look at that as well.
KORNACKI: This sounds like the we`re not going to look in the mirror.
GEORGE: And also there is also the scandal that has brought in Bob
McDonnell, the governor there, and that -- the fund-raiser for McDonnell
also is connected to Cuccinelli, so that also depressed his numbers as
well, and then you throw in the government shutdown, which strongly hit
Virginia, and it is kind of a perfect storm for McAuliffe and against
BOB FRANKEN, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: I am remembering the Louisiana race
several years ago for governor, when David Duke, Ku Klux Klansman, was
running again Edwin Edwards, who subsequently went to prison, and the
Edwards forces put out a commercial saying vote for the crook.
FRANKEN: I`m not going to say maybe it reached that extreme in Virginia,
but you have somebody on the Democratic side who many people view as just
plain old smarmy, to be honest with you, Terry McAuliffe, who can put out a
commercial saying vote for the smarmy one because at least he`s not an
extremist. Virginia is -- prides its gentility almost as much as anything.
And so I think that if you can successfully characterize a Cuccinelli as
somebody who violates this sense of --
GEORGE: There is also the internal fight that went on within the
Republican Party because you have the lieutenant governor, Bob Bowling
(ph), who basically -- Bill.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bill Bowling.
GEORGE: Bill Bowling, excuse me. Who basically --
KORNACKI: What happened is the Tea Party, the conservative movement, they
said we`re not going to have a state primary this year. We`re going to
pick this at the convention. This is - what I`m saying here is, if this
isn`t the kind of thing that the Tea Party movement can look at and say
this is --
KATE NOCERA: They set it up so Cuccinelli would get the nomination, and
then what ended up happening as well is the guy running for LG, EW Jackson,
who is probably even more to the right than Cuccinelli, gets nominated.
I had a top Virginia GOP official say, you know, the Democrats nominated
the only guy that we could beat, and we nominated the only guy that they
could beat. This is -- the Virginia Republicans are generally not
comfortable with this ticket, and I think they really kind of
ORNSTEIN: Another important point to make here, and full disclosure, Terry
McAuliffe was my student for all four years in his college career. But
Terry is running as a starkly socially liberal candidate and running on
those issues, he is running on the abortion issue, running on the gay
marriage issue. You know, we would imagine in a different world, in a
previous world, those would be killers in a state like Virginia, all these
other things aside. It is a sign of how the world has changed. On the
social issues, even in a southern state now, if you run as a social
conservative, you`re not running downhill, you may be running uphill.
KORNACKI: I think this is one of the differences between -- it is true,
they`re profoundly flawed candidates, but I think the flaws are very
different in that Terry McAuliffe`s flaws are personal. The image here,
(inaudible), the image here is he`s the greasy bungler, in the Beltway
creature, and all these things, and it seems -
KORNACKI: The baggage that he`s carrying in this is not -- it is not
people saying he`s an ideological extremist, not people saying his
positions are out of line, the baggage Cuccinelli is carrying is he`s the
Tea Party`s baggage, ideological baggage.
FRANKEN: But to the question that you ask, will in fact, Virginia,
assuming it turns out that McAuliffe being the winner, will the Tea Party
learn a lesson from that, that maybe they have to cool their jets a little
bit? I think that the answer is watching Ted Cruz. Ted Cruz got what
should have been humiliated in the -- in what he just went through in
Washington, and instead he`s out there saying, no, no, no, absolutely not.
I didn`t learn a thing from that. In fact, we should have just done it
more. I think what you have now is a group that some people would call
fanatic, that is saying no, we`re going to stick to our guns no matter
what. By the way, guns being literal here. But so I don`t think they`re
going to --
KORNACKI: That`s the question, Robert. What kind of election would it
take, the whole reason for that elaborate introduction there was to me,
I`m, like, this covers everything. If you`re a Tea Partier, how can you
not look at this and say, look, we`re part of the problem here in terms of
electability for the Republicans in swing states. We have to take this
into account. If this isn`t the lesson, what would it take for the Tea
Party to say maybe we`re a little too extreme to win elections.
GEORGE: First of all, this is Virginia and it is an off-off year election.
So you can`t--
KORNACKI: That`s supposed to favor the Republicans, like in 2009.
GEORGE: You can`t always draw -- the flip side is, you`ve got in New
Jersey, you know, Chris Christie on the other hand is --
KORNACKI: The one the Tea Party hates, right.
GEORGE: But the point is I think when you got a midterm next year, I think
it is better to analyze that in terms of what -- of how things might play
out in 2016 as opposed to an off-off year election three years, three years
ORNSTEIN: It`s not just Ted Cruz. It is Sean Hannity, it is Rush
Limbaugh. There is a meme now on the right, which is our craven spineless
leaders caved in, just before we had our great victory. And if you take
that point of view, you can rationalize away anything, and that`s what
we`re seeing here, is they will rationalize away Cuccinelli, they will
rationalize away if they will lose the lieutenant governor`s race and even
the attorney general`s race, and even if they lose some of these Senate
races where primary opponents knock off the more mainstream conservatives,
they`ll rationalize that away. They`re not going away.
KORNACKI: And that`s the thing. I talked to Virginia Republicans who at
this same convention where Cuccinelli was nominated, EW Jackson, the even
farther right lieutenant governor candidate, but what happened is there was
a crowded field for lieutenant governor, and there were moderate
Republicans, establishment Republicans at this convention who said, our
candidate isn`t going to win, we already have to deal with Cuccinelli at
the top of the ticket, we`re going to give them EW Jackson as the nominee,
and then when this ticket goes down in flames, we`re going to say I told
you so. I`m saying we`re arriving at this I told you so moment, and
they`re not - the message is not getting through.
NOCERA: The thing is that Cuccinelli actually has tried to moderate
himself a lot in this race, and you don`t see him talking as much about the
social issues. He tried to distance himself from EW Jackson. The message
coming from the Tea Party is going to be, like, well, he should have gone
out there and really stuck to his guns, and, you know.
KORNACKI: So now Ken Cuccinelli is one of the squishes as Ted Cruz calls
them. We have to take a break. We`ll pick it up right after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE, R-N.J.: Here`s the difference between what happens in
Trenton, New Jersey, and what happens in Washington, D.C. In Trenton, we
curse at each other, and then we sit down at a table and we get things
done. In Washington, they curse at each other and they just keep cursing
at each other. And then they don`t get anything done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: That`s the other governor`s race that will be settled in the
next week, Chris Christie in New Jersey, totally different story than
Virginia, it is a lopsided race, Chris Christie is probably going to get
re-elected in New Jersey. Let`s face it, the question here is margin. But
the other question is sort of talking about lessons that Republicans can
draw nationally and will draw nationally from this, on the one hand, we`re
saying, look, if this Tea Party candidate goes down in flames in Virginia,
we`re having a hard time seeing is that something the Tea Party looks at
and says, OK, we can learn a lesson from that. On the flip side, you have
Chris Christie, who has projected this image, and I would say a lot of it
is more image than substance, but he`s projected this image of the moderate
Republican, the anti-Tea Party Republican, he can win a state that Barack
Obama carried by 17 points last year, he can win it in a landslide, is that
going to mean anything to Republicans?
GEORGE: I think the real battle not just in terms of mainstream Republican
versus Tea Party is actually Republican governors versus Republican
senators like Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and so forth. You have got Christie, you
have got Scott Walker in Wisconsin, you have got Rick Scott in Florida, who
is down, way down in the polls, and now he`s kind of had a resurgent, Rick
Snyder in Michigan. You have got some people there who often have to work
with Democrats, to get things done. The message that if any of them decide
-- plan on running for president, which more than a few of them are
thinking about, they realize -- they can say, look, we`re conservatives, we
can work with Democrats, we can get things done. Ted Cruz may be
ideologically pure for the base, but he`s part of the Washington problem.
I think that`s--
KORNACKI: I`m trying to figure out, how is the Tea Party going to
understand the success of Chris Christie? The iconic moment for Chris
Christie in terms of national Republicans I talked to is the hug, hugging
President Obama last year, when he came to New Jersey. Some just can`t get
over that. I look at it, though, and I`m trying to figure it out because I
think of Mitt Romney winning the nomination last year, John McCain got
through in 2008, you look at Romney getting through last year, he was the
moderate candidate, quote unquote --
NOCERA: (inaudible) so far to the right.
KORNACKI: Right. He ended up -- he enacted the most conservative platform
since Goldwater. So it seems the model is not just the moderate guy can
win. The moderate guy can win by embracing the Tea Party`s agenda. I`m
wondering if that is the Christie we`re going to see.
NOCERA: I don`t know. I don`t see how he does that, though, at this
point. He has spoken out so hard against the Tea Party, against House
Republicans during the whole Sandy thing, he was raging against John
Boehner and House Republicans for saying that they abandoned his state. I
KORNACKI: Boehner will not hurt you with the Tea Party, though, right?
NOCERA: Raging against Boehner but also raging against the Tea Party. He
has spoken out against the shutdown --
FRANKEN: Raging against Boehner from the left, he was raging against
Boehner from the left.
NOCERA: Right. I don`t see how he ever -- on a national platform, walks
that back. That is kind of who he is and how he`s built his whole
FRANKEN: Well, first of all, most Tea Party people sort of look at New
Jersey as a version of hell. Number one. I don`t think the -- you get
much guidance from New Jersey or New York.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have bipartisan agreement.
FRANKEN: Something I`ve always enjoyed is the use of the term moderates.
We all use it to describe either parties, moderates, which suggests to me
that the others are the immoderates. What you have in the Republican Party
now is the immoderates beginning to so antagonize the business community
that there is talk that the business community is going to come into some
of these primaries and try and neutralize the influence of the immoderates
and all this kind of thing. Here is the state of the Republican Party.
You now have people who many think are the reason for the problems in the
United States, that`s to say what some of us call the oligarchs, versus the
fanatics. What a state of play for the Republicans.
ORNSTEIN: If you look at these governors, Sam Brownback in Kansas, we just
had a poll, it may be a questionable poll, but it shows him down to a
Democrat. We`re seeing some of those Republicans in the states who have
been antagonistic towards the Democratic Party, who have tried to govern
from the right, Scott`s resurgence notwithstanding, which still leaves him
down, but John Kasich, who is doing very well, Scott Walker, who came back
from that antagonistic position to move closer to the middle, doing much
better. I`m watching that Kansas race --
KORNACKI: Kansas is an interesting state, because we think of Kansas as
just a red - we think of it as a red state. But there has been a
historical split in that state in the Republican Party -- there is a real
moderate wing of that Republican Party and the sort of the Kasselbaum, Bob
Dole wing. Then there is the Sam Brownback wing, and that`s the theory, if
you talk to Democrats about how they think they can beat Brownback, they
think they can peel off potentially disaffected moderate Republicans, of
whom there are a fair number.
GEORGE: I think the Democrat that is ahead of Brownback, I think he was a
former Republican. So, yeah, you are starting to see that.
KORNACKI: But the question then comes back to again, you look at these
election results, if the Tea Party can be blamed for losing Virginia, if it
can even be blamed for losing a state like Kansas, still I think you`re
going to have as we say the Ted Cruzes out there saying, well, no, that`s
not a real Tea Party candidate. We`ll show you a real Tea Party candidate,
and then we`ll win, and the base wants to hear that. It is a never-ending
problem. I want to thank Robert George of the New York Post.
The most overused suffix in American politics and perhaps in scandals in
general, that`s after this.
KORNACKI: We here at "UP" world headquarters like to look back at
significant anniversaries in political history, so here is one for you. It
is the 14-year and two-month anniversary of Jon Stewart celebrating an
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEWART: 25 years ago today, Richard Nixon resigned the presidency over
his role in Watergate, or if it happened today, Watergate gate. Many still
recall the final good-bye salute Nixon gave just before boarding his
helicopter. A salute Nixon later regretted because it used four more
fingers than he intended. He`s as funny now as he was then.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: OK, as anniversaries go, that`s a bit of a stretch, but there is
a reason we`re bringing up Watergate, because a pivotal anniversary in the
demise of the Nixon presidency is upon us. We`ll tell you what it is and
we`ll talk about whether anything that happened in the 40 years since then
measures up to the scandal that started them all.
KORNACKI: The other day here at "UP" world headquarters, we were talking
about the names of political scandals. I thought of an old one I
remembered from a few years ago, so I started typing in the word "trooper
gate" into my computer. And before I could finish, I have to admit I got
distracted when auto complete suggested "Troop Beverly Hills," the 1989
movie about a bored Beverly Hills divorcee, who finds purpose and meaning
in life by leading her daughter`s wilderness girl troop. Once I got out of
that Shelley Long rabbit hole and back to searching for trooper gate, I
discovered that there are actually three, three political scandals known as
trooper gate -- one for Bill Clinton, one for Eliot Spitzer and one for
Sarah Palin, which really goes to show you how ridiculously overused the
gate suffix is used when it is applied to political scandals or a scandal
of any type.
It turns out there is actually a Wikipedia page titled "list of scandals
with gate suffix." I counted 130 entries on that page. Of course, one of
those 130 entries is the one that started it all, the original gate,
Watergate, the one where gate actually made sense as a suffix. This marks
the 40TH anniversary of a critical event in the demise of Richard Nixon.
It was the night the Nixon White House pretty much imploded. A battle over
the president`s secret recordings sent the administration into a tailspin
from which it would never recover.
The whole saga started at Washington, D.C.`s Watergate complex in the
summer of 1972, when five men affiliated with what was called the Committee
to Re-Elect the President, more infamously known by the acronym CREEP were
caught breaking into the Democratic National Committee`s headquarters in
the middle of the night. Only later did the extent of the White House
involvement become clear.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Seven people were indicted today. The five who were
caught by the police, along with two others, G. Gordon Liddy, a former
White House aide, who was until the story broke counselor to the committee,
the finance committee of President Nixon`s campaign organization, and E.
Howard Hunt, a former consultant for the White House. The indictments
charged that the five men broke into the Watergate while Liddy and Hunt had
actually intercepted telephone calls to and from Democratic headquarters.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: There were calls from Democrats for a special prosecutor, and
the story did attract plenty of attention. No one expected Nixon to be
directly implicated, and it did not stop him from posting a massive
landslide victory in November 1972. But the drip, drip, drip continued,
and by the spring of `73, the press and the public was starting to realize
how serious the story was. The attorney general and two of Nixon`s top
aides resigned, and the president fired White House Counsel John Dean.
That hardly settled the matter, and Nixon`s new attorney general, Elliott
Richardson, appointed a special prosecutor, a Democrat named Archibald Cox.
When John Dean told Congress that Nixon had had multiple conversations
about covering up the break-in, and Cox discovered that the president had
secret tape recordings of those meetings, Cox demanded to hear the tapes,
which set off a high-stakes legal battle, which brings us to October 1973,
40 years ago this month.
Federal court agreed with Cox and ordered Nixon to hand over the tapes, and
Friday night, October 19TH, 1973, Nixon officially refused to comply with
that order. He said he would release summaries of the tapes instead. He
also ordered Cox, the special prosecutor, to stand down in the court fight
and to accept that he would not be getting access to the tapes. Cox
responded to this by calling a press conference at the National Press Club
and saying he would defy the president`s order and he would keep trying to
get the tapes.
Which brings us to Saturday, October 20TH, 1973. At 6:30 Washington time
that evening, news started to leak out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are reports tonight that President Nixon ordered
Attorney General Elliott Richardson to fire the special Watergate
prosecutor Archibald Cox.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Except Elliott Richardson did not obey Nixon`s order and instead
told the president that he would not fire Cox. This is how that late
October evening became what will forever be known as the Saturday Night
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The country tonight is in the midst of what may be the
most serious constitutional crisis in its history. The president has fired
the special Watergate prosecutor Archibald Cox. Because of the president`s
action, the attorney general has resigned. Elliott Richardson has quit,
saying he cannot carry out Mr. Nixon`s instructions. Richardson`s deputy,
William Rockelshause (ph), has been fired. Rockelshause refused in a
moment of constitutional drama to obey a presidential order to fire the
special Watergate prosecutor. And half an hour after the special Watergate
prosecutor had been fired, agents of the FBI, acting at the direction of
the White House, sealed off the offices of the special prosecutor, the
offices of the attorney general, and the offices of the deputy attorney
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Six FBI agents present, impeding our operations now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All of this adds up to a totally unprecedented
situation, a grave and profound crisis in which the president has set
himself against his own attorney general and the Department of Justice.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Nixon ended up summoning his solicitor general, a right wing
former Yale law professor named Robert Bork, to the White House. Bork was
then sworn in as the acting attorney general and carried out the
president`s order to fire Cox. The Saturday Night Massacre represented a
traumatic, suspenseful and unprecedented constitutional crisis. It also
became a critical turning point in the Watergate story, the moment that
Nixon lost the country, the moment his beloved silent majority finally
turned on him, the moment that made impeachment proceedings and Nixon`s
resignation inevitable, the moment his fate as America`s most notorious
president was sealed.
Because of events like the Saturday Night Massacre, Watergate set a very
high standard for presidential scandals and for scandals in general. That
hasn`t stopped the media and the political world from conjuring its memory
every time there is so much as a whiff of a possibility of scandal in the
air. Which explains that Wikipedia page about scandals with the gate
suffix. We always hear the scandal of the moment in Washington is as bad
as Watergate or worse than Watergate. You heard it a million times. But
has anything that has happened in the four decades since then actually
risen to that level, could anything?
Here to talk about it we have Evan Thomas, journalist and author of several
best-selling books. He is now writing a biography of Richard Nixon. Still
at the table, we have Norm Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute,
Kate Nocera of Buzzfeed.com, and syndicated columnist Bob Franken.
Evan, I will start with you. If we could just look at the moment of the
Saturday Night Massacre first and just to try to appreciate -- we showed
John Chancellor, that`s what Americans turning on their televisions, there
were only three or four channels back then, they turned on their
televisions that Saturday night and they were seeing some equivalent of
that no matter what channel they turned on. Can you take us back to the
moment and what that represented as a sort of a constitutional crisis for
EVAN THOMAS, AUTHOR: The important point is the Constitution survived. It
was a crisis, but wheels turn, the wheels of justice did turn, Nixon was
driven from office, the Constitution went on. It was -- the atmosphere was
a little bit more hysterical that night than maybe was warranted. In fact,
the court system is pretty strong, and even the president cannot defy it.
And ultimately chose not to.
But it did represent something very big, which was the press had been
fairly supine for years and years and years. And in the 1960s, with
Vietnam and the credibility gap and the perception that the government was
lying to the people, the press got a lot friskier and a lot more
aggressive. And really Nixon ran into a new phenomenon, a hyperaggressive
press corps. It was slow on Watergate. At first it was just the
Washington Post, just Woodward and Bernstein, the press was slow to catch
up. But when they caught up, they caught up with a vengeance, and there
was a lynch mob out there, out to get Nixon. I`m not saying he was
innocent. He was not. But believe me, the press was eager to hang that
guy. And they did.
KORNACKI: And, Bob, just in terms of that moment in the Watergate saga,
when people look back at it, I think who didn`t live through it, I remember
first reading about it myself, the dates never really made sense to me, in
that like, wow, so this break-in happened in June of 1972, and four months
later, three months later, he gets re-elected overwhelmingly -- five months
later, he gets re-elected overwhelmingly. It always raised the question,
first of all, why were they breaking into the office of a candidate he was
going to crush in the election anyway, and how did it not really start
registering with people until more than a year later?
FRANKEN: First of all, he ran against the candidate who anybody at the
table could have beaten, George McGovern. And so it was preordained that
he would win in a landslide. And then it was the persistence of the
reporters. I think we have to agree that it was these low level reporters
at the Washington Post who just continued to stay on this story. They were
One of the things that has struck me about all of this is that there were
certain reforms that came out of Watergate. And the one that came out of
the Saturday Night Massacre, not including Saturday Night Live, of course,
but the one that came out of the massacre was the independent counsel
statute a few years later, which was supposed to make these independent
counsels completely independent, or almost so. But then we started seeing
abuses of that as evidenced by the Monica Lewinsky investigation, by Ken
Starr, that type of thing, so we have sort of gone away from that.
The other one was the reform of the campaign finance laws, and we ended up
with PACs, which are also now being abused. So it is kind of circular that
as far as the aggressive press is concerned, now look what we have today, a
press that is sometimes overly aggressive or not well informed.
KORNACKI: And, Norm, just to try to understand as well that the
constitutional issues were involved, because again, it starts at what seems
like -- it is a bungled burglary by a bunch of clumsy guys at the
Democratic National Committee headquarters. And it turns out that the
entire scandal unearthed all sorts of offshoots, that raised all sorts of
constitutional questions. Can you talk about what was at stake?
ORNSTEIN: Sure, you know, back then, my wife was clerking for a judge in
D.C., Jim Belsen (ph), who arraigned while she was there, the Watergate
burglars. And it seemed just like a burglary at that time. Then it
escalated into what we saw. I remember being at the White House the night
of the Saturday Night Massacre. We didn`t know if the system and the
Constitution would survive. But what ended up happening is we had a
bipartisan, very tough and oftentimes with enormous conflict,
investigation. Everybody remembers Howard Baker saying what did the
president know and when did he know it, working with Sam Irvin, then it
went to Peter Rodino (ph) and the House Judiciary Committee, and ultimately
you had a bipartisan group of people who decided that the president had to
In between, you had a unanimous Supreme Court say you got to give up the
tapes. The system worked in the end and we celebrated it. Ironically it
made an impeachment on much flimsier grounds much easier to do a couple of
decades later. But that was done in an entirely partisan way. And it
almost traces the nature of the system, moving from something where we came
together in a moment of danger to one where we did something that was
KORNACKI: That`s one of those 130 gates, Monica gate, you`re referring to
there, it was on that page, but actually I want to talk about too when we
come back, is that idea of we use gate for everything. We have every
scandal that comes out in Washington, somebody immediately says within a
day, this is worse than Watergate, this is the same as Watergate. I`ll ask
the question, over the last 40 years, have we actually seen anything that
rises to the level of Watergate or could we? We`ll get into that right
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It makes you think of some other people who were
involved in a breach of trust called Watergate.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can`t remember a time since Watergate in which there
was so much crossfire going on.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have to go back 40 years to Watergate when Nixon put
out his edited transcripts of the conversations, and he personally went
through them and said, oh, let`s not tell this, let`s not show this.
STEWART: If Fast and Furious was far worse than Watergate, what is
REP. STEVEN KING, R-IOWA: If you add Watergate and Iran-Contra together
and multiply it times maybe ten or so, you are going to get in the zone of
what Benghazi is.
STEWART: Holy [EXPLETIVE DELETED].
KORNACKI: You get a little taste of what - whenever we say it, whenever
there is the hint of scandal in the air, of any kind of scandal in
Washington, the reference point is always Watergate, and there is always
somebody ready to say this is the same, this is worse, this is it, times
ten, whatever the complicated mathematical formula Steven King came up
But, Kate, I mean, we have been through it recently with Obama and some of
the NSA stuff that has come out, we went through it with a number of issues
with George W. Bush, where the claim is made these revelations, Watergate
pales in comparison to this. Have you seen anything, when you look at
Watergate and what you covered in Washington, have you seen anything that
would rise to the level of what Watergate represented?
NOCERA: No. I`m sitting there watching the clips from before, I was kind
of jealous, because that sounds like such an amazing scandal to cover.
There is the IRS that was -- with the scandal with targeting conservative
groups, a lot of members on the Hill said, you know, this could be worse
than Watergate, how deep does it go, and did the president know about it.
But, no, there is nothing yet I`ve seen that would really rise to that
The thing is, is that on the Hill, there are a lot of -- there are a lot of
Republican members who want to discredit the president, and they believe
that he is sort of this mastermind behind all of this stuff. And they kind
of get in their own way sometimes in the oversight going so aggressively
after him. There are legitimate problems that happened with the IRS.
There are legitimate questions to be asked about, you know, Benghazi, but
does that -- they go so --
KORNACKI: How much is the experience of Watergate -- this probably applies
to the media, this applies to the people in politics too. It`s like, look,
there was a scandal unearthed over the course of two years that led to the
demise of a president. How much of that is a motivating factor for an
opposition party, maybe we saw this with Bill Clinton, hey, look, they did
it to Nixon in the `70S, we can do it to Clinton in the `90S. How much of
it in the media eyes, they start uncovering something, this could be
THOMAs: It is baked into the congress and to the media. But the public, I
think, is resistant. They -- Watergate was a big deal, but the overuse of
the term and especially the Clinton impeachment, I think many people go,
hey, enough here. The press had pretty much convicted Clinton. There was
a lot of talk on TV that he`s gone. And the American people said, what he
did was sordid and ugly, but it is not worth having a constitutional crisis
about. And I think that message has lingered, that these crises have a
slightly phony quality to them. And people are kind of -- don`t take them
that seriously. They are kind of jaundiced about it.
KORNACKI: So has - that`s another flip side of the overuse of the gate
suffix and the idea that everything is a big scandal, has that sort of
clouded the fact that maybe there are a few things that happened in the
last 40 years?
ORNSTEIN: What has also happened, is one thing Tom and I pointed out in
our book, this had huge electoral implications. We saw the enormous
Democratic in the 1974 election.
ORNSTEIN: Newt Gingrich and those years, we saw the criminalization of
policy differences. Every little scandal that led up to the 1994
elections. One of the things that politicians have learned is if you can
capitalize on the scandal and discredit your opponents and get things
ginned up, you can win elections. You put that together with the press
corps that learned the lesson from Woodward and Bernstein, this is how you
make fame and fortune by uncovering scandal, and it is pretty bad.
FRANKEN: Well, first of all, I think to some degree we mis-learned the
lesson a little bit, or we didn`t learn it, we didn`t provide a context.
But I think this is part of a larger problem we have these days, and that
is the hyperbole. I mean, everything now is spoken of in extreme ways. We
have people making references to the fact that somebody ran a traffic light
being something that Hitler would have done, or we have people saying that,
you know, the fact that somebody yelled at a page being something akin to
slavery and all that type of thing. And I just think one of the early
manifestations of that has been the gate, the fact one could argue that
maybe it is a bit scandalous and we could have a gate gate.
THOMAS: Voters know this, they are cynical about it. Yes, there are
voters on the left who really believe it and voters on the right who really
believe it, but there is a very big group in the middle that takes it all
with a grain of salt. That`s inured to it by now. When they hear these
scandals, they don`t take it that seriously.
KORNACKI: The other thing I wondered too, I grew up, my entire life of
watching politics has been one of the themes of the conservative movement
and you saw this in Ted Cruz`s speech, to bash the media. Ted Cruz bashed
"the New York times," bashed "the Washington Post," bashed the liberal
media. I wonder how much of that on the right, did that grow out of
Watergate, of watching a Republican president sort of be exposed by the
media? Did that idea of the liberal media --
THOMAS: The weird thing is it worked at first. Nixon did a brilliant job.
THOMAS: A great job, for really the first time, making the liberal media
the issue. It was initially successful, but things come around. And the
very people that Nixon went after came around, and they didn`t forget. And
they were after him. Nixon paid for that.
NOCERA: Now we`re accused of not covering everything enough. And now it`s
like what are you trying to cover up.
I think the interesting thing, the NSA situation -- I`m kind of surprised
that hasn`t risen to the level, at least on the Hill. There are obviously
a lot of members who are very concerned about it, who are trying to change
it, change the policies regarding the NSA, but they don`t -- I haven`t
heard anyone say, you know, this is worse than Watergate. This is a
FRANKEN: I think I`ve heard that -- in Benghazi, I`ve heard that.
NOCERA: But the NSA spying on -- you know, taking the phone records --
ORNSTEIN: But the other things you could call Issa-gate, I suppose, for
Darrell Issa, but it`s, you know, you demonize the president and believe
that he is the absolute epitome of evil, and then you find that these
scandals which you assumed must lead right to the president and be evil
personified, are nothing. And it`s very frustrating to people --
KORNACKI: You set (ph) that mind-set with the 24-hour news cycle, it`s
just -- anyway. What should we know? Answers coming up after this.
KORNACKI: All right. We might as well show this. It`s the reason I
didn`t get much sleep last night. I was up late watching the World Series.
The most bizarre ending to the World Series game I`ve ever seen, most
bizarre ending to a baseball game I`ve ever seen. But here it is. Bottom
of the ninth, tie game, two on, one out. Justin Patroni (ph) makes the
play at the plate, okay. Look at that. The umpire there is calling --
can`t see if he`s calling obstruction on Will Middlebrooks, the third
baseman for the Red Sox. They had the bad throw to Middlebrooks, he dives
trying to make a catch, he gets in the way of Alan Craig, he is the runner,
so Craig is out at the plate, but because he was obstructed by Will
Middlebrooks, the umpire says he`s safe anyway. There`s Jonathan Farrell
(ph) out there, the Red Sox manager, trying to get an explanation. I have
to say, I`m a Red Sox fan, I`m hoping they win this thing. I`m now a
little doubtful. But I also have to say, I think that was the right call
last night. I don`t know.
FRANKEN: Well, except that Congressman Issa is calling committee hearings.
KORNACKI: The rule says that`s -- you know, it doesn`t have to be
intentional. There you go. A sad moment for Red Sox. (inaudible).
I want to thank Kate Nocera, Bob Franken, Evan Thomas and Norm Ornstein.
Thank you all for getting UP today. Thank you for joining us at home.
We`ll be back next weekend on Saturday, this is exciting, stay tuned, up
against the clock. We are inaugurating the legends division, two former
congressmen, Martin Frost, Democrat from Texas, Tom Davis, Republican from
Virginia. They will play for the congressional cup against current
lawmaker, five-time "Jeopardy!" champion, the only living human to beat IBM
super computer Watson, Rush Holt. The three of them for the congressional
cup, that`s next week.
But up next, Melissa Harris-Perry. Today in Nerdland, "HARDBALL" host
Chris Matthews joins Melissa to talk about the legacy of Ronald Reagan and
the current state of Ted Cruz`s Republican Party. That is a discussion not
to be missed. So stick around, Melissa is next, and we`ll see you next
week here on UP.
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UP with STEVE KORNACKI