Is it time for Democrats to panic, or chill? Chris asks Dee Dee Myers and Steve McMahon.
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Let me finish tonight with this.
It seems the Democratic Party has an opportunity to grow after this election.
I know that most of the focus is the change that's being made in the Republican Party—how it's moving inexorably from a center-right party to an all-out right-wing party, how the moderates are dying off and the tea-partiers are becoming the mainstream.
All that's happening. There's no real denying it, and it's because the Republican Party is morphing into an extreme right-wing party that I see the opportunity for the Democrats, should they choose to embrace it.
There are a lot of people out there—I grew up with them—who would not call themselves liberal but who are pragmatic about a lot of the things liberals are for: they like and rely on Social Security, on Medicare, and, for purposes of long-term care, Medicaid. They care about good public schools and want the government to do a good job protecting the health of the air they breathe and of what they eat.
These people believe in the science they studied in school, and take a live and let live attitude toward other people in this country. They don't want a churchy big government telling them how to live.
So if the Democrats are smart, even reasonable, they will make the biggest grab in history for the people that the new right-wing party is leaving behind as it shifts further and further, leaving the legacy of Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan behind.
Democrats, pay attention. This is your chance to build a party back up to the grand coalition of the New Deal and New Frontier years.
Let me finish tonight with this.
Did you hear about the elephants who blamed the guys following them with the brooms? "Hey! You guys missed some of it."
That's the way it is, Walter Cronkite might say, in this campaign of 2012.
The Republicans say, "Yes, we left you with a real mess." You're just not cleaning it up the right way. You're leaving too much of it out there on the street.
They go further. They constantly suggest that Obama's not quite eligible to be president. That's certainly working 37 percent of Ohio Republican voters don't believe the President was born in this country. Now that's what I call an effective campaign—ruthlessly effective. And Ohio matters. If history's a judge, Republicans can't win without it.
Imagine if Democrats played this rough? Imagine if they blamed the Republicans for a failure of national security on the eve of 9/11? Does anyone doubt they'd have done it to the Democrats had the horrible attacks occurred on Obama's watch? Really, can't you hear the "birthers" and the Tea Partiers gyrating with righteous indignation over that?
So the elephants move on, pretending they weren't just here, dying for the voter to reward them for the single virtue of having lost the last election so they didn't have to be here clearing up the mess they left.
Let me finish tonight with this: "The time has come for all good men [and women] to come to the aid of their party."
That's an old typing drill. It could also be a call-to-arms for the Obama Democrats.
He's raised the banner of economic fairness--can't be more Democratic than that. He's said that Americans should share the cost of government fairly. That's what the Buffett Rule is all about! He's said that those at the top, that 1 percent, shouldn't be getting special tax deals while other people are facing cuts in life-and-death benefits.
Sounds like FDR, Harry Truman and Bill Clinton rolled into one.
So what's the objection? Why are some New York-based Democrats rallying, not to the Democratic cause, but to Wall Street?
Tougher point: does the President have the right to set the course of a campaign, or doesn't he? If President Obama stakes out the position that the Democratic Party should fight the good fight of economic fairness, why are people out there saying that he should be taking up the cause of those who make the most of unfair tax laws, who benefit from earned income being treated as capital gains, who benefit from an overall preference that's given to money made off money over money made from making goods and delivering services?
The question for Democrats, especially the big ones who can get on television, is where their primary loyalty lies. Whom do they fear upsetting the most? The leader of their party? Or the people in the financial industry who just hate it when Democrats say out loud what they have long claimed as their party heritage: to look out for the people who need looking out for the most.
Let me finish tonight with this.
What is a politician?
Is he or she someone who has the natural touch with people, someone who can get people to go along with them? Or is it a person who will say anything to "get along?" Someone who will hide their beliefs, their strongest commitments, in order to get people to like them?
Now, think about who meets that first definition. The person who can get other people to go along with them because he's so good with people they find themselves liking what he or she says.
Well, I'd say Bill Clinton. Wouldn't anyone?
Now, think of that second definition: a politician being someone who will say anything, admit nothing about their beliefs in order to get people to accept them, who doesn't want to lead voters, just get by them?
Mitt Romney. Mitt Romney. Mitt Romney.
I think this is the reason why he's having so much trouble getting anyone excited about him. He doesn't like this thing, this campaigning, this asking people to vote for him. He wants to be back in the boardroom where he can talk the way he normally talks - about having a couple of Cadillacs, about liking being able to fire people who don't deliver for him, where he can rib somebody for wearing some cheap raincoat when he's sporting something just right.
Look, this campaign is a real teaching moment, and not just for Republicans. It's teaching us all the way these candidates look at things: the way Ron Paul doesn't believe in government, the way Newt Gingrich calls himself "cheerful" even as he basks in his imaginings of world calamity, the way Rick Santorum sees the dominion of religion over the state, the way Romney sees the country from a comfortable seat in the boardroom.
Politics isn't for everyone. Some learn to lead. Some learn to be led.
Romney spends these days learning not how to lead the voter but struggling to "get by" him, and that has made all the difference. It's why President Obama, who has led this country through difficult times and taken the heat for tough decisions, will never be taken for a Mitt Romney.
Politicians, at their best, use their skills to lead. They let you know who they are, not who they're not, because only if you get to know someone - with all their faults - will you take their word on those matters important to us all.
Mitt’s big night! He regained momentum leading into Tuesday’s Florida Primary by channeling Newt—and using the former Speaker’s sparring tactics against him in last night’s debate. MSNBC Political Analyst Howard Fineman and USA Today Washington Bureau Chief Susan Page are here to talk about Mitt’s win.
But Mitt’s nose grew longer as the debate wore on. We’re fact-checking Mitt’s statements tonight, including his “blind trust” and his vote for former Democratic Senator Paul Tsongas in the state’s Democratic presidential primary. MSNBC Political Analyst David Cornand USA Today’s Susan Milligan join us for the fact-check.
Next up: His name is invoked by Newt over and over on the campaign trail... but who is Saul Alinsky? What does he stand for, and what does it mean that Newt is channeling him? The Washington Post’s Melinda Henneberger and the Chicago Sun Times’ Lynn Sweet reported on Alinsky and they’re with us tonight.
Plus: The GOP infighting isn’t just winnowing down the field... it’s shining a spotlight on President Obama. Is the Mitt-Newt duel putting a spring in the Obama’s step? We’ve got the latest from Obama plus new poll numbers. DNC Executive Director Patrick Gaspard and author and political commentator Ron Reagan will talk it over tonight.
Let me finish tonight with this: This test to see who goes up against President Obama is an interesting. Leave it to the Republicans to do it differently than the Democrats.
Democrats pick the guy with the hot hand, the candidate who seems to have something special to say to the American people, the one who seems just right for the times. Republicans pick the candidate who's turn it is, the guy who was rejected last time around or a couple of times before but who's the right Republican candidate for the basic reason that his name has become familiar. Republicans always prefer a shoe that's been worn in to a new one just on the market. They like their presidential candidate's worn in, scuffed up a little from previous outings. They don't feel comfortable with someone with a new, unfamiliar, exotic name like - Dukakis or Barack Obama or Santorum.
No, look at the names they like - Nixon, Bush, Dole. Now those are names that feel worn in, scuffed a little. Sure, the shine's gone but look at how comfortable they feel.
Romney. Knew his old man. Scuffed him up a bit back in the old days, nice fellow, Reagan put him in his cabinet, something to do with housing and that terra incognito, "urban affairs." Republicans don't "do" urban affairs. But somebody had to do it. The boy got scuffed up a bit, too, last time. That was good for him, made him a regular guy.
This time, Mitt Romney feels just right as a candidate. No rough edges, just good ol’ Mitt Romney.
I have a feeling that Rick Santorum, or, Newt Gingrich will have a hard time breaking into line ahead of Mitt. It's hit turn and, let's face it, everyone else in the party seems to know it, to get it.
This time, Mitt's "the one," just like years ago Nixon was "the one."
Is this Democracy? Not if you mean some wide-open thing where anybody can get into the game, not like the Democrats where anybody can run and get to be president, nobodies like Jimmy Who? and Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.
No, but if you're daddy ran once like Bush or Romney or you take years of abuse like Nixon or Dole, then get in line, wait your turn and someday, some cold day in New Hampshire, it's going to be your turn
There's intrigue afoot in the race for president. Try these two undercurrents now running out there, one on the Democratic side, the other on the Republican.
The biggest mistake you can make in politics is to assume that the other side thinks like you do. They're the other exactly because they don't see things the way you do. That's why they're over there. Look at the Republicans going - lunging - for Newt Gingrich. Democrats think they're crazy. Why would they dry-gulch a solid center-righter like Romney - who might be able to grab the middle-of-the-roaders - and go for a divider like Gingrich?
It makes no sense, Democrats figure, for the Republicans to pick a nominee who's so angry, so spewing on venom, that he can't possibly win the center. But look at it from the conservative's point of view. Why not pick a candidate who represents me? Why not have as our nominee someone who's as angry as I am, as upset with the economy, as disgusted with President Obama? Why can't we nominate someone who feels like I do?
That hatred of Obama and wanting to have it in the Republican candidate is a powerful reality today, one that shows more and more in each new poll. It's not just about what Republican conservatives are thinking; it's what they're feeling. Now to the second undercurrent, the one on the Democratic side. Democrats who want Obama re-elected, seem to prefer Newt Gingrich as the nominee, believing that he'll be easier to beat? They think Mitt Romney is too close to the center for safety.
But be careful what you wish for. Those of us working for President Carter thought Ronald Reagan would be far easier to take down than the senior George Bush. It turns out that we were wrong. It could just be that the Republican undercurrent of deep personal and ideological hatred of the President will set the course, not just for the caucus and primary trail, but the whole shebang.
What's the best case President Obama can make for re-election? Chris asks the Washington Post's Eugene Robinson and political commentator Ron Reagan.
Watch Hardball at 7 p.m. ET.
Big wins for Democrats across the country. Chris talks to MSNBC Senior Political Analyst Mark Halperin and former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown about what it means for President Obama's re-election chances.
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President Obama faces a tough battle in 12 key swing states he won last time around. Chris talks to USA Today's Susan Page and David Gregory, the moderator of NBC's "Meet the Press."
Watch Hardball at 7 p.m. ET.
Here's how government is supposed to work in this country. You have an election. One party wins; the other loses. Both get the message and do what they're supposed to do.
Republicans won the 2010 congressional elections. They were supposed to come to Washington and make a deal with the Democrats, one favorable to their side and the people who voted for them, but a deal none-the-less. Making a deal requires making concessions to the other side, as they say in business, "leaving some money on the table."
Democrats lost the 2010 congressional elections. They were supposed to come back to Washington, acknowledge the results of the election and agree to a deal with the Republicans who won it. That means carving a deal that favors the Republican position while not giving it all away.
This is how deals should be made between the two parties. They should favor the party that just won the election. This is how Ronald Reagan and Tip O'Neill cut the deal that saved Social Security back in 1983. Democrats had picked up 26 seats in the 1982 election. President Reagan saw what happened and cut a Social Security deal that favored the Democratic position. This is how grown-up politicians do things. Reagan was getting the Social Security monkey off his back so he could win the next election. Democrats were letting him do it because he, a Republican president, was agreeing to a mainly Democratic solution to the Social Security problem.
This usual way of doing things failed to work this year for one reason. The Tea Party-led House of Representatives refused to deal. It refused to any possible bi-partisan deal by insisting that the debt ceiling not be raised unless Democrats buckled to a big spending cut without a nickel in higher taxes. It insisted that there be no deal between the parties, no compromises, no leaning to the one party position over the other. What the Tea Party Republicans did was dictate: my way or the highway: no deals, no concessions, not even a debt reduction that was overwhelmingly pro-Republican. It had to be winner take all. All budget cuts; no tax hikes of any time. Period!
In other words, it had to be "no deal!" There is room in American politics for right as well as left, for that is the way we get to a consensus that reflects the will of the American people. The tea party Republicans rejected a consensus. They deserve the whack they're now getting in the polls.
Nine percent of the country approves of the job they're doing. Got it, Mr. and Mrs. Tea Party? You are less popular, not just than President Obama but any president in history!