Martin Bashir | January 25, 2013
>> we begin this afternoon with the gop. please be sympathetic. they are meeting together in north carolina for the first time since their november drubbing. and it does seem as though republicans are working through some of the five stages of grief, denial, anger, karl rove bargaining for ohio , a grim winter of depression, and are now moving slowly toward acceptance that something has gone badly wrong. but that's not to say anything is wrong with their leadership. oh, no. after all, today they've re-elected as chairman the man who presided over the many conspiracies of the 2012 campaign, reince priebus. mr. priebus appears to have done a little bit of new age soul searching .
>> that's my agenda for the next two years, renew our party , grow our ranks, and win elections. we must compete in every state and every region building relationships with communities we haven't before. in fact, i think we should just stop talking about reaching out and start working on welcoming in.
>> reaching out, welcoming in, hands touching hands. apparently reince has been spending the last few months in a karaoke performing neil diamond , but louisiana governor bobby jindal was a bit less touchy-feely about the prospects for the party .
>> we've got to stop being the stupid party . and i'm serious. it's time for a new republican party that talks like adults. it's no secret we had a number of republicans that damaged the brand in year with offensive and bizarre comments. i'm here to say we've had enough of that.
>> so governor jindal wants to shred his i'm with stupidt shirt, and he doesn't want to trade it for any of that big business bling either.
>> we must quit big. we are not the party of big business , big banks, big wall street bailouts, big corporate loopholes or big anything. we must not be the party that simply protects the wello-off so they can keep their toys?
>> do you remember mitt and ann romney ? in a change of their schedule for selects drapes for their car elevator, they were celebrated in washington today. not by an inauguration as they'd hoped, but by a luncheon with top fund-raisers, including bill marriott . yes, the whole gang got back together with romney's former running mate paul ryan apparently also in attendance. imagine, right now we could all be crawling over the controversy of romney's own lip syncing of "america the beautiful" and preparing for ted nugent to be nominated as secretary of state. let's get right to our panel now in washington is dana milbank , political columnist for "the washington post ," and in philadelphia lehigh university professor james peterson , a contributor to thegrio.com. good afternoon to both of you. professor peterson, as the president was busy today working on immigration overhaul, the gop was trying very hard to stop being the stupid party , to stop being the big bucks party . all the while re-electing their leadership and celebrating a losing candidate with a fancy lunch. so what's wrong with that picture?
>> i mean, once again i think they've got this all wrong. i mean, first of all, msnbc's own michael steele outperformed reince priebus in a lot of different ways when he was chairman of the party . so it's interesting reince got another crack at it after all the losses they sustained over the course of this election season. but they just have it all mixed up. they think they need to change their messaging. their messaging was very, very clear during the election season. their message to the 47%, their message in support of the 1%, their message to women and how they want to qualify rape. their message to latinos and i am grant populations about putting up fences and not wanting folks to immigrate and their message to black folk with food stamp president comments and all the ways they wanted to limb voting for people of color . they were clear on their messaging. i think they have to think about how do they change their ideological constructions.
>> you have just buried them, sir.
>> dana , in his speech today reince priebus said a blue state is not a permanent diagnosis. and there is a plan for that, an electoral college shake-up. in, let's see, virginia , michigan, ohio , pennsylvania. now, even virginia 's governor has said he opposes it, but why do you suppose those states would be targeted?
>> i can't imagine why.
>> help viewers understand why that might be.
>> it's interesting that the party is saying that -- the leaders are saying their problem has been messaging. the real problem has been democracy. people aren't voting for them. they have come up with a rather brilliant solution and that's to take the people out of the process. in these states, these very important swing states , they're finding a way basically to deliver these states to republican presidential candidates --
>> dana , they're finding a way to rig the process. that's what they're finding a way to do.
>> if they're able to do this in virginia , for example, mitt romney got 47% of the vote, but under this system that they're planning to put in place, he would have gotten 70% of the electoral vote there. this is basically a coup by gerrymandering. the idea is -- and this is how the republicans have been able to keep the house of representatives , for example, even though they lost by a sizable amount the popular vote going to house candidates. they want to do the same thing in the presidential race , so the presidency is no longer affected by the way actual voters vote in an election. so it's a most novel strategy. one would think in the long run this won't work and it probably won't even become the law in places like virginia and ohio .
>> but professor peterson, on the one hand we have the re-elected chair saying he wants to reach out. he wants to welcome everyone, and on the other hand republicans are seeking to rig the system. i mean, who is being honest here? which side of the party are we supposed to believe?
>> well, listen, the move to sort of establish this federal gerrymandering, one, should open the american populace's eyes to the way in which the states have been gerrymandered, but, two, it smacks of the same kind of sin stesh strategy and the political moves the republicans have been making recently, and i think we have to trust that because that's indicative of the kind of behavior they've engaged in in the past. they do have to stop talking about reaching out and actually reach out, right? what they really need, and i don't know if there are any strategists or consultants who can do this for them, they need some cultural competence in their party . they need to understand how the culture of the people operate in these shifting demographic times and without those sort of core shifts and core sort of instruction for their party , i think they're kind of doomed to sort of live in this world where the fringe folk and the vocal minority in the party dictate and dominate the kind of policies, legislation they're interested in, and the kind of messaging they communicate to the american people .
>> dana , to that point, your column this coming sunday, is a story about paul ryan 's epic us a tear plan to balance the budget not no 30 years, but 10 years. take a listen to this.
>> we know you won the presidential election , but you made your party into one of the most outrageous government dependent parties that we've ever seen in modern time. you have delivered less and less from our economy, particularly for hispanics and african-americans.
>> dana , the stock market is at a five-time high -- a five-year high. unemployment is at a five-year low. he says on the one hand he wants to reach out. you can see the shares in the dow jones right now. what is this man talking about? please, translate it because i'm not intelligent enough to understand it.
>> there is apparently a bit of a mixed message occurring at the rnc winter meeting .
>> in the very brain of the chairman.
>> i think bobby jindal had a point where he said we need to stop being the party of austerity. we need to stop saying how good we can be at shrinking and cutting government. that is not a winning message. he's absolutely right about that. and then you have the party here in washington doing exactly what he said not to do, and you have paul ryan coming forward and saying, yes, i'm going to -- we lost the election so i'm actually going to double down on this. i'm going to cut 40% of the federal government out over the next ten years because that's exactly what the people want to hear and if they don't like it, we'll arrange the electoral college so we'll win anyway.
>> it doesn't make demographic sense. we know the numbers. we know that the red states , and there are a lot of poor white people as well, there are a lot of older white people as well. it just doesn't make sense to try to divide the country in this way. because of the economic downturn this country took under a republican president, we're still in recovery, and that's why the federal government has to intervene through medicare and social security . the safety net has to be strengthened but it's not just strengthened for black and latinos . look at the map of your own states. understand the demographics. look at the sort of federal sort of trade-off with the red states in this country and you'll understand that you've got to speak to your own constituents to try to say it's black and latino folk who are the beneficiaries of federal spend something not only inaccurate but it's a miscal clition in terms of understanding the quaeti constituency of the republican party .
>> lindsey graham said the republicans aren't generating enough angry white guys to stay in power. it will describe them as free freeloade freeloaders. that's not going to work.
>> i think it's fair to say the republicans have sort of cornered the market on the angry white guy vote. there's not a whole lot more upside they can have there. and that's the issue here is if you look at where demographics are going, it's latinos are going to be the dominant force in politics here and the angry white guy, particularly the angry southern white guy, is becoming a shrinking piece of that. you see the instinct going on right now is to protect that through this gerrymandering, through this changing of the rules and the electoral college . the idea is to sustain the advantage the republicans for as long as possible but ultimately they're just rearranging the deck chairs here if they're not keeping up with where the country is going. ultimately they can only defy gravity for so long.
>> dana milbank , professor james peterson ,