Morning Joe | May 17, 2012
>> top of the hour. welcome back to " morning joe ." jim cramer is still with us, and joining the set political analyst , jeff greenfield and former director of the white house counsel and melody barnes. melody, good to have you this morning.
>> great to be here.
>> jeff greenfield , i am fascinated by that they don't get us. you have a sitting vice president talking to working class people in youngstown , ohio, and yet when he says it, i think of what tom wicker wrote about richard nixon , one of us. you know? biden is from america 's working class , america 's middle class . some politicians can actually deliver that message, and biden seems to ring true with that.
>> i teach a course in political media out at the university of california santa barbara . one of the things i stress is the continuity of this message, of i'm one of you. it goes back to andrew jackson , william henry harrison with the log cabin campaign , abe lincoln , the railsplitter. if you don't come from the middle class , how do you connect with the working class ? some folks do it. fdr did it, jack kennedy did it in west virginia . one of the enduring problems of mitt romney is can he connect? it's something that's so basic in american politics that when franklin roosevelt invited the king and queen to england on a visit, he served them hot dogs and it was a way of saying, he's the king, she's the queen, i'm a rich guy. you know what? i'm one of you. i can't tell you how often this comes up no matter who is running?
>> i was talking about ronald reagan who democrats had basically said a hostage of the 1% back in the '80s. reagan going to south boston , holding up that beer in the pub, and immediately -- it's something you can't fake. he looked like he belonged there, and working class guys all over america at that moment go, the guy is one of us. you either have it or you don't.
>> it was no accident that the republicans went to detroit for their 1980 convention, the heartland of unionized labor where democrats used to launch every campaign to say, you know, we understand you. now accident when reagan campaigned even in the primaries, he went to places like milwaukee, the essence of white working class midwesterners. it's a battleground that doesn't really change except for republicans in recent decades have done better than they used to for all kinds of reasons.
>> i always tell this story about in 1996 the aflcio was spending $100 million trying to kill those of us that get elected in '94. i kept going out and talking about the union bosses are this and the union bosses are that and the union bosses because i was upset that one attack after another. a guy comes over to fix one of my phones from the communication workers union , and he fixed my phone. i said, thanks a lot and appreciated to talk to him. he goes, stop talking about unions. we're all voting for you. shut up!
>> there is that.
>> i learned a lesson.
>> did you get the message?
>> i get the message. it's like -- i think that's one of the problems that mitt romney has this year. mitt is, through no fault of his own, the son of a governor, the son of a guy that ran a car company and a guy that is never going to be able to relate to working class americans .
>> i thought at some point there is a transition where his gaffes would end up becoming endearing.
>> they still may. it sounds like a stretch at this point. when you look at the contrast, melody, with joe biden on the stump, the bottom line is continuity of message that jeff greenfield was talking about. he does get it. he does get it. that's why it works.
>> i think two things. one with president isn't contriv contrived. he didn't have to think about it. it's authentic and what you are saying. people can smell that and feel that. from conversations when i worked with him, he would commonly relay when i was in the grocery store, this was the conversation i had with the person. i was down at the union hall or at the community center , and this is what people said to me, he is of the people. that's how he relates. that's the way he thinks p about policy. i know it from when i was on the senate judiciary committee and he was the chairman and on the committee. i think the other thing when you talk about mitt romney , the problem is not only the gaffes but people see it also reflected in the policy. it hardens the narrative and concern when you look at the budget and they talk about cutting education or with higher education . students should just shop around, and meanwhile we support cuts pell grants . all of those things roll together and create this common sense of who the vice president is and mitt romney .
>> with one small problem, and this is mitt romney 's opportunity, which is the conditions being what they are. p if his argument gets more like obviously i don't come -- i come from a privileged background and acknowledge it has he has, as george h.w. bush did. i know enough to know what these folks promised hasn't happened.
>> what was the famous peggy noonan line, when i'm not a good talker and a quiet man.
>> i hear the quiet voices. it's that kind of approach that '88 acceptance speech of the first president bush is like a model for how you take the fact -- i was lucky. i'm a person of means. just lay that out and say, but i understand what you're going through. that's one of the two core problems, i think, that the obama re-election has. the other one being that he's lost his stature as the transitional candidate to play the normal game. that poll number, that almost 3 out of 4 americans think he switched on gay marriage for political reasons, that tells you more than any horse race number what his problem is. he's no longer seen as a guy that changes things, and that may not be his fault. it's a powerful vulnerability that romney has the potential to exploit, the potential.
>> jim cramer , there also is a question when americans go into a voting booth , do they think barack obama is going to understand how to turn the economy around? we're talking about joe biden connecting, hillary clinton obviously did great in youngstown , ohio, did great across altoona, pennsylvania, did great down in 2008 . this is still a challenge for the president, too, to convince working class voters. not that he's one of them, because he's a law school professor from chicago. in their mind, but that he understands how to get them back to work.
>> what happens if he does? what happens if we get a january, february surge again in employment? last two months have been weak, but you look at youngstown , that's a boomtown because they make too big for oil and gas . the president has not embraced oil and gas , but the single biggest creator of jobs in the country for the last few years. what happens if we actually do turn industrial production good numbers yesterday. housing formation, we're doubling the number of housing starts . foreclosures at a four-year low.
>> you're asking over the next couple of months what happens?
>> what happens if he takes it by storm?
>> if the economy picks up and unemployment is below 8%, game over .
>> i think it could be.
>> by the way, i do, too. you start to hear -- you look at some of these polls, two out of three americans think things are getting better . we keep hearing, melody, great news about natural gas . i mean, we might be stumbling into success over the next two, three, four years after doing everything wrong on energy that we could do over the past 40 years.
>> can't help it.
>> i'm reminded where -- by bismarck who said, a special providence protects fools, drunkards and the united states of america .
>> he was drunk and stumbled into it? that's what it was, right?
>> this isn't a stumble?
>> what's not a stumble, natural gas ?
>> no, the overall energy policy wasn't a stumble. the comment about not embracing, the president has been aggressive on an all of the above policy when it comes to energy. so that isn't a stumble, and the rest of the economy not a stumble. you don't --
>> melody, i want to be very clear here, and i must not have been clear before. i'm talking about energy policy since the days of jimmy carter , that we haven't had an energy policy . i'm talking again about the grand sweep of history and how natural gas , as an axis of industry seems to be a possible future of the country. we hear by 2015 these prices will go up. as you said, we're going to be exporting a lot more than we're importing. some great things with that. i wanted to clear that up. i'm not directing this towards anybody but our own short-sidedness over the past half-century. go ahead.
>> i think the president on energy has said this is an all of the above policy. he continues with leases and lease sales to look for exploration when it comes to oil. also, broadening our natural gas policy, but also looking at nuclear and looking at clean energy as a source you're talking p about exporting. we want to be sellers, not buyers. as a result, we've started to see the production numbers go up where they need to, but also we started to see the fact that we are making inroads when it comes to clean energy .
>> you think the president has been a friend of natural gas ?
>> yeah. i mean, he's a racist as a holistic part of his energy policy .
>> understand when it comes to pipelines that a number of pipelines have been approved. keystone has been focused on as a political matter, and we also know that we have arnor who has expresse d concerns about the keystone pipeline as well. the requirement was to go back and look at this so we make sure when it comes to ground water and protecting the environment, we're doing that. the president isn't automatically against pipelines. we're making sure we're doing it in the right way.
>> we'll be the largest exporter of natural gas in the next eight years. we won't use it as a fuel in this country if president obama gets re-elected. the issue is we can harness it as a surface fuel. the president is anti-carbon. that's totally understandable. the country is anti-carbon. if we want to bust opec, create jobs, being energy independent, we have to embrace natural gas ahead of nuclear power , which by the way the president said there will never be another nuclear power plant built in this country after fukushima. clean coal turned out to be an abstraction, they can't do it. it's time to say listen to it.
>> what the president has said is we have to put these various building blocks in place so we create a bridge to get to the clean energy that he's been fighting for. if we aren't careful and if congress doesn't move forward, the suspepports and subsidies we get to a clean energy future will go away, and we aren't going to get to the where we're competitive globally and protectsi protecting our environment and creating jobs in an area where we can create jobs.
>> this is the germany and spain solution.
>> this happens a week from friday, the show i host goes back to greenville, michigan that produced along with the state enormous tax benefits to bring a solar panel company into greenville. it's a job creator. the parent company is bankrupt. clin china is undercutting the cost and natural gas is looked at as a solution. you can't go on the basis of a five-point program. the deed is in the doing, and the notion that solar energy is a green solution around the corner, much as i would like to drive a sun-driven car, not so much.
>> 2040 .
>> it is a complete set of policies.
>> the question is how much those policies a john maynard cain said in the long run we'll all be dead. i'm a little skeptical.
>> let's talk overall about it really quickly. now that we hear that our economy is going to be going down, jeff, off the next three, four, five, six months, that we're in for a long, hard slug, you get the sense if the economists are saying it, they must be wrong. i think back to '79 and '80, how terrible things were. i think back to '90 and '91 and i remember bill clinton going around new hampshire in 1992 talking about how to retain the americans because the u.s. economy is going straight down. suddenly intel and microsoft and everything explodes and the '90s are extraordinary. i want to get the sense like jim cramer . economists talk about how terrible things are. like a lot of americans , i think this economy could turn around. zo
>> you know, fight that seems to be going on now is between people that say this is a structural problem and long-term in the making and 30 years. we picked the low-hanging fruit. we're no longer the only kids on the block . other people say it's not structural but it's bad policy. if we stimulate the hell out of the economy, we'll get better. being a liberal arts major i take a step back and let folks like you so right often about the economy tell us where we're going. what i do think is as a political matter you need -- i think you need not to look at numbers. it's not like they're magic. 8% unemployment, he might win. this is not a scientific low of the universe. this isn't like when ice melts. it's where in the fall of this year people think we're going, if the optimism is up, the president is in great shape if the numbers are this way or that way.
>> jim cramer , before we go to break. facebook expected to finalize its ipo tonight. bottom line this story for us.
>> if you can get in on the deal, do. if you're doing a market order after once it's traded, please do not. every single deal has failed if you bought it in the aftermarket. don't use market orders either.
>> that was the bottom line .
>> don't buy the deal unless you can get into it.
>> i would no more buy face bike at this inflated price than pets.com. seriously? 800 million on facebook. i think three click on the ads. there's still no ads.
>> we don't think of it as an ad place.
>> we had a billion dollars in sales two quarters in a row. it's very hard to do.
>> i'm still trying to sell my stock in beefsteak.
>> melody barnes and jim cramer , thank you very much. jeff greenfield stays with us. still ahead energy tycoon boone pickens is here on the set. also tom perielo joins the conversation. henry crumbton reveals details about his life as a spy. bill karins is not so interesting.
>> compared to that, come on. best thing i do every day is hang out with you guys. good morning. we're watching a few areas of heavy rain this morning. we look better in miami and better in charleston. now for the good news. what a beautiful thursday it is. one of the top ten spring days that you see in the northeast. blue skies and low humidity and nice breeze. an enjoyable day. it continues from the gax to the mississippi valley through the middle of the nation and west coast . this is as simple as it gets for a beautiful may thursday. st. louis, low humidity. enjoy your great stretch of weather. you're watching " morning joe " brewed by starbucks.