Morning Joe | November 09, 2012
>>> i felt that the work that i had done in running for office had come full circle . because what you guys have done means that the work that i'm doing is important. and i'm really proud of that. i'm really proud of all of you. and what you've experienced --
>> that was president barack obama speaking to his young staff of volunteers in chicago a day after his historic re-election. good morning. it's friday, november 9th . and with us on set, national affairs editor for "new york" magazine and msnbc political analyst, john heilemann. also msnbc contributor mike barnicle and pulitzer prize -winning historian, jon meacham . he's the author of "the art of power." it's no longer forthcoming, it is here. and in washington, nbc chief foreign affairs correspondent and host of " andrea mitchell reports," andrea mitchell . good morning, andrea .
>> hi there.
>> john heilemann, it's been such a long, long road since you guys started reporting on president barack obama -- then- senator barack obama 's first election campaign in 2007 . here we are five years later, a very emotional moment for the president who has endured five years of the highest highs and the lowest lows in politics. this has to be one of the most special moments for the man.
>> undoubtedly. you know, it will be -- you think about the significance of him winning the first time, obviously, an historic moment. but in a lot of ways, you know, if he had lost on tuesday night, there would have been a lot of people who kind of consigned that victory to an accident.
>> he would have been an aberration of history.
>> almost re-election means as much and maybe in some ways more than the first time, you know. he's not a guy given to public emotion, displays of emotion. back in 2008 on the day before the -- on the day before election day when his grandmother died, he teared up in north carolina . it was the first time i think anybody had seen him publicly tear up. on the last day of this campaign in des moines , iowa, i was with him again. and again he teared up. it was an emotional moment. you know, these are rare things for barack obama to be that out front with his emotion. and it tells you something about how deeply this whole thing has affected him. and i think, you know, the sense of the mantel of history, i think, sits heavier on his shoulders than he sometimes allows himself to show. and in these moments, he's letting it show through.
>> no doubt about it. we can talk about what a loss would have meant for the history books with jon meacham . but mike barnicle first, there has been a pattern over the past 20er y eyears in american politics , for a president to be elected and the opposition to immediately try to delegitimize him, it began with bill clinton in 1992 . it followed with george w. bush in 2000 . and it began anew for the next democratic president, barack obama , in 2008 . the hatred, the vitriol that was constant just as it was for his predecessors, but really that must be what makes this re-election, this convincing re-election, seem so sweet for this president and the millions who voted for him.
>> yeah. we saw from the results on tuesday that the demonization and the infection that you just alluded to that has so crippled much of our politics, both in the cities and in towns that we live in as well as, obviously, in the congress has not really overtaken the entire process. barack obama was re-elected, and we have been told repeatedly in print and on these programs that this particular president is very difficult to access emotionally, that he is reserved, that he is withdrawn. and you saw there in that clip the president of the united states tearing up before a group of people who have spent an enormous amount of time helping him get re-elected. and it just points to the fact that the president, at the ends of the day, while the president of the united states is a human being . and he realizes quite well, more than any of us would ever realize, that the end of his trip, his electoral trip, summons the beginnings. and i think that's what brings the tears. his journey, historic as it is, legendary as it is, the first black president of the united states of america , traveled the country from coast to coast , state after state, small town , big city , tremendous crowds initially in 2008 . again, running for re-election this year in a time when the country seems so polarized, so beset with problems. yet he stood there, and it all must have washed over him clearly in the past couple of weeks, the exhaustion, the gratitude toward those who worked for him, the gratitude toward people who vote for him, the success that most americans, all americans, i would hope, wish for him. it's understandable why there were tears in his eyes.
>> jon meacham , we can talk about what would have happened had the president lost. obviously, you would have immediately been dismissed as a man who was not ready for the job, as an aberration of history that would have had consequences, i think, for democrats for some time to come. instead, we have the president winning re-election. we have john boehner returning to the speakership. harry reid returning. to being the senate majority leader. and while the status quo was the big winner last tuesday, the history books will not remember the names john boehner and harry reid as long as they will remember what this re-election meant for president barack obama .
>> that's exactly right. it is a ratification. it is an affirmation historically. you could argue that maybe one of the reasons he's crying is he's going to have to deal with john boehner and harry reid going forward. so there could be a very practical trigger there. but certainly, i mean, what mike and john have said is exactly right. it's an important moment. he's the third democrat, fourth democrat, to do this in a century. woodrow wilson , franklin roosevelt , bill clinton and barack obama . not bad company to be in.
>> by the way, i heard you say that on wednesday morning. who was the democrat -- the last democrat before that to do it?
>> well --
>> that's a test.
>> -- that is a test.
>> i guess it would be jackson.
>> i think, yeah. one of five.
>> it's a very big deal . it seems to me now -- and this goes to what john was just talking about -- how human they are. he is tired. it is incredibly emotional. so the question, then, is in this moment, does he become more open to humility, something mike's been talking about for a couple of days. does he become the humble figure who says, i heard you even if you voted against me. and we sometimes forget, these are men who run around realizing that virtually one out of every two people he sees doesn't want him to have the job he's got.
>> right. zloo which
>> which is an emotionally wearing thing, it would seem to me. does he draw strength from this? what does he learn from the first four years? and how long does this season of reflection really last when it hits the cold reality of dealing with what's coming up in december?
>> and that is the thing to remember here, andrea , that as jon said, about half the country voted against him. and yet his victory was overwhelming when it came to the swing states , came to the electoral college , but he has to certainly look back on history. he's a man who reads history. and just looks at recent history, andrea , to remember all the presidents who won re-election in our lifetime. in 1972 richard nixon , of course, followed that up with watergate. in 1984 , ronald reagan , two years later, faced iran-contra. in 1996 , bill clinton , three years later, faced impeachment. in 2004 , george w. bush who, of course, the next year faced katrina and a collection of disasters. how does the president keep his head down, not be swept away by the moment, and avoid the mistakes of his four predecessors?
>> well, i think what is so sobering -- and this isn't a grand historical vision or a legacy moment -- because for him, the reality is going to be around 1:00 today when he comes out and says what he would do about the fiscal cliff. we can all laugh about the term as much as any of you, but the reality is really grim. when i started going through the numbers yesterday of just what taxpayers -- ordinary taxpayers -- are going to face, i had no idea that it wasn't just the bush tax cuts , even though i follow this stuff pretty closely, the minimum tax hitting, of all people, the most people who will be affected by the amt kicking in if congress were to let it happen . and you've been there, so you know that they'll blink at the last moment. but the most people of any state live in new jersey who are the middle-income people, people who make $75,000 a year and have two children will have to pay $4,000 more according to the irs and all of the tax studies. and the other thing about that is if they don't blink and if they let it go till january 1st or 2nd and then try to fix it, the irs says it can't be fixed in time for people to get their refunds in march or april. because it will take so many months to unwind it. not to be throwing cold water on the grand legacy arguments, but the reality of what this man faces, of what we as a country face is so sobering.
>> i think that the emotion that he felt was in the moment, being in chicago, surrounded by those young people . i've been at headquarters. you have. you've seen that when you first walk in, it looks like an insurance company . really what they did was filled with passion. we just didn't see it that much.
>> and the congressional budget office came out with a report, andrea , that talked about the seriousness of the crisis we face, that unemployment will spike to 9.1% if this fiscal cliff is not averted and we'll go back into a