Morning Joe | February 04, 2013
>>> pretty shot. 23 past the hour. welcome back to " morning joe ." joining us now on the set, co-founder of "the weekly standard ," john podhoretz .
>> did you get that right?
>> as i said to you, the difference between my name --
>> you say it like it rolls off your tongue.
>> i have no idea.
>> the difference between my name and your name is you pronounce every consonant in my name, but you don't pronounce every consonant in your name.
>> exactly, because i have two "zs," but if you say it in polish, you do. would you like to try?
>> look at that. he's pretty darn good. we have a lot to talk about. first i want to talk about your column, "a liberal sane enough to stay nuts." talk about ed koch .
>> i think ed koch , you know, who died on friday, was a very interesting hinge figure in american politics , which you wouldn't ordinarily say about a lot of, you know, mayors, local politicians, because i think he charted a course that the democratic party followed nationally after him by saying the excesses of the left were actually impeding good governance, that they were making it worse, not better, and that it took a liberal with sanity, as he called himself, to stand up against the excesses of the far left and chart a course for the future. i think no ed koch , maybe no bill clinton .
>> and koch also after 9/11 obviously certainly on foreign policy became much more conservative.
>> he always was. i mean, he was always a sort of new york zionist, supported israel wholeheartedly, you know, sent a delegation to central america in the mid-'80s to chart a course against, you know, sort of the communist rule in nicaragua. that sort of thing in foreign policy terms. but in sort of fiscal terms and in governance terms, he would say, you know, siding with criminals over law-abiding citizens is nuts. saying it's okay to do graffiti on subways is nuts. saying that it's okay for homeless people to sleep on grates on second avenue is nuts. this was all very much the way ordinary people felt, and they felt that democrats and the leadership of the left had turned against ordinary citizens and the good order of their lives. and he stood up against that.
>> right. and seemed same and rational unless you were a member of the democratic establishment in the late '70s and '80s when koch was mayor. so it sounds very sane and rational right now in new york city . it didn't at the time.
>> it was a much different -- the thing is that the center of gravity at least they'oretically in the democratic party moved away from the far left where it was trending in the late '70s and, you know, i mean, i have some issues with the question of whether obama is moving it back in the other direction, but certainly, you know, what bill clinton did by getting the democrats back into the center of american society , he needed politicians to chart the course before him, and koch was one of them.
>> that's why we've lost 5 out of the 6 past elections of the popular vote.
>> so let's talk about that. i want to ask you something that was in the papers over the weekend, these republican donors who are pulling together what's called conservative victory project.
>> i guess it's karl rove who's starting the whole thing. what do you make of their efforts, and do you think karl rove is the right person to rebrand and reinvigorate the republican party ?
>> well, i think there are two interesting aspects of this. one of which is obviously the republican party needs to do something about the fact that it had outlier senatorial candidates whose effect was not only to lose in their own states but to push the party 's brand down nationally. and secondarily, it also has to do with the fact that the primaries were dominated by outlier candidates who had no chance to win, who pushed those 20 debates into the realm of science fiction . having said that --
>> by the way, i wish i would have had a podhoretz camp in your house while you were watching one french candidate after another take the lead in the republican party 's primary process. it was just maddening.
>> it was -- i mean, it was actually, i think, nationally embarrassing not just for, you know, republicans but for democrats. it spoke to some decline in our political culture that does not isolate itself to the republican party , that sort of reality television took over the most important political process that we have. the thing about the large donors and trying to bring some sanity to the process is that this is a quick fix that doesn't quite fit. in 2012 , it was not just, you know, todd akin and richard mourdock in indiana who lost in senatorial elections . very well-funded, very serious mainstream republican candidates, tommy thompson in wisconsin and raberg against tester and lingle in hawaii and heather wilson in new mexico. these were all considered very solid, very middle-of-the-road, the best republican establishment could do, and they lost also.
>> and, by the way, mitt romney outperformed all of them, but i think that may lead to john's point about the damage from the mourdocks and the damage from the sarah palins, the damage from the fringe candidates that were leading the charge and define the republican brand.
>> that certainly seems true. you made this point that the outlier fenn ophenomenon, the fringe candidate restricted to the party . a bunch of serious candidates, obama, clinton, dodd. that's not a fringy group that ran in 2008 . 2012 , another opportune moment, a vulnerable incumbent. what does that say about the difference between the two parties, that at moments of opportunity, a very sane group of people --
>> wait a second.
>> to go back to 2004 , though, as a comparable case in which the field was dominated for the first sick months of the race by an arguable outlier, howard dean , who established that position because he was on the furthest element.
>> but not by, like, six of them.
>> no. in that case --
>> who essentially went through.
>> you can't blame the republican party for that.
>> i would say barack obama was an outlier when you had hillary clinton .
>> but not a nut.
>> no, i'm not saying he's a nut, but hillary clinton was the sane, rational pick. was she not?
>> the point that i'm trying to make is that the republican party in 2012 lost its a-team because in my view, the brink of 2011 , barack obama and his team made it clear that they were going to raise $1 billion and aim it like a laser at one human being 's head, you know, that that was the campaign strategy was going to be to raise an enormous amount of money. they weren't going to have a primary. and they were going to focus it on an individual person and a lot of people ran -- a lot of people decided they didn't want to be that target. and you can see what happened. i mean, how much money, $200 million, was spent in ohio.
>> oh, my god.
>> targeting mitt romney , one man. nothing like that has ever happened.
>> $200 million?
>> wasn't it?
>> no, no. that's stunning.
>> so our friend, peggy noonan , has written important and interesting columns in the past couple weeks about a comeback for the party . this week she mentioned the two of you as people being part of talking about ac comeback. we talk about the karl rove effort. what are the ideas, what are the areas of policy you see so far potentially emerging that allow the party to recapture the center?
>> well, i think that the main question is who has -- and is always the question -- who has the most optimistic, most forward-looking, most growth-oriented vision for the united states and its position, you know, domestically and in the world?
>> is that tax policy or --
>> i think it could be the regulatory policy. it could be foreign policy in the sense of seizing the initiative on the notion that the united states should be a harbinger of freedom and peace. there are a variety of things. you know, this is always a dynamic effect, right? right now the republican party is torn in some ways between two kinds of camps. this is where maybe where joe and i part company. if the republican party 's message is we need to cut, cut, cut, cut, cut, we've got to do something about medicare, we've got to do something about social security , the entitlements, we've got to be the party that stands for less. you get less. everybody gets less. taxes are going to remain relatively high, and you're going to get less. that's going to be a pretty bad -- that's a pretty bad message carried guard.
>> you mean that's not going to sell well in middle america , the party of cuts?
>> that's right. everything you always want in a party but less, you know.
>> that's not what i want.
>> they're not serious about cutting, so.
>> i mean, actually, some people are really serious about cutting?
>> who? who?
>> some of the outliers are really serious about cutting. they want to hold -- they want to hold government spending down to 18% of gdp, and they want to cut entitlements. that's cutting. that is a major message.
>> the person you're referring to as an outlier is paul ryan .
>> ultimately he wants to hold it to 18% gdp.
>> i'm not that guy. i want to hold it to 19%. that's all i want. so i'm not an 18% guy.
>> well, i mean, if the economy grows by 4% or 5% a year, you could reduce -- you could have much of the same. so the question is, is what the president wants going to contribute to growth, or is it going to contribute to really sluggish, you know, growth, and that could be the way back for the republicans.
>> it's really great to have you on the show.
>> thank you.
>> it is great to have you back.
>> thank you.
>> john podhoretz .
>> wow, mika brzezinski .
>> that's impressive. coming up, rattner flexes his chart muscles.
>> i don't even know what that means.
>> i don't want to know what that means.
>> this is why we just usually go off prompter. what else is it going to say?
>> we've got a new look at the nation's unemployment rate and some sexy, sexy shots of steve.
>> plus --
>> what did they put on the prompter? what is this?
>> words from the white house , phrases from past presidents that have become part of everyday conversation. look at that pretty shot of washington. as we go to break. we'll be