NOW with Alex Wagner | July 11, 2012
>>> today, we could be voting on a bill where we work together to cut taxes for small businesses that put americans back to work but we are not.
>> you make congress once again engage in this crude kabuki which is totally without meaning.
>> never in the history of this congress , and i feel perfectly secure in saying this, has anybody voted this many times on a single issue.
>> once again today, the chamber will be focused on a dead bill walking. there will not be a vote for american jobs or extending tax cuts . instead, in a few hours, the house will hold the 33rd vote to repeal the affordable care act . we may have seen this movie before.
>> a groundhog day .
>> joining us now is broadway enthusiast and expert on political kabuki theater , the man who always has the last word here on msnbc, the great lawrence o'donnell.
>> more bill murray . just go back. come on. cue up some more.
>> lost in translation would be better.
>> we'll keep that in mind. lawrence , we know nothing is going to come out of this, but i do -- there is a question which e.j. dionne poses in the " washington post ," saying one of the central skirmishes over the next four months will be over whether obama takes the blame for washington gridlock or whether voters place the onus squarely on republicans in congress . by challenging congress to do what we agree on, obama is trying to highlight what is actually going on.
>> well, there's that, and then there's this obligation to base supporters who had their moment of rage when the supreme court said that the affordable care act can stay mostly intact, and this is the only thing they can do in reaction to that. they have to be -- they have to say to those people yeah, we're back at it and here we go, one more of these things and look, both bodies have always had these kinds of stunt votes. when i was there we used to try to pass things that we knew couldn't pass because we just wanted to get the recorded vote , so then someone could go out and run a senate campaign against a republican, saying you voted against this.
>> is it 33 or 34?
>> i reported on this last night. i actually thought this was like i don't know, the third or fourth time. and i'm told it's the 33rd time.
>> i figured it out. they're not trying to appease the base. they're going for a guinness record . that's what they're doing here.
>> they passed it.
>> a long time ago.
>> you never know. you never know who's behind it.
>> i get the base thing, right? but at a certain point, this is an election cycle --
>> look, i pay average attention to the news. i thought this was the third or fourth time.
>> average attention.
>> so there are days you can't hit this right. we flogged this dead horse enough. there's still the dead horse . we're going to kick it again.
>> you're vulnerable in election season for obama making his point, which is to say look how they're wasting our team. the supreme court has ruled. this congress has acted. we signed the legislation. for god's sake, what are we going to do now?
>> i can't imagine that boehner 's happy about this. from boehner 's perspective, he must want this to be the very last one, guys, please. please. because this argument is supported that -- the obama argument is supported by this behavior.
>> it also leads to okay, you have repealed it and now what are you going to replace it with.
>> no, no. no.
>> i think, though, that if we talk about -- i think in some ways, after the supreme court 's decision, the left has not done a good job of messaging what the affordable care act is going to do. the blow-back from republican governors saying hell, no, we're not going to expand our medicaid rolls. the fact that nobody is really pushing the republicans in congress to say what they are going to do. george h.w. bush had a plan to insure 30 million americans.
>> this is a problem not so much for the republicans in congress . it's a problem for mitt romney because he's still out there saying as he said today i will repeal obamacare. i'm going to repeal myself. and he needs the replacement part . i don't think boehner needs it. i think these guys, they are running basically mostly in safe districts, they can appeal to their base and have a grand time but romney has this problem. every time he talks about repeal, obama comes out and says okay, what about kids who are covered up to 26, or pre-existing conditions for children or others, what about the doughnut hole. for that, romney has no answer.
>> i don't know if obama -- sorry, i don't know if romney does need it because the minute he comes out with something, he just opens himself up to all kinds of very specific attacks. if he can keep it in the kind of conceptual level where it is now, he just looks like he's kind of a freedom fighter to lift america from this curse. i think -- then he can shift the conversation back where he wants to have it, on the economy and hammer away at that.
>> that strategy may work. the only way to test it of course is to see whether you win or lose. so it's a high risk venture there.
>> lawrence , there are starting to be rumblings from some parts of republican circles, folks are saying mitt romney has this notion that he can skate through november just being vague, but he's going to have to put some policy on the table. some kind of economic policy --
>> forget his 59 point economic plan. we can go back and look at that.
>> do you think he can skate through?
>> it's been done. it wouldn't be the first time. you know, look, rush limbaugh said yesterday something that is true. it happens from time to time. he said look, romney doesn't matter. this is nothing but a vote against obama and he went on to fill it up with his hatred of obama and that is really what this is. it's an anti- obama campaign . that's it. so from that side of it, you don't have to -- romney doesn't have to get specific about anything.
>> except when you have bill kristol and rupert murdoch , it makes enough of a balance, just like romney going to the naacp today, every bit counts. if you can sway from 4%, 5% up to 6%, 7%, that's a big difference and if you can get some of the conservatives who are trying to really come at you by saying we don't know what you're thinking about, how can you convince other people, then it becomes a kind of imitation and it has some significant consequence.
>> this election is not even being played between the 40 yard lines. it's being played between the 47 yard lines. there are 6% undecided at this point and i don't think they take their cues from rupert murdoch , bill kristol , as much as he may think so. it's about impressions. i think romney doesn't have to be very specific in his policies to convey the impression he wants to as he's trying to do, as a successful mr. fix-it.
>> i'm thinking about the fact that if rupert murdoch and all these people, not saying the average conservative watches out for them, but if the wind begins to move in a different direction and those people begin to feel its impact, i do think it makes a big difference.
>> they're going to rally around romney .
>> keep in mind there is another campaign operation that is working to fill in the blanks on mitt romney and that's called team obama . where mitt romney dare not tread, the president's campaign seems more than willing and able to. unfortunately, we have to leave it there. msnbc's lawrence o'donnell. be sure to catch him tonight --
>> what time?
>> well, i think --
>> glad you asked.
>> 10:00 p.m . eastern.
>> you might see some of the people here on the show. we won't say who.
>> a deep tease to the 10:00 p.m . hour, lawrence o'donnell, thank you as always.