The Ed Show | January 31, 2013
>> and of course those were the remarks that sunk mitt romney 's campaign. yet instead of distancing himself from the language, romney used, the republican party is basically embracing it. the new gop messaging is just like the old gop messaging. and the party's newest messenger is virginia attorney general ken kucinelli. he's a rising star in the republican party and he's running for governor in the state of virginia . the " washington post " got a hold of kucinelli's upcoming book and noted the tea party favorite is adapting romney 's views, attacking a culture of dependency and the politicians who he believes enable it. one of their favorite ways to increase their power is by creating programs that dispense subsidized government benefits such as medicare, social security , and outright welfare, medicaid, food stamps , subsidized housing , and the like. these programs make people dependent on government and once people are dependent they feel they can't afford to have the programs taken away, no matter how inefficient, poorly run, or costly to the rest of society." yet cuccinelli tells the " washington post " he's not trying to disparage people. this isn't a single vote -- there isn't a single vote in virginia that i'm not going after, he says. of course, he's just following the advice that louisiana governor bobby jindal dispensed to the party last week. but despite jindal's weak rebranding effort, the gop 's policies haven't changed. nor has the ideology. and that was the larger issue with romney 's 47% comments and with paul ryan 's makers versus takers argument, as greg sargent of the " washington post " puts it, "there has been a great deal of chatter among republicans lately that they don't really need to change their ideas, they merely need to change their tone. but as cuccinnelli's comments demonstrate, the ideas are the tone." let's turn to our panel tonight. msnbc political analyst richard wolffe is with us. also howard fineman of the huffington post and david corn of mother jones . gentlemen, great to have you with us.
>> thanks, ed.
>> good evening.
>> what's that deal about here's the old boss, meet the new boss? we've just got to put the sign on the front door a little differently. david , what do you make of this? cuccinnelli, the rising star , not backing off from anything mitt romney said or did. what do you think?
>> well, this is one reason why the 47% tape was so potent, because people saw that it showed mitt romney in 67 seconds speaking candidly about how he believed. and i think about how a lot of people in his position in the republican party on the right also believe. you know, the speech that paul ryan gave at the convention, which is very ayn randian, he talked about the government trying to get people dependent. and this comes up again and again. it's a very dark conspiratorial view. you and everyone on this panel have been around lots of liberal democratic members of the congress and elsewhere, and i have yet to hear one say, you know what, if we can just make people more dependent and turn them into parasites we'll do better on election day . i mean, it just isn't the way it happens.
>> doesn't this in a sense really make it easier for whoever's going to end up running against cuccinnelli in virginia , i think his name is terry mccallive? richard wolffe , what do you make of this? isn't this another silver platter for the democratic opponent?
>> yeah, look, it's bad politics, it's bad policy, and by the way, you know, it would fit into bobby jindal 's characterization of this is the stupid party. you know, this is an old storyline for republicans. he's tapping into some very old narratives about people on welfare. and that's how, you know, somehow democrats are busing people to vote, buying up votes. we're really talking about the inner cities. we're talking about african-americans here. there are lots of code words that might work for cuccinnelli among a virginia tea party audience, but it's not going to speak to the bigger things voters are looking for. how does it speak to people's aspirations? how does it speak to people's attempt to get into the middle class , to get themselves out of being in the working poor , or cement their position in the working class ? and that's where it's bad politics as well as a miscalculation about what makes this country work.
>> howard , how does this cuccinnelli get away from these comments and rebrand himself in any way, shape, or form?
>> well, he's not going to, ed. first of all, you've got two fantastic political analysts who have already spoken, david and richard. so i'm going to do something i don't usually do, which is vent. who are the takers and who are the makers, ed? is chris christie a taker? are the people on the jersey shore takers? not makers? are the people in connecticut and on staten island who were devastated by sandy takers and not makers? the congress of the united states , over the last couple months, just voted about 60 or 70 billion dollars to repair the devastation in the new york metropolitan area through new jersey up to connecticut. and i guarantee you that a lot of people who enjoyed the jersey shore or a lot of people who lived on staten island might under other circumstances find a message like ken cuccinnelli's somewhat appealing about the takers in american society , about how the people who become dependent on government. but then when disaster struck the whole rest of the country through the congress weren't takers or makers. they were givers. because this is one country and this is a place where people get together when necessary. now, that was one event and one disaster. but the whole idea of what federal programs are about are not about makers and takers . they're about giving everybody a chance.
>> they sure are.
>> that was the speech that president obama gave in the inauguration. and cuccinnelli and all the others can try to play this game. it's a loser. paul ryan , by the way, who i saw the other night at a dinner, i said what are you up to, what are you looking at? what do you want to do this time around? and he talked about -- he said he wanted to look at poverty and see what he could do about poverty. i actually think that -- this may sound silly to you, but paul ryan 's a smart enough politician to know that he made a big mistake talking about takers and makers in 2012 .
>> no question about it.
>> and he's not going to repeat it. cuccinnelli can repeat it. paul ryan 's not going to.
>> gentlemen, let's talk about chuck hagel . i was surprised at how republicans threw another republican under the bus today, especially the exchange between mccain and chuck hagel . howard , what did you think of that?
>> well, i think there's a lot of republican resentment about hagel . and i will say this. i think the administration, if they want to protect chuck hagel , they'd better come out and do it right away. i think he had a pretty rough time. unfairly so in many respects. he's talking about a new world that we know exists. you can beat up on chuck hagel all you want. i think the basic propositions that hagel is putting forth are probably pretty unassailable. but hagel himself was on the defensive a lot today. and if the administration really wants him, they'd better back him and they'd better back him really fast and furious .
>> richard, i thought he showed a great deal of composure. really took the high road when he was being attacked.
>> look, there's a lot of personal animus there from john mccain to his old friend. they went out campaigning against each other. look, they may have split on the question of the surge in iraq, but the problem for john mccain is he was the biggest -- one of the biggest advocates for invading iraq . and so john mccain might want to try and whitewash the whole experience and pretend like it was all a great thing for america. but you know, when you look back at it, chuck hagel got the overall analysis right. this was the biggest foreign policy disaster since vietnam, where they both served. it's very personal.
>> david , your thoughts.
>> john mccain wants to start the conversation of iraq at the surge and not before that. and hell has no fury like mccain's scorn. it was very personal. it was very bitter. and he really was kind of a bully. he got back to his old crotchety man routine after having a few days in the bright sun on immigration reform . but i agree with howard . i think that chuck hagel did not fend very well those attacks. and they're going to have to come out really clearly in the next day or two to make up for that.
>> all right. david corn , howard fineman , richard wolffe , great to have you with us tonight. thanks so much for your time.
>> thank you.
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