The Last Word | January 29, 2013
>>> we have got to stop being the stupid party .
>> in the spotlight tonight, advice to the stupid party , weekly standard editor bill crystal had this advice on how republicans can stop being the stupid party .
>> you have to have some answer to what would you replace dodd frank with? mitt romney didn't commit to a replacement for obama care and the health care fund. conservatives blame the american public for what happened in 2012 , but if you're just a member of the american public, what is the replacement, well, we don't want to get into that right now, that is not a serious governing party .
>> his answer on how republicans can stop being the stupid party was to urge them to be impure.
>> the republican party will never get back from the wilderness if it just says we have to keep our brand purer and make sure americans know we're the party of small government . americans are pretty confident right now in the post- paul ryan era that the republican party is the party of small government . and they didn't vote for the republican party even with paul ryan on the ticket.
>> but when faced with how the republicans can stop being the stupid party , david brooks in "the new york times" responded with this, it is probably futile to change republicans , it is probably smarter to build a new wing of the republican party . the new republican party that david brooks envisions, one that can compete in the midwest, the east coast states, and the upper midwest . that would be filled with people who re-coiled over president obama 's success, but who don't share the absolute anti-government story of the current gop. this is really the only chance republicans have. joining me now is howard fineman , the editorial director of "the huffington post ." howard, it sounds like david brook s is talking about the republican party of oh, i don't know, about 20 years ago, when they did indeed have new england senators, oregon republican senators, exactly that geographic description of where he would like to see republicans succeed.
>> well, it is my sad duty to inform david that theodore roosevelt is dead, nelson rockefeller is dead, and yes, even richard nixon is dead. this republican party , he can attach whatever wings he wants to, i read his article carefully. he is brilliant, a writer about brain behavior. partisan politics , i'm not sure. this republican party is what it is, although interestingly, the republican party as it is right now, based in the south and the midwest, being what it is in the sort of ronald reagan - bush family image is moving very rapidly. don't forget, lawrence, within the last couple of weeks they caved on the fiscal cliff, at least temporarily. they just voted in john kerry by 94 to 3. and leaving aside the guys from texas and oklahoma, all the other republicans voted for john kerry . and they're moving very quickly on immigration. so i think on the one hand the party in its guts, in its roots is not about to change any time soon. and they can forget about the old northeastern republicans . on the other hand, they have looked into the abyss, i think, and they have seen that they have to change. i was at an event over the weekend with jim baker , who had been ronald reagan 's chief of staff, who won the gore-bush thing down in 2000 , and he said to me, you're a political analyst, tell me, what does the republican party need to do to recoup? and my one word answer was hope, they need to get to a one-word answer of hope, not rejections.
>> and they have to get around the issue of rape, saying well, if women get raped, they have automatic chemical defenses, just really, stupid, crazy stuff. that is where their stupidest stuff got said. and what is interesting about it, the policies that todd akin actually favors as a result of that thinking are mainstream republican anti-abortion policies with no exceptions.
>> well, here is the problem that the republicans have. whatever energy they have got, and there is some, is at the crazy end of the grass roots right now, whether it is the todd akin part or whether it is the tea party rejection, they have gone kind of extreme. and they don't have either the structure or the family clout as the bushes had, or the personality of ronald reagan to take the energy of the crazies and bring it back to the middle. kind of use the motive power of that extreme grass roots , drag it back to the center and make it a national movement under the banner of hope and opportunity and individuality and freedom. they don't have somebody who can do it right now. they don't need to bring back nelson rockefeller . that is never going to happen. but they have to do the other stuff in order to be back in the conversation. and they have got to somehow say that the problem with government is not government, per se . but the government is poorly run. the government is wasteful. government doesn't use business principles. that government is not in the 20th century . and whichever party can bring government, the welfare state for want of a better term, into the 21th century is going to rule the day. the democrats haven't done it. they have unions and old technology to deal with. you would think the republicans that care about business and technology and are supposedly entreprene entrepreneurs, they can't do it. until somebody can articulate it, they're going to get nowhere.
>> howard fineman , thank you for joining us.
>> thanks lawrence.
>>> coming up, when a father of a first grader killed in newtown, connecticut, wants to know why people need high-powered magazines, he gets heckled by some.
>>> and a preview of what wayne lapierre will actually tell a senate tomorrow, coming up.