The Rachel Maddow Show | March 01, 2013
>> you at home for joining us this hour. happy friday. and on the occasion of yet another truly freakin' wintry weekend, when it is way too cold to fish, and i do not know how to ice fish , let us bask for a moment in our collective love for the weather channel . now in telling you that i love the weather channel , i have to disclose that apparently we're owned by the same parent company, which has no consequences for me at all. but honestly, i would tell you that i love them even if they were owned by satan. i love them. i'm thrilled to have any connection to the weather channel , even if it's immaterial to my life. last fall the weather channel took it upon themselves to start naming storms in winter. you know that hurricanes have long been given names by weather forecasters . but the weather channel wanted to expand that good thing. and so although it caused quite a stir in the meteorological community, the weather channel is now naming winter storms as well as hurricanes, which is how we got a winter storm with a cartoon fish name here in the northeast last month, taunting me over not being able to fish in this weather. the folks at the weather channel kind of have a point with this, right? if we're going to name hurricanes, why not name big storms all yearlong? first of all, naming things is fun. but it also has a function. it makes them more easily definable as distinct entities. and that can be important when you're talking about a series of things that in memory can sort of all blend together, unless you have a way to remember their distinct characteristics. it analogies as well to what we do when we cover politics. here in cable news land, our seasons are not demark indicated by the calendar, by the rotation and orbit of the earth. our seasons are demark indicated by the endings and begins of bipartisan control over certain institutions in washington. so our current political storm system as i think of it started in january 2011 when republicans were sworn in to take over the house of representatives after a particularly good midterm election showing. in this season that started january 2011 , there have since been a whole series of political storms, crises, calamities. it would be easier to keep them in perspective if we had not just thought of them as a series of things that all sort of seem the same in retrospect, but if they were rememberable things. maybe if we had been naming those things the way that forecasters name storms and the way the weather channel now names storms in every other season too, it would be easier to remember exactly what happened. the first crisis of this political season came in april after the republicans were sworn in january that storm came in the form of a threatened government shutdown . everybody called it a government shutdown crisis, which is what it was, a shutdown just barely averted by last-minute spending deal. but so as to not confuse that particular government shutdown crisis with every other government shutdown crisis before and since, what if we just named it like the first storm of the season. what if we called it aaron . it starts with a. then the next crisis in the season of republicans controlling the house came about three months later in july that was a debt ceiling standoff. we will call you bilbo. you name storms alphabetically, right? then the other government shutdown fight, not to be confused with aaron . this was the third storm of the season. we will make it carlito, which starts with c. then we got a break from political crises for a while while we had the presidential election . but right after the presidential election was over, we got right back into the storms with the fiscal cliff crisis. and everybody struggled so mightily with the cliff as a metaphor. it would have been much easier if we just named it. it starts with d at this point, right? so how about deidre. already we have aaron , bilbo, carlito and deidre. and now we're sitting in the middle of the sequester thing, which i declare it will no longer be called the sequester. let us call it earl. it starts with e. the half the fact that nobody cares is nobody can remember the word sequester. and half the people who cannot remember sequester cannot spell it and the other half cannot define it. the sequester crisis? no wonder nobody cares . hence it is political storm earl, the fifth storm of the season. earl is expected to be a damaging storm . economically, earl is expected to cost hundreds of thousands of jobs, jobs in every state in the nation. so far the republican position on earl is that it is going to be devastating. and also, woo! let's do it, bring on earl. look at this press release from the republicans ' reelection arm in the house, the nrcc. you see that they refer to earl as a storm that will, quote, cut devastating segments of our economy. it is a devastating sequester if you ask the republican party , if you ask the nrcc. at the same time, though, they are denouncing the potential damage as devastating, also, quote, house republicans could not be more pleased with their leader right now. republican aides say privately that john boehner sees no need to negotiate. republicans are in a good place, they argue, because they want spending cut, and those cuts are happening. congressman mick mulvaney of north carolina saying, quote, i think it's working to our favor. congressman steve scolese calling the cut a, quote, big victory." that's the earl sequester storm . it's major blind across the board cuts that start taking effect now. that were purposely designed to be a bad idea for the country so we would be so alarmed by their onset that we would do anything to avert it. we stopped being alarmed. and so now these things designed purposely to be a bad idea, to be awful for the country are now happening. the congressional budget office says it will result in three-quarters of a million jobs lost. republicans say it will be devastating to the country and also that it's working to their favor. it's a big, big victory. between those two things they have decide they'd would like more. they have therefore moved on to planning the next two storms. if this has not been enough, they have two more storms brewing offshore. another potential government shutdown slated for later this month. we will need an f name for that one. so in honor of kevin spacey we will call that one francis. and then republicans are psyched for another debt ceiling crisis that is scheduled to hit around may. we'll need a g name that one. well will go with gertrude. even though it is in their words devastating, republicans are delighting in the storms they are planning for weeks and months. ruth writing for the " washington post ," to listen to congressman paul ryan is to understand that the country should brace for a month's long slog from sequester to continuing resolution to yes, another debt showdown some time this summer. really, i ask? the debt ceiling again? i thought the republicans were determined to avoid replaying that losing hand. not this time, paul ryan said, before the words were even out of my mouth. paul ryan already gleefully planning for the next debt ceiling standoff, the next storm , storm f and storm g, francis and gertrude. what does it mean for us as a country that this is our weather pattern now? that this is how it goes now? this is what governing is like now. what does it cost us? and is this going to be the defining feature of the second term of the obama presidency? joining us now is a man who has spent a significant position of his career covering real storms. he once explored the idea of lashing himself to a tree to cover one texas hurricane early in his career. he has also weathered a lot of proverbial political storms in washington over his long storied career on network news. dan rather , do those pictures make you feel bad? i think they're great. dan rather is now anchor and managing editor of dan rather reports on axis tv. thank you for being here. it seems like the self-imposed economic crises that we faced before were not flukes, that it's the planned way of governing from here on out. has this happened before in modern american history ?
>> not exactly this way. we have had government shutdowns before, but i think this is historic in this sense. it's going to be slow to build, but it may last a long time. and the thing that strikes me that is different about this one, frankly, neither side at this moment seems to know whether to bark at the moon or to wind their watch, which is to say they don't seem to know what it is -- how this will resolve itself. the republicans are sort of doing the equivalent of an end zone dance right now. but it may be premature. but, you know, i keep thinking if you're a soldier in afghanistan on some lonely post, moment to moment on the raise doctor's edge of danger, and you hear or you see on your computer the government is in a shutdown mode, the u.s. government is in shutdown mode, what must they think? what must the chinese think while they're smiling, if not indeed smirking saying this is supposed to be a better system than ours? now, for the american public, what it does, mixing my metaphors here, it forces the public to drink deeply again from the chalice of cynicism of neither side really has the country's best interest at heart. they had their reelection chances and the fight of their party, but not the country. what --
>> well, let me stop you there. do you think that -- do you think that is substantively true? i mean, what we saw is the democrats were able to pass their plan to avert the sequester in the sense that it got 51 or 52 votes.
>> republicans filibustered it. the president said i would like to avert the sequester with this balance of tax cuts and spending cuts. and the republicans have said unless we get everything that we want, we are not going to do anything.
>> well, there is no doubt from any objective analysis , which is very hard in the current partisan political environment, but any objective analysis , this is something that the republicans wanted.
>> and they're getting it. it is not something that president obama wanted. in fact, he certainly doesn't want it. a great deal of what it's about, and let's see it for what it is, the republicans want to stymie the second obama term. and they see this as a plan one crisis after another, one chaotic period after another will freeze him in place and in fact ruin his second term, which indeed it could do, keeping in mind the affect on the economy. what does it do to the country in the meantime?
>> 750,000 people are going to lose their jobs based on the cbo based on what just happened. if that's a good start because maybe those people will all vote against who the democratic nominee.
>> who is here solution. i give you an oklahoma guarantee, which from my part of the world is a rock solid guarantee that if you said okay, the sequester is now in effect. that means that no member of congress, no member of the senate, indeed, nobody at the white house is going to get paid, we're going to throw all these other people out of work. a lot of them are not going to get paid. until that is settled, you're not going to be paid, i give you an oklahoma guarantee it would be over the day after tomorrow .
>> one thing that i was thinking about when you mentioned china there is i worry about not just national security , but all sorts of calamity that can happen to our country in surprising ways and our ability to be resilient in the face of real challenge.
>> because we keep imposing these crises on ourselves.
>> talking about the soldier in afghanistan looking back on this, why is the government shutting down? did something happen to make that happen? no. the government just decided to shut itself down internally. there is no externalality that caused this. while we are tying ourselves up in knots and self-imposing big economic harm on ourselves if the cbo is to be believed, does it make us less able to deal with any eventuality that comes up externally? if something bad happens either in national security terms or some other way that is important to the country, are we less able to deal with it because of this?
>> i think so, at least marginal any. i think the answer is yes, because, you know, we've put ourselves forward as the model for the world. we have a republic based on the principles of freedom and democracy. we know how to make it work. now what we're saying to the world, we can't make the thing work. we can't make it work for us. so why should anybody else look to us for leadership. i don't want to overstate it, but i think the answer to your question is yes. it diminishes our ability to influence events in the rest of the world , and particularly when it's something unforeseen or something down the road. let's remember, iran is still out there. trying to build a nuclear weapon. north korea is still belligerent. all these problems exist. so something could explode at any moment. i do think it makes us a little less powerful, a little less with an ability to influence others because they look at us and say listen, you can't even get your own house in order. don't be telling what's to do.
>> dan rather , anchor and editor of " dan rather reports" on axs on tuesday.
>> thanks, rachel. i said something that was impolitic. i said it but i meant it. i said antonin scalia behavedly an internet troll this week over the remarks at the supreme court . do you want to know why i said