The Rachel Maddow Show | March 06, 2013
MADDOW: In case you are not already acquainted with THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW white board , here it is. We use it to plan out the show every day. We write our ideas for the shows from the day's potential news stories up there. And if it is humanely possible to ever read my handwriting, you would be able to make out the notes on about the segments on tonight's show. So, this is how our planning board looks when we come up with what's going to be on the show and signed out all the segments and everything. It's covered with writing, as you can see. This is what it looks like every day when we come into work for the day. Terrifyingly blank. We erase it every day, all but one little tiny part in the upper right. You see? We keep one little part of it permanently that does not get erased. It's a little note in the top right corner. It is always there because that is our one and only permanent rule about what kinds of stories we will and will not cover on this show. It is a self-imposed rule. It is the only rule that we have when it comes to story selection. You can see it here. First you can see the date the rule went into effect, November 27th , 2012 . So, that's a couple of weeks after the presidential election . And it says 2016 ban. And then I've signed it, RM . So that's the rule. It's a ban on stories about the next presidential election . I refuse to cover those stories. It's against our rule until the rule is repealed. And there is no provision for repealing the rule. And we needed to impose this rule for a reason. Remember the presidential election , the one that felt like it lasted years and it ended a very short time ago, and immediately after it was done, like the next week, there were already all these stories in the news about who was going run in the next presidential election four years later? It's insane. It can't be the way we run the news. And so, we got this ban. No stories about who may or may not run in 2016 -- no, no way, not yet. Not here, not for a while. Except, I'm breaking the rule. I'm sorry. I'm sorry, but it's for a reason. Look, all right, breaking the rule. Here you go. " Jeb Bush Open to 2016 White House Bid ." " Jeb Bush Quietly Lays Campaign Groundwork Through Foundation." " Jeb Bush sounding more like a presidential candidate ." " Jeb Bush thinking about 2016 ." " Jeb Bush : the 2016 race is on." Right. Conventional wisdom is that Jeb Bush will be running for president in 2016 , and so there. I submit myself for sentencing. I have officially violated the ban. And it's about a member of the Bush family , which makes it somehow worse. I am sorry. It pains me to do this, but I'm doing it for a reason. I'm doing it because this story, even though it's about 2016 and is therefore inherently stupid, this story does actually help answer a really important current question that has nothing to do with 2016 and nothing to do with the Bush family . It has to do with the direction of the country right now and policy and particularly the future of the Republican Party . On last night's show, we talked with Nicolle Wallace , who I always really enjoy having on the show, and not only because she is one of the only Republicans in the country who will speak to me with a camera around. Nicolle is a former communications director for George W. Bush . She was a senior adviser to John McCain 's the last presidential campaign . She is very bright. She is also one of more than 100 Republicans who signed a brief to the Supreme Court in support of marriage equality for same-sex couples, ahead of the court's big cases on that subject at the end of this month. In addition to Nicolle , 11 other high-ranking seasoned political operatives have signed into this brief, many of whom have worked for very anti-gay campaigns in the past. As for Republican elected officials , seven former Republican governors, including Tom Ridge and Christie Todd Whitman and Jon Huntsman . Other signatures from 10 former Republican members of Congress , including Chris Shays and Mary Bono Mack and Susan Molinari . So, seven former Republican governors, 10 former Republican members of Congress on the record in support of gay couples having a constitutional right to get married. But what about Republicans who are holding office right now? Not former office holders, but current office holders? How many, for example, sitting Republican governors are signed on to this brief? Zero. How about sitting Republican senators? Zero. Again, no Republican senator currently serving in the Senate signed that brief. What about the House ? Well, there are a lot of members of the House from the Republican Party , right? There is 233 Republican members of the House serving in this current Congress . I think we have a list of all of their names. By necessity, it's in a very, very tiny font, because there are 233 of them. Well, of the 233 Republican members of the House , how many of them decided to go on the record in support of marriage equality ? Ding ding ding ding ding. Those two, jackpot -- two out of 233. That's less than 1 percent. They are New York Congressman Richard Hanna and Florida Congressman Ileana Ros -Lehtinen. Two Republicans who have long bucked their party's line on gay marriage , as I said, less than 1 percent of the Republican Party 's congressional membership. Big picture we are led to believe that something is changing on this issue in the Republican Party , leaders in the Republican Party evolving on the issue of gay rights . And that is true of some people who could be called leaders within the Republican Party by some measure. But it is not true of the party's elected officials . And why is that? Why is the party changing for everybody except elected officials ? I asked Nicolle Wallace last night why virtually no sitting Republican elected official signed that brief supporting marriage equality when so many other big-name Republicans did. And as much as I love talking to Nicolle , she did not answer any question. But there is something about holding elected office that's keeping Republicans from evolving on the issue of gay rights either when other Republicans who aren't holding elected office can evolve. And it's not just the issue of gay rights , no. It is more interesting than that. And that's why this example from the Bush family is worth violating the one rule that we have on the show about what not to talk about. Former Florida governor , current 2016 presidential hopeful apparently, brother to George W. Bush , Jeb Bush left office in 2007 , all right. He was Florida governor . He hasn't been in office since '07. He has been out of office in six years. In that time out of office , he has built a national profile specifically on the issue of immigration by taking a relatively progressive stance on immigration, supporting a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants . During the presidential campaign , you may remember him staking out that territory, right? I mean, there was Mitt Romney praising Arizona 's "papers please law", saying he thought an appropriate immigration strategy was to help for self-deportation by immigrants. At the time, Jeb Bush criticized Mitt Romney . He said, Governor Romney has used this as a means to connect with a group of voters that were quite angry. But now, he is in this somewhat of a box. So I think the broader message is how do you get out of that box? Well, Jeb Bush 's advice to Mitt Romney , watching the presidential race from the sidelines is stop pandering to the angry people, mitt. Don't box yourself in. But now, now that Jeb Bush is going to be not just a former elected official again, apparently he is going to try to run, be a candidate himself again, now he has crawled into the box with Mitt Romney , announcing in his new book that he is no longer for a pathway to citizenship. Now, he believes a pathway to citizenship would be a reward for illegal immigration . In other words, Jeb Bush , in simultaneously letting it be known that he wants to run in 2016 , also letting it be known this week that he sort of now has Mitt Romney 's stance on illegal immigration , which really annoyed some of the people who worked for Mitt Romney during the presidential campaign . The revelations angered them. They felt that Bush went out of his way to make statements during the campaign that undermined Romney's campaign by seeming to urge a softer approach to immigration. Quote, "Where the hell was this Jeb Bush during the campaign?" said one Romney adviser. Well, not where was he, but where did he go? What is it about running for office that makes a person less evolved in Republican policy than being a former official? That is the more interesting question. Later in the week, Governor Bush went on to say that maybe he could be for a path to citizenship again under certain circumstances, it depends. But regardless, his story is instructive. We can see it happening from people leaving office and suddenly becoming more enlightened, and we can see it in reverse with him, having been enlightened and now, suddenly, devolving where people have to vote for him again. What is happening in the Republican Party right now is strange and fascinating. Why can you be a Republican who supports gay rights , but not if you're currently in office ? Why can you support a pathway for citizenship for undocumented immigrants up until the moment that you start being taken resolution as a potential candidate? What is it about elected office that precludes Republican evolution on social issues? How does this work if you are a candidate? What's the right advice to you if you have to decide what you believe right now?