tv The Rachel Maddow Show MSNBC February 29, 2012 9:00pm-10:00pm EST
last night was fun a more fun night had rick santorum upset mitt romney in michigan, but even with the sort of anti-climax, i sort of liked the giant set and all of us being there all night. >> it was fun, and there was a lot of news there in the last hour. and how this is going to play out in ohio is very suspenseful and of course how it will play out in the senate with olympia snowe checking out, that, too, we have a lot of stuff going on. >> we have a lot of stuff going on. i got chellie pingree, so i'm excited. appreciate it, man. >> thanks, rachel. >> thanks for staying with us for the next hour. last night the whole political landscape for 2012 changed. it actually had nothing to do with michigan or arizona or rick santorum or mitt romney, off even ron paul's dell grate zrat at the gee. the entire landscape for washington for 2012 changed before we got the results of those two primaries last night.
hold that thought. in april of 2010, just before he retired from the supreme court, justice john paul stevens did an interview in his chambers with a reporter for the new york times, and at the age of 90, on the eve of his retirement, justice stevens said when he looked back at his career, when he looked back at every one supreme court justice who joined the court in the previous generation, in the previous 35 years, he told the reporter every single one of them was more conservative than the justice he or she replaced. with only two possible exceptions, over 35 years. think about that for a second. when a republican president replaced justices on the supreme court, they picked judges further to the right than the judges that were being replaced. also, when democrats picked new justices for the supreme court, over the past 35 years, the justice arriving was almost always more conservative than the justice who had been there before. this doesn't mean that democrats
always pick hard core right wingers, but overall, over time it has been a steady, deliberate march to the right on the supreme court. eviden even for democrats. similarly the presidency, whether political scientists in this country, a professor from university of georgia is the date that we'll show, when political scientists in this country track the liberalness and conservativeness of politicians, you get a graph. it looks confusing, it's simple and totally makes sense. this is a graph about moderation. you see the dotted yellow line down the middle? that is moderation. that is the line that indicates neither liberal nor conservative, that means moderate, that is the center in terms policy positions. the further up on the graph is the more conservative you are, the further down you get on the graph the more liberal you are. moderate in the middle. conservative at the top, liberal
at the bottom. republican presidents are more conservative up at the top. democrats broadly more liberal. over time, from ike to nixon and ford and from reagan to bush the first and up to bush the second, you see them moving up? republican presidents are getting more conservative over time. republicans getting more conservative. but here's the thing. so are are democrats. both of these lines are going in the same direction. they are all headed up the graph. republicans are getting more conservative by leaps and bounds, but democrats are chasing lbj was more conservative than kennedy. bill clinton was more conservative than jimmy carter. the supreme court, the republican presidencies and through democratic presidencies is getting more conservative. the presidency through republican presidents and democrat is presidents is also
getting more conservative. the congress? shocker, this is from the same political scientist the university of georgia using the same measures of liberal and conservative, right? tracked this for both the house and senate, same bayic pattern both of them, easier to see with the house data. the basic idea here is that the middle line here, the middle line, the yellow line in the middle is set at zero, that is neither conservative or liberal, it marks moderate. the higher up you get the more conservative, the lower down you get the more liberal. obviously, republicans are more conservative they are up top, democrats up liberal, they are down below. the two lines up see on each side of the middle there, are the most moderate members of each party. those lines are more toward the middle, more toward the center. the lines at the very top and lines at the very bottom are partisan people. the more partisan of each parltity. this shows where the moderates and partisans in the republican
and democratic party have been in our country from around reconstruction like post-civil war to roughly 1975. then look what happened since 1975. look. look what happens to the red lines up top. those are the republicans. getting way more conservative. the republicans both the super partisan republicans and moderates shoot off in a conservative direction. democrats stay roughly the same. since 1975. the most partisan democrats that is the very bat tottom line the stay where they have been over the last several generations. moderate democrats, that is oert line, they get more liberal over time but barely. look at the rest of the lines they stay flat. but the republicans, look, both the moderates and the super partisan republicans just fly off the charts. if you look over time, the
craziest hair on fire most extreme republican in 1975, which that is top arrow, that person's super crazy far right wing positions in 1975 are where the most moderate republicans are now. that is where the most liberal republicans are now. they have the positions that were far to the right of the republican party just a generation ago, that happened over one generation. again, partisan democrats over this time have stayed exactly the same. moderate democrats have gotten more liberal but basically the same. the republicans have gone off the charts. the most extreme liberals in the democratic party are as far away from the moderate position as the most liberal republican. so, on the supreme court, they are storming to the right. the presidency, storming to the right. congress, storming to the right, too. and in congress, that dynamic of storming to the right is important to see it. that dynamic of storming to the right is happening all on the right. republicans are getting way more conservative over the past
generation. and it's happening very, very fast. and democrats are kind of staying where they are at. and so the most important news for 2012 politics that broke last night, is this. republican senator olympia snowe of maine is quitting. the most moderate republican senator, goodbye. if you're marching to the right, making the new normal in republican politics, further to the right every year, frankly you can't afford to have your average dragged down by somebody who isn't sprinting right as fast as the rest of you. this political project of the american right sort of makes sense. this is a consequence i think of the republican party and conservative movement not being the same thing. there is nothing like there on the left. no dynamic on the left. there is a conservative movement, largely corporate, ideological, too, they have a long term prospective, they have a generations long goal of making the country more right
wing. so, if people in my job, we waste all this breath, do all this stupid short term punditry how it makes no sense how the republicans are going right wing, they are way to the right of the electorate, this will cost them a seat. this might cost them an election. why are are they going so far to the right of where the scenter f the electorate is. losing a few seats here and there, does not matter if the long term project is dragging the country, dragging the center to the point where frankly a ronald reagan running for president would have to pick dennis kucinich as a running mate. it's a long term goal. olympia snowe, one of the last endangered species republican moderate-ish is calling it quits. as first read put it today, this gives democrats a better than 50-50 chance of holding on the
senate in november. that is a big deal for 2012. but a move like this also inevitably leads to a lot of stupidity. a lot of hand-wringing bad punditry, how moderates can't survive in washington any more because both sides have gotten so extreme. if you have a piece of scrap paper, tear off a strip and ball it up, and put it in your mouth and start chewing on the strip and next time somebody gets on your tv screen says both parties have gotten so extreme, you just eject one of those wads of paper at the screen. spit balling will not make the beltway stop saying this stupid thing but will make you feel better. i do it myself in my office, trust me. this is not a pox on both their houses story. this is not a mirror image, both sides so extreme. there is nothing that the democratic party did or liberals did to make it impossible for olympia snowe to stay in the senate. this is not a democratic story, not a both sides story, a story
about the right. it is true that olympia snowe leaving will make it much harder for maine republicans to hold on to that one seat. but frankly, to them, that is road kill. that one seat is road kill for the larger republican project of moving all republican politics so far to the right that when democrats inevitably chase republicans, when democrats trying to find middle ground, between where democrats have always been and where republicans have sprinted to, that middle ground, that compromise place, that center ends up being a right wing place. >> there used to be a republican idea by the way this whole idea of the individual mandate and suddenly it's like they got amnesia. this is terrible. this is going to take away freedom for americans all over the world. all over the country. so that's a little puzzling. >> it would be puzzling if republicans were anything like
democrats. but republicans are not anything like democrats. there is no liberal movement to that pulls democrats further and further to the left every year. democrats pretty much stayed the same or they skooch to the right every year. not a slam on democrat, just what happened over time. republicans on the other hand are sprinting to the right deliberately. even when it has bad short term consequences for the next election. republican ideas like the dream act, individual mandate in health reform, those republican ideas which democrats decided to embrace as a gesture of moderation, those ideas are now communism! they were republican ideas five mines ago but now they are communism. olympia snowe is not an exception to that. she voted to create the consumer financial protection bureau, when it came time to appoint somebody to be the head of the thing so it could run she
filibustered his nomination. was there anything wrong with richard cordray? no, it was just a bad idea. that is the context. the republican party and american right doing something that the democratic party and left are not doing. there is no mirror image here. this is about the right and what we are left with is the state of maine, right? the moderate common sense-driven not particularly partisan people of the great state of maine, now all of a sudden in a surprise having to replace their long time middle of the road-ish republican senator. what is the choice going to be? do mainers want to bet on another lab rat in this grand political science radicalization experiment that the republicans and the conservative movement have been engaged in for the last generation? this experiment that olympia
snowe said she does not want to be part of. or might maine pick a democrat? why take reportedly for an answer we can ask chellie pingree, thank you for being with us. >> thank you for having me. >> do you think that the national republican party and maine have become a bad match? >> well, i do think olympia snowe was accurate in her renext shun the party changed, she hadn't. in her statement in speaking to her on the phone i think she found this just untenable. i think you did a great job explaining it's the republican party that has gone to the extreme, while democrats have gotten more moderate or conservative or at the very least stayed the same. it's made the senate a very difficult place to operate. >> is it a place you might ever want to work, are you in fact
thinking about running for the seat? >> i'm absolutely thinking about running for the seat. this isn't anything i was contemplating as of yesterday we had two u.s. senators who were going to stay for a long time we have been fu have been flooded with calls and e-mails with offering to help. people understand nationally and our home state, this senate seat could tip the balance or make it possible for democrats to stay in control in a time when republicans have gone way too far to the right for my state or any other state. >> speaking to the state of maine right now, obviously, a lot of liberals from the state of maine watch the show, we hear from conservatives, too, if you were making your case to the voters of the state of maine would you tell them they should expect you to be essentially a moderate in keeping with the record of olympia snowe who is a moderate in her own party though she leaned further right or would the state of maine expect you to be a strong progressive
in that seat? >> i have been a strong progressive in the house, i was previously in the maine senate. maine has chosen to reelect me over and over, so i think i reflect the views of many mainers but i think we look at it differently. we're not a hyper partisan state. a third republican, a third democrat, a third independent, we like olympia snowe, we like chellie pingree, people in maine look for common sense solutions, look for people who reach across the aisle, find common ground, you know we're a state i think that in the long run wants to fix the problem not get stuck in ideoology, that what is people want to you run on, talk about what you've done, your record, the things you're engaged in, fighting for the middle class, clean energy jobs, health care, things that matter to everybody, that aren't left or right, and i think they want us to move beyond political ideology, they want things to be fix and feel
good about america and childrens future. >> because of that reputation and i think frankly a lot more states are like that than get credit for it, in the country, i think that reputation is why it was so surprising in 2010 when maine elected not just a lot of republicans at the state level but elected a tea party guy, extreme far right guy, paula page to be governor of the state, republicans took control of the house and senate there, how has republican governance at the state level under paul la page affected your view of the two partieparties? >> i think it has gotten people feeling frustrated with the republican party and remember, we put governor la page in the state house with 38% of the vote. it was a three-way race, that can happen in maine politics, you get an independent, republican and democrat and end up electing somebody that doesn't reflect everyone in the whole state of maine. i think people are frustrated
about that, i spent all sunday at the caucuses in maine, even before i knew i was considering this seat and the fact is people, they are frustrated, tired, they don't like the agenda of the governor or the way our legislature has moved too far to the right they are ready for a big change and we will see a lot of changes in this election cycle. >> congress woman chellie pingree, democrat of maine, a lot of attention paid to you in the next few days as you make this decision, thanks for talking to us tonight. thanks for having me on. >> chellie pingree definitely considering. this the progressive change campaign committee this is hot off the presses, just launched a website that is called draftpingree.com. in less than 24 hours, more than 5000 people have signed up to encourage chellie pingree to run important the olympia snowe senate staet. we will be right back. chocolate lemonade ? susie's lemonade... the movie. or... we make it pink ! with these 4g lte tablets,
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late last year the virginia attorney general announced he would run for governor of virginia. he's as conservative as the current governor, bob mcdonnell. his staff issued lapel pins with a modified version of the state seal that showed less cleavage. the attorney general is ken cucinelli. his nickname is the cooch. an access will help you find him online. vaag.com.
which then repopulates to the attorney general's office in case you were going to buy vaag.com, too bad, it was taken by the attorney general's office in virginia. vaag.com. for bob mcdonnell himself, his association with vp has changed quickly from bob mcdonnell vp, as in vice president, to bob mcdonnell vp as in vaginal probe. governor ultrasound can't do an interview. can't talk about vice presidential prospects, can't make a public appear without being asked about state mandated vaginal probes in virginia. he is, however, now trying to back away from that. listen to this from an enter you he did today. interview. >> governor, let me ask you about this is now a republican controlled general assembly now, republican governor. >> almost controlled.
>> pretty much controlled. you gave a warning to them or some advice to them, quoting you here don't are arrogant, gotten overreach and don't fight. do you think the majority is taking your advice, i can go through the list of their agenda, seems like a conservative agenda, socially and economically and otherwise. do you -- are you signing off on all this, do you think they are heeding your advice? >> mark we're a couple weeks in the session. everybody can put bills in, half of them pass. we're in the early stages. now listen i know the democrats are trying to make hay unfortunately out of some social conservative bills with you these are bills that get put in every year. the question is what will pass, i think republicans you wouldn't expect any less than them sticking to their guns and doing things they said they will do. so, i think we are focusing on the big things that affect virginia, which is jobs, taxes, regulation, government reform,
and jobs, that is what we're working. >> how about restrictions on abortion. we got calls and e-mails from people concerned about some of the proposals that would put further restrictions on abortions in virginia. >> nothing passed yet. of course people will put things in. >> what do you support, the idea of having a woman have to take a sonogram before getting an abortion is that something you would support? >> yes, i was the original sponsor of the bill about ten years ago. >> bob mcdonnell caught on wtop radio, yesterday actually by mark seagraves saying this isn't my agenda, this is democrats trying to make hay, this is democrats fault i want to be known as the jobs, jobs but i'll sign the bill. it's my bill. if it's your bill and you will sign it you can't complain that you are known for it. if you sign a mandatory ultrasound bill in your state, that has a way of sticking with people. it's your agenda, you are not rubber, you are glue whatever you do in politics sticks to
you. this is going on the exact same thing going on with rick santorum, another politician made anti-gay, anti-abortion, anti-contraception politics central to everything he has done as a politician but doesn't want to be thought of that way. now he's getting attention for a national gig. fellas, the only way to escape the reputation is stop behaving in the way that earned you that reputation. >> freedom of worship is not just what you do within the sanctuary. it's how you practice your faith outside the sanctuary and at least in america that i grew up in, that used to be around, that was freedom of religion. that was what this country was founded upon. all reporters in the back saying there is santorum talking about social issues again. >> right. and you can't complain about people saying you're talking about social issues again when you talk about social issues again. bob mcdonnell's forced ultrasound bill is not an idea that somebody introduced has no
chance of becoming law in virginia it's on the way back to his desk after he personally rewrote it to his own specifications and now will sign it. a democratic virginia senator tried to amend it to say okay, then guys who want prescriptions for viagra have to get prostate exams. another amendment to say that the state, if the state will force a woman to have the medical procedure, even if it's against her will and the advice of her doctor, maybe the state should pay for it. maybe the state shouldn't also force her to pay for it. republicans voted down those amendments. republicans even, democrats proposed that a woman who is pregnant because of a rape be allowed to opt out of this forced medical procedure, republicans only agreed to that if the rape had already been called into the police. because you don't want too big of a rape loophole. some rapes don't deserve an exemption like that. the women's strike force pac,
political action committee that form in virginia vowing to defeat any lawmaker that votes for the bill or personhood bill that would ban contraception and birth control in the state, that pac reports they have been raising money hand over fist since they were formed a few days ago. people who founded it are former elected officials in virginia, women who are democratic, independent and republican. it may have taken bob mcdonnell to wake up women to what is happening but people are getting mad all over the country now where republicans are passing these bills. texas they have got the law. in texas that state's forced vaginal ultrasound law went in effect last month. the fort worth star telegram reporting how furious texas women are, women having to deal with this new law. the star telegram's piece using terms like "upset, angry, absolute outrage" women are finding the forced ultrasound required condescending. "it treats women as if they are stupid." in oklahoma where 92% male state
senate is debating their personhood measure, there was a protest yesterday. the huffington post wrote about how one oklahoma state senator posed for a photo holding this sign. we have blurred out a word in the sign. if i wanted the government in my womb, i would [ bleep ] a senator. she told the huffington post i saw a sea of signs that caught my eye, this one in particular i loved the offensive language because it's as offensive for republicans of oklahoma to do what they are doing as relates to women's bodies. i don't apologize. she said i was so excited about the fact the women in oklahoma have woke up and fight for their rights. women are mad about these bills that were otherwise sort of steaming through the state legislatures, anywhere there was a republican majority, they have been going right apay. people are getting mad about it now. coast to coast. no wonder bob mcdonnell if he
wants to be a vice presidential nominee does not want to be associated with all this stuff. if you want to be seen instead as the jobs guy, don't sponsor and then rewrite and promise to sign a forced ultrasound bill. don't spend your career working on that and say i don't want to be seen as the social issues guy. he's arguing he should not be seen as the social issues guy, while supporting the forced ultrasound bill and making this argument he ought to not be seen as the social issues guy, when he is signing into law a repeal of virginia's restriction on buying more than one handgun per month. if you want to be seen as a jobs guy, sign jobs legislation. don't sign legislation like this. you have to live with the consequences of your political actions. and making republicans live with the consequences of their political actions on these social issues is why tomorrow in the united states senate there will be a vote on the republicans federal
anti-contraception bill. the united states senate is of course controlled by democrats. democrats do not have to let republicans get the measure to the floor. but if republicans want to make a political issue out of being against access to contraception, democrats have decided they will make republicans do that through a megaphone. rick santorum earned the man on dog nickname. he said that. those were his words. bob mcdonnell earned the vp asterisk next to him name, standing for vaginal probe. he supported the vaginal probe ultrasound. he introduced ultrasound legislation himself, he will sign forced ultrasound legislation, you earned it, you can't escape it. republican u.s. senators are part of the anti-contraception party. they have gone to washington to block access to contraception for american women. democrats by putting the thing on the agenda tomorrow are saying republicans, this is your policy and you are going to have to live with it.
senator jean shaheen joins us next for the interview. imagine living your life with less chronic low back pain. imagine you, with less pain. cymbalta can help. cymbalta is fda-approved to manage chronic musculoskeletal pain. one non-narcotic pill a day, every day, can help reduce this pain. tell your doctor right away if your mood worsens, you have unusual changes in mood or behavior or thoughts of suicide. antidepressants can increase these in children, teens, and young adults. cymbalta is not approved for children under 18. people taking maois or thioridazine or with uncontrolled glaucoma should not take cymbalta. taking it with nsaids, aspirin, or blood thinners may increase bleeding risk. severe liver problems, some fatal, were reported. signs include abdominal pain and yellowing skin or eyes. tell your doctor about all your medicines, including those for migraine and while on cymbalta, call right away if you have high fever, confusion and stiff muscles or serious allergic skin reactions like blisters, peeling rash, hives, or mouth sores to address possible life-threatening conditions. talk about your alcohol use, liver disease
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religious community. the fact is the law in new hampshire has been working well. it hasn't been objected to by the religious community. and now we're seeing politics here in washington that's driving the decisions about health care and the blunt amendment. we should be better than that. here in congress. >> joining us tonight for the interview after making those remarks today on capitol hill is senator jean shaheen of new hampshire, thank you so much for being here, aappreciate the chance to talk with you. >> thank you. >> democrats control the senate, so your party can pretty well control the agenda in the senate within reason. why did democrats put the republicans anti-contraception bill, this blunt amendment, up for debate? why put this out there? >> what is unfortunate this is an amendment being proposed to the highway bill, the transportation bill that has broad bipartisan support and the
blunt amendment is very divisive amendment that the republicans want to get a vote on, and so we want to get moving to the highway bill that is going to put people back to work, that has bipartisan support so we said, you know, we'll vote on your amendment. it is a continuation attacks we have seen on women's health that began with the effort to defund planned parenthood and then stop supporting family planning services, title x now we're seeing an effort to prevent women's access to contraceptive care. >> is it your sense as this is going to be voted on as you and others have drawn attention to this to make sure everybody understands what is being voted on here, is it your sense your colleagues on the republican side are split, olympia snowe, announced she is not going to run for reelection, she told
andrea mitchell she has worries about the bill. other people are uncommitted, do you sense republicans may not be unified on this anymore? >> i hope not. what this amendment would do would be to take the efforts around preventing access to contraceptives a step further, because what it does is say that any employer, any corporation can deny anyone anyone preventive or essential health service based on their own religious or moral beliefs and don't define what the beliefs have to be, so it really opens a pandora's box to say we can deny vaccinations for kids if you don't believe in, that you could deny hiv-aids screenings if you don't believe in those. you could deny type ii diabetics their preventive care if you don't like their life style.
i think this is fundamentally an attack on women's access to contraceptives. but it really opens the door to a much broader impact for families, for spouses, for children, in a way that i think is going to have very far-reaching effects. >> we have been trying on this show to show what is happening at the federal level and republican led state legislatures and with so many republican governors, a lot of anti-abortion legislation, moving around the country, a lot of anti-contraception including some bills in some states that would likely ban all hormonal forms of contraception, if these things pass. oklahoma is close to passing something like. that one thing that happened since that, there is a backlash, protests at the oklahoma state capital, a new political action committee formed in virginia. large demonstrations in virginia, does that resonate at the federal level when
republicans and democrats are making strategic decisions on this, are youing could any zanlt of what is happening at the state level on these issues, too? >> well, sure, we hear from people in our own states. the fact is women want to make their own decisions, these are very private and personal health care decisions, women and their doctors and their families should be making these decisions, government should not be getting between a woman and her doctor. >> senator jean shaheen, democratic of new hampshire, good to have you with us, always nice to speak to you. >> thank you. >> i should note that republican presidential candidate mitt romney was himself split on this issue today. he was asked by reporters if he supported the blunt amendment, the an try contraception amendment he said he was against the amendment not for it, pro-contra accept shin. within the hour, his campaign reversed the candidate's position and said he simply misunderstood the question. so the republican party split on
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chart imitates life. the stock market closed at a high level we haven't seen since months before the financial crisis of 2008. it closed at 13,005.12. wall street was glad for every digit of that even the ones past the decimal point. the nasdaq which is made up of tech companies, the nasdaq reached a level that hasn't seen since the dot com bust of the year 2000. the highest level in nearly 12 years. here is where chart imitates life. we have a bloomberg graph of the stock market under various presidents going back to kennedy. blue lines are for democratics, red lines for republicans. take note of the bright blue spikes during clinton and obama. what they are charting is this. this is fascinating. if you invested $1000 in the stock market under jfk and kept it invested only or democratic presidents, bloomberg calculates
you would have almost $11,000 from your original $1000 investment today. conversely, if you invested that same $1000 under president nixon and kept it invested only under republican presidents, your $1000 would have grown to just over $2,000 today. under democratic presidents, $11,000. republican presidents, $2,000. your pick. a chart like this is about correlation, not causation. still heck of a correlation, right? the excellent steve kornacki joins us next. consider the journey of today's athletes: ♪ their training depends on technology. [ beeping, ticks ] and when their devices are powered by a battery, there are athletes everywhere who trust duracell so whether they're headed for london or the journey has just begun... they rely on copper to go for the gold. duracell. trusted everywhere.
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it did not get much pick up yesterday but president obama gave one of those speeches that is going to go down in the history of president obama speeches. >> i've got to admit it's been funny to watch some of these folks completely try to rewrite history, now that you're back on your feet. the same folks who said if we went forward with our plan to rescue detroit, you can kiss the american automotive industry goodbye. now they're saying we were right all along!
or, or you've got folks saying the real problem is what we really disagreed with was the workers, they made out like bandits. the saving the auto industry was paying back the unions. really? i mean, even by the standards of this town, that is a load of you-know-what. you know, about 700,000 retirees had to make sacrifices on their health care benefits that they earned. a lot of you saw hours reduced or pay or wages scaled back. you gave up some of your rights as workers, promises were made to you over the years that you gave up for the sake and survival of this industry. it's workers, their families, you want to talk about sacrifice? you made sacrifices. this wasn't an easy
let me tell you, i keep on hearing these same folks talk about values all the time. you want to talk about value va? hard work, that's a value. looking out for one another, that's a value! the idea that we're all in it together and i'm my brother's keeper and sister's keeper, that's a value! >> that was yesterday. beltway common wisdom right now is that republicans are best off for 2012 if they keep everybody talking about the economy, because president obama doesn't have anything to say about the economy. that speech was yesterday morning, the day the dow hit 13,000, then today the nasdaq hit its highest level in 11 years. i know it's not the common wisdom, but if i were a republican, i might pick god, guns, and gays over talk about the economy right now. i might even pick anti-contraception as my platform instead of the economy right now. joining us now is steve
kornacki, the political news editor for salon.com. steve, thank you for coming in. >> sure. >> have we turned a corner, where the thing that was thought to be president obama's big electoral weakness may now be his strength? >> for the moment we have. i mean, i'd say the recovery at this point is as tenuous as obama's poll numbers are, really. i mean, we've had five straight months of declining unemployment. we're now down to sort of the lowest unemployment level since the first full month of his presidency. you've got the dow, you've got nasdaq, and you've got polls really starting to show that voters for the first time really in his presidency are feeling more confident about the direction the country's going in. so that's when that's sort of the backdrop for a speech like yesterday, that's going to be a winner as a political speech. if that's the speech he gets to deliver and the backdrop he enjoys for the entire campaign, he's going to be hard to beat. but the question is, what's going to happen four, five, six months from now? are we going to reach a point where the skulls -- are we going to have june, july, august where unemployment drops. if that's the backdrop, we
revert to where we were in 2010, where that republican message of he made it worse, saying it over and over again, that kind of works. but there's been a pivot, because the obama message was, here's what it's going to do. now it's about bragging about, here's what it did. and that's a much more confident place to be. >> and that's the democratic calculus on this. in terms of the republican calculus on this, while the economy is moving in the directions that we are seeing it move in, and while he's making speeches like that about the auto bailout, does that drive republicans towards campaigning on social issues? >> that's interesting. and i think you reach a point, if we don't have bad news this year. if the good news sort of continues, let's face it, obama's basically going to be unbeatable for re-election. because at the end of the day, the economy's going to be good. let's see what the republicans are talking about in september and october. that will be the giveaway. if they're then talk about the social and cultural issues, i think the strategy there isn't so much, here's our last-ditch effort to beat obama.
i mean, they'd like to. but what it really becomes at that point is, wow, this guy's got us on the thing that counts, he's going to beat us. let's save the house, try to win as many of these senate seats as we can, let's excite the base as much as we can. let's make sure they're not depressed by obama's good prospects and get them out to vote. it's sort of similar to the position republicans were in 1996, the last time there was an incumbent democratic president. they gave up on bob dole in october of that year, decided they wanted to save the congress. dole still a little bitter about that, i think. but at the end of the day, they did save the congress. let's see if that's where they end up this year. >> well, the democrats have to make a decision right now, with the congress the way it is right now, with the dynamics the way they are right now, would those decisions lead them towards picking a rick santorum instead of a mitt romney. because right now while they're making their decision, they might decide the economy isn't really their best line, and that's what mitt romney kind of personifies as a candidate. >> that's the thing about santorum to me, he's had the opportunity, i don't know if he's squandered it yet, but he's
had the opportunity to make that case with a wink to republicans, where he could pitch himself potentially in michigan as a guy with middle class message, but with a wink of, hey, if it doesn't work out, i'm still the true believer you want out there. i think republicans are at the point, they're still making all kinds of excuses about the jobs report, about the christmas holiday season and all -- >> it's not real! >> they're still hoping we get those three bad months in the middle of the year, but if it doesn't, at that point, then i think they have to make a serious decision. >> steve kornacki, political news editor for salon.com, as soon as we started kicking around this thesis today in our news meeting, i was like, can we get steve? you were exactly who i wanted to talk about this. on "the last word," the story of a catholic priest who walked out of the funeral procedure he was officiating because the daughter of the deceased person is gay. the daughter is lawrence o'donnell's guest, coming up on the show right after this one. you cannot miss that. also, there is a dinner of great importance currently being
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deserved. and that's a mistake that we must never repeat. the good news is, already, we've seen americans come together. in small towns and big cities, all across the tcountry, to honr your service in iraq. >> seated next to the first lady tonight is kim felts from fayetteville, north carolina. she's the widow of colonel thomas felts, who had served more than 20 years in the military before he volunteered for iraq. he was killed in iraq in 2006. fayet fayetteville, north carolina, is one of the town that the president mentioned in his remarks tonight. a town where people have came together to welcome the troops. fayetteville is obviously home to ft. bragg, so it is a military town, but this is the way the civilians in the city of fayetteville decided to mark the end of the war, and that's what this is about. the pentagon still insisting, i think inexplicably, that they're happy for every other city to mark the end of the iraq war, but they don't want new york city to do that, so there has not been a