In an interview with Chuck Todd this morning on the MSNBC show “Daily Rundown,” Dave Brat, fresh off a stunning Republican primary victory over House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, came off several ways:
* An articulate economist. Brat is an economics professor at Randolph-Macon College, and he earned his PhD in economics from American University in 1995. When Todd asked him whether he’d raise the minimum wage, Brat responded, in part: “Minimum wage, no, I’m a free-market guy. Our labor markets right now are already distorted from too many regulations. I think CATO estimates there’s $2 trillion of regulatory problems and then throw Obamacare on top of that … There’s just distortion after distortion after distortion and we wonder why our labor markets are broken.”
* An indecisive economist. When asked whether he’d phase out the minimum wage altogether, Brat responded that he didn’t have a “well-crafted” position on that front. He then riffed on the relationship between productivity and wages.
* A media critic. Todd asked Brat whether he considers himself an “interventionist or isolationist.” Brat bristled: “I think the press is in the habit of doing juxtapositions like that that don’t capture reality well. I’m a PhD in economics and so you analyze every situation uniquely because every international situation is unique.”
That said, he went on to say this: “And so I don’t have a pattern that fits every single incident, but I think it’s absolutely necessary that the United States does project its power abroad. I think our Defense Department is bigger than the next ten combined. And without that I think you would have chaos, without our commitment to rights abroad and keeping the peace. But that does not mean that we should not ask some of the European countries to pay up part of the bill now.”
Gripes about media categorization notwithstanding, Brat here comes off as an interventionist.
* A media novice. After Todd asked about whether he’d arm the Syria rebels, Brat said, “Yeah, hey, Chuck I thought we were just gonna chat today about the celebratory aspects. I’d love to go through all of this but my mind is just. … I love all the policy questions, I’m happy to do more but I just wanted to talk about the victory … and I wanted to thank everybody that worked so hard on my campaign and I’m happy to take policy issues at any time but I just wanted to call out thanks to everybody today.”
Chuck Todd is the ultimate issues guy. How can you go on his show and wave off a question on substance? When asked whether MSNBC had extended any “celebratory” promises to Brat, MSNBC spokeswoman Lauren Skowronski replied, “No promises were made to Brat in advance of his interview on The Daily Rundown this morning.”