Transition Edition with Tucker Carlson and Ana Marie Cox

Tucker Carlson and Ana Marie Cox
Daily Beast Contributors
Tuesday, December 23, 2008; 2:00 PM

Conservative MSNBC political correspondent and Daily Beast contributor Tucker Carlson and liberal Time Magazine blogger and Daily Beast contributor Ana Marie Cox were online Wednesday, Dec. 23 to dissect and debate the latest political developments in this post-election, pre-inauguration liminal time.

A transcript follows.


Ana Marie Cox: Greetings from La Plata, MD, where the entire town is encased in silver. Nice effect, hard to get a decent cup of coffee.


Chicago: Presuming he wins the Senate seat, Al Franken will go a long way towards replacing the comic fodder that Bush has so dutifully supplied. Is any chance Franken will surprise and be a boring Senator? In addition to Bush, Larry Craig, Ted Stevens, William Jefferson, Dick Cheney and Tom Tancredo will be missed.

Tucker Carlson: Merry Christmas! And happy Tuesday. If Franken turns out to be a totally conventional blowhard in the Senate, it won't be surprising. He already is. He's funny as hell on a lot of subjects, and smart, but on politics he's insufferable. The worst. What a shame. Anyone can be a senator, but Franken's got so much more to give as a comedy writer.

I love your selection of politicians we'll miss. Couldn't agree more.

Ana Marie Cox: I think Franken's goal is to be boring, in a way. He really re-made himself in to something of a scold rather than a satirist as a candidate. As for comedic targets on the Hill, we really don't know just yet, but there's always Inhofe, and Jean Schmidt has somehow managed to hang onto his seat. Vitter is still good as a punchline and Barney Frank sometimes even intends to be funny.


Warren!: Hi there.

I think the intense backlash to Pastor Warren is a bit, well, un-Obama. Do you think Obama is just setting the board up to allow gays finally to serve with honor in the military in his first six months?

Ana Marie Cox: Ha, THAT'S FUNNY! No. That is not what I think Obama is doing, nor do I think that's what gays think he's doing. (That it is a possibility sort of boggles the mind. Wouldn't the same logic -- double triple fake out knee-jerk behind the back FOOLED YA -- eventually get us to his actually being on the road to appointing Orrin Hatch to the Supreme Court?)

Oh, and I'm sure you realize this but just to be clear: Gays have been serving in the military with honor for generations, just not openly. Obama probably could change that but I don't see it as a first-term agenda item for him.

Tucker Carlson: It's not like Obama's going to lose a lot of gay votes to Republicans, so it's hard to see why he'd feel compelled to start a fight over changing don't ask/don't tell. Not to be too cynical about it.


Wye River, Md.: I have been amused by many on the Left with their hysteria regarding Homosexual "Marriage", a concept that would have brought guffaws if hinted at only a few years ago. No great American, from George Washington to the Roosevelts to Martin Luther King have supported such a context. Even Barack Obama is against gay marriage. What accounts for all the hatred the Left has for believers in traditional marriage?

Tucker Carlson: It is amusing, especially since as you point out, Obama himself is opposed to gay marriage. So it's a little much to hyperventilate over Rick Warren. To answer your question: The left hates traditional Christianity. That's the real complaint.

For what's it's worth, I'm for gay marriage, for what I consider basically conservative reasons: Marriage is good. The main problem with American society is, we have too little of it. Encouraging gay people to make lifelong monogamous commitments? I'm for that. I'm also passionately against divorce.


Appropriate quaff: For Ana: What is the proper alcoholic beverage to be consumed when viewing (from the Midwest) the inauguration of President-Elect Obama? I do not care to drink herbal tea when I am in a celebratory mood.

Ana Marie Cox: Bourbon is great American drink, can be paired economically with ice, and will prevent you from thinking too hard about Rev. Warren. Cheers!


Brooklyn, N.Y.: Do you think D.C. is more of a Southern town than northern? And: why isn't there more glamour there?

Ana Marie Cox: It's true, to the famous JFK quote about DC's southern efficiency and northern charm you can add, "the midwest's glamour." Then again, that's exactly what Obama is supposed to bring, right? Or maybe that's Oprah.

Tucker Carlson: Southern in the summer, northern at the moment. It was 20 degrees when I stepped outside to get my paper this morning.

It has qualities of both, but basically it's more like Denver than Savannah in that what you do, rather than where you're from, is the most important thing.


Canton, N.Y.: Please discuss the administration's actions that helped bring the mortgage crisis to a head. Was it on purpose or just stupid?

These were certainly NOT conservative principles!

by the way, Tucker is one of my favorite conservative commentators, refreshing to see young faces.

Ana Marie Cox: Tucker counts as young! So thrilled to hear that. And I think it's always safe to assume that the Bush administration's actions are "on-purpose stupid," which is to say, they mean to do what they do, but they do not think through what might happen next. There was another national daily paper (cough cough) that recently took a look at how this way of thinking (or not thinking) applied to the mortgage crisis.

Oh, and though I'm not a fan particularly of conservative principles, I agree that the bailout ain't one of them.

Tucker Carlson: Actually I turned 53 last week. I credit Nicorette for my youthful appearance.


St. Paul: Hi Tucker and Ana -- Thanks for taking questions today. Do you think this furor over Rick Warren will eventually die down? I'm gay, and yes, I'm mad, but come on. At least it's not Bush/Cheney, using antigay sentiment to get votes at the same that the vice president and his wife are using daughter Mary's infant for a photo op.

Tucker Carlson: If most gay voters have given Obama a pass on gay marriage so far -- and they have, though I can't understand why -- they'll forget about this before long.

Ana Marie Cox: As a supporter of equal rights for gays and lesbians, I hope we can inch the bar a tad higher than "at least it's not Bush/Cheney." Which still won't be very high but, in a way, I look forward to gays and lesbians NOT giving Obama a pass.


Washington, D.C.: The bathing suit shot of Obama in Hawaii has inspired me to start up crunches again. Is it weird to respond to peer pressure from a guy who's soon to be the POTUS? Paparazzi Photog Gets a 'Pec-tacular' Obama Shot (44 blog)

Tucker Carlson: Yes. It's sick. Weirdo.

Ana Marie Cox: I can think of much weirder ways to respond.


New York: Did Obama allow himself to be photographed with his shirt off to placate the gay backlash?

Tucker Carlson: "Allow himself" is right. I love how they pretended a lone, enterprising photographer in disguise somehow lucked into catching Obama shirtless on the beach. Come on. I know a Matthew McConaughey moment when I see one. What a setup.

Ana Marie Cox: So, Tucker! I'm just glad to see proof that, after all the pool reports from reporters twiddling their thumbs while he's at the gym, he is actually at the gym. I am still crossing fingers for pix from Rahm's daily swim.


Gainesville, Fla.: Hey guys. Hope you're both having a nice holiday week. What are the chances that the Caroline Kennedy deal falls through and we get a red-faced Bill emerging out of the rubble to nab the N.Y. Senate seat? Is this total fantasy on my part? If so, it's kind of a fun fantasy.

Tucker Carlson: As someone who spent all of 1998 jumping up and down about Bill Clinton I never thought I'd say this, but he's such an improvement over Caroline Kennedy that I'd be pleased to see that happen.

Ana Marie Cox: I think it's a total fantasy but it's not like you're being inspired to go to the gym or something weird like that!


Brooklyn, NY: Tucker: Do you anticipate a conservative crack-up between traditional libertarians and neocons?

Tucker Carlson: I'm praying for one. Only by slugging it out will the Republican Party decide what it believes about foreign policy. No, internal strife doesn't help candidates get elected. Fine. In the long run Republicans will be a lot better off if they actually understand, and agree on, what they're supposed to believe.


Arlington, Va.: Who do you think will come out looking worse after the Inauguration? The D.C. government (as usual), D.C. residents who will be embittered by the entire thing by that point, or the entirety of America that is planning on descending upon our fair city? Or is it possible that Oprah will buy all of D.C. a new Inaugural-viewing stand?

Tucker Carlson: Nobody who lives in D.C. is going to be surprised when the city government screws it up completely and thousands are stranded on the Mall for the night. That won't even rate as news here. What I'm hoping for is a follow-up story on those people who spent thirty grand renting ranch houses 30 miles away in Northern Virginia. Did they ever even get into the District for the festivities? Will they get their money back?

Ana Marie Cox: At this point, am considering paying someone to be in the city in my place. Though I was amused -- and heartened -- to see that they've recently cut the estimate for the crowd in half, to a still-unmanageable 1.5 million, I believe.

D.C. usually looks bad in these situations, but the last two times, there was an antagonistic relationship between the White House and city proper. This time, Mayor Fenty is Obama's BFF -- if things go wrong, I don't see how it tarnishes the Anointed One just a bit. Then again, "at least it's not Bush/Cheney"!


Passionately Against Divorce: Is it not odd that conservatives are so willing to accept divorced candidates? For such a pro-marriage group leaving a marriage does not seems to be much of an issue. McCain, Reagan, Giuliani leap to mind. Also all of these gentleman have fairly public rifts with their children as well. Does not bother me so much but it seems that it should be a huge concern to the Christian Right.

Tucker Carlson: You don't have to be an evangelical to worry about divorce. It's terrible for kids. That's all you need to know. We've literally banned most good playground equipment -- and smoking and lawn darts and lots of other fun things -- in the name of protecting The Children. That's how much we claim to care about their welfare. But nobody even mentions divorce. Perverse I think.


Childersburg, Alabama: First: AMC, has the plague-like illness subsided? Hope you're well.

With the release of information on Obama and his team's involvement in the Blago business, are we seeing the info as Patrick Fitzgerald clears it, or is Obama running the info rollout?

Ana Marie Cox: Plague symptoms have settled into a hacking cough, which scares the dog but I'm coming out of the lightheaded/achy portion of the event. Thanks for asking!

As for the Pay-Rod business, why of course Obama is only acquiescing to the desires of the special prosecutor. I don't know why -- coughgreattimingforadocumentdumpcough -- you'd think otherwise.


Raleigh, N.C.: For two worthless hacks ostensibly hosted here to "debate the issues and latest developments", you two seem to agree on an awful lot. Come on, you two, dance for us.

Tucker Carlson: I'm not your trained monkey.

Actually, I am. Ana, I despise everything you hold sacred.

Ana Marie Cox: Shuffle-ball-step-shuffle-ball-step...

I'm sorry, that's all I remember.

And at least Tucker is not Bush/Cheney.

(I think we're discovered a new drinking game here...)


Brooklyn, N.Y.: Does the opposing party generally get locked out of state dinners when a new President of a new party takes over?

Tucker Carlson: Are you kidding? Those invites are the first things they lose.

Ana Marie Cox: No, the FIRST thing they lose is their pride.


La Plata, Maryland: Ana, what are you doing in La Plata, which is a very un-chic city???

Ana Marie Cox: We are on the way to our Xmas destination! But this is a lovely iHop I'm typing from. Though I just realized that it's "IHOP," not the more cybertastic "iHop," which makes is sound like a MacBook accessory.


Brooklyn, NY: What do you think will happen first: A gay President or an ardent atheist President?

Ana Marie Cox: Gay, totally. But we will have had to have solved the flying pig/cell tower interference problem before either.

Tucker Carlson: Without question a gay president. A very religious gay president.


Norm Coleman: Has this guy really lost to a pro wrestler and a comedian? That is stunning. Perhaps, if you can't beat people from these professions then maybe you do not belong in office.

Tucker Carlson: Perhaps you're right. Not that we deserve Al Franken or Jesse Ventura in Washington.

Ana Marie Cox: As I keep finding reasons to repeat: They call it "representative government" for a reason -- Congress follows the bell curve for jerks/geniuses/wrestlers/idiots just like every other sufficiently large population. Coleman is an average white guy and his kind will wind up winning the most over time, though I'm sure he takes absolutely no comfort in that.


Music: J. Free asks what are your Top 5 albums of the year? (Tucker, he also says he likes bow ties.) Freedom Rock with J. Freedom duLac

Ana Marie Cox: Am sorry to report that my year was a little too crazy to settle on much new music but, as with the rest of crititariat, I loved "Dear Science" a whole fracking lot.

Other than that, have been doing some archival research and enjoying a lot of classic outlaw country. Hypothesis: Country started to go bad when they stopped singing about drinking wine.

Tucker Carlson: And when the wine they drank stopped being fortified.


Brooklyn, N.Y.: Tucker: Don't you think Bill Buckley would have voted for Obama had he been alive? I kind of think that's what was meant by Chris Buckley's coming out so publicly with how he was going to vote. He had great regard for ex-soldiers, yes, but he actually wrote advovating an African-American President and, towards the end, McCain really just muddled himself and his previous principles.

Tucker Carlson: Buckley died in February, so it feels a little weird trying to imagine what he would have done. No question he was critical of McCain and would have continued to be. But voting for an aggreessive pro-choicer like Obama? Hard to see it.


Chicago: Hey Ana, I saw a dramatic reenactment of your cat fight with Eric Alterman. I really loathe Alterman. Why is he such an awful person? I much prefer a radical like Alexander Cockburn to a rigid self righteous liberal like Alterman. I really can't express how much I dislike him.

Tucker Carlson: I realize this is addressed to Ana, but I agree so much I can't resist jumping in. Somebody needs to write a book about why the radical left is so much more interesting and open-minded than your garden variety lifestyle liberal. Whenever I meet a lefty who smokes, or who buy groceries at Safeway rather than Whole Foods, I know we're going to get along.

Ana Marie Cox: I think smug self-satisfaction makes anyone loathsome, no matter what their political affiliation. The Right has plenty of snots. They are welcome to Alterman as well if they'll take him but I worry they'd saddle us with... okay, I can't actually think of anyone on the right as smug and self-satisfied as Eric Alterman.


Williamsberg, N.Y.: Why do the more recent Democrat Presidents throw the gays under the bus within the first few weeks of getting elected? Is this a trend?

Tucker Carlson: Because it's easy, certainly much easier than standing up to Emily's List or the trial lawyers or the NEA. Because most gays will vote Democratic no matter what Democrats do.


Fantasy Senators: Since that's the theme today, we'd have to boot most of the sitting (way too much) Senators. Will it count if you have a beautiful soul and a homely visage? I'd vote to seat George Clooney and Alec Baldwin immediately.

Ana Marie Cox: I don't want to lose Baldwin from 30 Rock, so I'm gonna have to veto that fantasy appointment. But Senator Clooney has a nice ring to it. And nice eyes and nice cheekbones and, uhm, nice stuff in general.

I look forward to Rep. Gyllenhaall's appearance at the Correspondents' Dinner as well.


Detroit: Why is there so much outrage over the inconsequential selection of Rick Warren and so little over the highly consequential selection of people with proven records of failed judgments? Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden supported the Iraq war wholeheartedly and now will control foreign policy. Larry Summers was a leading proponent of much of the deregulation that made the financial system so fragile, i.e. Glass-Steagall and the total exemption of credit derivatives from regulation. Rick Warren is going to say a prayer and have no policy role.

Tucker Carlson: Exactly! Rick Warren was chosen to distract alert liberals like you from the fact that not much is really changing.


Raging Rapids of River Road: That was some crazy video this morning. I often wonder what people are thinking during these improbable scenarios. Of all the things people driving down River Road were thinking this morning no thoughts likely included being involved in a water rescue. Also I am so looking forward to what ludicrous reaction the good folks of MoCo government will have to this. What new laws can they pass? Motorists Rescued After Massive Water Main Break (, Dec. 23)

Tucker Carlson: They're going to ban flooding, and triple the tobacco tax to pay for it.


Who first?: I would say we would have an atheist president first. He/she would just be smart enough not to tell the American public.

Tucker Carlson: We've had several of those already I'm fairly sure.


Ossining, N.Y.: I voted for John McCain but I have to admit that Obama's transition has been very impressive. What do you think McCain's transition would have been like had he won?

Ana Marie Cox: Chaotic, leaky, amusing, unpredictable, contain a fair number of Democrats and maybe Jay Carney, still (I kid.) But we would have trouble covering it because I think the pigs in the air might jam some cell tower signals.


Crawford, Texas: For both the guests, any bets on the next industry to receive temporary liquidity/loans/bailouts from the various government regulators?

Hotels around Crawford may need them soon too without the "Western White House"

Tucker Carlson: How about low-rated cable news networks?

Ana Marie Cox: I heard someone on the radio yesterday speculate that the "retail industry" might need one which made me laugh, because, uhm, wouldn't that amount to just giving people money to buy stuff? And then I realized I had answered my own question.


Actually, it's IHoP (or it should be): Thus sayeth the grammatically correct fat man.

Ana Marie Cox: Well said. Sorry sayether the becoming fatter chat person.


Troy, New York: I have nothing to contribute, but felt like posting something anyway.

Tucker Carlson: I have nothing to say in response, but I'd like to honor your initiative.


Merry Christmas: There is hope for Peace on Earth when the two of you can so smoothly host a joint chat from such divergent psychic locations. Thank you.

Tucker Carlson: Amen. And to all a good night. See you after Christmas. Have a great week.

Ana Marie Cox: My New Year's wish is for more conversations with conservatives (or anyone) as charming as Tucker.

Best wishes to all and see you next year.


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