Post Politics Hour

Lois Romano
Washington Post National Political Reporter
Thursday, March 5, 2009; 11:00 AM

Don't want to miss out on the latest in politics? Start each day with The Post Politics Hour. Join in each weekday morning at 11 a.m. as a member of The Washington Post's team of White House and Congressional reporters answers questions about the latest in buzz in Washington and The Post's coverage of political news.

Washington Post national political reporter Lois Romano will be online Thursday, March 5 at 11 a.m. ET to discuss the latest in political news.

The transcript follows

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Lois Romano: Good Morning everyone. We're happy to have you with us this morning. I hope to get to as many questions as possible. Thank you. LR


New York, N.Y.: Hi Lois -

Help me understand MSM world. Bob Schieffer asks Rahm Emanuel a question about Rush Limbaugh. Robert Gibbs is asked about him as well during the press briefing. Next thing the MSM is reporting that the White House is pushing the story. HOW?


Lois Romano: It's been the WH's story line for awhile -- it becomes apparent because aides raise it with reporters, you hear them talking about it, etc. Yesterday, former Obama campaign manager David Plouffe wrote an oped piece about it in the Post. And my understanding was that Rahm raised it before Schieffer asked.


Tuscumbia, Mo.: Should Obama keep having those Wednesday evening gala parties which TV only is too happy to broadcast while many in the nation are suffering hardship and pain? Watching these events is off putting to me to say the least. Maybe he's having his kitchens make a lot of "cake" for the rest of us.

Lois Romano: That's certainly a topic of talk. The White House answer is that they are doing them as economically as possible, that works gets done after hours in D.C. (which is true) and that it can't be all doom and gloom all the time. Some joy has to come from leadership.


Washington, D.C.: Rush Limbaugh has responded to the carefully-orchestrated Democratic (and MSM) campaign to elevate him to leadership of the Republican party by challenging President Obama or one of his aides to a debate on Rush's show. Frankly, it's an excellent response. If the Democrats are serious in their views that Rush is the leader of the opposition party, then they can't decline his offer, because declining shows that they are, in fact, simply trying to divert attention away from the real problems facing our country. I don't agree with Rush on much, but he's called the Democrats' bluff on this and done so in a masterful style (he's much smarter and craftier than most Democrats think, if you ask me). So, do you think that Emanuel or Biden should show up for a debate or does Rush win this round? Minority Leader Limbaugh (Post, March 4)

Lois Romano: No, I don't think Rahm Emanuel or Biden should show up -- but someone a little further down the chain could go, like Tim Kaine.

They are saying he's the head of the GOP -- but that doesn't mean they plan to give him the same deference.

And I don't think he wins anything.


San Diego: Thanks for these chats. I just wanted to register my objection to the mainstream media's portrayal of the Obama tax proposal. It is a huge stretch of logic and good sense to characterize a plan that involves a tax cut for 95 percent of the public as a "tax increase." That sort of thing erodes journalistic credibility and drives critical thinking, news hungry Americans toward blogs, which are at least up front about their ideological bent and don't try to hide behind the false cloak of objectivity.

I don't direct my comments at you, I direct them to the mainstream media at large, but we of the great unwashed outside the Beltway sure would like to see Republicans grilled more thoroughly on their belief that cutting taxes on the wealthy would lead to more job creation, especially given the anemic job data over the past eight years in the wake of Bush's massive tax cuts.

Lois Romano: Thanks for the comments.


Virginia: I am a small business owner that, yes, makes over $250,000 a year. I really wonder about the long term effect of Obama-nomics. Massive borrow and spend, and then the chipping away of wealth. Do you really think people like me are going to expand or hire more people under Obama? No way. Obama is counting on people like me paying for the tax increase, but our numbers are most likely going to dwindle over time. I mean, what is the incentive to be successful now? We'll just be taxed and our charitable deductions count for little. Politically, do you think my venting this morning will catch on? Or am I lone drum beat?

Lois Romano: I think people are very worried and many feel as you do. But many are also taking a wait-and-see approach. Things are bad -- no question -- but Obama make the point that it will take some time to see the impact of his plans. I suspect in eight months, if things are not better, you will will hear a lot more carping.


Richmond, Va.: When you up the ante, as the Democrats are doing against Limbaugh, you better anticipate that the target is going to ante your ante. Now Limbaugh is challenging Obama to come on his show. Does the American public expect that to happen? Will Limbaugh score big points with that unrealistic challenge?

Lois Romano: Well, he has to do that -- it's theatrics. Nothing but ratings. Interesting about Obama -- it's maybe the kind of thing Obama does. The thing is, if Rush ever got Obama on the show, he might ask strong questions but my guess is that he would be respectful.


Vienna, Va.: If the Bush Administration had orchestrated this kind of campaign against Keith Olbermann, can you imagine the cries of "censorship" that would have gone up? The hypocrisy is truly breathtaking.

Lois Romano: It's done all the time. The Clintons orchestrated a campaign against Chris Matthews. It's just politics. And it's not a campaign against Rush per se -- it's a much larger point they are making.


Curious: I read a few days ago on (Sean Quinn) reporting that a reporter said after Gibbs's press briefing the other day, "Did you notice all the questions about taxes came from reporters making over $250,000 a year, especially the TV guys?" My question to you, Lois, is how much do you think the fact that certain reporters make a lot of money has to do with the questions they ask and how they report the news?

Lois Romano: Look, we're all products of our experiences. But I truly believe the mainstream media is impacted by external events more than internal events. They are trained that way, to look at the public at large in terms of asking questions that prompt government accountability.


Winnipeg, Canada: Here's something I don't understand about the "wanting Obama's policies to fail" controversy. Obama's policies have a goal that not only Americans, but most of the world supports: American economic recovery. Only a crazy person would want to see large portions of any population destitute. Now, people legitimately can have differing opinions about the best overall strategy, and one's personal political philosophy can help one to form that strategy. But isn't saying that you want Obama's policies to fail in effect saying that validating your political philosophy is more important than seeing your country return to prosperity? And even if that position is not unpatriotic, doesn't it point to a severely warped sense of priorities?

Let's say that you are a Redskins fan, and that the score is tied. The Skins are on the oppositions one-yard line and there's time for only one play. You think the coach should call a running play, but instead the team lines up for a field goal. You think that field goals are a sissy's way out, but you've bet the college fund on the game. Do you hope the field goal attempt goes wide? Or do you disagree with the decision but hope that it works?

Lois Romano: I agree; it was a bizarre comment. Thanks for the analogy.


Re: debating Rush: Even though Rush may run the Republican party, by and large they lost handily in the last election. In our society, traditionally the losers do not set the terms of discourse. So when Rush says that Obama should come on his show and debate him, Obama should point to the election results and tell Rush to get one of his errand boys like Boehner to go pick up Obama a pizza.

Lois Romano: Yes, good point. The winner generally gets the last word -- and Obama won in a landslide.


Correction: I don't expect you will post this, but Limbaugh did not exactly say he wanted Obama to fail. He said that to the extent that Obama's policies push us into a socialist state, he wants him to fail. We are a capitalist republic based on democracy and his opinion is that Obama's policy are to push away from that form of government.

Lois Romano: Okay. Thanks.


Kensington, Mad.: Lois, I read recently where Mad Coopers determined that overturning the Internet Gambling ban (put into the 2006 Port Security bill at the eleventh hour by evangelicals) would put $52 billion into our treasury over a ten-year period. Do you know what the latest is with Barney Franks' bill to reform the UIGEA? I had heard something about it coming up in March. Thanks.

Lois Romano: He told the Financial Times last month that he planned a fresh push on it and hopes for support from the Obama Administration.


Health Care Summit: Hi Lois, where can we get a list of who was invited to today's health care summit at the White House? It is not on the White House Web site. Isn't there supposed to be transparency for this sort of thing? Thanks.

Lois Romano: I have no idea where to find the list -- but I can see coverage all over the web which includes names of participants. I don't think it's secret.


Lois Romano: Thanks for joining me today. I have to cut out a few minutes early because of a work assignment. See you back here in two weeks.


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