Balance of Power with Tucker Carlson and Ana Marie Cox
Monday, April 13, 2009; 12:00 PM
Tucker Carlson. Ana Marie Cox. He's conservative. She's liberal. They both write for The Daily Beast, and she's a national correspondent for Air America Radio. They were online Monday, April 13 at noon ET to offer their analysis of the Obama presidency and other goings-on in the world of politics.
Concern-o-meter: Which should we be more exercised about -- belligerent Somali pirates or Kim Jong Il's (less than successful) North Korean missile tests?
Tucker Carlson: Happy Monday!
Hierarchies of awfulness are always tricky (Hitler or Stalin? Pol Pot or Idi Amin?) but as a general rule, disorganized crime is always the most dangerous kind. For the same reason you're more likely to be hurt by a mugger than the mafia, pirates are probably a greater threat than North Korea's dwarf king. They have nothing to lose.
Golden Beach, Md.: What's more likely, an Obama ambassador candidate to the Vatican acceptable to the Pope, a Newt Gingrich divorce, a Republican winning any election recount or the Washington Nationals winning a baseball game in the month of April?
Tucker Carlson: What a list. I'll steer clear of the other hypotheticals (some of us are rooting for the Nats on principle), but I will say it shouldn't be too difficult to find an ambassador who doesn't alienate the Vatican before he even arrives. Every other president has managed to pull it off, Democrats included. It is diplomacy after all. The point is to make friends, not lose them.
Plus, Caroline Kennedy? Um, is that, like, um, you know, a super impressive choice in the first place?
Ana Marie Cox: You didn't put a time frame on the Republican winning a recount -- they have in the past "won" at least one. If by "winning" one means "taking office" and not actually "winning."
Atlanta: How do you think this new push for immigration reform will affect both the economy and the 2012 elections?
Tucker Carlson: You've got to give Obama credit for boldness. The deepest recession in 70 years isn't a politically opportune time to announce you're planning to forgive 12 million lawbreakers who, by the way, are taking American jobs. It's hard to see how he gets it through Congress. Democrats took the majority by wining in a number of pretty red districts. I doubt those guys can afford to support this with an election year looming.
That said, I wish someone had the stones to tell the truth about immigration: We need it more than ever. Not so we can get cheaper lawn care. We have more than enough of that - and in fact the new serf class created over the past 20 year is, and will continue to be, a terrible drain on our already-weak economy.
What we need instead are highly-educated innovators from abroad, who will create new enterprises and hence new American jobs. The post-World War Two economy boomed in part because we had many thousands of just those sorts of people, who came here fleeing the insanity in Europe. Let's invite more now.
Unfortunately, in PC, interest-group controlled America, it's no longer allowable to make meaningful distinctions between immigrants. They're all officially the same, day laborers and software programmers. What a tragedy.
Fairfax, Va.: I keep hearing that there is no economic model to support investigative journalism anymore. Any casual perusal of all cable "news" channels shows that they are infantile, ignorant and obsessed with non issues. Is the online community our only hope for legitimate news?
Tucker Carlson: The public is the only hope for hard news. People have to want to buy something in order for it to succeed. And the people want ultimate fighting, not Frontline. Check the ratings.
Ana Marie Cox: Only if the "online community" is going to PAY for that legitimate news, which they haven't seemed too keen on so far.
I think we're probably heading toward a public-funding model of some kind, with foundations and universities supporting investigative journalism. And if someone wants to investigate universities or foundations? Uhm...
If by "winning" one means "taking office" and not actually "winning." : Can't let this one pass: your own allies in the press, most notably the NYT (as rabid a Democratic cheerleader as there is) as well as the WaPo confirmed they got the count right in Florida. Get over it Ana. And be honest, who would you have rather had in there on 9/11? King Wuss or W?
Ana Marie Cox: If the game is stopped in the midst of play and the refs declare the current leader the winner, only to let them continue to play, is that the same as winning?
And, fwiw, I'm kind of over it. As Tucker has observed, the person who wins a recount is the one who wants it most -- which probably should count for something.
DC: I am just curious if either of you have ever had a change of opinion on a matter. I mean, you have a developed opinion, but then after many informed conversations, or additional information comes to light, etc, you change your mind?
Tucker Carlson: Are you kidding? All the time. I started out pro-choice, then after listening carefully to both sides became passionately opposed to abortion, which I think is cruel, horrifying and indefensible. I was for the death penalty; now I'm uncomfortable allowing the state to kill its citizens except in self-defense. I thought gay marriage was ridiculous. Now, thanks to a long conversation with Jonathan Rauch, I'm for it, as I am for all marriage.
So, yes, my opinions change with the evidence, and I hope they always will.
Ana Marie Cox: This kind of thinking is one of the reasons Tucker remains one of my favorite people I don't agree with.
Someone also please remind Tucker of this next time we talk about global warming.
Helena, Montana: Tucker, dear, are you being bold and bucking the latest meme from the conservatives - that we are NOT in a recession because there are as many people in the malls on Saturday now as there were last year?
Tucker Carlson: I spent the morning gardening not reading blogs, so I haven't heard that one yet. I'm no economist, but I know literally more than a dozen smart, impressive people who are out of work right now. So something's going on. Maybe the people at the mall are window shopping. I wouldn't know. I never go there. Ever.
Bethesda, Md. - India Rejects Calls For Emission Cuts: Tucker and Ana; I read the article this morning about India rejecting calls for emission cuts. I would like to encourage my fellow Americans and pro-planet protection world citizens to stop buying good from countries like India and China that refuse to cooperate. If we, the consumers, take matters into our own hands, we will not need government intervention. We have the power to purchase goods from environmentally friendly countries.
Tucker Carlson: The only "environmentally friendly countries" are rich countries. So unless you feel good about sending more money to Belgium and letting Indian children starve, this sort of boycott may not pass the moral smell test. Better to find environmental solutions that are compatible with economic progress, not the enemy of it.
Ana Marie Cox: I just really hope that saying emissions should have to pass a "smell test" was an intentional choice.
Arlington, Va.: One must remember here in Americas pirates were the first democratically run societies, with pirates electing their captains. Also remember here in this hemisphere the Golden Age of Piracy ended when the Brits started sending pirates to Davey Jones Locker at the end of a swinging rope. The Somali pirate threat will only end when the U.S., France, the UK et al take decisive action to end piracy by any means required!
Tucker Carlson: Judging by what the SEALs did yesterday, it looks like we're on that track now.
By the way, I love how the press takes seriously threats from other self-described Somali pirates that somehow by killing pirates we only encourage more piracy. Right. So by being nice to pirates we discourage piracy? Absurd. Kill many more, I say. And don't apologize for it.
Ana Marie Cox: Whoa, so much for being uncomfortable with governments taking a life!
I just wonder when they're gonna call in the RIAA on this, because look how well anti-piracy efforts have gone for them! I bet they'd just arrest a bunch of 13-year-olds wearing eyepatches.
Madisonville, Tenn.: What do y'all think about the White House puppy? (I prefer mutts myself, but I have to admit, I never met any that were hypoallergenic.)
Tucker Carlson: I never criticize another man's dog. That's the code I live by.
Ana Marie Cox: I think they probably should not have raised expectations about getting a shelter dog since, as you point out, they're usually quite allergenic. But ZOMG LOOK AT HIS EYES!!!!!!! AND SO FUZZY!!!!!
McLean, Va.: Maxine Walters admitted multiple ethics violations where she not only voted on decisions that benefited her husband's financial interests in a bank, but she also pushed for legislation that also helped him. Why isn't there any pressure for her to step down?
Tucker Carlson: And that's not the half of it. Waters also in effect defended (check the clips) the animals who beat truck driver Reginald Denny half to death during the LA riots. There weren't many nuances in that case. Denny was pulled from his truck and smashed in the head with a cinder block because of his race. The whole thing was filmed by a cameraman in a helicopter overhead. Waters took the would-be killers' side anyway. (Denny, incidentally, still has brain damage.) She should have been drummed out of Congress for that alone. What a creep. If Maxine Waters had absolute power, many people would die.
Kingston, NY: It seems that some Fox News commentators have become official supporters for the "tea party" planned for April 15th. I don't know if the network itself has officially supported this, but doesn't that become a problem for a station that claims to be fair and balanced or are these hosts considered to be more like opinion writers? If they are, doesn't that in itself cause a problem as the station should be informing the public of that fact?
Ana Marie Cox: The question here is whether anyone watching Fox on a regular basis would CARE, right?
Look, I'm okay with Fox supporting teabagging on April 15, but I hope they realize that teabagging is, for many, far from a once-a-year thing.
Thanks : Tucker, thanks for responding to my question about changing of opinions. I wasn't kidding, and I wasn't tryin to be flip or anything else. I just was curious because it seems that we all are so steeped in our opinions, myself included. When I hear myself sometimes debating the issues of the day, sometimes I just wonder if I am on my side just for the sake of it, or if I really deeply believe. By the way, your answer did remind me that I used to be pro-death penalty, and have since come to oppose it. Thanks.
Tucker Carlson: It seems to me that as long as you're asking yourself questions like that, you'll stay honest.
Washington, D.C.: Okay, I submit questions every week but they never get through. I hope today is different because I was perusing one of my favorite magazines this weekend and saw that Ana was on a panel intended to decide who the funniest women of all time were. And somehow Sarah Silverman ended up on the list.
Please tell me you were a dissenter Ana. She is patently unfunny. The sthick of being pretty and saying lewd things is very old.
On another note, why the obsession with the Obama dog? I've never understood why the media covers the first family's pets? Barney had a Christmas video every year (didn't Socks have one too?) and the hoopla over the dog really makes me wonder who really follows this. Now, if the dog is instrumental in some presidential decision, then I want to know. When Obama says his decision to invade North Korea or nationalize all our industry was because Bo made a very forceful case for these policies and no one else could counter his arguments, then I want to be alerted! Otherwise, it's just a family getting a dog. Happens everyday. Not newsworthy. (And yes, I am a liberal who voted for Obama.)
Ana Marie Cox: Greetings, chatters! Aren't you glad that the Obamas got a dog that could, potentially, fight pirates?
You speak of Glamour's "All-Time Bad Girls" contest! I did indeed vote for Silverman as a "bad girl" but if that was interpreted as deeming her the "funniest" in any way then I'm gonna have to have a talk with my editor.
As for the dog: see above. PIRATE FIGHTING.
Tucker Carlson: Correction: Pretty girls saying lewd things never gets old.
Can't let this one pass...: The media found that Bush and Gore each won under certain circumstances. Also USA Today reported Al lost 15,000-25,000 votes to voting error. There was a reason Gore was ahead in both the popular and electoral count going into Florida. The people voted for him, they just did it poorly...
Ana Marie Cox: Did they vote poorly or badly? Sigh... probably both.
Scotia, NY : Tucker, if you had had the ability to cry hysterically on cue would you have gotten better ratings than Beck?
Tucker Carlson: I'm not much of a crier, but even with weeping I would never have been able to get numbers like that. He's getting over a half a million viewers in the 25-54 demo at 5:00 PM. Ask anyone who's ever had a cable news show: That's unbelievable. I'd make fun of him, but I'm too impressed.
Re: Golden Beach, Md.: Obama's ambassador to the Vatican WAS accepted. On first try.
What's your take on the false stories that keep popping up and spreading like wildfire on the internet -- Has it increased or did Bush have it this bad too?
Ana Marie Cox: I think it's increased, personally, but I think that probably has less to do with ideology than just the sheer number of people online... And I also am answering this question mainly to make sure the link to the story went up. The only way to fight the fake stories is to point to their rebuttals.
Glenn Beck: is doing a live comedy tour. Should we look forward to a Def Jam type comedy enterprise with Mr. Boortz, Mr. Hannity and Mr. Limbaugh joining in? (I'm assuming Beck's Christmas sweater book belongs in another category of entrepreneurial activity.)
Ana Marie Cox: Wait, what Hannity et al are doing isn't already comedy?
Beck's Christmas sweater book now illegal, btw. We do not torture.
Dogs : Some wise guy online asked how long Senate Republicans will block confirmation of the White House Dog.
Prediction: by tonight, more voters will be able to give you the name of the dog than can name the Attorney General.
Ana Marie Cox: You mean Attorney General Race Coward Guy?
Manchester, N.H.: Back to First Dogs: Is there some sort of Thing about presidents having to get dogs? Are these robot spy dogs or something? Clinton never had a dog pre-W.H., right? Then gets a dog, but only for while he's in office. The dog goes and lives with Betty what's-her-name when he leaves office. And not only Obama gets a dog, but wasn't Biden getting a dog or dogs too? What's up with the vice-dogs? Are they going to keep these dogs forever or just give them to the secretary when they leave office?
Tucker Carlson: Yes! I am so glad you remembered that. Nobody else has. Clinton gave away his cat Socks once he left office. (His dog, Buddy, was killed by a car in New York unfortunately.) That bothers me more than anything he did with Monica Lewinsky. Truly a sign of bad character, I think.
Same-sex marriage question: Opponents of same-sex marriage have complained when courts overturn bans on it. Then both houses of Iowa's legislature passed such a law, it was vetoed by the governor, and the legislators overturned him with 2/3+ votes in both houses -- and now opponents of same-sex marriage declare that direct voting at the polls is the only legitimate way to make it legal. Where will they turn when, sooner or later, some state's voters approve a same-sex marriage initiative at the polls -- to the courts? Can't they see the handwriting on the wall, as older voters die off (or become too disabled to vote any more) while younger voters are more receptive to same-sex marriage?
Ana Marie Cox: I hope it won't take the DEATH of older Americans to bring true equality for gays and lesbians about (though I once read a scifi novel about a society that had functional immortality and they were, in fact, incredibly bigoted). It will happen, though. One of the fantastic things about this country -- and there are many, I'm a huge fan -- is that we have always pushed the boundaries freedom farther.
Opponents of same-sex marriage are on the wrong side of history and at some point the idea that it was once illegal will seem as incomprehensible as separate water fountains.
Franconia, Va.: There are a number of flagrantly, scarily irresponsible people in elected office. I will buy your idea that Maxine Waters is one of them if you will agree there are plenty of others, including Michelle Bachman in Congress and the weird lady in Texas who wants Asian Americans to change their names so "Americans" can deal with them easier.
There's one answer to all of the above: voting. Any system such as you suggest in which elites decide who should and shouldn't be in elected office (so and so should be "drummed out of office") is right down the ol' slippery slope to authoritarian rule instead of rule by the voters. It's worth it to keep the occasional idiot in office to retain our power to vote.
Tucker Carlson: Oh, definitely. Democracy's awful, but as many have pointed out, what's better?
But that doesn't mean the press can't help voters make wise decisions. The worst thing about what Waters did during the riots was how quickly it was forgotten by almost everyone. We ought to do a better job of keeping score, I think.
When I worked at a newspaper, I had an editor who made it his life's goal to do this. I'll never forget one day when the former New York Times reporter Sydney Schanberg made the news for some reason. My editor went to his desk and retrieved a Times clipping written by Schanberg in April of 1975, the month the Khmer Rouge swept into Phnom Penh. The headline: "Indochina without Americans: for most, a better life."
My editor had saved it all those years for this moment. I love that.
Kansas City: Speaking of recounts, how can Ben Ginsburg be arguing for Norm Coleman? It seems to me he is taking the "count all the votes" approach that was dismissed in 2000. Is it that Minnesota law is more favorable than Florida 2000 to a "count all the votes" approach? I can only imagine what Ben would have said if Al kept fighting after Dec. 12 in 2000...
Ana Marie Cox: OMG A WASHINGTON LAWYER CHANGES HIS ARGUMENTS WITH THE SITUATION BREAKING BREAKING DRUDGE SIREN.
Sorry, I don't mean to mock you. Ginsburg is of course a hypocrite but if you ran all of the hypocrites out of Washington then I'd be doing this chat from Northern Virginia.
Obama Dog: Why did the President have to get a Portugese Water Dog, anyway? An American Water Dog wouldn't have been good enough?
More proof that Obama wants to turn the USA into a European Socialist Utopia.
Tucker Carlson: Portugal's a utopia? I thought it was a fading colonial power whose only exports were cork and port?
Come to think of it, that sounds pretty good. Thanks as always for having us. See you next week.
Ana Marie Cox: And that's it for this week. As always: Thanks for your questions and be nice to Tucker. I couldn't do this without him or you.
Editor's Note: washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions. washingtonpost.com is not responsible for any content posted by third parties.