Tucker Carlson and Ana Marie Cox: Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Wise Latina, More

Tucker Carlson and Ana Marie Cox
Political Journalists
Monday, June 8, 2009; 12:00 PM

Tucker Carlson. Ana Marie Cox. He's conservative. She's liberal. They both write for The Daily Beast, he's a contributor to Fox News and she's a national correspondent for Air America Radio. They were online Monday, June 8 at noon ET to offer their analysis of the Obama presidency and other goings-on in the world of politics.


Raleigh NC: Ana, I think you might have an interesting perspective on this. There's a little dust-up in the blogosphere because a "public" blogger outed a private blogger. Under what circumstances, if any, is such an outing, ahem, ethical?

Ana Marie Cox: Ah yes, the Whalen espisode. I've written under a pseudonym more than you'd guess (HA!), and I think it's important to make a distinction between "pseudonymous" writing and "anonymous" writing. Anonymous writing, to me, means taking every care that no one knows who wrote the item -- or if the author has ever written anything else or ever will again. An article that is anonymously authored exists in a vacuum. An article written by someone who consistently identifies himself the same way (as "Publius") did is at least giving readers a way to engage/argue/fact-check/hold accountable.

Anonymous writing allows you to throw a stinkbomb and run away with no one having spotted you. Pseudonymous writing allows you to throw a stinkbomb while wearing a mask, but you can't run away.

I guess this is all a long way of saying I don't think that "outing" authors is a particularly helpful thing to do if the author is otherwise responsive; I guess I wouldn't call it "unethical." Unless it turns out that the psued is a gov't official/being paid by an interested party, it's mostly just a waste of time.

"Outing" closeted gays is so often the wrong thing to do that I think it should be avoided in all cases--even if the closeted person is behaving hypocritically. As I've said before: A gay Republican is probably has a hard enough time living with himself to begin with.


Stone Harbor, N.J: Just wondering --- did President Obama use a teleprompter for his Normandy speech? Also, can we now use his middle name without fear of being branded as politically incorrect?

Tucker Carlson: I assume Obama uses a prompter for most of his speeches. I realize this is a popular talking point among Obama opponents at the moment. Here's my response:

Who cares? All presidents use TelePrompTers. Obama's especially good at it, which not a small thing. Reading prompter is difficult, as I've learned the hard way. Presidents are supposed to be able to communicate their plans to Congress and the public. The fact that he's so good at it is Obama's best quality.

If you disagree with the direction Obama is taking the country -- and I do, fervently -- say so directly, and explain why. Don't waste time attacking the way he reads speeches. That would be my advice anyway.

As for his middle name, it's interesting that the same hacks who cried bigotry when people dared use the H word during the primaries are now promoting the president's Muslim heritage.

Happy Monday!


Sherman Oaks, Calif.: I just listened to Ana Marie's podcast interview with the gay Air Force pilot.

If the policy is truly "Don't ask -- don't tell," what did he do wrong? He followed the rules when he didn't tell.

The Air Force broke the rules when it asked.

washingtonpost.com: Straight Talk On "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"

Ana Marie Cox: Oops, I forgot to greet you folks in the last post! Sorry! Hope everyone is having a good Monday so far. Unless, of course, you're a gay because you don't deserve the same level of happiness as the straights.

I am of course, kidding.

Thanks for listening to the show, Sherman. (Others can find the podcast here http://airamerica.com/ANAMARIE) Lt. Col. Victor Ferenbach's story is a really compelling one in part because he served -- with distinction -- for 18 years without his decisions regarding his privates causing trouble. Then he was outed. (See above.)

The rules -- nay, the LAW -- on DADT requires the military to "investigate" accusations of homosexuality once they learn of them. So the law might be more properly called "Don't ask unless you want to know oops you're gay goodbye."

Would make it harder to Twitter about.


Seattle: Do you think there is anything to the rumor that HRC asked the Obama administration not to deal with DADT until next year?

Tucker Carlson: The Clintons certainly have relevant experience in this area, though I doubt Hillary made the decision this time. Obama campaigned against DADT, but given the chance to actually do something about it, he took a pass. Pretty cynical. The question now is: Do mainstream gay rights groups stand for anything, or are they merely Democratic Party toadies who will put up with anything (like Obama's opposition to gay marriage) in order to stay close to power? We'll see. I wouldn't be on principle.


Washington, D.C.: What's the next step, if Obama asked SCOTUS to dismiss the DADT case? It doesn't seem like there's any hope for, you know, not firing thousands of qualified people.

Ana Marie Cox: Well that's the awesome thing about DADT: As long as the military doesn't KNOW they're gay, it's totally fine.

Or not: As Ferenbach explained, DADT forces people to lie, and lies can corrode the trust (even the COHESION) among soldiers. Which is why you're not supposed to lie. Unless you're gay.

I should probably let Tucker weigh in on this. Tucker?

Tucker Carlson: I weighed in earlier, and I hate to repeat myself more than I already do. But briefly: Most Americans are happy to let the military set its own personnel policies, so I understand why Obama decided to take such a weaselly position. He didn't want to offend the majority. Politicians never do. But isn't this a civil rights issue? And didn't Obama take millions in contributions from gay voters on the implied promise tat he would be the most pro-gay president ever? He did. So where are the consequences?

Speaking for myself, I'd probably take a pass on DADT, too. Maybe the military is motivated by something more than bigotry. It's worth at least considering. But gay marriage is another (far more significant) matter. How does Obama justify preventing couples from getting married? I would love to hear him explain that. I wish gay rights groups would force him to, but most are too busy bowing before his throne.


Chevy Chase, Md.: Hey Ana and Tucker, should the top flight Republicans (relatively speaking) run against Obama in 2012 or wait until they have a chance in 2016? I am praying for Palin vs. Obama.

Ana Marie Cox: No one likes one-party rule, least of all reporters and comedy writers. So, yeah, they should! It also might be good for democracy and stuff if Obama is forced to answer to legitimate critiques of his administration. (They do exist.)

Tucker Carlson: I'm trying to find something to add to this, but it's too well-expressed. In a word: exactly.

And by the way, winning isn't the only point of a presidential campaign. Barry Goldwater got spanked in 1964. Electorally, it was embarrassing. But his run also made Reagan and the conservative movement possible. So historically, while a failure, it was also a tremendous success.


Arlington, Va.: Predictions, please for the Virginia Gov's race. And Ana Marie - did you see "Drag Me To Hell" all the way through or not?

Ana Marie Cox: I am devastated to report that in all likelihood Michelle Bachmann will continue to be the most entertaining elected official in the metro area. (I.e., McAuliffe will not win. Sadface.)

And I walked out of DMTH and stayed out. If my cats cared at all about morality I'm sure they'd be proud.

Tucker Carlson: I'll never forget running into McAuliffe at lunch about a week after the Monica Lewinsky story broke. Virtually every person in DC (including some in the White House) thought it was over for Clinton. I asked McAuliffe about it. I remember him laughing, apparently untroubled: "Ten years from now, this will be a footnote."

I think he actually said that. In any case, I'll never count McAuliffe out. He is the single most optimistic person I have ever met. That sometimes makes the difference.


Boston: I thought most mainstream gay right groups have been pretty united against Obama on this. I know your mutual friend Rachel Maddow seems to have a nightly "Obama is a coward" segment.

Tucker Carlson: If gay groups spent half as much time time roughing up Obama as they did attacking Mormons in California, DADT would be history.

Ana Marie Cox: The problem with "roughing up" Obama on this issue is that he refuses to engage with it at all.

(Must. Restrain. "Rough." Jokes...)


Rockville, Md.: Thank you for this chat, Ana and Tucker- it makes our Mondays!

Now that it's come out that Sotomayer used the "wise Latina" line more than once, what's worse: the fact that she really does practice such identity politics, or that she can't come up with a better line? And where does that leave the people who said "Oh, she just said that only once"?

Ana Marie Cox: I'm so glad that I'm not the only one who finds that line objectionable not necessarily because it's "racialist" (and I have my doubts about that being a good standard to judge things on) but because it's imprecise and sort of lazy! And she didn't refine it into something better!

Successful judges tend to be good speakers and even better writers (Scalia probably writes the most entertaining decisions of the SCOTUS, tho Roberts is also good); Sotomayor's "Latina line" makes me think she's not performing at grade level on either.

That said: Like 99% of the people weighing in on her nom, I haven't read her all of stuff! Or most! Or any! So I think I would have to wade through that before agreeing that "she really does practice identity politics."

Tucker Carlson: Totally cringe-making, I agree. "Wise Latina" is such a trendy/phony/stupid formulation, too. What does it mean exactly? And for that matter, what's a Latina anyway? Any female whose ancestors came from Latin America, regardless of race, region or native language? It's one of those definitions that's so broad, it's meaningless. I wish we could all agree to stop using it, not to mention rewarding privileges and money on the basis of it.


Portland, Ore.: This is a question primarily for Tucker. The issue of abortion has come up in some of your recent chats and you have called, correctly, for a more honest discussion of the issue, which I applaud. So, I wanted to ask you a question that I have been sincerely grappling with as someone who considers themself pro-life, but who is confused about the practical application of such a position. If Roe v. Wade is overturned and abortion could once more be made illegal in various states, what is the appropriate punishment for providing or obtaining an abortion? Who should be charged? The abortion provider? The woman? Those pressuring the woman to obtain an abortion? Is it pre-meditated murder? Manslaughter? Generally, those questions never seem to get addressed, but is it worthwhile to ban abortions when we shrink from imposing any penalties? What is the use of such a law? Thanks.

Tucker Carlson: Good question. Let me dodge it: Laws exist not simply so we can punish those who break them, but to inform those who are considering doing so. They're moral statements, in other words. Let's start by agreeing that abortion is wrong, because it so clearly is, and then decide what we think the penalties ought to be. You can hardly do one without doing the other first.

If we wind up deciding to treat abortion like suicide -- illegal but rarely prosecuted -- that'll be a huge improvement over where we are today, when many politicians (Obama included) can't even work up the strength to condemn abortion for purposes of sex selection. A hundred years from now our grandchildren will look back and find that incomprehensible and appalling. Guaranteed.


Reston, Va.: The president has indicated that the government's ownership of GM will be short-lived. Has the administration documented their "exit" strategy? Timelines for withdrawal? Milestones that must be met and what penalties will be assessed when they aren't?

Only being partially facetious here...I am genuinely curious to know how well thought out the "temporary" part is.

How does one unload 60% of a company's stock without drastically affecting stock price and, potentially, confidence in the company?

Ana Marie Cox: Nicely done, Reston! I have reason to believe, however, that the US owning GM will be far less fatal than the war.

That said, it does not seem especially well-thought out but then again, we've never done this before. Unlike, say, fight a war.

We have to watch closely and hope there are no financial Judy Millers out there.

Tucker Carlson: I hate to gloat, but having checked the libertarian handbook, I was opposed to the GM bailout (and all the other bailouts) while Bush was president, and I oppose them now. It was a terrible idea what inevitably will produce costly, depressing results. I guess that's obvious now.

What interests me is how so many smart people in Washington could have convinced themselves otherwise. We need some sort of system -- a consensus alarm maybe -- that sounds a very loud bell when all the chin-tuggers in DC agree on something. That's when you know disaster's imminent.


West Roxbury, Mass.: Why are political journalists more concerned with whether a political gambit will work rather than whether it is base in fact?

Take the conservative bias in the media regarding the Scooter Libby trial, and memes such as "she was not covert and only a secretary", "criminalizing politics", and the assertion that because Armitage leaked it, it couldn't have been leaked by others such as Rove, Libby and Ari?

There was some serious spin based in misinformation and political journalists enabled it. What does that say about the integrity of political journalists?

Ana Marie Cox: Back at U of C, professors talked a lot about how it was more important that a paper be "internally consistent" than "right." I.e., you could argue in favor of slavery in a history paper, but you had to marshal factual evidence to make your case.

But we weren't making policy.

So while I disagree with the idea that there is "conservative bias" among the press, I think there is bias in favor of judging only internal consistency and trying to avoid engaging with values of any kind.


Barry Goldwater: If he were around now, what wing of the Republican Party would he feel welcome in? Arizona Republicans are not necessarily part of the much vaunted "base" any more.

Tucker Carlson: If he were around today, Goldwater would be over 100, so I doubt he'd be involved in politics at all, but instead would probably have a show with Jack Lalanne.


Huntington Beach, Calif.: Tucker: Please go on the Adam Carolla Podcast! Thanks.

Tucker Carlson: Love to.


Finally! A real-life Ticking Bomb scenario: Alleged murderer Scott Roeder says that several more assassinations and bombings are in the works at family planning centers across the country. Shouldn't we water-board and manacle him to the ceiling so we can prevent these terrorist acts?

Ana Marie Cox: I just hope we're not holding him somewhere in the U.S. because obviously he is an immediate threat to your (and my) backyards.


Baltimore: Barry Goldwater on "Don't Ask Don't Tell": I read this quote again recently and thought how ironic it was that a man who was an Air Force general and the father of the modern conservative movement would say this about gays in the military:

"You don't have to be straight to serve. You just have to shoot straight."

Ana Marie Cox: Thanks for the reminder about that typically blunt Goldwater line.

I want to point out that today's rejection is not HORRIBLE news, it might not even be bad news, in terms of progress on the DADT issue: it's upsetting because it's a reminder of the promises Obama made and hasn't keep.

A good examination of the Court's action here: http://lawdork.wordpress.com/2009/06/08/dadt-scotus-rejection-whats-it-mean/


"What does [wise latina] mean exactly?": It means she thinks she is wise, due in part to growing up a poor female minority. Why is that so hard to understand?

Tucker Carlson: Why does that make a person wiser than having grown up a middle-class Italian? Or a working class Greek? Or a rich Dane? The whole idea is so stupid it shocks me that people say things like that in public. I'd love to hear a real explanation of the theory.


Washington, DC: I have to love the way Chevy Chase is so confident that Obama will be as popular in 2012 as he is now (with the ample assistance of Ms. Cox and her co-partisans). Just wait until everyone's taxes go up, inflation kicks in, and nobody can get an appointment with their doctor. The 2010 cycle should be very interesting. And let's not forget about Virginia and New Jersey.

Ana Marie Cox: Excellent point! That is exactly what Rs want to happen! Domestic chaos and unrest that they can then turn into a political victory! Because that would be great for the country. After it sucked, I mean.

I am in favor of working to make sure things do not get that bad.


Ana Marie Cox: And look how the time has flown! Thanks to all of you. This is regularly my favorite part of Monday, at least until happy hour.

See you next week!

Tucker Carlson: Ever since I quit drinking, this is my favorite hour of the day. Not to pander.

See you next week.


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