Tucker Carlson and Ana Marie Cox: Sarah Palin, Marion Barry, More

Tucker Carlson and Ana Marie Cox
Political Journalists
Monday, July 6, 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, July 6 at noon ET to offer their analysis of Sarah Palin's resignation, Marion Barry's latest legal problems and other goings-on in the world of politics.


"No One Could Have Predicted": The Bushies used this lie repeatedly to defend themselves against things that many people predicted (9/11, Iraq fiasco, Katrina, etc.) Yesterday, Biden used it to defend themselves against the too small stimulus that was widely predicted (most vociferously by the omnipresent Paul Krugman). Any chance that when someone in power uses that lame defense the reporter could quickly point out the countless predictions of same result?

Tucker Carlson: Good point. I'd love to hear someone interject with, "Wait a second. Didn't you just run a campaign based on how bad the economy is? Didn't you believe your own speeches?"

That'd be an amusing moment. It wouldn't stop the trend though. When Medicare goes broke, I have no doubt that whomever is president at the time will look completely shocked, like nobody could have seen it coming.

Happy Monday!

Ana Marie Cox: True: Just because a reporter could point out the countless number of times that politicians have used "no one could have predicted" doesn't make it any less true. If it's true, that is.

As I recall, there was a certain memo that crossed Rice's desk about Osama bin Ladin, the military itself felt the troop strength going into Iraq was inadequate, and the Army Corps of Engineers had written several reports about the possibility of the levees breaking.

As for the economy: dismal science, indeed.


Insta-Poll: Sarah Palin - Political Idiot or Political Idiot Savant?


Ana Marie Cox: I reject your binary choices.


Washington, D.C.: Ana--do you see any correlation between the news of the day and what tie Gibbs wears?

Ana Marie Cox: Sadly, no. Though the time he wore the minty green one after the Iranian elections? That had to mean SOMETHING, yes?

Sigh. For the record, my Gibbs tie alerts are intended to be an ongoing commentary on the willingness of pundits to read a lot into the smallest action. Also he has some interesting ties.


Washington, D.C.: What is with the persecution mentality in DC? How is it possible that Marion Barry still has a career? Now he's charged with stalking his ex-girlfriend, while still being investigated for not paying his taxes, in oh, forever! This man has spent time in prison. I'm willing to bet (I know it's illegal, but Marion says its okay) that any one of us mere mortals would have a pink slip in our hands and be out on the street if we engaged in just half of Barry's shenanigans. Yet his constituents keep voting him in, like some kind of hero.

Will it take the old addage of a "dead girl or live boy" to send him packing into the twilight or will he just keep getting re-elected until he dies. Who am I kidding? They'll probably vote his corpse in too. Why the devotion to Barry? Is there any other politician around that is this shady?

Tucker Carlson: I realize your ID says "Washington, DC," but do you really live here? It's hard to believe that anyone who actually resides in the city could be surprised by Barry's transgressions, or his resilience. But in case you're new to town, here's the sort answer: Marion Barry is both an outlaw, and one of the most naturally-talented politicians in American history. Not only did he go to jail for crack, famously, but while there he was also busted for an illicit sex act in the visitors' room with a woman not his wife. And he was still reelected mayor when he got out. He's a remarkable person, in every way.

But that's not all. The Barry story is also a tale of codependence between a politician and his supporters. I love Washington. My wife and all four of my children were born in Northwest. I hope I never leave. But let's be honest: The city's not ready for democracy, much less statehood.

Ana Marie Cox: Ahem: One might argue that if the position of mayor of DC -- or governor of DC -- was a position that had any power, those who running for it would face stiffer competition, which might lead to a better field of candidates and ultimately better governance.

If you believe in the free market, I mean.


Katy, Tex.: Non Palin question. Considering that the Washington, D.C., crowd continues to elect Marion Barry to publicly paid posts, why does anyone think it is a good idea to let them elect a full-fledged representative to the House?

Tucker Carlson: Of course not. It's insane, not to mention unconstitutional. As a resident of the city, I'm happy to have taxation without representation.

Ana Marie Cox: Because, uhm, yeah there has never been a corrupt politician ever elected from an actual STATE ever. Nope. I am sitting here looking at the past week or so of news and cannot find a single example. Maybe some of you can help?


Hartford, Conn.: For the record, which particular hateful phrases would cause either of you to quit?

Mine is "million-dollar book deal."

Tucker Carlson: Are you kidding? I've spent more than 10 years in cable news. It's literally not possible to hurt my feelings.

The problem with a million-dollar book deal, by the way, is that at some point you've got to write the book.

Ana Marie Cox: The problem with ANY book contract is that you eventually have to write the book.


Burke, Va.: Tucker:

If the political gods had given you the power to choose between Barack Obama and Sarah Palin as the next president . . . what's your choice?


Tucker Carlson: Believe it or not, I actually agree with Palin on most things. Plus, she can handle a fly rod. No contest. Sorry.


Newark, NJ: If Palin is still considering a 2012 Presidential run, how exactly would stepping down now help her? Is there some political strategy out there I am missing that could make this a smart move?

Tucker Carlson: No clue. I was in deepest, darkest Maine when this happened, and am just now reading the whole story and the analysis of it. I haven't read anything so far that persuades me that this could help her win the 2012 race for president. But maybe I'm missing something. Wouldn't surprise me. I can't imagine she'd do this without thinking it through.

Ana Marie Cox: Sure, she thought it through, the problem is that she's CRAZY -- or just doesn't think very well. I have this suspicion that she did "think it through," somehow did not foresee the baffled reactions among her own supporters and wide mockery from others, and will now attempt to call "backsies."

There is no political strategy that would make this a smart move. Sure, she might be able to survive it and even win a nomination, but this particular decision will never be thought of as a good one.


Springer Mountain, Ga.: I can tell you that "hiking the Appalachian Trail" has become a common expression here in Appalachia, so just wondering if it is catching on inside the Beltway?

Ana Marie Cox: Hey, they have, uhm, "specialized" chat rooms if you want to talk about that kind of thing...


Calmut City, Ill.: July 4th was also Malia Obama's birthday. How would you rank the press coverage of her birthday and the Obama girls in general in Goldilocks terms? Too much? Too little? Just right?

Ana Marie Cox: Of all the things the press does wrong, I can't find anything to complain about in its treatment of the Obama girls -- and of First Kids in general. On the campaign, things get rougher for the older ones and anyone over 18 is going to be a target for late-night comedy "jokes," but Chelsea, Amy, and MSM -- not my -- coverage of the twins, all felt about right.

Sasha and Malia are the youngest we've had for a while, so I think journos are being even more cautious than usual.

I have to say, I haven't interacted with them very much, but they strike me as incredibly poised young ladies. I imagine they will have the media wrapped around their respective fingers for a long time after their childhoods.

And hey there! Happy later 4th of July!

Tucker Carlson: The Secret Service and press mob clog my neighborhood during their Saturday soccer games, but other than that I have no complaints. I definitely feel sorry for any young person whose mother and father are in politics. It's an awfully tough way to grow up, no matter how hard your parents try.


Ellicottville, N.Y.: Doesn't the fact that 15 Palin supporters and 35 journalists came to the "Fire David Letterman" rally last month prove that Sarah Palin's real "core base" isn't Evangelicals or anti-tax lobbying groups, but really the media?

Ana Marie Cox: Yes. In fact I had decided to not answer any more Palin questions today (there are at least four more in our queue) but this one makes the point more decisively than my silence.


Burke, Va.: Well, Tucker, I respect the honesty in your reply that you would prefer Palin as President, while simultaneously wondering how, if grace under pressure is ANY kind of asset for a president, you could come to that conclusion. Oh, and you've lost your mind.

Tucker Carlson: If the choice is between Palin and Obama, it's not even close. I think we'll look back at the last eight months as a turning point in American history, and as a period of extraordinary recklessness.

didn't want to feel that way. I've always liked Obama. He seemed -- and still seems -- like a good guy. But he has no idea how the economy works. It's frightening.

For the latest example, check out of the recent NYT piece on federal job retraining programs -- the same ones Obama's always talking about, the programs he's would like to spend more than a billion dollars on in his new budget. Turns out they're completely useless. I'll bet you dinner Obama will never acknowledge that.


Need some new music: What are you listening to?

Tucker Carlson: Assembly of Dust.


Ana Marie Cox: I was hoping to avoid this question because I never know what the the kids are listening to these days. But the song I most recently bookmarked on Pandora is The Black Keys' "Where'd Ya Get Those Fancy Clothes."


Marion Barry: I live here in DC and I totally understand why Barry got re-elected and continues to have a political career in this city. That said, I would never, ever vote for him-for anything. But I get defensive when people outside of DC express disbelief about his ability to be voted in. We got all kinds of criminal politicians that continue to keep their posts, either staying in their spot or even being re-elected. Maybe not jail time, but hey-that's just semantics. We also have politicians all over the country who are sexually.....active, still in their jobs and/or re-elected.

Tucker Carlson: I'm sorry. The Grotesque Rationalization Alarm just went off.

Can you be serious? There are "all kinds" of politicians just like Marion Barry around the country? No there aren't. And among mayors of capital cities, I can't think of one. Washington's a wonderful place, as you know, but politically it's out of control.

When you wake up for the fifth time without your pants in a public place and no memory of how you got there, it doesn't help to pretend that lots of other normal people do the same thing. You're a drunk. Face it.

We need to begin the same process of recovery in DC government.

Ana Marie Cox: Sigh. Again, I think if we had more people interested in the positions then maybe... nevermind.


Gibbs: Aside from his satorial preferences, how does he stack up against his recent predecessors? Better than the woefully uninformed Scott McClellan, not as cunning at Ari Fleischer, not as media-savvy as Tony Snow?

Ana Marie Cox: It's probably too early to tell, and depending on your POV this administration has either not yet faced a national crisis or has done nothing BUT deal with national crises: Either way, I don't think we've seen the full range of Gibbs' abilities.

His style is pretty unique, tho. At least to my mind. He's as funny as Tony, though I'm not sure if he's as well-read (Tony had a Dennis-Miller-esque fondness for obscure references and 50-cent words). I think Gibbs has as much contempt for the media (as a group) as Ari did. And, weirdly, his actual delivery is more like Scottie's: slow, stop-start-y, full of "uhms." And he's as effective as any of them.

Tho he's had some off days, I still don't understand the conservatives who have been howling at his performance and predicting a quick replacement. If nothing else, it'll take awhile for anyone more junior than Gibbs to get to the same level of trust and understanding that Gibbs has with Obama. (Prediction: We shall see Tommy Veitor at the podium someday; Bill Burton has already done a few gaggles.)

Tucker Carlson: I never thought I'd see another press secretary with as much contempt for the press as Ari Fleischer. But I agree with Ana: We now have one.

Politically foolish I think. It doesn't get you much in that job to hate the press. Mike McCurry served his boss effectively precisely because he had affection for reporters. Of course that posture -- in management but popular with labor -- requires a warmth and a subtle intelligence you don't often see in politics.


Washington, D.C.: So according to the Reliable Source, Kal Penn began his White House OPE job today. Any thoughts on this?

washingtonpost.com: Kal Penn Lands in D.C., Begins White House Job

Ana Marie Cox: Well I know one White House reporter who is already angling for an interview/profile/possible swoon.

It'll be interesting to see how he takes off/fits in. The Obama WH is a pretty tight club; though you know how all celebrities basically have to at least pretend to be friends.


The New Senator: Okay, tucker, we get it, you hate him, but Al Franken is a big-time policy wonk. Anyone else in the Senate as nerdy about the nitty gritty of policy details?

Tucker Carlson: I've had a number of conversations with Franken about policy -- more than five anyway -- and I've never been impressed by the depth of his knowledge. He always sounds like he's just finished memorizing details for a pop quiz. But he's smart, probably smarter than many senators, so I'm sure he'll do fine.

As for who in the senate is wonkier than he is, virtually everybody. It's a very wonky place. I always thought Biden was one of the best-informed (his current reputation as a nutty loose-cannon is totally unfair, by the way, and almost certainly a story line promoted by Obama's press office). Kyl is very smart. So was Sununu. But he lost.


Gary, Ind.: Reverend Al Sharpton has called a U.S. Postage Stamp to made with Michael Jackson's image it.

Considering Blowhard Congressman Pete King just called him "a prevert", does it seem likely?

Tucker Carlson: Obvious question: When did Michael Jackson get to be a civil rights hero? Apart from his (unfortunately now-largely-forgotten) fundraising work on behalf of the Democratic Party, the title seems an awkward fit. Here's a guy who spent his entire adult life mutilating his body so he wouldn't look black. And now Sharpton and Jesse Jackson are embracing him as a member of the Community? Weird, weird, weird.


I think we'll look back at the last eight months as a turning point in American history, and as a period of extraordinary recklessness. : Tucker- Come on, are you kidding? If you consider the last 8 months reckless- what do you consider the previous years under Bush? You know, invading another country on false pretenses to name the least....

Tucker Carlson: Again, criticism of Obama is not a defense of Bush. Invading Iraq was completely reckless, which is I why I hated it.

But if you disapprove of recklessness -- and it sounds like you do -- take a close look at what the Obama administration is doing now. Horrifying.


Scranton, Pa.: My own take from the Bush 43 years is the more attractive the Press Secretary got, the worst the administration was going...

Tucker Carlson: Such a smart point. Wish I'd make the connection earlier. I plan to steal your observation (without credit of course; sorry).


Bolivar, Tenn.: Marsha Blackburn, my congresswoman, has sign-on as co-sponsor of so-call "Birther Bill" requiring presidential candidates to formally present their birth certificates to... I don't know who exactly?

Don't you think it's weird how mainstream this "Birther" nonsense has become? Even if you buy into it, at everybody I know has heard about it... I admit I was curious about it until I actually heard Orly Taitz or Alan Keyes speak about it...

Ana Marie Cox: There are many, many crazy ides that have somehow migrated to the mainstream (9/11 Truther stuff, "there's no such thing as global warming," the idea that Sarah Jessica Parker is at all attractive) but few of them have gotten this kind of treatment from Congress. And yes, that's weird and potentially scary.

On the other hand, as I've said here before: the things about Congress being representative is that it's REPRESENTATIVE. Our country at large has kooks and scam artists, gentlemen and crusaders, thus it follows that Congress must as well.


job retraining, retained: Amen! Regardless of their polictical stripe, most economists called shenanigans on the "jobs retained" figure that was recently bandied about. The job retraining/WIA programs are a joke as well, and along with Americorps/Job Corps, do little to promote long-term job growth.

Tucker Carlson: Would you mind calling the White House and Congress and most major news organizations about this? The news doesn't seem to have filtered up. Thanks.

And thanks for indulging Ana and me for yet another hour. Total fun, at least from my end.

I'm going to be deep in the woods next week, but we'll be back soon.


Ana Marie Cox: And with that, I must bid goodbye. Thank you for the questions, even the ones about Palin. And thanks to Tucker and our chat host Paul for their time. Thanks to my intern because I can't pay her.

Until next time...


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