Post Politics: Grayson, Congressional Civility, More

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Lois Romano
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, October 1, 2009; 11:00 AM

Washington Post national politics reporter Lois Romano was online Thursday, Oct. 1 at 11 a.m. ET to discuss the latest political news.

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Lois Romano: Good morning everyone. Thank you for joining us today and thank you for your thoughtful questions. I'll try to get to as many as possible. LR

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Liberal Media? Really?: Hi, Lois,

I don't have television so I don't often see how the news is reported, but I happened to catch "Morning Joe" yesterday and had the chance to listen to Mika criticize the Democratic rep for the "die quickly" remark. I immediately wondered if she showed the same outrage over the false "death panel" charges. In other words, the issue for me immediately became not what was said, but how the media played it.

I think that strikes at the heart of the problem of our political discourse: none of you are trusted messengers anymore. What do you think the solution to that is?

washingtonpost.com: Capitol Briefing : GOP Preparing Resolution Against Grayson

Lois Romano: Thank you for your comment. I'd like to direct you to Tom Friedman's excellent column in the NYT yesterday talks about the hateful discourse on both sides. Personally, I think all off this hyperbolic language borders on disgraceful and has no place in American politics.

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Oxford, England: Thanks Lois for taking my question. What is your take on Sarah Palin's upcoming book? What possibility does she have of redemption, when she's been typecast forever as a joke. In that regard, the Palin reality is exhibit A of the power of Saturday Night Live in shaping public opinion. Bottom line: everyone knows its over for Palin. Why does she or publisher persist? I am assuming for the publisher its all about the money. Comments?

Lois Romano: I havent seen the book yet but Im fascinated that she wrote it in four months. There are second lives in American politics and clearly she hopes to have one as evidence by her recent speech in asia. I agree with everyone assessment that she would need to step back and

school herself in issues- which even her fans express concern over. Its early and she's young.

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Reston, VA: Is it Constitutional to require Americans to buy private industry health insurance plans? What is happening with the states that have tried to block this?

Lois Romano: I dont know the answer to your constitutional question so Im attaching a CSM piece that goes into it some. http://www.csmonitor.com/2009/0914/p09s01-coop.html

I do understand why it is important that everyone buy insurance: To keep costs down, and to guarantee that companies cannot reject people with preexisting conditions, the market has to be level. In others words, you cant just have elderly people buying insurance when they cancer. That would bankrupt the system. For it to work, young healthy people have to buy in- as well as people at risk. The young healthy people will obviolsu have lower premiums to start with-- and one day they will have critical insurance when the need it.

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Re Friedman's column: So I take it you do not agree with Michael Steele that Friedman is a "nut job"?

Lois Romano: Oh dear. Guess I dont.

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Lois Cruces, NM: What is the left's fascination with Sarah Palin? You would think she is the anti-christ based on the frequency of question in WaPo's chats.

She's a lightweight former V.P. candidate (and a very bad choice, at that) with no chance of gaining the GOP presidential nod. Does the left have an agenda in keeping her in the public eye?

Lois Romano: She proved to be quite popular for awhile and she seems to be moving toward a presidential run in 2012. She and her entourage also have a knack for staying in the news.

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Jay Rockerfeller: Are you surprised that a scion like Jay Rockefeller is more aware and caring for the lives of the residents of his relatively poor state than Senators from other relatively poor states like North Dakota, Arkansas, and Montana? Citizens of each of those states live at the mercy of health insurance monopolies, but it seems only Rockefeller was able to stand up to the industry.

Lois Romano: Not at all surprised. He a man who knows his constituency.

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Political Civility: It would probably help if the media did more to monitor their own cohorts. Fox has been spewing slanted bile for over a decade but the mass media's company line is that the bile is "only media personalities" and the reporting is legit. Kind of like expecting doctors to report malpractice in their profession.

Lois Romano: I agree with you- but it exists on the right and left. Opinions and ideology are part of the process- its when they tailspin itto hateful personal attacks that suggest someone should die. Very bad form, very unhealthy for a democracy.

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Helena, Montana: Senator Baucus said that he had to vote against the public option because there weren't 60 votes for it. Which member of the Dem caucus does he expect to filibuster it?

Lois Romano: The point is that he doesn't want it to ever get to a filibuster--or even talk of a filibuster. Democrats may oppose it and repblicans could filibuster. so may options for obstruction on the way to a law.

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Austin, TX: I think you were only partly right in your answer to "political civility." Certainly some of the Bush-bashing from the left was over the top. But it rarely extended to calls for violence. And even on the lefty blogs I read, anyone who crossed that line was slapped down quickly and hard.

Conversely, there are quite a few voices on the right saying things about revolution, and a few people more-or-less-openly hoping somebody shoots Obama.

Lois Romano: I agree that lately the comments from the far right fringe--which I'd like to distingush from republicans and conservatives in general--calling for violence are over the top and dangerous. ButI will also note that Ive personally received some pretty vulgar emails from the left when Ive written something unacceptable to them. But we need to accept that these are inappropriate individuals who do not understand the appropriate tone for political discourse. We cant lump them in a movement.

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Savannah, GA: Re: Lois Cruces, NM

In polls of both self-identified and registered Republicans, Sarah Palin consistently places in the top 3 presidential candidates. She also is consistently listed as one of the most admired voices in the Republican party. It's not just liberals who make a big deal of her. Whether one likes it or not, as long as she wants to be a part of national politics, there will be a place for her among Republicans.

Lois Romano: Thank you for your comment and for explaning accurately why the media is intrigued by her.

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Raleigh, NC: It should be noted that Palin has a vocal, enthusiastic following. She has 875,000 fans on Facebook- four times as many as Ron Paul and Mike Huckabee combined. She bizarrely ended her term as Governor of Alaska, and has a much anticipated book. She is legitimate news.

Lois Romano: She is indeed quite popular among the core base of republicans and christain conservatives. She is legitimate news-- on substance and on folly.

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Boston: I don't want to cast blame around, but you have to admit that the media is at fault for a lot of the incivility - did anyone else say anything on the House floor yesterday? If so, its not being reported on. And why does the media do it? Because of us! We love to read scandal and conflict and we hate to read about policy. (We being the average American, of course). So while I know we all want the politicians and the media to listen to their better angels, we the people are going to have to make doing so less of a punishment in terms of profitability and exposure.

Lois Romano: hey- you're right. plenty of blame to go around. Media does latch onto sensational stories- sometimes to the exclusion of other news. But dont shoot the messenger. Thats what people want to hear and read.

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Ft. Myers, FL: Will there be much of a secondary market for Palin's book? Aren't they difficult to resell after all the pictures have been colored in?

Lois Romano: Interesting question. Publisher thinks it has a good market-- ordered a large first printing. I assume she's going to take on McCain's staff who she thinks trashed her for other books and stories. It will surely have an initial first bounce. Cant say after that...

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Right Wing "Fringe": People questioning Bush's mythical National Guard service were treated like they were wearing tin foil hats. People questioning Obama's citizenship, his religion, his right to be president, are given their own talk shows. There's nothing "fringe" about Glenn Beck, O'Reilly, Dobbs, et. al. except their tenuous grasp on reality.

Lois Romano: I disagree. People took quite seriously Bush's National Guard lapses. Except when CBS built a story on falsified documents. Never a good thing.

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"Does the left have an agenda in keeping her in the public eye?": I think Palin has shown that she needs no encouragement nor assistance from the Left in keeping herself in the public eye.

Lois Romano: Levi Johnston has certainly done his part to help her stay out front.

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Rockefeller's Reasons: Plus: he's already rich (or at least rich enough to buy a Senate seat), so (1) he can tell the PAC's to take a hike if he wants to, and (2) unlike us regular people who didn't inherit millions, he'll still be solvent after he helps raise everyone's taxes. Nothing new in the aristocracy of the left.

Lois Romano: Very true.

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washingtonpost.com: Coming up at noon, chat with Matt Latimer about 'Speech-Less' and the Bush White House.

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Columbus, Ohio: An article in the Post this morning talks about how senior Democrats such as Sen. Carl Levin oppose an increase in troops in Afghanistan and favors focusing on training the Afghan Army, yet the Democratic leaders of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee stripped money from the President's request for resources to train the Afghan Army. Why isn't the Post asking the Senate Democrats to explain this contradiction. Seems to me they want to have it both ways.

Lois Romano: I suspect that all of this will be revisited in light of Gen McChrystal's recommendation for more troops. One real issue is: where is alqaida? Pakistan or Afghanistan. If the general consenus is Pakistan, and many believe this-- perhaps the resources should be put into shoring up Pakistan.

Much to think about.

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