Balance of Power with Tucker Carlson and Ana Marie Cox

Tucker Carlson and Ana Marie Cox
Political Journalists
Monday, November 2, 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 Media. They were online Monday, Nov. 2 at noon ET to offer their analysis of the Obama presidency and other goings-on in the world of politics.


Pennsylvania: Happy Monday to both...

Don't you just love Frank Rich's preemptive rationalization yesterday on why it's basically a good thing for the DemParty that conservatives have engineered these election victories in Virginia, Upstate New York...possibly New Jersey.

Does it escape Mister Rich that energizing the base of the parties is usually the best way to win elections?? The G.O.P. Stalinists Invade Upstate New York

Tucker Carlson: Impressive, I agree. Even more amusing is the idea that it's somehow "Stalinist" to prefer candidates who actually agree with the party's platform.

Happy Monday to you too.


DC: So in the midst of a battle with the WH over a lack of objectivity, Fox News Sunday runs a 30 minute "exclusive" "interview" with Rush Limbaugh.

Is this whole thing a joke? Are Gibbs and Ailes doing an Andy Kaufman/Jerry Lawler bit?

(Although -- in fairness, This Week included Al Sharpton in the panel discussion. I don't know if that is more or less ridiculous than Limbaugh.)

Ana Marie Cox: I think it's a joke, sure -- a very profitable, very sophisticated joke that is sort of on the White House. Limbaugh helps the White House's argument only to people who already believed it. And people who think that Fox is objective probably think Limbaugh is, too.

Happy Monday, everyone. I went as a dead Star Trek red shirt for Halloween. You?


Washington, DC: I have a question for Tucker Carlson. I can't quite reconcile what I'm hearing from Republicans on health care these days. On one hand they oppose a government takeover of health care but they also say the 1) oppose any attempts to restrain the growth in Medicare and 2) there should be no attempt to control spending at the end-of-life.

I ask this sincerely because I'm sympathetic to arguments against government-run health care, but the Republicans seem to oppose any attempt to restrain runaway entitlement programs like Medicare. I can't reconcile the rhetoric, can you?

Tucker Carlson: I agree with you completely. Republicans ought to be leading the charge to reduce the costs of Medicare, which (unlike Social Security) really will bankrupt the country fairly soon if not reformed. But because Medicare is popular with older voters, most of them are too afraid to do that. I get the politics of it, but it's still pretty unimpressive I think.


NJ Prediction?: Corzine, Christie, or Daggett?

Ana Marie Cox: Is it just me or does that list sound a lot like a really nerdy and unpleasant version of "[Expletive], Marry, or Kill"?

It is just me, probably.

Tucker Carlson: They do sound like verbs. Creepy.


Ashland, MO: In describing the New York Republican as a moderate, the issues mentioned are gay rights, pro-choice, and labor - all issues polls show are not supported by the public. Why is opposition to such a person a sign of a "narrowing" Republican party? And how is such a person described as a "moderate" Democrat let alone a moderate Republican? What are political analysts drinking (or smoking)?

Tucker Carlson: I almost drove into a bridge abutment this morning (and not for the first time) listing to NPR, against all evidence, describe liberal Republicans as "moderates." What a loaded, almost intentionally unfair term. (I say "almost" because I doubt NPR producers are self-aware enough to recognize their biases.) By any definition, Scozzafava is liberal. That's not an insult, merely a description. And just in case you needed more evidence, within hours of dropping out of the race, she endorsed the Democrat.

Ana Marie Cox: I agree that most journalists (and analysts) so completely misuse the term "moderate" as to make it useless. What makes it worse is that I think most of those misusing it think it's a compliment of some sort. A lot of the media's GOP darlings -- Pawlenty, McCain leap to mind -- get described as "moderate" when what the writer/talker really means is "a guy I like." And it's FINE to like a conservative person, it just doesn't make them any less conservative.

I think I'm basically echoing Tucker's frustration here, tho I am not driving. (Also I think Tucker is sometimes unfairly called "moderate," as well -- he is, as readers know, libertarian in ways that some liberal like but he's no moderate.)

The same thing happens in reverse, btw, tho not with the word "moderate." A good conservative friend of mine -- mutual acquaintance of Tucker's, actually, who I'll spare embarrassment by not naming -- often tells me how "reasonable" I am, which I know he means as a compliment as well but usually comes after I've said something less than doctrinaire about, say, Afghanistan.

I'm not saying I'm UNREASONABLE, just that I think my position on the invasion of Iraq (which he doesn't share) is also pretty reasonable.


Figure Eight Island, N.C.: As we celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, didn't its fall and the resultant fall of the USSR hurt the Republican Party? Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Republicans have only surpassed 50 percent in a presidential election once, Bush's less than resounding re-election in 2004.

Tucker Carlson: Deep point. Nothing united the GOP like the USSR. There was something in communism for every part of the coalition (and every thinking person) to oppose: Religious conservatives hated Soviet attacks on religion, economic conservatives despised attacks on the market. I'm glad the wall came down, definitely, but you're right that the party has never been the same.

Ana Marie Cox: It's true, all we have now are TEH TERRORISTS. And they have the same position as the Christian Right on so many things...

(KIDDING. I KID. Sorta.)


Alexandria VA: Corzine is part of the establishment politics that Obama so much campaigned against. Remember that Change and Hope thing? How can he say elect Corzine - i.e. keep things the same in NJ - and say it with a straight face? Does he think voters are THAT stupid?

Tucker Carlson: Yes, he does.


Silver Spring: If people are so against government spending and regulations, why didn't Ron Paul get more votes? If I were a strict libertarian, or a Glenn Beck follower (and is it just me, or has Bill O'Reilly faded into the night?), I would not be apt to vote for a Republican, considering under President Bush they created an entirely new federal department. Thoughts?

Tucker Carlson: Not to mention a whole new federal entitlement (prescription drugs) to go with that whole new federal department. The truth, as you've obviously begun to suspect, is that most people oppose reducing the size of government, at least as long as they're benefiting from it. Voters like free stuff.


Next to Washington DC: A previous poster from Washingon, a Republican, complained that Republicans aren't addressing real issues of Medicare costs. I'm a liberal, heard Obama talk about tough choices in his inaugural, and am so disappointed that the Dems aren't talking about the very real healthcare costs issues. Looks like our feckless politicians on both sides are something that we can all agree on.

Tucker Carlson: Tough choices! I almost forgot about that slogan/campaign promise. This from the same man who recently told a joint session of congress that we can pay for health reform by eliminating waste, fraud and abuse from the current system. Oh how quickly they change.


Why local papers are going under: Actual quote from the (Gannett) Fort Myers News-Press this morning: "Although one of the most conservative members of Congress, he was respected by opponents."


Tucker Carlson: If it's any consolation, only about four people read it.

Ana Marie Cox: Sigh.


Wash DC: Just curious how the WH will spin the NJ Corzine defeat tomorrow night? I can see Rahm and Axel blaming Deeds when he loses, but the Prez spent LOTS of time and energy in NJ. What will be there main talking point?

Tucker Carlson: Doesn't matter what script they write to explain it away. If Corzine loses, there will be panic in the party, and especially in Congress. It'll feel a lot like 1993, when Florio's loss in New Jersey was the first real indication of the coming disaster for Democrats.

Ana Marie Cox: There may be a disaster coming for the Democrats, but we don't know WHY it's coming. Panic among Dems is probably warranted, but perhaps not in the direction of becoming more like the GOP. A big reason why Ds aren't pulling ahead this month is that activists and center-left voters are so demoralized by, among other things, the lack of progress on health care and the situation in Afghanistan. I don't think moving to the right on those issues necessarily gets Dems votes in 2010.


Minneapolis, MN: Tucker, is there a subtle transformation happening at FOX? Now Fox has John Stossel, Andrew Napolitano, Greg Gutfeld, Glen Beck, and Tucker Carlson. Is FOX consciously moving from less conservative to more libertarian?

Tucker Carlson: I have no clue what the master plan is, or even if there is one. But as you point out, they've got great taste.


Indianapolis: So it is obvious in the photo on the top of the chat page that you are NOT sitting together for the picture. Have Tucker and Ana ever actually met? Been in the same room together?

Ana Marie Cox: We've met, danced, eaten, and ridden the Straight Talk Express together. I hope to do at least one of those things again sometime.

Tucker Carlson: At least one.


Middleton, Wisc.: I've got problems with Tucker's response to an earlier question: "What a loaded, almost intentionally unfair term. (I say "almost" because I doubt NPR producers are self-aware enough to recognize their biases.) By any definition, Scozzafava is liberal. That's not an insult, merely a description."

Tucker, you manage to reassert a tired Conservative adage about NPR and deny Republican doctrine in the same passage. Whatever bias you think you hear in NPR coverage, these days it's a phantom. I'm no media expert but I am capable of critical thought, and the bias isn't there--your complaint about "moderate" nothwithstanding.

Secondly, "liberal" in the mouth of any libertarian or conservative is never merely a description; it remains the put-down and indictment the right turned it into in the 70s and 80s. It is a far more loaded term these days than "conservative." If you want to change that, go ahead and lead the way on your new network.

Tucker Carlson: I listen to NPR every day. Every year, I send a check to Maine public radio, which I love. I don't hate NPR. I'd be sad if it folded.

But NPR is liberal. I know this not just because I know people who work there, but because, as I said, I listen to it every day.

As for the term "liberal," it's not strictly speaking a slur, and it strikes me as self-hating of you to think otherwise. But it doesn't matter. "Progressive" would be a fine description of Scozzafava too. Anything but "moderate," which is inherently unfair because it suggests that anyone to the right of her is somehow immoderate.

Ana Marie Cox: I'm just impressed that Tucker has the stamina to listen to NPR every day. I AGREE with them and I can't quite do it. It's so... precious. Someday a radio programmer will realize there's an audience for progressive, thoughtful analysis that is not delivered with a totebag of self-regard.


Washington, DC: With elections in Virginia and New Jersey tomorrow, what are your respective predictions, and why?

Tucker Carlson: Republicans win in Virginia and NY 23. And I'd bet Christie wins New Jersey too. Sounds like the late numbers are breaking his way.

If that happens, it's a big deal, bigger than your average off-year election (which we in the press typically hype and over-analyze to the point of death because it's the only race of the year and we're bored). Some centrist Democrats will likely take the results as a referendum on Obama's program and rethink their support for the heath care bill. Obama will look weak, especially given the time he's spent in New Jersey lately.

In fact, Obama has so much riding on the Corzine-Christie race, you'd think he must somehow know the outcome in advance (it is Jersey after all), but maybe he doesn't. Maybe he's winging it, like he did with the Olympics. If that's the case, and his behavior in Copenhagen wasn't a weird aberration, he truly has no idea what he's doing.


Boston: I am a liberal and am not sure I see the point in the Hates Crime Law, either. I just wish we would get past people acting on their homophobia. But a law will not change what people think.

An additional point, I lived in Virginia for 16 years and was considered to be a liberal "wing nut." Now that I am back where I grew up in Massachusetts, I barely move the needle on being liberal. In fact, I'm now considered to be a conservative Democrat! Just a comment.

Ana Marie Cox: No, it won't and that's fine with me; laws aren't -- or SHOULDN'T be -- designed to change how people think, anyway. Both sides of the political spectrum forget this.


Labels: Labels are not static. Nixon was a conservative, but backed legislation that would be proclaimed liberal, even socialist today. As someone who is socially pretty liberal but fiscally conservative, I tend to think that it is becoming increasingly useless to pin a label like conservative, moderate or liberal/progressive on most people.

Tucker Carlson: No, I think labels are still pretty useful. Nixon, for instance, was both a liberal and an authoritarian.


Atlanta: If Lieberman won't even vote with his caucus on procedural votes why shouldn't they take away his chairmanships? Stripping him of power may even hasten an early retirement.

Ana Marie Cox: Yes, they should.


Hard-hitter: I have a question for both of you. It fired up a debate amongst friends and enemies the other day. We couldn't come to a conclusion, so I decided to pose it here.

Which is better: half-price post-Halloween candy, or half-price post-Easter candy?

Tucker Carlson: Definitely Halloween. Fewer stale marshmallow peeps.


"The stimulus isn't working": Is Mitt Romney disconnected from reality or is he purposefully trying to jump the shark?

If I stood on the corner and said, "The sun did not rise today," I'd rightfully be called crazy.

Ana Marie Cox: Or, perhaps you'd be the nominee for the Republican party in upstate New York.


New York City: I don't really care how NY-23 votes. For one, it's pretty, but there aren't many people up there. For another, people in that district probably resent people like me who share a state with them but otherwise take them for granted. And most importantly, I once got a speeding ticket up there while driving back from Montreal.

I guess my point is, New York's 23rd Congressional District?! We're paying attention to this?

Tucker Carlson: Because NY-24 is even less interesting.

Thanks for another amusing and enlightening Monday. See you next week.


The sun is hot. Discuss.: Can we please DRINK NOW?!?

Ana Marie Cox: It is past noon, great idea and a wonderful segue. Thanks for stopping by. See you next week.


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