Balance of Power with Tucker Carlson and Ana Marie Cox

Tucker Carlson and Ana Marie Cox
Political Journalists
Monday, November 9, 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. 9 at noon ET to offer their analysis of the Obama presidency and other goings-on in the world of politics.


Longmont, Colo.: Why don't we spend less on defense, to offset the costs of increased spending on health care?

Tucker Carlson: Because we might get killed.

Happy Monday.


Tucker, still worried that Obama's incompetent?: You've voiced this concern several times, about a guy who was raised in a single parent household, graduated from the best schools on the planet, beat out an unbeatable foe to corral the Democratic nomination for president, got himself elected to the most powerful position in the world, pretty much single-handedly changed the world's perception of this country in a positive way, and shepherded a comprehensive health care bill through the House, something no other president has been able to do since LBJ. Hey, a little more incompetence like this and conservatives might actually wield some power again some day!

Tucker Carlson: Obama's an impressive person with a remarkable life story. You'll never hear me argue otherwise. But he's also pushing the congress to spend more than a trillion dollars at a time when the country is broke, and to add dramatic and onerous new regulations to American business at a time when there's 17 percent unemployment. So it's also clear he's not very wise.


Historical figures: If House Dems are allowed to call themselves historical figures I figure that gives you the opportunity to call yourselves whatever you want: how would you like the public to refer to you?

Tucker Carlson: Archbishop. Or "winner of the Victoria Cross for gallantry." Either one

Ana Marie Cox: Ishmael?

Welcome everyone, hope your weekend was good and that you are somehow chatting with us from outside. WHAT A DAY.


Washington, DC: I'd like the media to ask congressmen and women who voted for the health reform bill just one question: if the health bill overhaul is so great, how come you included a provision that specifically exempts members of Congress from having to participate in this health program?

Ana Marie Cox: I confess I'm a little confused about this aspect of the legislation -- as far as I know, the bill does not "specifically exempt" Congress from participating in the "health exchanges" (not really the "public option"), it just doesn't FORCE them into it... which is what a late R amendment would have done. (See here.)

Also, in the Senate version, Kennedy himself supported a similarly targeted amendment in the version of the bill that came out of his committee. And in any case, I don't understand the logic of how Dems not agreeing to be FORCED into the public option is a mark of hypocrisy -- isn't it supposed to be so awesome that it'll drive all private insurance out business anyway?


Silver Spring, MD: I wonder if you two could help me. As you likely know, two tragic shooting rampages happened last Thursday. Our media did an obsessively thorough job of telling me the first one was done by a Muslim, but none of the stories about Mr. Rodriquez, the Florida shooter, informed me of HIS religion. Since I desperately need to know which faiths attract dangerous, bloodthirsty animals so that I can stereotype and steer clear of them, I am left high and dry by the latter coverage. I'm assuming Rodriquez was a Christian (as was Mr. Cho of Virginia Tech), but the media is terminally shy when it comes to even mentioning if a shooter is "Christian". How can I know whom to fear and hate when the media is so spotty in its bogeymongering?

Ana Marie Cox: Well, you are in a pickle, aren't you! I think you could save a lot of time and just start being scared everyone -- a lonely but safe existence, OR you could not assume that the media has the best judgment when it comes to relevant details.

Also, why aren't more crazy people Zoroastrians? Not that I want to imply that there's anything crazy (relatively speaking!) about Zoroastrainism, but man does it SOUND scary. Like, just the name, you know? "Zoroaster" could be the villain in a Ghostbusters sequel or something.

Tucker Carlson: Not all religious nuts are equally dangerous. I've never understood why so many Americans persist in pretending otherwise.


Minneapolis, Minn.: The White House gutted Sarbanes-Oxley last week, so things aren't that bad on the regulation front, Tucker. Small public companies win exemption from audits

Tucker Carlson: Great. On the other hand, the House just voted to regulate the Big Mac. So it's a trade off.


DC: Do both of you feel that ALL jobs should provide an array of benefits such as health and paid time off. The amount of benefits should depend to a degree on the complexity of the job. Being a greeter at Walmart is not a career and is not something that I would think generally result in a massive benefits package.

Tucker Carlson: As a general matter, I think prospective employees ought to be able to freely negotiate with prospective employers, and vice versa. It's not clear why government should be able to tell people what salary or benefits they have to receive, or how many hours they work and when. Assuming it's a contract between private citizens, none of this is anybody else's business. So I strongly reject the core assumptions behind all such legislation.

Ana Marie Cox: I think I understand why Tucker objects to government "interference" in that kind of negotiation, and I'm sympathetic to it. I also think $30B in bonuses is obscene, and if it were in my personal power to mount a meaningful boycott, I'd do it. As it is, I elected officials who will do something about that obscenity for me. Just stay away from art! -- kidding, haha... if the fed government had just, say, bailed out the art industry I think I'd be okay with some government interference there, too.

(There's an argument this has already happened, of c.)


Wonderland: I'm a Democrat, slightly to the left of moderate. That said, I am dismayed by the House bill. It seems to me that the most significant outcome, if it were implemented, would be an enormous windfall to the insurers at a huge cost to the country. The Republican "reform plan" was an utter joke, and morally corrupt. The House plan seems almost as corrupt, but because it does make some necessary changes (pre- existing conditions, etc.), its supporters cloak themselves in the robes of true reformers. Or am I being WAY too cynical?

Tucker Carlson: In anything, not cynical enough. The system is that corrupt. Consider that the overwhelming majority of Americans report being happy with their current health care arrangements, and you've got to wonder how we wound up with a "reform" scheme like this in the first place. It's a guaranteed disaster for the economy, it's an attack on personal liberty far more profound than anything in the Patriot Act, and most people don't really want it. But it'll make politicians more powerful and some of their donors richer. So we're getting it anyway.

Don't feel guilty. All your suspicions are correct.


Helena, Montana: Are the Republican congressmen intent on driving away not only the blacks and Hispanics, but women as well? Their childish tantrum during the health care debate - objecting to Democratic congresswomen on putting revised and extended remarks in the Congressional Record - could very well turn around and bite them. These are the people you'd want to lead in the House?

Tucker Carlson: So it's sexist to argue with female legislators?

Ana Marie Cox: No, it's just stupid to heedlessly rile up pro-choice -- or at least pro-liberty -- voters, Tucker. "Arguing" isn't the point, and I think you know that.


Takoma Park: Not all religious nuts are equally dangerous. I've never understood why so many Americans persist in pretending otherwise.


I actually think you are missing the point the poster is trying to make. If the media reported on everyone's religion when they did something horrible, the perception may well be different.

Tucker Carlson: The Virginia Tech shooter's religion was incidental to his murder spree. That is not the case with Islamic-inspired terror.

That's the point I was making.


Jersey City, NJ: For the second time in two years, a religious institution has played a HUGE role in stripping a minority population of their civil rights. Why is there not more movement towards revoking the Mormon and Catholic churches of their tax exempt status for their roles in Proposition 8 and Question 1? It is my understanding that their blatant activity on a specific political issue violates the establishment clause. If I'm correct, why are we sitting idly by?

Tucker Carlson: Having your abortion covered by taxpayers is a "civil right"?

The rest of your point, though, makes sense I think. Religious organizations don't pay taxes, yet most of them (not just the Catholics and the Mormons)lobby government anyway.

I couldn't be more sympathetic to religious groups. I think they make this a much better country than it would be otherwise. But I do worry that the whole tax-exempt, non-partisan charade has a corrupting influence.

Ana Marie Cox: The Stupak amendment did MUCH more than simply keep federal tax dollars from covering abortions. The civil right in question in that case is the ability to conduct a private, legal medical procedure without "government interference." And as for Question One, yeah, marriage equality is a civil right, too.


Afghanistan, Heath Care, the Redskins: I'm tired of reading about things we can't fix. What can we fix?

Tucker Carlson: It's nearly impossible to fix anything entirely and for all-time, Obama's bragging about his health care plan notwithstanding. I do think an upper-management change would help the Redskins.

Ana Marie Cox: The Redskins' season should be euthanized.


Washington, DC: What was the worst "It seemed like a good idea at the time" moment from Saturday? Tom Price trying to shout down his colleagues, as if they might get so frustrated they'd give up on health care reform, or John Shadegg reading a baby's mind and telling us her opinion on the debate?

Tucker Carlson: I missed it, sadly. Sounds like great TV.


I hope she runs against him in the primary.


Small town, Vermont: Hi guys,

I still haven't heard a good answer to this question, which to me is the crux of the issue. Maybe you two can help: If the public option is passed, what is stopping most businesses (large or small) from dropping health insurance coverage for their workers and sending them to the government plan because they would much rather pay the comparatively nominal fee or fine? This would automatically increase their profits by a significant margin, and they are already paying the taxes for the government plan anyway. Thoughts?!

Tucker Carlson: Great question. Here's what you can bank on: If a health bill similar to the House version makes it to the president's desk, the entire health care sector -- projected to be fully a third of the American economy before long -- will be run by the government within 20 years.

Ana Marie Cox: Yay!


silver spring: That is not the case with Islamic-inspired terror.


Your quote is exactly what the poster is talking about. I never ever hear anything called "Christian-inspired terror", although we all know there is plenty of it.

Tucker Carlson: Really? Where?


Last week's elections: What are the lessons to be learned Ye Great Ones of the Huge Mental Capacities?

also: Tucker, why won't Windows automatically update my aunt's laptop properly?

Tucker Carlson: Because Windows is mediocre.

And I say that as someone who until recently thought Apple products were a trendy fetish for unemployed trustafarians and Starbuck's baristas. Then my kids pushed me to buy a MacBook Pro. Within a day I got it. Macs are so, so much better. Truly.

Ana Marie Cox: I'm always sad when it takes this long to get to a "what Tucker said" answer. But then I'm happy because I can DRINK!

(Mac user since 1984, except for a miserable experiment with a Toshiba in 2000-1. UGH. Back in the fold just updated to Snow Leopard and Hackentoshing a Dell Mini AS WE SPEAK.)


Seattle: Good "another step in the health-care bill" Morning,

Ana Marie, do you think the Stupak "Pay for your abortions in advance" Amendment will be a "Poison Pill" to the Senate?

Tucker, Where were you at 11 p.m. last Saturday? (Ana can answer that too.)

Tucker Carlson: I was just ordering after-dinner coffee at the Palm on 19th St.

Ana Marie Cox: Had just trundled off to bed -- but was following the floor show on Twitter. Tucker's life is more exciting than mine.


Personal liberty?: Tucker, isn't the real attack on personal liberty the ability of insurance companies to reject you for a pre-existing condition or dump you once you become sick?

Tucker Carlson: I don't see how it's an attack on personal liberty for a company to decide that it's unprofitable to do business you do. As for being dropped from a plan once you become sick, that's sounds incredibly upsetting. I'd hate it if it happened to me or someone I love. But is it a violation of the contract you (as a competent adult who can read English) signed with the insurance company? That's the question.


Ak from Pa.: Happy Monday to both ya'll-

If you could ask President Obama any question (and we'll assume he is on "truth serum" and has to answer honestly, sans any political double speak etc...)

what one question would you want him to answer?


Ana Marie Cox: What is your commitment to civil rights to gays and lesbians, and why?

(I really want to know HOW he thinks of that commitment, and if he believes its important on the order of the civil rights journeys of blacks and women -- and if it isn't, then what does he owe them? Anything? There may be more important questions, but his inaction on this has truly puzzled me.)


Boston: Isn't actually a little odd that Congressmembers would be allowed in the exchanges at all? Nobody working for large entities that currently offer healthcare to their employees are allowed in the exchanges. Why would Congress-peeps get that extra advantage that the rest of us don't get? (Ah, the beauty of turning issues on their head.)

Ana Marie Cox: Like I said, this talking point seems less than successful to me. But it probably works when you're talking to people who already agree! Grrr! Health care reform bad! Congress should have to participate because... bad!


Appomattox, Va.: Didn't Bob McDonnell win election by muting his social conservatism and promising to solve the insolvable -- Northern Virginia's traffic woes?

Ana Marie Cox: That's what it looked like to me -- and that's clearly how he won women's vote. I honestly will put up with all kinds neanderthal-lite social views if you keep me out of traffic jams! (To all the more quickly elect a real D next time around!)


Easton Md.: Your point still doesn't hold up, Tucker. Most of us do not know Hassan's motive. Unless you have been part of the investigation, you don't know either. You're assuming his religion is his motive.

Tucker Carlson: I don't know his motive, and didn't mean to suggest I did. Unlike editors at the New York Times, for instance, I don't assume he caught some contagious, airborne form of PTSD. Nor do I assume his religion had nothing to do with it. I'm open-minded.

And you must be too, having indulged us for yet another hour. Thanks a lot. See you next week.


Ana Marie Cox: Time flies when you're listing your Macintosh background! Thanks for coming by, everyone. Your questions always remind me of why it is hope other people read the newspaper, in a good way!

See you next week.


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