Post Politics Hour

Lois Romano
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, April 15, 2010; 11:00 AM

Don't want to miss out on the latest in politics? Start each day with The Post Politics Hour. Join in each weekday morning at 11 a.m. as a member of The Washington Post's team of White House and Congressional reporters answers questions about the latest in buzz in Washington and The Post's coverage of political news.

Washington Post national political writer Lois Romano was online Thursday, April 15 at 11 a.m. ET to discuss the latest in political news.

The transcript follows

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Lois Romano: Good Morning readers! Thanks for joining us today. I see lots of interesting questions so we'll start in moments....


Washington, DC: Is the Palin Contract really a big deal?

On the WP homepage, your chat lists the Sarah Palin contract as one of the topics.

Is this really a big deal? Celebrities and politicians do this all the time. Al Gore, Mr. Global warming, flies all over the country in private jets...and not a mention. I think there are more important issues, no?

Lois Romano: Some of the demands are fairly routine for big bucks speakers who are popular. I think in this case, however, the demands are at odds with the public image she cultivates. Palin likes to refer to herself as just a non-frills hockey mom. She makes fun of so-called elites etc. So it seems she has left herself vulnerable to criticisms that she has two sets of standards-- one for her and one for others. Many high-profile public people chose to fly coach for this reason-- atmospherics.


Washington, D.C.: "Children are not puppies," Huckabee said. "This is not a time to see if we can experiment and find out, how does this work?"

Why haven't these extremely insensitive remarks regarding gay adoption received more press attention? Huckabee compares same-sex marriage to incest, polygamy (44, April 13)

Lois Romano: Huh?? To the contrary- his remarks were picked up everywhere.


SCOTUS Nominee: What sort of timeframe are we looking at as far as an announcement goes? Are we talking days, weeks, or months?

Lois Romano: The White House obviously wants someone in place before the start of the next court in October. President Obama nominated Sotomayor at the end of May and had plenty of time to get her confirmed. So I would look for a similar time frame,


Longyearbyen, Norway: Meg Whitman is now sending edited feeds of her campaign events to TV stations, hoping they'll use them if they aren't there. Sarah Palin seems to be relying on Facebook and Twitter to release statements, and demands prescreened questions from a handpicked audience. Pundits say candidates eventually have to face candid questions if they hope to get elected, but do you see a fundamental change in access and media strategy if someone wins using these tactics? I suspect a successful all-propaganda campaign for a major office is very likely in the near future and will be widely imitated afterward.

Lois Romano: All campaigns have a propaganda component-- but as long as we have living breathing voters, candidates have to be accountable and answer questions. propaganda or-- as we like to call it - " the narrative" has long been a staple of campaigns. But its not everything. Obama made wide use of social networks and progressive websites to get his message out, often bypassing conventional media. But he faced voters. Hillary Clinton was in cocoon for most of her campaign, sticking with the narrative that she was the most experienced, strongest candidate. It wasnt until she won New Hampshire that she started taking voters questions and her campaign started to do better. i cant image a time when a candidate for high office wins without facing voters.


Ft. Myers, FL: This is a serious, if inartful, question: do you think Sarah Palin's shelf life is tied specifically to the shelf life of her physical appearance?

Lois Romano: no, of course not. But her appearance is one of he factors that draw attention to her. She is a compelling speaker- she knows how to energize a crowd.


Bellingham, WA: Good morning Ms. Romano. It's always a pleasure to read you columns and I appreciate you sticking your neck out during these chats.

According to the latest NYT/CBS News Poll released this morning "the 18 percent of Americans who identify themselves as Tea Party supporters tend to be Republican, white, male, married and older than 45".

To me the operative phase above is "18 percent of Americans... identify... as Tea Party supporters". My questions are not intended to be snarky or rhetorical and I am really hoping for a considered response-

First, can you think of any other group of 18 percent of Americans in support of anything that has received so much press, so much media oxygen, and so much publicity for their views?

Second, it is depressing to think that the press lavishes so much attention on the "Tea Party" simply because they scream loudest at town hall meetings. Is there some other journalistic reason Tea Party supporters receive coverage so out of proportion to their numbers?

Finally, and again not to be snarky or rhetorical ('tho admittedly a tad theatrical :-) ), when can we expect to hear from the 82% of Americans who are NOT Tea Party supporters? Is there no longer a media venue for the views of the vast majority of Americans who do not disrupt sessions of Congress or hurl insults and body fluids at civil rights heroes and House Representatives?


Lois Romano: This a very good question. I know that 18% doesnt sounds like a lot of people, but it is-- its enough to impact an election. Say for example, a third party sprung up with a tea party candidate in 2012-- well this would not be good for republicans because those people would come out of the republican base. In 2000, Ralph Nader siphoned enough votes from Al Gore, that some people thought it cost gore the election. Also, you cant ignore the fact that tens of thousands of people are taking to the streets-- no more that we could ignore that Obama was getting 50,000 people at some of his rallies.


Sarah Palin: Mika brought this up on "Morning Joe" this morning: Sarah Palin's voice is utterly grating! It sounds like squeaking chalk on a black-board. Added to that, she has her little talky sound-bites, and I think she's beginning to wear on people! She's certainly starting to wear on me.

Lois Romano: well some people obviously like her. There is a sameness and predictability to her mantra- and if you like what she's saying, I suspect her voice doesnt bother you.

I suppose when I commented on her being a good speaker, I was thinking of her convention speech which she hit out of the part.


Moore, South Carolina: I know this may sound like a loaded question but why do you suppose that Barrack Obama preached on the campaign trail he would pull the troops out of Iraq within 6 months of taking office but has failed to do that, especially in light now of an economic crisis? Comment: Military spending grew and we continue to have 700 plus bases worldwide; Is Congress just full of idiots or what? By the way, I am a military veteran, but whatever happened to economic pragmatism??

Lois Romano: He started pulling back from that in the general election-- started saying he'd listen to commanders. Obama will always be on the side caution when it comes to military defense matters- straddling the middle- because thats where the majority of americans are. I know that a majority now want us out of these wars- and I cant begin to say why we're not out. But I dont have access to intelligence briefings to know the full story.


"candidates eventually have to face candid questions": That's why Sarah Palin will never again run for elective office. Why should she? She's raking in millions as a "political personality" and avoiding the voter accountability of actually having to run for office and govern if elected (resigning her governorship was telling). She doesn't qualify for what we would characterize as a "pundit" because she seems to be more interested in sound bites than content.

As far as the disconnect between what she preaches about elites and what she practices? The Palin true believers either don't notice or don't care.

Lois Romano: I may live to eat these words- but agree with you. I dont think Palin will run for office. Once she started marketing herself so aggressively, its seems she made a decision that she can make money and have considerable impact outside the process. Then she can say whats she wants-- and she doesn't have be financially accountable to anyone.


Chattanooga, Tenn.: Bellingham and the following poster are right. You betcha! The Boston Globe said the crowd on the Common was 6,000 yesterday, not tens of thousands.

Lois Romano: I did see that so I may have misspoke. I was actually thinking about differently rallies around the country attracting different crowds-- but maybe its the same core going city to city.


Boston, MA: Hi Lois,

Here in Mass I see several stories touting a Romney/Palin presidential ticket for 2012. To me it seems like a crazy combination. What is your opinion?

Lois Romano: I dont see any viable presidential candidate every picking sarah palin as a running mate again.


Bethesda: "Also, you cant ignore the fact that tens of thousands of people are taking to the streets-- no more that we could ignore that Obama was getting 50,000 people at some of his rallies."

Really?? Hmm, tell that to the tens of thousands of antiwar protestors in 2002-03, or to those at the (larger) immigration rally on the Mall on the same day that (a smaller group of) teabaggers were protesting at the Capitol a few months back.

Lois Romano: ok ok uncle. may be there aren't tens of thousands...


Concord, NH: Responding to the question from SC, I don't recall Obama ever saying on the campaign trail that he would pull troops out of Iraq within 6 months. I recall Dennis Kucinich saying that. I recall Obama and Clinton talking about pulling troops out of Iraq by the end of their first term, whether withdrawals would be conditions-based or not, and what sort of residual force would be left. What is happening with our forces in Iraq is largely what Obama and Clinton talked about on the campaign trail - it turned out that President Bush signed a force-withdrawal agreement with the government of Iraq that closely resembled the Obama and Clinton campaign positions on Iraq.

Lois Romano: I just went back and looks and some of his comments. In 2007, he said troops should be out within a year. I didnt see anything that said six months-- which doesnt mean he didnt say it.


Detroit: Your thoughts on today's Politico article that the Tea Party is just a GOP fund raising effort?

Lois Romano: Many of you have had very good questions on the tea party movement today-- most of which focus on one fundamental questions: is it a true, sustainable movement,, or merely just a lot of angry people looking to vent. First of all, its too early to tell- we will know more as we get closer to the mid-term elections. secondly, it can be a movement that has impact here and now-- just as moveon,com did in its anti-war efforts. We dont hear as much about them right now, but they managed to generate a large membership, raise a ton of money and impact campaigns. So standby.... we'll see more in coming months.


Bethesda again: Actually, you missed my point entirely. Regardless of the actual number of tea party protestors, they do get disproportionate coverage. But also, when you said their numbers (whatever they are) couldn't be ignored, you missed the fact that even larger groups are -routinely- ignored by the media. Again, those antiwar marches were far larger than anything the tea parties have staged, but were ignored by the media in the rah-rah days leading up to the Iraq war.

Lois Romano: Thats true. But if you recall, at that time majority of americans supported the war effort and I think thats what the media was following.


Lois Romano: Hello-- so sorry but its time for us to end today. There were so many more questions I wanted to answer. Be come back in two week. thanks. lr


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