Today's Unbalanced 'Real-People' Panel

Call it Today's homage to John Lennon: imagine there're no conservatives. The NBC show so much enjoyed the conservative-free citizens panel it hosted back in November that it brought it back this morning.

As I wrote about at the time, two timid Republicans were pitted against two partisan Dems. In November, one of the "Republicans," Susie O'Neil, claimed that the country is in decline due to the war "and because corporations are totally influencing our Members of Congress and the Senate." Call Susie a Michael Moore Republican.

The other Republican on the panel back then, Sarah Hungerford, said she was thinking of voting for . . . a Democrat. The pair were back this morning, again matched against two partisan Dems who both had apparently become Obama supporters.

View video here.

LESTER HOLT: Sarah, let me begin with you. When we last spoke, you weren't sure anyone among the field we were looking at, could really change the country. It looks like your party's nominee is going to be John McCain. How do you feel about John McCain?

SARAH HUNGERFORD: I actually feel pretty good about that. I did vote for Huckabee in my state's primary, because I do feel that he does have a lot to offer. Maybe as a vice-president at this point, but I think that a McCain-Huckabee ticket would be very appealing to a lot of people in the Republican party, because some people that are concerned about McCain, I think some of their fears would be alleviated, or balanced out, with having Huckabee on the ticket also.

HOLT: Fears he's not conservative.


Yes, Huckabee's a social conservative. But "balancing out" McCain? How would McCain's no-tax-cuts-for-the-rich be balanced out by Huckabee's record of raising taxes in Arkansas and employing a populist rhetoric worthy of John Edwards at his most demagogic? McCain the amnesty champion balanced out by Huckabee, who wanted to give college scholarships to illegal aliens? Huckabee might be Holt's idea of a conservative, but far from alleviating concerns, choosing Huckabee for the VP slot would enrage and further alienate many mainstream conservatives.

Then it was on to admittedly moderate Susie.

HOLT: Then you have Susie over here. You describe yourself as a moderate Republican.


HOLT: So I would think that you would favor John McCain. Are you concerned, though, the sense that he feels he has to also reach out to the right wing of the party?

O'NEIL: I'm concerned that's the direction he'll be reaching out now, because I think he has to reach out to the moderates also, even though the conservative end of the party doesn't think he should reach out to the moderates any more. So he has a job to solidify his party.

Susie can be comforted in knowing that NBC will be there to do its bit: so long as McCain is moving left.

Holt closed by saying he'd like to have the panel back. Would it kill Today to have someone from the base of the GOP: mainstream conservatives?

Mark Finkelstein
Mark Finkelstein
Mark Finkelstein is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.