In the wake of last Saturday's shooting spree in Arizona, MSNBC anchor Chris Jansing on Friday wondered if the phrase "jobs-killing health care" bill is now taboo. Speaking to a former speechwriter for Condi Rice, Jansing also speculated as to whether Barack Obama's address at a memorial service will "take some of the wind" out of the Republicans' sails.
Talking to speechwriter Elise Jordan, Jansing warned, "...Are you bothered at all by the fact that they refused to stop calling it a jobs killing health care repeal in this current environment?"
Shifting into a discussion of who would get credit, Jansing attempted to find the political upside for the President. Interviewing Latina magazine co-president Glaina Espinoza, the cable anchor speculated, " And, Galena, you don't want to talk about a tragedy in terms of political gain, but the President clearly impressed a lot of people at the memorial service. We have seen it, even before that, his poll numbers were inching up in pretty much every poll I have seen recently."
Jansing followed up by suggesting, "Does it take some of the wind out of the Republicans' sails, Elise?" Apparently, musing about the political gain Obama could reap from a memorial service is appropriate, but using an innocuous phrase like "jobs-killing" isn't.
A transcript of the January 14 segment, which aired at 10:05am EST, follows:
CHRIS JANSING: Right now house GOP members are huddled in Baltimore for a private winter retreat and they already announced they'll get back to business on Tuesday and try to repeal the health care law. But, after the tragedy in Tucson, the question is, will the tone of the debate change? A GOP spokesman used the words, thoughtful consideration when talking about health care. Let's bring in our company, Latina magazine co-president and editorial director Galena Espinoza, former Condoleezza Rice speechwriter Elise Jordan. Good morning to both of you. You know, it's almost hard to talk about the political environment after the scenes that we have seen. You know, when we heard from the President and we heard from Christina's family, she cared about politics and she was this great kid and everyone is looking and saying, let's not not learn from her, but given history, Elise, what do you think the chances are?
ELISE JORDAN (Condi Rice speechwriter): I think it looks like people are being polite this week but back to business and same old, same old. The Democrats lost out on this health care message battle with the first law and I think Republicans are still banking off that and are still trying to dominating the messaging of what is going to happen with health care.
JANSING: Are you bothered at all by the fact, again, you worked for Condi Rice as a speechwriter, so you know about communication strategy, are you bothered at all by the fact that they refused to stop calling it a jobs killing, health care repeal in this current environment?
JORDAN: Well, I think that's just playing hardball and they know what they're doing here. Because, they managed, Republicans have been able to dominate what should have been a good story for Obama, passing historic health care legislation, but the fact of this 2,000-page legislation that no one really knows what's in it, they have been able to bank that not that many people are reading it. And we can get across, hey, this is going to it hurt the economy and this is not good for the long-term interest.
JANSING: And, Galena, you don't want to talk about a tragedy in terms of political gain, but the President clearly impressed a lot of people at the memorial service. We have seen it, even before that, his poll numbers were inching up in pretty much every poll I have seen recently. How does he handle this? How should he handle this? Is this something that the Democrats really go after or did they say they're going to pass it in the House, we know we're going to stop it in the Senate, let's take the high road here.
GALINA ESPINOZA (Latina magazine): I think the President would be smart to continue to take the high road. I think that's what people responded to that he didn't demonize either side, that he talked about the nation needing a moment to step back and reflect. He showed a really human, vulnerable side that anyone regardless of political affiliation could connect to. And I think that is political capital he can use going forward.
JANSING: Does it take some of the wind out of the Republicans' sails, Elise?
JORDAN: I think it's tough- They don't go in there charging immediately, they have to respect the climate and have a softer touch. But that's very difficult when this is really polarizing issue.
JANSING: You know, I have to wonder going forward if we're going to hear about this just for the week, if it's going to keep coming up? You know, does it start to look a little bit like you're using this tragedy for political gain if you talk too much about the rhetoric? The conversation about the conversation itself. Where does that go?
ESPINOZA: Yeah, I mean, I think that's a very tricky line that you don't want to be perceived as exploiting this tragedy somehow. I think, unfortunately, the fact that Republicans are already announcing, oh, we're picking up right back where we left off and we're going after health care is a disheartening sign in and of itself especially when they're claiming that their mandate is reduce spending whether every report says that if you repeal health care, it's going to add more than $200 billion to the deficit. So, I think, for them to return to this issue, which we know is a symbolic one and we know it will not pass in the Senate, it seems, again, like they haven't gotten the message.
— Scott Whitlock is a news analyst for the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.