After introducing his political panel on the July 7 edition of MSNBC’s The Daily Rundown, host Chuck Todd chose to mock Brent Bozell, Media Research Center President and NewsBusters publisher, after realizing he had three titans of the mainstream media on his program at the same time.
Todd described the panel, consisting of The New York Times’ Carolyn Ryan, Dan Balz of The Washington Post, and Susan Page of USA Today as “really a nightmare scenario for Brent Bozell. This is like the mainstream media all in one place, the Times, the Post, USA Today, NBC. Oh my God! Heads are exploding!” [MP3 audio here; video below]
The panel continued by having a surprisingly balanced discussion about the immigration crisis at the border and its implications for the midterm elections. Todd highlighted numerous issues that could signal President Obama’s lack of competence, even proposing a hypothetical political ad: “And that, this competency–I was going to say because, boy, you can see that 30-second TV ad, right. You start with the health care rollout. You go to the VA. You go to Syria. You go to Iraq. And you can go to the border. And you can draw a straight line.”
Page suggested that Obama was in deep political trouble, claiming that “he's going to have to take tougher action to move to deport these kids.” She elaborated by saying the crisis at the border is “unacceptable to more than just Republicans” and described it as a “lose-lose for him politically speaking” because of the issue’s potential to anger those on the left and on the right.
Todd wondered how Obama–who is visiting the state of Texas this week–could avoid going to the border, despite the administration’s repeated claims that they have no plans to do such a thing. Page asserted that this could be the President’s “Katrina moment,” particularly because Obama is going to a fund-raiser in lieu of the border.
The relevant portion of the transcript is below:
The Daily Rundown
July 7, 2014
9:35 a.m. Eastern
CHUCK TODD, host: Some Republicans would surely like to turn voters attention back to healthcare or focus on the President's competency. The election could end up being about the economy or about Republicans in Congress. Right now it's simply not clear. With me, a trio of chiefs. Carolyn Ryan is Washington bureau chief and political editor for The New York Times. Dan Balz is chief correspondent for The Washington Post. And Susan Page is Washington bureau chief for USA Today. This is really a nightmare scenario for Brent Bozell. This is like the mainstream media all in one place, the Times, the Post, USA Today, NBC. Oh my God! Heads are exploding! Dan, I want to start with you. What is this election going to go about?
TODD: I wanna zero in on immigration. Is there a Democrat in the country that wants to talk immigration, Dan, in the midterm?
DAN BALZ: No, not that I’ve heard. Well, and particularly not at this moment.
TODD: Yeah, they are ducking it left and right, I feel like. Mark Pryor, Mary Landrieu, it seems like ahh.
BALZ: For understandable reasons. We are at a flashpoint with a problem on the border with the kids. It really does make it difficult for a Democrat to talk about it. On the other hand, we always have to keep the long view in mind on the immigration issue and that as you look at it in that way, it's still a long-term problem for the Republicans. While it may be helpful to Republicans in short-term in 2014 again as a motivating force, when you get to 2016, I think we'll be hearing Republicans particularly those running for president talking about it in a different way.
CAROLYN RYAN: I just want to jump in on something that Susan said which I think is a really smart point. I do think the sort of national funk that we're in, this sort of national malaise, it’s partly due to a sense that things aren't working. That we thought we solved Iraq or got out of it and now it's exploding again. And I think this crisis on the border does go to this question of competence and the problem with immigration is that there hasn't been a consensus or clarity about our policy. And that's why I feel like it can be a negative for President Obama where it seems like so many things in this country just aren't working.
TODD: And that, this competency–I was going to say because, boy, you can see that 30-second TV ad, right. You start with the health care rollout. You go to the VA. You go to Syria. You go to Iraq. And you can go to the border. And you can draw a straight line.
SUSAN PAGE: If you look at the box President Obama is in on immigration, he's going to have to take tougher action to move to deport these kids.
TODD: Especially if he wants to go the other way, especially if he’s trying to expand, if he's going to stick a finger in the eye of house Republicans, on dreamers–.
PAGE: This is unacceptable to more than Republicans, the situation on immigration. And boy is that gonna anger some core constituents who have wanted him to do more on immigration and not less. Not take a harder line but do more for people who are here now unable to deliver legislation. I think this is a lose-lose for him politically speaking.
TODD: Speaking of immigration, are you surprised that the President is gonna be in Texas and not go to the border?
BALZ: I'll be surprised if he doesn't go to the border.
TODD: They’ve been defiant about this, because I thought the same thing. I’m like, of course you guys are going, right. You're just not announcing it. No, no, no, we're not going.
RYAN: I just wonder if it gets closer it becomes impossible to be in the state of Texas and not go.
TODD: You go to natural disasters, right?
PAGE: It's a Katrina moment. It’s a fund-raiser.
TODD: It’s a fund-raiser. This is a fund-raiser.
PAGE: You’re gonna go to a fund-raiser and not go to the border where there's this crisis?
BALZ: It's conceivably a lose-lose. I mean, if he goes, he draws even more attention to the fact of the problem that they were unable to solve right now. So in a symbolic sense, he almost has to go but in a practical political sense, there's a risk.
TODD: The House is going to have to vote on this emergency funding. Okay. That is–we know that's going to happen probably before the August recess. The law has to change, right? They’re gonna–is that going to be the price of getting the $2 billion?
RYAN: I mean I think they'll have to have a some kind of provision where they make clear that they're going to expedite some of these deportations and I think we'll start hearing that there will be a hearing this week but I think there's going to have to be something they give to the House.