Amanpour Invokes Bush 41, Throws Pity Party for ‘Moderate’ McCaskill Losing

While invoking the passing of former President George H. W. Bush, CNN International and PBS host Christiane Amanpour fretted on Thursday’s show that “[a]s President Bush One is laid to rest, one of the Senate’s true moderates heads home in defeat,” blaming it on “conservative dark money,” “negative ads,” and a refusal by voters to accept McCaskill’s manufactured image as someone right down the middle. 

The tone was set from the beginning in a tease ahead of the 19-minute-plus segment: “As President Bush One is laid to rest, one of the Senate’s true moderates heads home in defeat. Did compromise kill Claire McCaskill’s Senate campaign?” Yeesh.

 

 

Before welcoming on McCaskill, Amanpour doubled down on the Bush-McCaskill connections, stating that “[i]n saying farewell to George H.W. Bush, the American political world is not just mourning the man but to a large extent, the loss of a spirit of moderate compromise that Bush exemplified” with McCaskill being someone who’s part of that “dying breed, moderates of either party willing to do the horse trading, making policy and passing legislation for the people.”

Amanpour continued, fretting that McCaskill’s desire to find “that middle ground may have cost her her job” in a state won by Donald Trump in a blowout and going to the tired liberal excuse that dark money sunk their cause (click “expand”):

She was the top target of conservative dark money, slammed in negative ads and Donald Trump himself campaigned heavily for her opponent. Meanwhile, McCaskill was taking friendly fire from the left-wing of her own party for failing to meet so-called ideological purity tests. Despite the blue wave, despite the surge of support for women candidates in these midterms, Claire McCaskill is now packing her things and heading home to Missouri. In her concession speech, she told her voters that she is not going away from public life and she definitely won’t keep quiet on the sidelines.

After welcoming McCaskill, Amanpour gave her the same personal concern she’d give to Hillary Clinton or the Palestinians: “I mean is it sad? I feel a little awful, sort of, you know, writing your obituary as we speak and, you know, portraying you with your bags packed on your tail between the legs and heading home.”

McCaskill replied that her “tail is not between my legs” and while she “hate[s] losing,” she believes that “there are other things I can do to contribute, so I feel very fortunate that I’ve been able to serve but I’m also excited about the next chapter” that, in her mind, doesn’t appear to conclude another bid for office.

Amanpour was enthralled with McCaskill’s insistence that she’ll be “more unhinged” once she leaves office, so the host followed up with more sympathy cards (click “expand”):

AMANPOUR: Well, we look forward to an unhinged Senator McCaskill or former Senator McCaskill. But let’s just pick up what you just said, you can’t be totally frank if you’re trying to be in the calm — you know, the moderate, the middle, the common ground, which is necessary to actually pass legislation and make policy. I mean, how much of that was your undoing in this particular reelection campaign?

MCCASKILL: Well, honestly, we had record turnout of Democrats in Missouri. The problem really didn’t turn out to be that my party didn’t support me because I wasn’t pure enough. The problem really was the enthusiasm that really ran — ramped up, after the Kavanagh hearings and after so many visits by the President. My opponent jumped on the back of Donald Trump, grabbed him around the neck really hard and did not let go and Donald Trump carried him across the finish line by really hitting some buttons and, of course, the spectral go around the Kavanaugh confirmation and what he did by manipulating, I think, the public impression about the caravan also contributed to a level of enthusiasm that was very high on the Republican side that frankly wasn’t there three or four months ago.

Later on Bush’s passing, Amanpour ruled that “the outpouring in the press and in the streets and on the ground...was a sort of maybe rosy, misty eyed memory of a moment when there were gentleman and gentlewomen....who skewed to the middle ground even in the Republican Party and were civil, believed in civil discourse.”

These same notes permeated the rest of the interview, but you get the point. Upon further review of scorecards from both conservative and liberal interest groups, McCaskill was anything but a moderate. 

Here are some groups on the right (with lifetime scores where available):

And over on the left, McCaskill scored quite well (with lifetime scores where available):

To see the relevant transcript from CNN International/PBS’s Amanpour & Company on December 6, click “expand.”

CNN International/PBS’s Amanpour & Company
December 6, 2018
[TEASE]

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: As President Bush One is laid to rest, one of the Senate’s true moderates heads home in defeat. Did compromise kill Claire McCaskill’s Senate campaign?

(....)

AMANPOUR: In saying farewell to George H.W. Bush, the American political world is not just mourning the man but to a large extent, the loss of a spirit of moderate compromise that Bush exemplified. The Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill was herself part of what seems to be a dying breed, moderates of either party willing to do the horse trading, making policy and passing legislation for the people. But seeking that middle ground may have cost her her job. McCaskill is a Democrat, defending her seat in a state where Donald Trump won by almost 20 percent. She was the top target of conservative dark money, slammed in negative ads and Donald Trump himself campaigned heavily for her opponent. Meanwhile, McCaskill was taking friendly fire from the left-wing of her own party for failing to meet so-called ideological purity tests. Despite the blue wave, despite the surge of support for women candidates in these midterms, Claire McCaskill is now packing her things and heading home to Missouri. In her concession speech, she told her voters that she is not going away from public life and she definitely won’t keep quiet on the sidelines. To that end, Senator Claire McCaskill joins me now from Washington and welcome to our program, Senator.

MISSOURI DEMOCRATIC SENATOR CLAIRE MCCASKILL: Thank you. It’s great to be with you.

AMANPOUR: I mean is it sad? I feel a little awful, sort of, you know, writing your obituary as we speak and, you know, portraying you with your bags packed on your tail between the legs and heading home.

MCCASKILL: Well, my tail is not between my legs. I hate losing, let’s just say that. I’m a very competitive person but I am really cheerful and in fact, it’s bugging all my colleagues. They go, “You’re not supposed to be this happy.” But this place is gotten really tough and I feel like there are other things I can do to contribute, so I feel very fortunate that I’ve been able to serve but I’m also excited about the next chapter.

AMANPOUR: Well, we did say you — you said yourself you’re not going to stay quietly on the sidelines. What is your next chapter? Will it be in political life?

MCCASKILL: I do not believe I will ever run for office again. But there are other ways that I can let this mouth of mine, it’s gotten me in trouble many times, do its work and now, I am not constrained by the discipline that I felt like I had to embrace in order to get things done. You can’t really engage in kind of hot rhetoric, political rhetoric, if you’re still trying to find that common ground and accomplish things. I will not have that responsibility. So, now, I can be a little bit more unhinged, so to speak.

AMANPOUR: Well, we look forward to an unhinged Senator McCaskill or former Senator McCaskill. But let’s just pick up what you just said, you can’t be totally frank if you’re trying to be in the calm — you know, the moderate, the middle, the common ground, which is necessary to actually pass legislation and make policy. I mean, how much of that was your undoing in this particular reelection campaign?

MCCASKILL: Well, honestly, we had record turnout of Democrats in Missouri. The problem really didn’t turn out to be that my party didn’t support me because I wasn’t pure enough. The problem really was the enthusiasm that really ran — ramped up, after the Kavanagh hearings and after so many visits by the President. My opponent jumped on the back of Donald Trump, grabbed him around the neck really hard and did not let go and Donald Trump carried him across the finish line by really hitting some buttons and, of course, the spectral go around the Kavanaugh confirmation and what he did by manipulating, I think, the public impression about the caravan also contributed to a level of enthusiasm that was very high on the Republican side that frankly wasn’t there three or four months ago.

AMANPOUR: So, let’s just talk about the Kavanaugh. You did vote against him. But when you were sort of campaigning, you didn’t really bring up the — you know, the hot button social issues that seemed to, you know, really have America gripped by the — by whatever one might say, abortion and the others and what might happen under a Supreme Court with him now as an associate justice. You talked actually about campaign finance. Was that wise? Do you think now in retrospect you should have highlighted the things many, many women are concerned about?

MCCASKILL: Well, my — you know, frankly, the issue that really was more difficult was that I had been in office a long time and regardless of how you felt, one way or the other, about Kavanaugh, it wasn’t pretty. It was not the Senate at its finest moment. It was chaos and it was not dignified and we certainly are not getting example of dignified from the Oval Office. So, the fact that I have been in the public life for so long and the fact that people look upon Washington as really a place where nothing good happens, that really was probably more damaging to me with outstate Missouri, the rural parts of my state and obviously, Trump’s support for my opponent in the rural — the divide we have in our country is as much rural and urban as it is Democrat and Republican.

AMANPOUR: So, let me just point out then and see whether you agree with what I suggested, which was that part of the outpouring in the press and in the streets and on the ground and certainly in the cathedrals for President George H.W. Bush was a sort of maybe rosy, misty eyed memory of a moment when there were gentleman and gentlewomen in politics, mostly gentlemen, who skewed to the middle ground even in the Republican Party and were civil, believed in civil discourse. I mean, Bush is kinder, gentler America, whether it happened or not, he uttered those words. Do you agree that that was what was being mourned as much as the passing of a man, a President?

MCCASKILL: I do and that’s one of the reasons I want to be careful to not give the impression that I think I was defeated because I was a  moderate. I still believe there’s a wide swath of voters in America that don’t look through the lens of political party but look through the lens of, “Well, what do you actually getting done,” even though the noise is generated by the ends. The elections are decided by those folks in the middle. And we had a moderate an Arizona, a Democrat win in a state that hasn’t had a Democratic senator for many years. I do believe that our next election cycle there will be more and more people that will go, “Okay. We’re worn out with all of this. We’re worn out with the tweets. We’re worn out with the food fight between the Democrats and the Republicans. Let’s try to get behind someone who can knit this thing together and get back to the days where everyone realizes that compromise was actually part of our founding fathers most important idea for this country.”

AMANPOUR: And yet, it is blatantly and blaringly absent today and you have tweeted, in fact, just this week, just yesterday, you tweeted, “So sad that our dinner to say good bye to senators who are leaving is not bipartisan. If we cannot be together to even recognize those who are leaving, what hope is there for this place? Why didn’t it happen? 2 words, Mitch McConnell.” I mean, that’s pretty — pretty bizarre.

MCCASKILL: Yes, it is and he made this decision when they took over the majority a few years ago said that we were no longer going to have this dinner together. He certainly has the power to say, “You know, I made a mistake, let’s bring everybody together and do this dinner together,” and he has not done that and I think it’s a terrible commentary on what this place has come to that we can’t even get together to wish — I mean, you know, Bob Corker is a good friend of mine, my Republican colleague who’s retiring. Jeff Flake and I have worked together on many things. Orrin Hatch and I are buddies, we don’t agree on everything but we’re buddies and the notion that we can’t all be together and wish each other well on an evening like that, the American people ought to be mad about it and they ought to express that to Mitch McConnell in every way that they can.

AMANPOUR: Before you’re mad about — you’ve got to understand why. I mean, why on earth would you ban a dinner? I actually don’t get it. Let’s say you’re in his shoes, why do you think he would do that? What’s the point?

MCCASKILL: I — I — you know, maybe he had just taken over as leader and he wanted to consolidate the members of his caucus around him and thought that maybe not having to be bipartisan in that evening. I don’t know. You’d have to ask him. I don’t get it. But he’s a hyper political guy. He’s very skilled. I mean, don’t get me wrong, Mitch McConnell is hyper focused and very accomplished. I mean, he’s done some amazing things that frankly, it’s hard to imagine they’ve gotten away with, like refusing to hold a hearing on a Supreme Court justice nominated under the Constitution. But he is very good at staying focused on what’s most important to him and that’s making sure that he stays majority floor leader.

(....)


AMANPOUR: And you did actually say on this issue that if moderates aren’t allowed into the party, I mean, your party, that would be a recipe for disaster and you did. I mean, we talked about this issue of ideological purity, you did say to NPR this demand for purity, this looking down your nose at people who want to compromise again is a recipe for disaster. That’s clearly happening in your party to an extent.

MCCASKILL: Well, it is but primarily by people who run in very blue places and I just want everyone to take a deep breath and look at the map, there is an Electoral College. We cannot win the presidency on the two coasts. We have to have Midwest states and in the Midwest, they want somebody who works hard, they want somebody who is going to tell the truth, they want somebody who wants to get things done and I hope that those values are embraced by our nominee because if not, they’re going to have a hard time getting the electoral votes they need to  defeat Donald Trump.

NBDaily Campaigns & Elections 2018 Congressional Congress Conservatives & Republicans Liberals & Democrats PBS CNN Christiane Amanpour Claire McCaskill George H. W. Bush
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