‘No Moral Compass’: NBC’s Meyers & McCaskill Trash McConnell

Appearing on Thursday’s Late Night with Seth Meyers, aired early Friday morning, former Democratic Senator and newly-named NBC News Political Analyst Claire McCaskill was eager to trash Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell as “really depressing” and “very political.” Meyers chimed in to claim that the Republican lawmaker had “no moral compass.”

After touting McCaskill as a “moderate” who “worked with” Republicans, Meyers touted how she “did not have as kind words for” others: “You referred to the ‘embarrassing uncles’ in the Senate sort of on your way out, in particular Mitch McConnell. Do you have anything, kind thoughts for Mitch McConnell now, or the job he’s doing?” McCaskill flippantly replied: “No.” That prompted cheers and applause from the liberal audience.

 

 

“You know, there’s lots of people in the Senate that get a bad reputation....They’re really nice guys....Not really true with him,” the Democrat bitterly added.  

She continued her rant by attacking the Majority Leader for being loyal to the GOP majority:  

You know, his job – he sees his job, Seth, in a way that’s really depressing to me, because he sees his job as only to protect Republican senators and to protect a Republican majority. He is very political in the most political of places. No one is more political. I don’t know what he really cares about other than holding on to his job.

Meyers then wondered: “Do you look at it and say, ‘Wow, he is coldly effective’? Do you have sort of a professional respect for the fact that, with no sort of moral compass, he has accomplished what he has for the party?” McCaskill agreed: “No, absolutely, I do.” She specifically fretted over McConnell blocking President Obama’s Supreme Court pick in 2016:

And I remember when he said, before I think they’d even moved Justice Scalia’s body, he said, “We will not confirm a Supreme Court [nominee]” I said, “You know, he can’t get away with that. There’s this Constitution.” You know, the Constitution doesn’t say “You may.” It says, “You shall.” And I was really, frankly, naive at how far he would go, when he did that with Merrick Garland. And by the way, it probably did have an impact on the presidential election....And that was really because of Mitch McConnell’s strategy.

The attacks on McConnell from Meyers and McCaskill echoed the cover story for the latest edition of New York Times Magazine, which ominously warned: “Mitch McConnell Got Everything He Wanted. But at What Cost?” The article went on to equate the Senate leader with Nazi appeasers.

Later in the Thursday night discussion, Meyers talked Democratic Party strategy with McCaskill, asking: “You know, you ran as a moderate in your state. It was a tough election for some moderate Democrats....where is the current Democratic Party? And is it that important to decide between are we a party of moderates or a party of progressives or is it they can both exist?”

She downplayed any division: “I don’t really think there’s that big a difference....and a lot of the people who took seats in the House that gave the speakership to Nancy Pelosi, they beat Republicans...with pragmatic progressive ideas, not, you know, things maybe that were not going to resonate as much in a district that could elect either party.”

McCaskill urged liberals to “be patient with Democrats who come from places where it’s not as blue as Manhattan.” Meyers acknowledged: “Yes. We’re pretty blue.”

This is the kind of partisan analysis that NBC knew it would be getting when the network hired the defeated Democratic lawmaker.

Here are excerpts of the exchange aired early on the morning of January 25:

1:11 AM ET

SETH MEYERS: Our next guest is a former two-term senator from Missouri. She is now a political analyst for NBC News. Please welcome to the show Claire McCaskill, everyone!

(...)

MEYERS: You served two terms. You had a hard-fought election. You ultimately did not win re-election. And yet, I was even saying to you backstage, you look – you have a lot more light to yourself than most sitting senators do when they come on this show. You seem optimistic. Are people surprised by that?

(...)

FMR. SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL [D-MO]: Life goes on. It was an election. You know, it’s a rough time in our country.

MEYERS: Mm-hmm.

MCCASKILL: We all know that. But I am strangely optimistic that we’ve turned the corner.

MEYERS: Yup.

MCCASKILL: I think things are going much better. I think people are figuring out that the guy in the Oval Office maybe has a little bit of con in him.

MEYERS: Yeah. I think that’s – that’s come across. [Cheers and applause] You know, we had Senator Sherrod Brown was here last night from Ohio and he was talking about meeting with Trump. You know, it was about layoffs in Ohio. And he said, “You realize when you sit down with him that he is not a policy guy.” Did you find that in your meetings with the President?

MCCASKILL: Well, my first meeting with the president, it was a little bizarre, because I was asked to come over to the White House about the tax bill. And I walked in the cabinet room and they always have name tags around. And I expected to be far away from the President, because there were a lot of Republicans there. I look over, my name tag is right next to his chair. I’m going, “Oh, [bleep].” [Laughter and applause] So I walk over there and he comes out and introduces himself, he’s very nice. And he says, “Let me get the chair for you, Senator. It’s very heavy.” And he pulls the chair out and I sit down. And then he leans down and whispers in my ear, “I bet no other president has ever done that before.” [Laughter] You can’t make this stuff up.  It is just beyond bizarre.  

MEYERS: Yeah, it’s weird. [Laughter]

MCCASKILL: It’s very weird. It’s very, very weird.

MEYERS: You – you – I know there were senators that, from the other side of the aisle, as a moderate, that you worked with, you had success with. Some of your Republican colleagues. There were others that you did not have as kind words for. You referred to the “embarrassing uncles” in the Senate sort of on your way out, in particular Mitch McConnell. Do you have anything, kind thoughts for Mitch McConnell now, or the job he’s doing?

MCCASKILL: No.

MEYERS: Okay. [Laughter and applause]

MCCASKILL: So – [Cheers and applause] here’s the deal. You know, there’s lots of people in the Senate that get a bad reputation. And I want to reassure people, you know, it’s not that bad. They’re really nice guys. You know, they may come off a little cold. Not really true with him. You know, he really is kind of – I mean, I was in the Senate 12 years. And I think he said four things, sentences to me.

MEYERS: Uh-huh.

MCCASKILL: And that was – three of them were when I went to see him in his office. Obviously, not a scintillating conversation.

MEYERS: And those sentences were, “What are you doing here?” [Laughter]

MCCASKILL: You know, his job – he sees his job, Seth, in a way that’s really depressing to me, because he sees his job as only to protect Republican senators and to protect a Republican majority. He is very political in the most political of places. No one is more political. I don’t know what he really cares about other than holding on to his job.

MEYERS: Do you look at it and say, “Wow, he is coldly effective”? Do you have sort of a professional respect for the fact that, with no sort of moral compass, he has accomplished what he has for the party?

MCCASKILL: No, absolutely, I do. And I remember when he said, before I think they’d even moved Justice Scalia’s body, he said, “We will not confirm a Supreme Court [nominee]” I said, “You know, he can’t get away with that. There’s this Constitution.”

MEYERS: Yeah.

MCCASKILL: You know, the Constitution doesn’t say “You may.” It says, “You shall.” And I was really, frankly, naive at how far he would go, when he did that with Merrick Garland. And by the way, it probably did have an impact on the presidential election. For a lot of evangelical voters in my state that maybe didn’t see Trump as a role model for their children, they were convinced he’d put people on the Supreme Court they liked. And that was really because of Mitch McConnell’s strategy.

(...)

MEYERS: You know, you ran as a moderate in your state. It was a tough election for some moderate Democrats. Some other progressive Democrats also had tough nights on election night. It did seem like a more Progressive wave, but you have always governed from the idea, “From the middle out.” What do you think – where is the current Democratic Party? And is it that important to decide between are we a party of moderates or a party of progressives or is it they can both exist?

MCCASKILL: I don’t really think there’s that big a difference. And I mean, I kind of agree –  Sherrod [Brown] says this and I think other candidates who are smart will say this – we agree on almost everything, and it isn’t – and a lot of the people who took seats in the House that gave the speakership to Nancy Pelosi, they beat Republicans not – with pragmatic progressive ideas, not, you know, things maybe that were not going to resonate as much in a district that could elect either party. And that’s the only point I’ve tried to make, is everyone needs to be patient with Democrats who come from places where it’s not as blue as Manhattan.

MEYERS: Yes. We’re pretty blue. [Laughter]

MCCASKILL: Pretty blue.

(...)

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