Donna Brazile: No Need for Nominees to Show Leadership on Bailout Bill

It looks like the Democrats are shocked by a nominee who actually takes the initiative to show some leadership in the economic bailout bill as evidenced by the reaction of Democrat activist and CNN political contributor Donna Brazile. Appearing on a panel yesterday hosted by Campbell Brown which also included Gloria Borger and Tony Blankley, one could almost hear the song, "Don't Worry, Be Happy," in the background as Brazile assured us over and over that "progress" on the bailout was being made so there was no need for the nominees to appear in Washington except to passively cast a vote. Here is a transcript of the proceedings (emphasis mine):

CAMBELL BROWN: John McCain's big move today, a Hail Mary pass, responsible leadership, stroke of genius, politically, strategically, what do you think?

Let me start with you, Tony.

TONY BLANKLEY, FORMER NEWT GINGRICH SPOKESMAN: Yes, I don't have a clue whether it's good politics or bad. I don't think anybody does.

You have got an issue that is without precedent, this financial crisis, and also without precedent, a candidate for president withdrawing from a debate. So, we will have to wait several days to see whether it's good politics or not.

Now, obviously, politics is involved in Washington in this, but it's not just politics. If you look at the headlines in "The Washington Post" this morning, it's bipartisan outrage, lawmakers bolt. Clearly, there was no certainty at all that this bill was going to pass.

Now, I have some experience when I worked for Newt. How does a leader help get a bill passed? And, today, Obama and McCain are the leaders of their parties, by virtue of their nominations. And you do have to be there. You have to try to sell the members. You have got to be in and out of the room.

BROWN: Right.

BLANKLEY: You can't phone it in. And this is serious business.

Are there political calculations? Sure. But we also need to get this thing passed.

But phoning it in is pretty much what Donna Brazile wants the nominees to do as you can see:

BROWN: Donna, do you agree with that? Should Obama be going back to Washington now?

DONNA BRAZILE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: What special expertise is John McCain going to bring to this -- the policy discussions right now? He's not a member of the Finance Committee. He hasn't participated in two days of hearings that the Senate Budget Committee and today the House Budget Committee.

So, this is a distraction. Look, Campbell, I'm a former Hill employee as well. And there are many times when you need members to come back. But, normally, they come back because they're part of the leadership, they're on the committee.

Yes, he should come back and vote. He missed a vote on the stimulus package earlier this year. But this is a time for leadership. It's a time to debate these issues. So, if he doesn't want to debate foreign policy, I agree. Talk about the economy, but don't cancel debates. Let's have a full discussion on this bailout proposal.

Earth to Donna: One of the nominees will become our next president and will have to deal directly with this crises and you want them to act like passive bystanders and merely cast their votes?

BROWN: Gloria?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Look, I think that John McCain is telling you the truth when he says this should be above politics and he's all about leadership.

But I will also say to you that this is a tactical move on the part of the McCain campaign to change the momentum. Here, they have been losing the momentum in the economic debate. They want to shift the debate away from the economic per se, but back to where McCain does well, which is bipartisanship, he knows how to lead in a bipartisan way, and also coming back to Washington to fix it, which is exactly what he says he wants to do with this bailout plan. He's going to fix it.

So, it's a political move for him.


BROWN: Let me go back to Tony on this, because, Tony, you have got Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader, out there saying he doesn't want McCain there, that it only makes things more complicated; it inject politics into the process. And what exactly would you have McCain do as part of the negotiations?


Yesterday, Harry Reid said that without McCain's involvement and support for the legislation, it was going to fail. Today, he says, stay out of Washington.

So, I think there's a little bit of politics going on, on the other side of the aisle.

Gasp! Harry Reid now playing politics? Who could have guessed?

BORGER: I'm shocked.


BLANKLEY: No, what I think McCain needs to do and Obama is to be actively persuading their members on both sides of the aisle that, once they have got a bill that they think is serviceable, to support it, because the politics is not obvious on this.

My sense is that most members of Congress probably are afraid to vote for it. They may be afraid to vote against it, too. There's a lot of confusion out there. But this -- giving away $700 billion to Wall Street is not most congressmen's idea of a safe vote.

BORGER: But, Tony, isn't that what the president of the United States should be doing?

BRAZILE: Absolutely.

BORGER: Why should the presidential candidates have to do this?

BLANKLEY: Well, because, honestly, President Bush has largely played out his hand. He doesn't have a lot of stick left. Right now, McCain is the leader of the Republican Party. Obama is the leader of the Democratic Party. And they both needs to be engaged in getting this thing done.

BORGER: So, why is the president going on TV?

BLANKLEY: He's trying, but we will find out in a little while.

My guess is that, like all of us here have been saying for a while, that he's a very, very lame duck. And I don't think he's going to have impact. I think members will pay more attention to what their new leaders, not what their old leader, is saying.


Okay, time now to cue up the "Don't Worry, Be Happy" music as Donna Brazile invokes the "progress" mantra over and over again.

BRAZILE: Speaker Pelosi and Mr. Boehner, the House minority leader, issue a joint press statement today saying, they're making progress. So, they're making progress.

They're making progress on making us feel more accountable. They're making progress on making sure the taxpayers are protected. They're working around the clock to make this a perfect bill. And I think we should give them an opportunity to continue the bipartisan work that they're doing.

BLANKLEY: With respect, John Boehner, and I know him and I like him, he's not the titular leader of the party. And, in fact, you always say we're making progress, whether you are or not.

Don't worry, be happy is the message from Donna Brazile so no need for the party nominees to actually show leadership on this crises because "progress" is supposedly being made. Therefore we shall now sign off with this song dedicated to Donna:

There is this little song I wrote
I hope you learn it note for note
Like good little children
Don't worry, be happy
Listen to what I say
In your life expect some trouble
But when you worry
You make it double
Don't worry, be happy......
Don't worry don't do it, be happy
Put a smile on your face
Don't bring everybody down like this
Don't worry, it will soon past
Whatever it is
Don't worry, be happy 

2008 Presidential CNN Donna Brazile
P.J. Gladnick's picture