David Gregory asks his panel on Meet the Press about Alan Grayson's remarks on the House floor this past Tuesday and whether "there's a level of shrillness in the debate that is not helping America".
As Rachel Maddow points out, this type of rhetoric is so common with the GOP that it's hardly noticed, but when a Democrat does it everyone's suddenly paying attention to it.
David Brooks responds by trying to say it's all just a media circus and by doing his best to try to distance the Republican party from the likes of Beck, Limbaugh and Levin. Brooks is right about the media circus, but he's wrong about America being a "center-right" country and he's wrong about the influence of right wing talkers on the Republican Party. Just because a few of them are trying to distance themselves from Glenn Beck's madness doesn't mean they're not still dancing to their tune.
Transcript below the fold.
GREGORY: All right. I, I want to get to something that, that is playing out here in our conversation that, that I think is significant, the left/right divide in our politics as sharp as it's ever been. Last week on the program I interviewed Bill Clinton, and I asked him if he thought the vast right wing conspiracy was alive and well and he said, "You bet it is. It's as virulent as ever," though he thinks the demographics have changed. We have this this week, Tom Friedman writing in The New York Times that the political environment is one in which violence is possible in the way that there was in Israel before Rabin was assassinated. We have this on the House floor in the healthcare debate, Alan Grayson from Florida saying this about Republicans.
GRAYSON: The Republican healthcare plan is this: Die quickly. That's right, the Republicans want you to die quickly if you get sick.
GREGORY: We have Peggy Noonan writing in The Wall Street Journal this week that there's a level of shrillness in the debate that is not helping America. Rachel Maddow, what is the significance of the left/right divide in the country right now, and what's, what's the end game for both sides?
MADDOW: I think it's--I think we always lament the sharpness of our partisan divide. I don't think there's ever been a time where we felt very "Kumbaya" for the--as, as left and right, except for bad reasons, because the country was facing real adversity. And I think that the left/right fight is healthy. I mean, I, as a, as a liberal, I want conservatives and the Republican Party to be robust and, and participating in a, in a strong argument that, that advances the country's interests. I'm not hoping for the demise of my enemies. I do think that we've got vituperative language, language on both sides, and I think it should be damned on both sides.
GREGORY: Is it a pox on both houses, Grayson and, and the congressman from South Carolina?
MADDOW: No. I mean, Alan Grayson, Democrats were, "Wow, a Democrat did it." I mean, this follows on the House floor just this year Republican members of Congress saying...
GREGORY: But he's talking about the death of the uninsured Americans as a holocaust. I mean, is it...
MADDOW: He apologized for the holocaust, and I pressed him to apologize for the holocaust comment on my, on my show.
MADDOW: But listen, this, this year we've heard Republicans say that the Democratic plan is drop dead. We've had Republicans say that the plan is to kill senior citizens. That's all been said on the House floor. But that's so normal for Republicans...
BROOKS: But this is...
MURPHY: You know what the problem is, though?
MADDOW: ...for Republicans right now that it hasn't attracted any attention. Nobody demanded Ginny Brown-Waite apologize.
BROOKS: Yeah, I think this is a media circus, and this is not where the country is. If you're trying to build an audience for your talk radio show of a few million people this works, this solidifies the audience. It's not where the country is. We have more independents in this country than Democrats or Republicans. Even on the Republican side we've got, you know, frankly, people I consider loons and harmful for America: Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, all these guys. They don't control the Republican Party. They were all against John McCain in South Carolina in the last primary season. They--and John McCain won the South Carolina primary. These talk radio guys couldn't control Republican voters in, in primaries in South Carolina. They have actually no power over real Americans. It's a media circus. Most Americans are where they have always been, sort of center-right independents.