October 6, 2009

Paul Krugman writes an excellent column on the mental state of the Republican Party and compares their collective glee over the United States losing our Olympics bid to that of a "bratty 13-year-old", and who better to make him go up against but Lady McCheney who's never found someone she could not bully on the set of CNN? If CNN wanted to have an honest discussion about the points he was trying to make in his column, they wouldn't have put him up against this Cheney hack who represents everything that's been wrong with the last nine years plus of our politics in this country.

COOPER: In "Raw Politics" tonight: the mounting pressure on President Obama, under attack from his critics and on the defense about his policies. The shocks are not just coming from the right anymore. Check out who "Saturday Night Live" chose as their newest target over the weekend.


FRED ARMISEN, ACTOR: On my first day in office I said I would close Guantanamo Bay. Is it closed yet? No.

I said we would be out of Iraq. Are we? Not the last time I checked.

ARMISEN: I said I would make improvements in the war in Afghanistan. Is it better? No, I think it's actually worse.

ARMISEN: How about health care reform? Hell no.


COOPER: The sketch then went on to lampoon Mr. Obama for Chicago losing the 2016 Olympic Games.

Now, some of the president's conservative critics literally broke out in applause when the news broke that Chicago had been rejected.

Today, "The New York Times"' Paul Krugman said the GOP has become a party ruled by spite, eager to see the president fail, even if it's on something that is good for America. His latest book is "The Return of Depression Economics and the Crisis of 2008."

Paul Krugman and political contributor Mary Matalin, who's -- who was a counselor to Vice President Dick Cheney, joined me earlier.


COOPER: There is a narrative right now that -- that President Obama has lost his mojo. There was a couple people saying that the last couple days, "Saturday Night Live." Do you -- do you buy that?


I mean, I think there are -- there are a lot of problems. And he -- you know, it's very difficult to be a strong, successful president when the employment picture is still worsening. And the employment picture is still worsening. And the stimulus law, while it has helped, isn't big enough to turn that around any time soon. So, he's got some problems.

But, look, health care, the -- the mood I get from the people who are really working on health care legislation is that this thing is now going to happen. A few weeks ago, there were real doubts about whether it was going to happen. But now it looks like it is going to happen. And that is going to be a huge thing.

Regardless of exactly what happens in the midterm elections, if we come out with legislation establishing universal health care by the end of this year, which I now believe we will, My God, that is transformational. We will be a different country. So, that is mojo in -- in the space that matters.

COOPER: Mary, do you believe that he has lost his mojo? I mean, there's people saying: Look, health care has not worked out. He's been weak on. He hasn't been out in front of it enough. The situation in Afghanistan, certainly, and other issues. The Olympic thing is just the -- the latest.

MATALIN: I don't -- I don't know if he lost his mojo. I never drank the Kool-Aid in the first place.

MATALIN: I always thought and I think there's increasing illustrations of his being a political Potemkin village. There's just not a -- a lot there. There wasn't certainly everything there that everybody fused him with. And he saw this himself.

He said many times: I'm a vessel. People, fill me up.

So, I don't know if it's a mojo thing. But when you get to whatever he said in the campaign and whatever celestial aura he had, when you get to the detail of forging this very difficult policy, it is not -- I know Paul and others want to blame this on Republicans as obstructionist or spiteful or whatever, but what -- what stopped health care so far and what is going to be transformational for the Democratic Party if it passes are the Blue Dogs, the centrists, whatever you want to call them.

There are 74 of them in the House. And there are over a dozen of them in the Senate. And they're representing real people.

COOPER: Paul, you wrote today that "The modern conservative movement which dominates the modern Republican Party has the emotional maturity of a bratty 13-year-old."

Do you think the opposition that the Republicans are throwing up now is different than what the Democrats threw up against President Bush?


You wouldn't find the same kind of -- at least, you wouldn't find major media organizations with a liberal slant going -- making triumphant, you know, shouts of triumph, Bush loses, Bush loses for minor things that were actually bad for America.

COOPER: You're talking about when...


COOPER: "The Weekly Standard," someone blogged that they cheered when -- when the Olympics went to Rio.

KRUGMAN: Yes. I mean, it's -- this is a -- really dumb stuff. It was puerile.

I don't think -- of course, you can always find somebody on the other side who -- who is immature. But you didn't find that at the level of what were -- are in effect house journals of -- of the conservative movement.

COOPER: Mary, what about that? Paul also wrote today that -- he said: "At this point, the guiding principle of one of our nation's two great political parties is spite, pure and simple. If Republicans think something might be good for the president, they're against it, whether or not it's good for America."

MATALIN: Well, maybe Mr. Krugman, who is an otherwise really smart guy, was asleep for the last eight years, when -- when the Senate leaders -- I mean the Democratic leaders in both chambers called Bush everything from a liar to a loser, we're losing the war, on really big issues, making false claims.

But let me take my conservative hat off here and ask a strategic question, because I do think Paul is smart. And I do think my husband are -- is a smart strategist. I don't know why you would relentlessly and repeatedly employ a tactic that not only doesn't work; it works against you.

The liberals and the Democrats have been demonizing Rush Limbaugh for over two decades, and they have just made him stronger. And they have expanded his audience.

KRUGMAN: You know, let me -- let me weigh in, first of all just on the issue of Rush Limbaugh. You know, he actually is over the top, and in a way that no major figure on the left is, no one would with -- with that kind of influence, that kind of respectability. Mary was just giving him the respectability he has.

And, well, as for the strategy, who knows? But I would say that, to some extent, yes, people are flocking to listen to him, but they're also pulling the Republican Party further and further out of the mainstream of this country.

MATALIN: I love when Paul does this. It's great. I don't just respect Rush. I revere Rush.

And I will say again, every time he's attacked, it's not just made him bigger. It spawned a lot of Rush knockoffs, some of whom are out there. But, when you drive people to these -- to these shows, and they're hearing a lot of data, and it's data that makes sense, and it comports with their life, and it's not demonizing them, or calling them anti-American, or angry mobs, well, it -- it just expands the -- what this country is anyway.

It's a center-right country. The data supports this.

KRUGMAN: This was not a column about how Rush Limbaugh is a really bad guy. I will write that column now and then.

But this was a column about the strategic decision of Republicans, the Republican Party, to be the party that opposes anything that Obama proposes, even if it's something that, by bipartisan agreement, we thought was something the country had to do not very long ago.

COOPER: We are going to have to leave it there.

Paul Krugman, I appreciate you being on. Mary Matalin, thank you very much.

KRUGMAN: Thank you.

MATALIN: Thanks, Paul.

Thanks, Anderson.

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