MSNBC's Richard Wolffe Warns Republicans Against Pursuing Obama Scandals

Appearing on Thursday's PoliticsNation, MSNBC political analyst Richard Wolffe -- formerly of Newsweek -- harkened back to President Bill Clinton's impeachment and the Reagan-era Iran-Contra scandal to warn Republicans against pursuing Obama administration corruption. When host Al Sharpton wondered how Democrats can get Republicans in Congress to support their economic agenda, Wolffe started off mocking Republicans before raising scandals from the past:

Well, you would think that Republicans know about jobs first because that was their slogan when they took back the House in 2010. You would think they may have learned something from their experience in the Clinton years where, you know what, going after scandals and, you know, in that case, it was all the way to impeachment really did nothing to harm President Clinton`s numbers, in fact.

He continued:

They just kept getting higher and higher, and the economy was part of that, but also this witch hunt was another part of it. You would think that they would remember their hero, President Reagan, where you had a real scandal in Iran-Contra. And you know what, his numbers didn't change at all. That's why they talked about him being a teflon president.

A bit later, after Sharpton complained about Republicans wanting to cut the food stamp program, Wolffe again tried to warn off Republicans:

I will say for Republicans, though, look, the last President they had who was elected and then re-elected, ran as a compassionate conservative where they tried to soften the image of Republicans from the 90s from the Gingrich era and said he cared about people at the lower end, right? He had a different policy solution. But how are they going to be the party of compassion when they're cutting from people who are hungry in the richest nation on the planet?

Below is a transcript of the relevant portion of the Thursday, June 6, PoliticsNation on MSNBC:

AL SHARPTON: You know, Richard, when Americans are asked about it, with all of these scandals and endless bringing up new angles and new things but really never connecting the dots to the President or one of his people, when you ask the American people in the middle of all this, they want to talk about the economy, and, though we have a long way to go and it's disproportionate in some areas, we are making progress, but 73 percent say dealing with the economy and unemployment is more important than all of the mania that's being raised. How do Democrats break through all of this noise to get the Congress and others to really deal with the economy?

RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, you would think that Republicans know about jobs first because that was their slogan when they took back the House in 2010. You would think they may have learned something from their experience in the Clinton years where, you know what, going after scandals and, you know, in that case, it was all the way to impeachment really did nothing to harm President Clinton`s numbers, in fact. They just kept getting higher and higher, and the economy was part of that, but also this witch hunt was another part of it. You would think that they would remember their hero, President Reagan, where you had a real scandal in Iran-Contra. And you know what, his numbers didn't change at all. That's why they talked about him being a teflon president.

How do Democrats break through? By sticking to jobs, by sticking to the economy. It is already breaking through. The President's numbers, I love all of those stories about the opinion polls where people say, "How come his approval numbers have stayed up?" Well, because people didn't care about the so-called news because there wasn't really anything there to it. And they really cared about the economy. This stuff is already breaking through. You've got to ask the Republicans, how come the so-called scandals that are not breaking through?

(...)

SHARPTON: Well, Richard, let me go onto what some of the things I don't like since Jamal brought up things you don't like. You have a farm bill. I want you to hear me real careful. You have a new farm bill that's making its way through the House that would cut food stamps by $20 billion, but it would increase crop subsidies by $9 billion. Cut food stamps but increase farm subsidies. I don't like that, and I don't like people that like that.

WOLFFE: Right, and then we know that food stamps actually work, right? People spend them on food because they need it. So the Republican party, they all know, has a branding problem. They're not reaching people. And this is at a time, you know, you could talk about fiscal discipline and being a budget hawk but what kind of budget hawk does this? And what kind of budget hawk are you when deficits are coming down because the economy is picking up?

You know, President Obama will leave office, so they can go after him and personalize this all they like, but they cannot touch him. Then, the next Democratic nominee will come in and say, "Well, I'm not President Obama. I'm bringing about some change," and you are with the Democratic agenda voters at large. Republicans have to get onto a position that voters like and stop personalizing it because otherwise they're going to face a disaster in 2016, and they'll lose their third in a row.

(...)

SHARPTON: I think that some of what we're seeing is a lot of aggression on the Republican side over nonsense but not enough fighting back from people on the Democratic side. I mean, any time E.J. Dionne looks like the activist leader of America, in all due respect to E.J., I mean, what are we talking about? Where's the leadership of those that are standing behind this President?

WOLFFE: Well, I think, you know, a lot of the sort of centrist Democrats say this is all about investment for the future. But there is investment that has to go on for Americans today who are still hurting from an economy that hasn't recovered fully.

I will say for Republicans, though, look, the last President they had who was elected and then re-elected, ran as a compassionate conservative where they tried to soften the image of Republicans from the 90s from the Gingrich era and said he cared about people at the lower end, right? He had a different policy solution. But how are they going to be the party of compassion when they're cutting from people who are hungry in the richest nation on the planet?

(...)