MSNBC's Wolffe: 'Spoiled Children' GOP 'Will Not Be Trusted' 'For a Generation'

On Tuesday's PoliticsNation, MSNBC.com Executive Editor Richard Wolffe -- formerly of Newsweek -- predicted that, because Republicans embraced the Tea Party, setting up the path to a government shutdown, Republican party members are "destroying their brand" and "will not be trusted" "for a generation to come." Wolffe began:

...we've got to take this back a few years to what the Republicans decided to do about the Tea Party. They could have said, "Hey, let's leave it like the Ross Perot guys as some third party, it'll die out on its own."

He continued:

Instead, they took them on board. And now, the fear of the Tea Party is driving the whole Republican agenda which means they cannot break free from them. They are actually giving life to this Tea Party movement, and that is destroying their brand. They will be not trusted with deficits, with finance, all the things they say they're strong on, for a generation to come.

A bit later, he compared the Democratic party's decline after the Vietnam War to the decline he was predicting for the GOP:

We could talk about the next election and the one after that. But this is as bad for Republicans on the economy, on debt and deficits, as it was for Democrats when you look back at the Vietnam era. For a generation, they weren't trusted with foreign policy. Republicans are looking at the same thing right now.

After host Al Sharpton brought up a CNN/ORC poll finding that most Americans view Republicans in Congress as spoiled children, leading to the segment's conclusion:

AL SHARPTON: Well, the polls bear you out because this week 69 percent of the Americans said Republicans in Congress are acting like spoiled children.

RICHARD WOLFFE: Yeah, that's what they call hurting the brand. You know, in what sense is that a party ready for government? If you were elected, you want to be looking like you are ready for government. That's why every serious contender in 2016, even people like Rand Paul are saying, "Enough, let's get back to work."

SHARPTON: And no one, no matter what your politics, wants spoiled children running the government.

WOLFFE: It's not a great bumper sticker.

Below is a complete transcript of the segment from the Tuesday, October 1, PoliticsNation on MSNBC:

AL SHARPTON: Eighteen hours and counting. That's how long the federal government has been closed thanks to the Republican temper tantrum over ObamaCare. The last time Republicans recklessly forced a shutdown was 17 years ago. And this was the cover of the New York Daily News. The headline reads "Cry Baby" with a cartoon picture of the Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich.

And here's the Daily News today. Take a look at this, America. You can read the headline for yourself. You can see the blood on Speaker Boehner's hands. Today we learned this Congress has a 10 percent approval rating, the lowest approval of all time. So congratulations, Speaker Boehner. Congratulations on leading the worst Congress of all time.

Joining me now is Richard Wolffe, MSNBC.com executive editor and author of the new book titled The Message: The Reselling of President Obama. Richard, thanks for being here. ... Now, we know how it turned out for Newt. How will the shutdown affect Speaker Boehner and this Congress?

RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC.COM EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Well, it's going to be worse, actually. I mean, look, we can try to project out how the elections are going here, but we've got to take this back a few years to what the Republicans decided to do about the Tea Party. They could have said, "Hey, let's leave it like the Ross Perot guys as some third party, it'll die out on its own."

Instead, they took them on board. And now, the fear of the Tea Party is driving the whole Republican agenda which means they cannot break free from them. They are actually giving life to this Tea Party movement, and that is destroying their brand. They will be not trusted with deficits, with finance, all the things they say they're strong on, for a generation to come.

SHARPTON: Now, let me show you this picture. I'm showing you this picture. It sums up this Republican House. As America suffers, Eric Cantor, the number two guy in the House, tweeted this picture of the House Republicans sitting at an empty table. And he wrote sneeringly, "We sit ready to negotiate with the Senate."

WOLFFE: It's a stunt. I mean, look-

SHARPTON: Really.

WOLFFE: -who in their right mind thinks that the President, the chief executive of the federal government, wants it to be closed? This is what the Republicans are trying to say right now. They stand ready to keep the government open. And somehow, some reason this President wants to shut the whole thing down. It makes no sense to people who aren't paying attention, never mind to people who are paying attention, you know. That's a joke.

SHARPTON: Now, you know, I mentioned to you the 1995 shutdown. And I want you to listen to Congressman John Boehner just before Christmas in 1995. Listen to this, Richard.

(REP. JOHN BOEHNER, FROM DECEMBER 1995)

SHARPTON: Now, that was just before Christmas '95, the last shutdown. And look at the fallout of what happened. President Clinton won reelection in '96, the next year. Democrats gained seats in the House both in '96 and '98, and then, finally, Newt Gingrich resigned as the Speaker in 1998 after Republican losses. So it didn't work too well when Mr. Boehner was doing stunts in '95.

WOLFFE: It didn't. And remember, compared to today, Gingrich had a better relationship with the man he tried to impeach than Boehner has now with the President of the United States. So it's even worse now. They're playing an even worse hand. We could talk about the next election and the one after that. But this is as bad for Republicans on the economy, on debt and deficits, as it was for Democrats when you look back at the Vietnam era.

For a generation, they weren't trusted with foreign policy. Republicans are looking at the same thing right now. And, at the moment, they're saying, "This is not just a vacation, we're cutting spending." They are increasing the cost by closing down the government at this point. Everybody knows that in Washington. And they're pretending that somehow they're saving money.

SHARPTON: Well, the polls bear you out because this week 69 percent of the Americans said Republicans in Congress are acting like spoiled children.

WOLFFE: Yeah, that's what they call hurting the brand. You know, in what sense is that a party ready for government? If you were elected, you want to be looking like you are ready for government. That's why every serious contender in 2016, even people like Rand Paul are saying, "Enough, let's get back to work."

SHARPTON: And no one, no matter what your politics, wants spoiled children running the government.

WOLFFE: It's not a great bumper sticker.

SHARPTON: No, it is not. And it's not a good way for your brand, as you said. Richard Wolffe, thanks for your time tonight.

--Brad Wilmouth is a news analyst at the Media Research Center. Click here to follow Brad Wilmouth on Twitter.