No Conservatives in CNN Panel Discussion on Taxes, Gays in the Military

CNN imported its Parker-Spitzer model of liberal versus slightly moderate to Friday's Situation Room, except reversing the sexes. Anchor Wolf Blitzer brought on Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen and Tea Party-hating columnist John Avlon to discuss the debate in Congress over tax rates and the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy. Avlon took the same position as his colleague Kathleen Parker, that taxes should be raised on some rich, and joined Rosen in calling for the repeal of the controversial policy.

The two CNN political contributors appeared during the regular "Strategy Session" segment 49 minutes into the 5 pm Eastern hour. Blitzer read an excerpt from a recent blog item by Time's Mark Halperin where he wondered if the Democratic Party was "in the midst of a nervous breakdown." Rosen denied that this was the case and mouthed her party's talking points on the tax debate:

ROSEN: I think Democrats have been pretty clear for the last couple of months, which is- coming up to the end of the year, our priorities are extending the middle class tax cuts and extending unemployment insurance for the millions of Americans for whom it's running out at the end of the year. If Democrats are nervous, Republicans, in my view, are manic. They can't decide what's more important: to prevent unemployed people from feeding their families, or to give millionaires a tax break. It is just pathetic.

The liberal contributor stuck to her talking points, even after The Daily Beast columnist stated that "there is definitely a civil war within the Democratic Party...between the left and the center." She bemoaned how Republicans "have vowed to block anything that they do not approve of, anything that doesn't get attached to their millionaire's tax break, and if that's the case, there's not much else you can do about it."

Avlon replied to this by endorsing liberal Senator Chuck Schumer's proposal to raise taxes on the rich above a certain threshold:

Wolf Blitzer, CNN Anchor; Hilary Rosen, Human Rights Campaign Foundation Board Member; & John Avlon, The Daily Beast.com Columnist | NewsBusters.orgAVLON: Well, you play offense against it, and I think- you know, one great gambit is what Senator Schumer has proposed, which is make the new threshold a million dollars. That's a great way of playing offense with this issue, and that's an example of the kind of tactical advantage you can take-

BLITZER: You think it will make a difference, John, to the Republicans if it were a million [dollars], as opposed to two hundred and fifty thousand?

AVLON: I think they would have a incredibly hard time defending their position if the threshold was a million, rather than two hundred and fifty thousand for a household, because it makes the distinction between the working wealthy in this country and the super rich, and that's where the distinction should be made.

Blitzer then raised the congressional debate over the "don't ask, don't tell" policy, and both of his guests called for its repeal. Avlon also lamented Senator John McCain lean to the right on this issue, echoing what he said about the Arizona Republican on CNN's AC360 program on August 24, 2010:

BLITZER: Let's get to another big issue, the 'don't ask, don't tell' policy that's before Congress right now. We heard more testimony today from the chiefs of the various branches of the U.S. armed forces. Senator McCain is taking the lead, in terms of opposing any change in the 'don't ask, don't tell' policy. Listen to what he said, and I'm going to play this clip.

SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN (from Senate Armed Services Committee hearing): No one came up to me and said- gee, please, Senator McCain, get to work on 'don't ask don't tell.' In fact, every place I went, members of the military came up to me and said, thing's were fine- it's working.

BLITZER: He is the ranking member of the Armed Services Committee right now. Are you surprised, John, that he's really taking the lead in block- trying to block any change in 'don't ask, don't tell'?

AVLON: I am, because he hadn't taken this sort of a stand previously. I think it is a reflection of the primary campaign he ran this year, where he moved to the right to protect his right flank, and he seems to be continuing it. But there's a sense of discontinuity here in Senator McCain's position- not only with his own record- and even, actually, with positions articulated by his wife and daughter- but also with Senator Barry Goldwater, who held Senator McCain's seat before him, who famously said, you don't have be straight to shoot straight. I think it is time to move forward on this. I think it's an awkward positioning for a very honorable, independent senator who has now moved further to the right.

BLITZER: All right. Very quickly, Hilary, is anything going to happen on this right now?


ROSEN: I think Senator McCain has lost his moral high ground. I think that the Senate can still do this. If the Senate doesn't, the President needs to issue a stop-loss order. This will- may end up being in the President's hands. The fact that the Marine general today was allowed to go to Capitol Hill and testify that he was opposed to lifting the ban, in my view, is a complete violation of the chain of command. It was offensive. People have got to get a hold of this issue and deal with it now.

The CNN anchor didn't mention at any point during the segment that Rosen is a member of the board for the foundation of homosexual activist group Human Rights Campaign and once served as their interim director. An on-screen graphic noted that she is a "board member of several non-profits," but there was no specification as to which ones.

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center