Joe Scarborough apparently likes Nancy Pelosi's toughness, given her response to his MSNBC colleague pressing her as to why she would make a good House Minority Leader after losing 60 seats. MSNBC's Luke Russert asked the Speaker why she should lead the House Democrats if her approval rating among independents is at 8 percent.
Pelosi delivered a testy response, and Scarborough admitted his glee over the tone. "I think she's a disaster for the Democrats politically right now...but I like that fight," he remarked. "C'mon, boom!" he expressed as he threw imaginary punches, pretending to be Pelosi punching down Russert. "Hey Luke, come here, Luke, look, boom! Luke, look, look, boom!"
Later on Thursday's "Morning Joe," Scarborough was pressed by Times columnist Andrew Ross Sorkin as to why he was praising such a polarizing figure when he has promoted a platform of bipartisanship and moderate politics. The "Morning Joe" co-host has conducted multiple campaigns on his own show for calmer rhetoric in the country's political sphere and has denounced political extremism.
"Joe, but explain this to me," Sorkin asked. "You said that we're all supposed to be coming to the middle....I'm sorry to say, Ms. Pelosi is not necessarily down the middle. She says she wants to work with Republicans, but the deficit commission thing comes out last week, and she doesn't even want to have a conversation about it."
Scarborough replied that the position of House Minority Leader demands tough, stubborn leadership. "[Pelosi] is in the minority. And when you're in the minority in the House of Representatives...you want tough fighters."
"This ain't the Senate. In the Senate you've got to get somebody in the middle who can bring everybody together. In the House, it's again, when you're in the minority, you better have a street fighter on your side."
Scarborough did say that Pelosi will run a "very effective" operation in the House the next two years. He added that it may not be the best move electorally, but procedurally it will help slow the Republican agenda.
A transcript of the segments, which aired on November 18 at 6:00 a.m., 6:07 a.m., 7:07 a.m. EDT, is as follows:
MSNBC MORNING JOE 11/18/10 6:00 a.m. EDT
LUKE RUSSERT, MSNBC congressional correspondent: Madame Speaker, over 60 House Democrats lost in this cycle, your positive rating amongst Independents in our last NBC poll stands at 8%. Why are you the best person to lead House Democrats in the current political landscape?
Speaker of the House NANCY PELOSI: Well let me put that in perspective. How would your ratings be if $75 million were spent against you? Because I'm an effective leader, because we got the job done on health care and Wall Street reform and consumer protections, the list goes on. You take 9 ½ percent unemployment, you ___ a dollar bill – $75 million spent against one person, and I'd like to see what your ratings would be.
(End Video Clip)
JOE SCARBOROUGH: I like that. You know, I think she's a disaster for the Democrats politically right now, because she does have an 8 percent approval, but I like that fight. C'mon, (Imitates punch) boom! Hey Luke, come here, Luke, look, boom! (Imitates punch) Luke, look, look, boom! (Imitates punch)
MSNBC MORNING JOE 11/18/10 6:08 a.m. EDT
MIKE BARNICLE: Nancy Pelosi, the reason she won – she is tough. And I think, if you show that clip again, she won first and foremost because she is tough.
JOE SCARBOROUGH: And Democrats don't have a lot of tough people right now.
ANDY SERWER, Managing Editor, Fortune Magazine: You said eight percent approval rating, 92 percent disapproval rating. She's been a lightning rod, she's always been confrontational. She's not seen as a great compromiser. And, you know, but – and I think that she's not the right person for the Democratic Party anymore. I think that she's tone-deaf, I don't think she gets it.
MSNBC MORNING JOE 11/18/10 7:07 a.m. EDT
JOE SCARBOROUGH: I like – you know, I've really liked her tone. I liked her defiance up top, and I'm saying this even though I think politically this is bad for Democrats, but I liked her defiance up top, and I like her saying "You know what? We saw the election results, we know Americans want us to work with Republicans – we're going to work with Republicans."
ANDREW ROSS SORKIN, financial columnist, New York Times: Joe, but explain this to me. You said that we're all supposed to be coming to the middle, that we're all of a sudden – and then – and then Ms. – I'm sorry to say, Ms. Pelosi is not necessarily down the middle. She says she wants to – she says she wants to work with Republicans, but the deficit commission thing comes out last week, and she doesn't even want to have a conversation about it.
SCARBOROUGH: She backed off that. I will say though, I will say this though, she's in the minority. And when you're in the minority in the House of Representatives, you are going up against a dictatorial – as Lawrence O'Donnell says, it's a dictatorship in the House. So you really do, in the minority, you want tough fighters. I think the biggest problem for Democrats comes two years from now. Over the next two years, and I can imagine this when they start trying to recruit candidates in the Deep South, Democrats. (Unintelligible) to make the Democrats a majority, or when they try to recruit Democrats in the Midwest. Think about the guys that lost in Virginia, the Democrats. They're not going to get a business guy to quit his job – Tom Perriello – they're not going to get a business guy or a business woman to quit her job in Virginia to run as a moderate-to-conservative Democrat who could make Nancy Pelosi Speaker. It's just not – it's such a stretch.
SORKIN: Do you think Pelosi's going to move to the middle in the next two years? You think – or she just becomes irrelevant? Is that what you're trying to suggest?
SCARBOROUGH: No, I think what she'll do is she'll run a very effective minority operation in the House.
SORKIN: Which means what, though?
SCARBOROUGH: Which means –
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: The whole dynamic –
SCARBOROUGH: Which means in the House of Representatives trying to stop everything, trying to slow down everything that a very conservative Republican Congress is going to do. Now listen, that offends a lot of people. And I hear people saying that the Republicans – listen, I was never in the minority in the House. I was always in the majority. But I can just tell you, if you're in the minority, it ain't a partnership. It never has been a partnership. It's far, far different than the House. So maybe you need somebody like Nancy Pelosi to fight. To fight, to be tough, and to give no quarter. Which, I know that sounds inconsistent –
SORKIN: For a man who argues for the middle, which is you –
SCARBOROUGH: I know it sounds inconsistent. I'm talking strategies, though. It's not good electoral strategy, but procedurally inside the House of Representatives, it may be the right call for Democrats. But, I've got to say also, I think Mika this is about Barack Obama as much as it is about Nancy Pelosi. The Left really believes that this President is not fighting hard enough for their core values. And Nancy Pelosi right now is the only progressive leader in Washington, DC.
SCARBOROUGH: Mike, Mike, you understand what I'm saying. This ain't the Senate. In the Senate you've got to get somebody in the middle who can bring everybody together. In the House, it's again, when you're in the minority, you better have a street fighter on your side.
BARNICLE: You mentioned Sun Tzu last hour. Nancy Pelosi will be reading Sun Tzu, "The Art of War" in the House. Because it is guerilla warfare, on a daily basis, especially when you're in the minority. Because you're absolutely right, you don't have the chairmanships, so you've got to slow things down.
SCARBOROUGH: Our system was created to make sure we didn't dart too far right, too far left. Yes, the House can go way right, and the President can go way right, or left. But there's always a Senate to pull them back to the center. And it always – I'm just going to say it on both sides – the system frustrates extremists. Guess what? This system was created to frustrate extremists. It is not a coincidence that this system has worked for over two centuries.