Politico’s Maggie Haberman Discusses ‘Defeatist’ Republicans on CBS

As Sarah Palin told a crowd of cheering conservatives this weekend, CPAC is the time of year when journalists present their annual “conservatives in crisis” stories. That was certainly the case on Saturday’s CBS This Morning, which featured Politico’s Maggie Haberman as the sole CPAC analyst.

Asked by anchor Anthony Mason if the tone at CPAC was different this year following the Republican loss in the 2012 presidential election, Haberman replied, “The tone is sort of defeatist, frankly.


According to Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary, defeatism is “an attitude of accepting, expecting, or being resigned to defeat.” Now, Republicans have certainly accepted the fact that they lost the 2012 presidential election and failed to win the Senate. In a democracy, the losing party is expected to accept defeat graciously. But from what this writer saw and heard at CPAC, Republicans are not expecting defeat in future elections, and they are definitely not resigned to defeat.

The tone at this year’s CPAC might be better described as confident. Most of the speakers expressed pride in their conservative values, believing that there is no need to change their principles. At the same time, many speakers did acknowledge the need for Republicans to craft a better message in order to attract more independent voters. But many conservatives believe that their principles do not preclude them from winning future elections.

Many in the liberal media, however, constantly scream that Republicans need to change their core beliefs if they ever want to win another election. One issue that the media desperately want Republicans to “evolve” on is gay marriage. So imagine their glee when Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) came out in favor of same-sex marriage late last week. Mason asked Haberman about this later in their interview: “Maggie, quickly, what impact, if any, do you think the Portman announcement regarding gay marriage is likely to have on the party? Does it signal a change in direction at all?”

Haberman did not disappoint the anchor: “Oh, I think so. I mean, I think that it may take awhile until there is sort of a broader rush on that front.

Liberal journalists are undoubtedly hoping for a “broader rush” of Republicans toward acceptance of gay marriage, but it’s unlikely that Portman’s flip-flop will cause such a rush.

 

This interview with Haberman perfectly captures the plan of many in the liberal media: convince Republicans that they are a party in distress -- a “defeated” party -- and that therefore they need to change their core positions. While liberal reporters like Haberman fancy themselves as straight-laced chroniclers of objective facts, it is they who live in an echo chamber with predictable talking points and foolhardy predictions about the death and/or irrelevance of conservatism in American politics.

 

Below is a transcript of the exchange:

 

ANTHONY MASON: Let's take a closer look now at how conservative Republicans are trying to reshape the party and get ready for another run at the White House in 2016. Joining us from our Washington bureau is Maggie Haberman. She's senior political reporter from Politico and she's been watching the conservative debate this week. Good morning, Maggie.

MAGGIE HABERMAN: Good morning.

MASON: To start with, is the tone different at CPAC this year after the results in the presidential election?



HABERMAN: The tone is sort of defeatist, frankly. Mitt Romney gave one of the most optimistic and best received speeches yesterday, which was pretty interesting since, you know, he got basically a winner's reception. He obviously was not a winner. There has been a tone of sort of we have to regroup, we have to find a way forward, no one seems to agree on exactly what that will look like. You have had key figures in the party, a lot of whom are seen as 2016 potential candidates, give very different prescriptions, most notably Marco Rubio and Rand Paul who have very different visions for the future of this party. I think it's going take a while until we see exactly what this looks like and that was on full display over the last two days.

***

MASON: Maggie, quickly, what impact, if any, do you think the Portman announcement regarding gay marriage is likely to have on the party? Does it signal a change in direction at all?

HABERMAN: Oh, I think so. I mean, I think that it may take awhile until there is sort of a broader rush on that front. I think it's unlikely that it would have come had you not seen Ken Mehlman, the former RNC chief, organize an amicus brief in one of the Supreme Court cases on gay marriage. But I think that – I mean, this is not to be understated. Regardless of what people think about what Portman did, there's disagreements and agreements on both sides. He is the first statewide official to do this on the Republican side and that's a big deal.

Paul Bremmer
Paul Bremmer is a Media Research Center News Analysis Division intern.