MSNBC's Roberts: 2012 Was GOP's 'Last Real Viable Chance' at Presidency

In September 2012, MSNBC host Joe Scarborough took a shot at frequent Morning Joe panelist and guest host Mike Barnicle, griping that the liberal made his morning show a “Marxist variety hour.” That observation was justified again Tuesday, as guest host Barnicle’s all-liberal panel bashed House Republicans for the second day in a row – this time on immigration reform.

MSNBC host Thomas Roberts made perhaps the most outrageous claim, asserting that the 2012 election was the Republican Party’s “last real viable chance” at the presidency. Of course, Roberts – who reports the daily news for the Lean Forward network’s 11 a.m. hour – is supposed to be an objective reporter, but that hasn’t stopped him from making offensive remarks about Republicans in the past. [Video after the jump.]

The Washington Post’s Eugene Robinson kicked off the panel’s chorus of criticism, scolding House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) for refusing to take up the Senate immigration bill, “which would be the easiest thing to do.” Robinson also scoffed at the notion of a House immigration bill, sneering: “good luck with that.”

Of course, Robinson seems to be ignoring the fact that a bipartisan group in the lower chamber – a “Gang of Seven,” modeled after the Senate’s “Gang of Eight” – has been working on a comparable immigration reform bill for weeks, hoping to bring the two bills to conference at some point this year.

But those facts would be too inconvenient for the left-wing panel, who eagerly took to declaring the Republican Party dead, “unless they deal with immigration”:

BARNICLE: ...if you take a walk down nearly any street in nearly any major city of over 50,000 or 75,000 people in this country, you encounter hundreds of people from other countries, recently arrived here. And what's in the shadows is any hope that the Republicans can win the presidency unless they deal with immigration.

AL SHARPTON: You're absolutely right. I think the problem is exactly that. I think that the fact that they are true believers, and that they are principled in what they believe, does not mean that they have a political future.

We might expect these kind of gleeful declarations from a pair of uber-leftists like Barnicle and MSNBC host Al Sharpton, but reporter Roberts’s claims stood out for their overt political slant:

Didn’t they just watch though, the last time – I mean 2012 was really – as we look at the numbers, the demographics, the last real viable chance the Republicans had at the White House.

Panelists Steve Rattner and Jeff Greenfield, for their part, were more measured and balanced in their critique of the House – but that didn’t stop Eugene Robinson from closing the segment with yet another pronunciation of the Republican Party’s imminent demise:

Especially with the demographics of the Latino population, the Asian-American population, the young groups that are going to age into the voting population. And white, Republican voters, frankly, are aging out of the voting population because – which is called death, essentially. It's an older party and they're dying. That's going to continue through the years and decades.

It seems Robinson, in his anxious attempt to plunge a dagger into the GOP’s electoral prospects, is ignoring the strong lineup of young, energetic Republican leaders the party has in Congress and in state houses around the nation. These leaders include Marco Rubio, Condoleeza Rice, Susana Martinez, Colin Powell, Kelly Ayotte, Tim Scott, and Brian Sandoval – none of whom are old, white, Republican men.

See the full transcript below:


MSNBC
Morning Joe
July 2, 2013
7:04 a.m. Eastern

MIKE BARNICLE: First of all, Gene, what are the prospects for the immigration bill being voted in the House of Representatives before the end of this year, I mean, the way they’re doing business there?

EUGENE ROBINSON: The way they're doing business, I think it’s pretty dim. Unless Boehner has a change of heart and a change of strategy, it's all on him basically. He says he won't just bring up the Senate bill, which would be the easiest thing to do. He says well, we're going to have the House develop its own immigration bill. Well, good luck with that.

And I can't imagine it would look anything like the Senate bill. I can't imagine it would be something that would fulfill the basic requirement of immigration reform, which is to come up with something that brings these 11 million people out of the shadows, and gives them some sort of legal status. And I don't think a majority of the House Republicans is down for that idea. So, where are we? I'm not quite sure.

JEFF GREENFIELD: It's occurred to me for some time that if Speaker Boehner has an iPod, Johnny Paycheck's famous song has probably been on it. Take this job and – because, you know, if you're old enough, as some of us are, to remember when a speaker of the House essentially ran his conference, that was the essence of it. You had your party members behind you, and it was give and take. What we've had here, in the last couple of years, is an infusion of Republicans – and I think by the way they are principled. I don't think this is political, I think they believe in a lot of what they believe.

But what they believe is so alien to the traditional, kind of, accommodationist kind of politics in Congress, that it's created a sea change. It's a revolution. The whole idea of saying OK, we'll give a little, we’ll get a little. They said when they were running, particularly in 2010 when the Republicans took the House, we're not going there to compromise. No compromise was almost a slogan of these folks. So if you're the speaker, trying to get something done, and if your party is it telling you on the other side we have got to do immigration reform or politically we're doomed – talk about a thankless job, that's an understatement.

EUGENE ROBINSON: Really.

BARNICLE: What's interesting to me – Gene mentioned the phrase ‘in the shadows.’ If – apparently and standing on principle, no compromise, which what is they're doing – if you take a walk down nearly any street in nearly any major city of over 50,000 or 75,000 people in this country, you encounter hundreds of people from other countries, recently arrived here. And what's in the shadows is any hope that the Republicans can win the presidency unless they deal with immigration.

AL SHARPTON: You're absolutely right. I think the problem is exactly that. I think that the fact that they are true believers, and that they are principled in what they believe, does not mean that they have a political future. They will, in my opinion, not go forward with an immigration bill. It will be the absolute best climate to go into the midterm elections for the Democrats, because they will continue to alienate a major vote that they would need in the midterm elections.

THOMAS ROBERTS: Didn’t they just watch though, the last time – I mean 2012 was really – as we look at the numbers, the demographics, the last real viable chance the Republicans had at the White House.

SHARPTON: It’s the only room for growth.

ROBERTS: To change the narrative.

SHARPTON: That’s correct.

STEVE RATTNER: But to come back to what Jeff said, these folks don't care. You know, Gingrich had an expression in the late ‘90s, he called it ‘the perfectionist caucus.’ The people who basically don't compromise, they say it’s my way or the highway. But given the terrible politics for the Republicans last time over immigration – I don't know, but I could venture a guess that they will pass a bill. It will be their bill. It will be completely unacceptable to the Senate.

But at least they'll have something they can go out and say, we passed an immigration bill. In fact, we passed a better immigration bill, because we required 100 percent border security and all the stuff that is untenable to people on the more moderate side of the caucus. So I think we're all relatively pessimistic about a bill getting out of Congress, but the strategy of the Republicans in the House isn't clear and I think they could pass something.

GREENFIELD: Here's where I disagree – maybe not disagree. The midterms and the presidential elections now diverge so strikingly, that they're almost like two different countries. The midterm elections – with the immigration bill failing, with the House Republicans not cooperating – could still be a very good midterm election for the Republicans.

It’s not just gerrymandering. The way we distribute ourselves as a country, there’s every reason to think Republicans will keep the House, there's every reason to think they will do better in the Senate, increase their margin, maybe take it over. And that may encourage the principled or perfectionist caucus – they see the people are for us. You get to the presidential election where the demographics are different, the distribution of power is different, and they can be dooming themselves. So it’s a kind of a – it’s a very unusual kind of politics, I think.

SHARPTON: Well, they're going to keep the House –

ROBINSON: The problem is, the Republican – look at the demographics, and you see they can't hope to win national elections going forward. However, they can win local elections. And those House races are local elections in safe districts, and that are heavily red.

I think Jeff is absolutely right that the Republicans are not doomed in 2014, it’s just going forward in those presidential years that it becomes really, really tough for them. Especially with the demographics of the Latino population, the Asian-American population, the young groups that are going to age into the voting population. And white, Republican voters, frankly, are aging out of the voting population because – which is called death, essentially. It's an older party and they're dying. That's going to continue through the years and decades.