WashPost's Henderson Sees 'Raucous' GOP 'Freelance Artists' Playing to 'Overwhelmingly White' Districts

On Tuesday's PoliticsNation on MSNBC, after host Al Sharpton complained that House Speaker John Boehner's refusal to condemn birtherism feeds an inability to compromise with President Obama, Washington Post political reporter Nia-Malika Henderson agreed with Sharpton and asserted that Speaker Boehner "has not tried very hard to get the more raucous members of his caucus in check," and referred to some Republican House members as "freelance artists" in "overwhelmingly white, overwhelmingly conservative" districts.

After guest and liberal talk radio host Joe Madison complained about Republicans trying to repeal ObamaCare, Sharpton raised one of Boehner's responses to birtherism. Sharpton:

Well, let me show you why there's no leadership, as you (Joe Madison) say. Nia-Malika, when Speaker Boehner had been asked to condemn birtherism in the past, listen to his answer.

After a clip of NBC's David Gregory and Boehner from NBC's Meet the Press, the MSNBC host continued:

I mean, is this why Boehner and the Republicans won't compromise, Nia-Malika, because they, if you tell people that the President is not an American, then how do you have a climate to reach any compromise on what Americans need?

Henderson voiced agreement with Sharpton's premise:

No, I think that's exactly right. I mean, if that's the starting point, these sort of conspiracy theories, and essentially, invalidating Obama as President, you can't go very far, in terms of compromise and in terms of working with him, because then you sort of, you know, you sort of delegitimize whatever work you're doing. You know, I think Boehner has not tried very hard to get the more raucous members of his caucus in check in the House.

She continued:

They are very much freelance artists, at this point, trying to win in those districts that are overwhelmingly white, overwhelmingly conservative. That's the way that these maps were redrawn. And they don't even have any incentive to go out and broaden the base of the party, because those aren't the people who are in their backyards. So, I mean, in some ways, they're shooting themselves in the foot because these aren't people who could run for statewide office, for instance, or Senate or governor. They're very much trapped in their own congressional districts.

Below is a transcript of the relevant portion of the Tuesday, August 6, PoliticsNation on MSNBC:

JOE MADISON, TALK RADIO HOST: This is a Congress that votes 40 times to repeal ObamaCare because they don't want everyone to know the benefits, but yet they would rather introduce legislation, it's like the guy who drove me over here today. He said, "You've got to be kidding me, Madison. These folks are still on this issue?"

AL SHARPTON: Well, let me show you why there's no leadership, as you say. Nia-Malika, when Speaker Boehner had been asked to condemn birtherism in the past, listen to his answer.

DAVID GREGORY, NBC's MEET THE PRESS: As the Speaker of the House, as a leader, do you not think it's your responsibility to stand up to that kind of ignorance?

JOHN BOEHNER, HOUSE SPEAKER: David, it's not my job to tell the American people what to think.

SHARPTON: I mean, is this why Boehner and the Republicans won't compromise, Nia-Malika, because they, if you tell people that the President is not an American, then how do you have a climate to reach any compromise on what Americans need?

HENDERSON: No, I think that's exactly right. I mean, if that's the starting point, these sort of conspiracy theories, and essentially, invalidating Obama as President, you can't go very far, in terms of compromise and in terms of working with him, because then you sort of, you know, you sort of delegitimize whatever work you're doing. You know, I think Boehner has not tried very hard to get the more raucous members of his caucus in check in the House.

They are very much freelance artists, at this point, trying to win in those districts that are overwhelmingly white, overwhelmingly conservative. That's the way that these maps were redrawn. And they don't even have any incentive to go out and broaden the base of the party, because those aren't the people who are in their backyards.

So, I mean, in some ways, they're shooting themselves in the foot because these aren't people who could run for statewide office, for instance, or Senate or governor. They're very much trapped in their own congressional districts.