Is there nothing MSNBC can’t spin? A graphic on Tuesday’s Morning Meeting hopefully announced, "NY-23: Win-Win For Dems?" Apparently, even if Democrats lose the special congressional election in New York to Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman, it will just show how extreme the Republican Party has become.
In a not-exactly-balanced segment, host Dylan Ratigan talked to Representative and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Chris Van Hollen, liberal blogger Arianna Huffington and Professor Tom Schaller, who has written a book on how Democrats can win without the south.
The interview seemed very similar to one that appeared on Friday’s Situation Room on CNN. That program featured a graphic that read: "If The Dems Lose Next Week: How it might help them in the long run." And that followed an October 6 blog by ABC reporter Claire Shipman in which she speculated that President Obama losing Chicago’s Olympic bid was also a good thing:
The Chicago loss is actually a win? I know. It’s hard to wrap your head around it. I got a sense of this as I test-drove my counter-intuitive (yet brilliant) theory by my baffled and distracted husband over the weekend. I figured he’d surely see the logic. After all, he’s now a spin doctor himself–Communications Director for VP Biden.
It’s an especially good thing because it punctures his detractors ballooning and poisonous envy. Opponents, gleeful about their rivals’ embarrasement [sic], become a bit less hazardous. In the meantime, everyone else can empathize, which sometimes makes the heart grow–more sympathetic.
On Tuesday’s program, the liberal hosts and guests eagerly agreed with each other. Van Hollen suggested that the surging candidacy of Hoffman means that "there is no room for moderates in the Republican party. What was once an endangered species is now virtually extinct within the party. " Schaller made sure to point out that the Republicans had run a "hard-core conservative" gubernatorial candidate in New Jersey.
[Special thanks to MRC intern Mike Sargent for transcribing the segment.]
A transcript of the November 3 segment, which aired at 9:37am EST, follows:
DYLAN RATIGAN: Joining us, Maryland Democratic congressman Chris Van Hollen, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, also rejoining the meeting, Arianna Huffington. Tom Schaller here, political science professor at the University of Maryland, author of the book "Whistling Past Dixie," and Jonathan Capehart. Representative Van Hollen, I will begin with you. How do you view, how are you interpreting first the upstate race and then the balance of the off-season election?
MSNBC Graphic: NY-23: Win-Win For Dems?
CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D-MD): Well, the upstate race, the news – the big news has already happened which is what you were talking about, was the message that was sent loud and clear that there is no room for moderates in the Republican party. What was once an endangered species is now virtually extinct within the party. That was the message the Republicans sent to Dede Scozzafava when they essentially threw her under the bus in support of the conservative party candidate. And as a result, her support collapsed. So I think that sends signal around the country in all these Republican primaries that, moderates beware because the party has essentially been taken over by the far right.
RATIGAN: Tom Schaller, do you agree with that?
TOM SCHALLER (University of MD, Political science professor): : Well, I certainly forecast this in my book. The problem that we have seen over the last 30 or 40 years for the Republicans is this re-sorting where they gained in the south, and of course many conservative Democrats lost there over the last few decades, but in the northeast and the midwest, we've seen a decline of the old Bob Dole, Bob Michael, Gerald Ford wing of the party, as Congressman Van Hollen said. And so, indeed, in the greater northeast, to include New York, you only have three Republicans out of 51 seats. That's a huge advantage for the Democrats in trying to keep a majority in Congress. So, it is a problem. I think the larger message of this cycle with just the three races, or three main races, is that it's really about the Republicans right now. You have three different kind of Republican candidates. In Virginia, you have a candidate who has run to northern Virginia, he has touted his northern Virginia roots. He realized he had to move to the center, he's disowned his sort of cultural conservatives, culture war politics, and he is doing pretty well. You have a hard-core conservative in New Jersey, we'll see if he wins. I think Chuck Todd is right, that will be the biggest scare for Democrats, if Jon Corzine loses. And then in New York you have a third-party candidate moving in, and Sarah Palin and others. And so what is really happening here is less about the Democrats and Obama and even Chris Van Hollen and the Democrats in Congress. I think it's an internal party struggle with different variations on those themes in Virginia and New Jersey and New York-23.
RATIGAN: Arianna, as you watch some of the splintering start to manifest, whether it's New Democrats that have come in relative to some of the old-guard Democratic party, or what we are seeing today with, again, splintering inside the Republican party, politically and socially, how do you think either the Democrats or the Republicans or anybody, anybody else in the political universe takes advantage of that splintering to improve the system as opposed to allows the splintering to start to really destroy the system?
ARIANNA HUFFINGTON: Well, first of all, everybody in both parties has to recognize, Dylan, that these are all manifestations of a broken system. And people are trying to reposition themselves. I would love to ask the Congressman, how worried are you as an incumbent Congressman, about the growing disaffection out there, about the concern with the bailouts, the concern with the fact that we don't have a level playing field, that different rules that apply to the elite than to ordinary Americans losing their jobs and losing their homes, how concerned are you about that wave and how it's going to affect your majority in 2010?
VAN HOLLEN: Well I think you put your finger on a very good point, which is that we need to respond to the genuine frustration and anger in many parts of the country about exactly that kind of sentiment, that those who helped cause the financial crisis are the ones who have been able to turn their situation around the fastest, and the people who are not responsible for it on main street are still struggling. And I think as we put together a package in terms of revising the oversight procedures of the financial sector, which is what we are working on in the House of Representatives right now, we need to send a clear message that the old business as usual is not going to happen anymore. That's one of the big battles, as you know, we have shaping up in the House.