At 63, Chuck Schumer can still dance—for awhile. But eventually, age or ambition caught up with the New York senator. On today's Morning Joe, Joe Scarborough grilled Schumer over Harry Reid's accusation, uttered on the floor of the Senate, that the Koch brothers are "un-American."
For as long as he could, Schumer moonwalked away from Scarborough's question as to whether the Kochs are un-American. As one of Harry Reid's top lieutenants—and a lean and hungry senator who almost surely aspires to take Reid's leadership role when the opportunity arises—Schumer was on the spot. But Scarborough to his credit was relentless, and Schumer eventually wore down, making a distinction without a difference. Schumer asserted that the Kochs "actions" in running their run ads "absolutely" are "un-American." View the video after the jump.
From the top, Scarborough used a smart tactic on Schumer, pointing out that David Koch has spent a fortune supporting the arts and medical research in NYC that are dear to the hearts of many of Schumer's constituents. That Schumer was feeling the heat was clear from the way the normally nimble senator mistakenly called Scarborough "Chuck."
Watch Scarborough wear Schumer down. Should Harry appoint Chuck head of a new Senate Un-American Activities Committee?
Note: by the end of the interview, Schumer looked like he had gone 10 rounds with Rocky. See the screengrab.
JOE SCARBOROUGH: Senator, let me ask you about something I alluded to off the top of the show where Harry Reid's been going on the House [sic] floor and calling David Koch "un-American. You know New York City. You love New York City. I know you have a lot of supporters that know what David has done for the Lincoln Center, know what David has done for cancer research. You take all the money he has given to this city as far as the arts go and as far as health care goes and as far as cancer research goes, it probably dwarfs his political contributions. Do you associate yourself with Harry Reid's remarks that this man is, quote, un-American?
CHUCK SCHUMER: Well, let me say this, Chuck --
SCARBOROUGH: Joe. I know, Chuck Scarborough. What can I tell you? Joe Schumer. Anyway, let me just say this. You know, when David Koch does ads that say cut government and you cut NIH, far more about cancer research is hurt than the good he does which he should get credit for giving to charity. Private charity cannot deal with the major problems we face as good and noble as
SCARBOROUGH: But, senator, can't we have a disagreement about how charity is funded without calling somebody un-American? Because I don't believe money should be funneled through inefficient bureaucracies? And I'm not talking about NIH here.
SCHUMER: Well that's what we're talking --
SCARBOROUGH: Can't we have an agreement how best to fund private charities without calling somebody un-American?
SCHUMER: Let me say this. NIH is not inefficient.
SCARBOROUGH: I'm talking about every un-American, senator. Do you think David Koch is un-American?
SCHUMER: David Koch's commercials, which are huge amounts of money, I think they should not be allowed. I was against Citizens United.
SCARBOROUGH: Do you think David Koch is un-American?
SCHUMER: Look, the bottom line is very simple The commercials he runs are not part of the American mainstream, are not what should happen. No two people should have such a huge influence on our politics. That's not First Amendment.
SCARBOROUGH: Like the guy who's spending $100 million out of San Francisco--
SCHUMER: Same. The same.
SCARBOROUGH: -- or Moveon.org? Should we call them un-American?
SCHUMER: I'm not going to get into --
SCARBOROUGH: I'm asking a simple question here and I have respect for you. Do you think that David Koch is un-American or should Harry Reid apologize?
SCHUMER: I think the commercials he is running are against the American grain and un-American, yes.
SCARBOROUGH: What about David himself?
SCHUMER: And I'd say that about -- I think what Harry Reid was saying was the actions are un-American, and they are and they should change.
SCARBOROUGH: So you think David Koch's actions are un-American? Do you think David Koch is un-American?
SCHUMER: In running those ads, absolutely. In giving to charity, no. In running those ads, absolutely.
SCARBOROUGH: OK, well, that's clarifying.