ABC's Dowd: Freshmen Econ Students 'More Qualified' Than Cain to be on Federal Reserve

April 8th, 2019 3:38 PM

The panel on ABC’s This Week Sunday expressed their reservations about President Trump’s decision to nominate former Presidential candidate Herman Cain and former economic adviser to the Trump campaign Stephen Moore to the Federal Reserve Board; with a particular focus on Cain. No one went further than ABC Political Analyst Matthew Dowd, who suggested that freshmen economics students have higher qualifications to serve on the board than Cain and Moore.

Yvette Simpson of Democracy for America dismissed the President’s nomination of Cain as another example of “Donald Trump appointing people who...don’t have the right experience to the right position.” After declaring that the idea of Cain at the Federal Reserve “makes no sense,” Chen informed Simpson that “he actually has been at a Federal Reserve bank.”

The conversation concluded with Dowd trashing the idea of Cain and Moore on the Federal Reserve Board; suggesting that Chen, who works as a lecturer at Stanford University, “would probably have freshmen students in their economics class that are more qualified than Stephen Moore and Herman Cain to be in those positions.”



Dowd doubled down on his position when responding to a tweet from Media Research Center Vice President Brent Baker describing his “freshmen students” comment as a “cheap insult,” asserting that his statement was “Not cheap. Pretty factual.”

As far as the facts go, Cain served as Chair of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City in the mid-1990s. He had previously served on the bank’s Board of Directors. So the notion of Cain as unqualified to work at the Fed is actually not “factual.”

The discussion about Cain and Moore followed a lengthy discussion about the controversy surrounding Joe Biden, which inevitably ended with Trump-bashing. The segment began with Cokie Roberts predicting that if Joe Biden runs for President, “it’s going to break his heart because he’s not going to be able to be Joe Biden and that is the thing that is most appealing about him is how genuine he is, what a regular guy he is.”

While members of the panel offered differing viewpoints on the strength of Biden’s response to the allegations of inappropriate behavior and the strength of a potential Biden presidential run, they quickly united around the idea of how awful President Trump is. Simpson praised Democrats for, as Dowd put it, choosing to “hold their tribe accountable for behavior.” Simpson contrasted this “strength” with “a party that rallies behind a candidate and a President who has offended nearly every Democratic, has been horrible on women.”

Host George Stephanopoulos picked up on the “horrible on women” narrative, asking Romney adviser Lanhee Chen “are Republicans closing off a whole generation of women here?” Chen answered in the affirmative, adding “I think there’s a lot of other demographics Republicans are potentially struggling with.” Roberts proceeded to rejoice in the fact that “there are more guys named Greg and Mike in the Republican caucus than there are women.”

A transcript of the relevant portion of Sunday’s edition of This Week is below. Click “expand” to read more.

This Week With George Stephanopoulos


09:24 AM



JOE BIDEN: I just want you to know I had permission to hug Lonnie. By the way, he gave me permission to touch him. It wasn’t my intent to make light of anyone’s discomfort. I realize my responsibility is to not invade the space of anyone who is uncomfortable.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But there’s some women want to hear directly, I am sorry. Are you sorry?

BIDEN: I’m sorry I didn’t understand more. I’m not sorry for any of my intentions. I’m not sorry for anything that I have ever done.


GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Vice President Biden on Friday. Been dealing with this issue all week long. Women coming forward to say he touched them in ways that wasn’t sexual but also was not welcome. We’re going to talk about this on our roundtable with ABC News Political Analyst Matthew Dowd, Cokie Roberts, Lanhee Chen, former Policy Director for the Romney 2012 campaign, now a fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution, and Yvette Simpson, CEO of Democracy for America. Cokie, let me begin with you. Clearly, the Vice President struggled to deal with this all week long. And it seems like the whole political culture is trying to figure out exactly what to make of this.

COKIE ROBERTS: How to handle it. Look, if, if he runs for President, which I think he will, it’s going to break his heart because he’s not going to be able to be Joe Biden. And that is the thing that is most appealing about him is how genuine he is, what a regular guy he is. But he…every time he tries to be himself, he’s getting himself in more trouble. And it really is a generational problem because a lot of young women think this is just creepy and don’t like it a bit. And, and then when he tries to laugh about it, which is of course the way those of us of a certain age have gotten through life, you know, we’ve all had big tragedies in our lives and we get through it by humor. And that’s certainly true of Joe Biden. But if he’s not allowed to do that, it’s going to make his life absolutely miserable.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And perhaps make him a less authentic candidate.

ROBERTS: Right. Exactly. Right.

STEPHANOPOULOS: If you feel like he is…but Matt, addressing that question. I mean, clearly, the women who came forward feel very strongly.


STEPHANOPOULOS: About, about all this. It’s hard for all of us in the media to figure out how to put it all in perspective; what kind of proportion to deal with it.

MATTHEW DOWD: Well, I think that’s a huge part of the problem in the course of this because I think what happens is, is there’s no nuance in any of this and it all gets conflated. And on the spectrum of things of invading your space and unwelcome sort of invasions of space and then sexual harassment. Which I find it…

ROBERTS: Or assault.

DOWD: …exceedingly ironic that the President even come close…


DOWD: …to wanting to weigh in on this. But we have an inability to sort of measure this across the spectrum that there are certain things and what punishment should apply in politically in those. They’re all the same thing, shouldn’t be applied the same punishment in all of this. The other part of this is, I think, it’s incumbent in this time that…to allow the, the Vice President, who knows that he…what he’s done in the past, he’s not in the, he’s not in the frame where he meets the moment right now is, is that he says he understands what he did. He says he will change. But we don’t allow anybody to even pause or think about it. And I think the test for Joe Biden and go back to the moment. I think the test for him, if he gets in this race and this is one of those tests is, is the measurement he will be judged on is the metric of can he meet this moment? Because this is a politician…


DOWD: …that was born before…I mean, that was…started serving before technology, before the fax machine. Before cable news. And can he meet this moment?

STEPHANOPOULOS: Is this generational?

YVETTE SIMPSON: You know, no. I mean, I want to take it a slightly different direction. You know, if life is 10 percent what you do and 90 percent how you respond, he failed the response part. Right? He couldn’t control the first part, right? Because he didn’t expect it. But the idea that women would come forward and say, you made me feel uncomfortable. I think what most would have liked to have seen was for him to say I’m sorry I made you uncomfortable. Right? Even if that wasn’t his intention. Because in this day and age, it’s not necessarily about that. It’s about owning up to the fact that you offended someone and actually, he could have been a model here to say, you know what? I did grow up in a different generation and it’s not okay. And we’re in a new model now and I’m going to like show you the way. Right? And I was looking for that from him. Because I, you know, you know him to be sincere and the fact that he made light of it only made it worse.

LANHEE CHEN: Yeah, the question, I think, to Cokie’s point is, you’ve got a 20th century candidate running in what will be a 21st century cycle. Can he make that transition? But more importantly, if you look at the response, the way his team handled the response, I sort of question what kind of campaign they’re going to run. Right?

SIMPSON: Absolutely.

CHEN: Because he comes out and he says, well I’m sorry. Then we’ll do a video. Then I’ll come out and I’ll make a joke. But then the joke wasn’t well received.


CHEN: So I’ll come out again and I’ll apologize again. The whole thing seems rather ham handed to me. So the bigger question, just in the politics of 2020 going forward is how is Joe Biden going to perform as a candidate? How is his team going to perform?

ROBERTS: And this all reminds you of his age. It all adds up to the fact that he’s 76 years old. And, you know, that is, that’s a huge problem for him. Because…the polling is slight. But the polling that’s been done basically says that voters are more concerned about a candidate being old than a candidate being very young. And there are some very young Democratic candidates.

STEPHANOPOULOS: The other thing this revealed, Matthew Dowd, as we were just talking about it. The Democrats and Republicans dealing with these sorts of issues and I use it as a very wide umbrella here in very, very different ways. The President’s tweet inserting himself in this issue. We’ve seen that Republicans have closed ranks after allegations have come forward. Democrats have looked to push, push people out.

ROBERTS: Except in Virginia.

DOWD: Yeah, well, this is, this is I think, this is I think one of the incredible contrasts, I think. I mean, obviously, this kind of behavior crosses all political bounds and all that and we, we should condemn any of this. But again, I think we should also look at things and what level of punishment and how, what that condemnation is based upon the spectrum of this. But I think one of the things this has revealed is that the Democrats are willing to hold their tribe accountable for behavior.

ROBERTS: Absolutely.

DOWD: Instead of just saying, we’re going to point our finger, point our finger, point our…at the other side, they’re willing to hold their…and they’ve done it on any number of issues.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Strength or weakness, though?

SIMPSON: Strength. I mean, at the end of the day, Trump has modeled what not to do. Right? Having a party that rallies behind a candidate and a President who has offended nearly every demographic, has been horrible on women. And has the nerve to challenge Joe Biden. You know, the Democrats are not asking for perfection at all, we’re saying, when you make a mistake, own up to it, and, and pledge to change.

CHEN: It’s a, it’s a different Democratic Party than even when Joe Biden ran…


CHEN: … for Vice President with, with Barack Obama in 2008; certainly a different Democratic Party than when Joe Biden served in the United States Senate. And I think that reality is going to catch up to him. And I think that is the big challenge.

STEPHANOPOULOS: That’s the, that’s the challenge for Joe Biden but are Republicans closing off a whole generation of women here?

CHEN: Yeah, I do worry about…not just women, by the way, I think there’s a lot of other demographics that Republicans are potentially struggling with.

SIMPSON: Absolutely.

CHEN: But the challenge, I think, for Republicans going forward is how do they, how do they prosecute this case, potentially against Joe Biden, given some of the challenges that they’re seeing, that they have to deal with…

ROBERTS: There are more guys named Greg and Mike in the Republican caucus than there are women. That’s a problem.


ROBERTS: It’s a fact.

DOWD: I mean, I think in this…we have all talked about the polarization and great tribalization but if we’re going to really change, then the community that exists within a tribe, and we’re a tribal country, we have been one for 240 years, is that you have to be able to confront the people in your own tribe. Change only happens from within the community. And Republicans, it’s not just on women and it’s not just on minorities. It’s on any number of issues. They close ranks. They’re unwilling to confront the people in their own tribe, which means, to me, the Republican Party is not going to fundamentally change until leaders in their own party confront people in their own party.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Meantime, one of the things we saw this week, President Trump saying he wants to nominate Herman Cain, whose been the…whose campaign collapsed after sexual harassment allegations, for the Fed.

SIMPSON: The 999 Herman Cain? You know, it’s challenging, I mean, it’s, it’s, you know, add it to the, you know, file of Donald Trump appointing people who have, don’t have the right experience to the right position. I mean, I think it’s real challenging and it shows that he’s operating politically. He’s already thinking about the future rather than thinking about the integrity of a very important, you know, department in our country. And so, I was shocked and…but not surprised unfortunately about that appointment. I think at this time, it’s more important to make sure that appointments are, you know, are validated. Herman Cain? I just want to leave it there. Herman Cain? For Federal Reserve. It makes no sense to me.

CHEN: I Actually, I worked for a candidate that ran in a primary against Herman Cain.


CHEN: The question is not in my mind Herman Cain’s qualifications. I mean, he actually has been at a Federal Reserve bank. I think he understands these issues. The question is around the independence of the Federal Reserve and do we want the President of the United States saying hey, you know, Fed, you need to, you need to juice this a little bit, you know, juice the economy a little bit? That’s the, that’s the challenge.


ROBERTS: And Presidents have been frustrated with the Fed forever. I mean, it’s hardly new for a President to be frustrated. But they don’t generally respond in this fashion.

DOWD: Well, the combination of the nomination, potential nomination of Stephen Moore and Herman Cain. I mean, Lanhee would probably have freshmen students in their economics class that are more qualified than Stephen Moore and Herman Cain to be in those positions.