MSNBC's David Shuster: GOP 'All White Males With Short Hair Cuts'
Published: 9/10/2009 6:24 PM ET
Shuster and co-host Tamron Hall moderated a debate between Democratic strategist Patrick Murphy and Republican strategist Alex Conant, over the impact of Republican Congressman Joe Wilson shouting out 'you lie!' during the President's speech. Shuster claimed: "The video of the Republican lawmakers was almost as striking as the speech itself....Did the Republican image change last night for the worse or was it something minor that may have only had an impact on the conservative base that was energized and wants to kill reform?"
Following the discussion, Hall observed: "...this pride in being an American and what it means to have class in this country and to see something like that. It is hurtful when you know that it is a prestigious place we have in this world and when we are reduced to behavior like that, it is very telling to all of us. We love this country and it is hurtful to see someone play out their - their emotions in such a loser way - I think I can say that." Shuster replied: "Tamron you said it perfectly. I agree with you 100%." Hall admitted: "I don't think my mother would like I said loser, but oh well."
Here is a full transcript of the segment:
TAMRON HALL: Well, David, in today's 'Face-Off' the big image problem that some say now confronts the Republican Party following last night's presidential speech.
DAVID SHUSTER: Yeah, Tamron, the video of the Republican lawmakers was almost as striking as the speech itself. The President was greeted with a chorus of jeers and boos when he said his plan would not cover illegal immigrants. And of course there was - they're you're looking at the moment when Joe Wilson was speaking out. There was the heckling from Congressman Joe Wilson. And last night, TV viewers also saw Virginia Republican Eric Cantor, a member of the GOP leadership, using his Blackberry - that's underneath the banner there - he was using his Blackberry while the President was speaking. Dozens of Republicans also booed and hissed at the President for accusing them of misinformation and misleading. And when the President referred to plans passed by four separate committees, Republicans shouted 'what plan!,' with Congressman Louis Gohmert, who you just saw there, of Texas, holding up a sign that read 'What Bill?' Did the Republican image change last night for the worse or was it something minor that may have only had an impact on the conservative base that was energized and wants to kill reform? Here to face off, Democratic strategist Patrick Murphy and Republican strategist Alex Conant. Patrick, you get the first word. The Republicans, why - why shouldn't this be seen as just sort of a minor moment that won't last?
PATRICK MURPHY: Well, it's a consistent pattern. I mean, I don't know where the outrage is from Michael Steele and the other Republican leaders. You know, when Barack Obama tries to talk to school children about doing their homework, he gets criticized from the Right and from the conservatives. And when people like Joe Wilson stand up and call the President a liar in the middle of the congressional joint session, it's just incredible. There's no - there's no sense of decency left of these guys and they're just hitting the lowest possible rung on the ladder to try and upset health care and try and undue this presidency.
SHUSTER: Alex, I know in your heart of hearts you're a smart guy, that the image last night was not the one you would have preferred for the Republican Party. Will you just come out now and say, 'look, I wish the Republicans had behaved better'?
ALEX CONANT: Look, you know, I think we're - I think we're kidding ourselves if when you saw Republicans sitting on their hands last night, that's not what most - that's exactly what most Americans were doing when they were watching it at home last night. The Republicans are on the same page as the American people on the health care debate, they oppose what President Obama and the Democrats are trying to do with the government takeover the health care. Just like most Americans do.
SHUSTER: What about Joe Wilson? What about the Joe Wilson episode?
CONANT: Well, Joe Wilson apologized, and I think that was the appropriate thing to do. The White House accepted that and I think we should move on. I think the fact that we're still debating Joe Wilson's comment rather than debating what was supposed to be a game-changing speech by the President yesterday, shows just how far short the President's speech was.
SHUSTER: Well, here's the bigger issue. Let's put up on that screen again, the Joe Wilson sort of picture of him reaching out. You look at the image of the Republican Party, all white males with short haircuts. They look sort of angry. No women, no minorities, and it looks like they've sort of become unhinged. How does that image-
CONANT: Well, except that-
SHUSTER: -help the Republican Party?
CONANT: Except that - except that the President - let's remember, last night the President referred to Sarah Palin, who obviously is a Republican leader and a woman. And, you know, so I don''t think it's fair to say that all Republicans are white males like you and me, David.
SHUSTER: I don't know if you want to invoke Sarah Palin to try to help your cause. Tamron, you take it away.
HALL: Well, I mean, David, you said all white males with short hair. I have short hair, so I guess I couldn't have said it. But the reality, Patrick, the - I'm sorry, Alex, I was chuckling at some of the other things that we were talking about. But Patrick, set aside where you stand in this conversation, the image - I mean, you have the President saying it's enough of the bitterness, let's, you know, have a civil conversation, and you do have this image there. The flip side, though, you have progressives and some far left who say, 'well, you know, Mr. President, don't you see what we see? There are people who are not willing or not ready to have a legitimate conversation, so move on without them.'
MURPHY: Well, and I think it's the dilemma of - I don't think the American people are sitting at home on their hands.
MURPHY: I think the American people are at sitting home very concerned about what kind of shape their health care is, if they have it, and what it would be like to get it. And I think that's what Obama was trying to - the President was trying to get to last night. You know, and this jeering and booing by Republicans, it was just so - it was just - it was literally out of order.
CONANT: No, but-
HALL: Yeah, but then at the time you're seeing, though, the President say that, you know, there's hope for a legitimate conversation with both sides involved, but what you saw and everybody's got eyes, you're looking there, doesn't look like what he is saying is making any leadway there. Did he see any movement there?
MURPHY: Well, I don't know if he - I don't think he saw any movement in that chamber. But, you know, I think some of the moderate Democrats and I think a handful of Republicans are going to help get this bill passed.
SHUSTER: Alex, we'll give you the last word. One more shot to say, 'you know what, I wish the Republicans had behaved better.'
CONANT: You know, let me just say that this speech last night was very similar to the speech we heard two months ago at the press conference, when that was also supposed to change public opinion and was supposed to jump-start the debate and get people - get people excited about Obama's plan. And that fell short. And yesterday's speech was very similar. I - it should - I expect it will also. Nothing he said yesterday will fundamentally change the dynamics of this thing. If he wanted to change the strategy, he would have really reached out to Republicans and embraced the bipartisan ideas, instead of going along with congressional leaders like Nancy Pelosi.
MURPHY: He's using John McCain's ideas. He's using Republican ideas and they still boo him.
HALL: He's talking about now malpractice reform, that's a Republican idea, that was new.
CONANT: We could absolutely pass a bipartisan bill. There's a lot that we agree on. Some of the things that President Obama mentioned last night. But if he - if he continues to push ahead with things like the government takeover, the public option, that's - that's going to be a partisan proposal that even - even conservative Democrats are going to oppose. That's why it hasn't passed the House of Representatives yet-
SHUSTER: Alex, you maybe right - Alex, you maybe right that this was not a long-term game changer, but the fact of the matter is in the polling last night, the President jumped 15 points in one poll among independents, he was up 20 to 25 points in a whole host of areas. So at least there was a short-term boost for the Democrats. In any case, Alex Conant, Patrick Murphy, we've got to leave it there. Sorry I got the last word. Those are the rules, except when Tamron gets the last word.
MURPHY: We follow the rules, we follow the rules.
HALL: Yes, David.
SHUSTER: Tamron, what do you think?
HALL: Well, I don't know. I think it is unfortunate that a lot of the conversation is about Congressman Wilson, but last night, you heard people who've been, you know, been scholars of politics far longer than at least myself, who say they've never seen anything like that.
HALL: And I think it deserves a conversation and it also brings up, you know, this pride in being an American and what it means to have class in this country and to see something like that. It is hurtful when you know that it is a prestigious place we have in this world and when we are reduced to behavior like that, it is very telling to all of us. We love this country and it is hurtful to see someone play out their - their emotions in such a loser way - I think I can say that.
SHUSTER: Tamron you said it perfectly. I agree with you 100%.
HALL: I don't think my mother would like I said loser, but oh well
-Kyle Drennen is a news analyst at the Media Research Center.