A very interesting conversation with the moderator of NBC’s Meet The Press.
HH: Joined by Chuck Todd, moderator of NBC’s Meet The Press, author most recently of The Stranger, a brand new and wonderful biography of Barack Obama that we covered in great deal two weeks ago. Hello, Chuck, good Friday to you.
CT: Hugh, how are you?
HH: Great. You have a lot on your plate for this weekend. How are you going to cover the President’s executive order, because there’s been quite a lot of criticism in the conservative press that the Manhattan-Beltway media elite are not giving adequate time to the critics of the President’s authority to do this?
CT: Well, and I think that that’s been the hard part of this, is just finding exactly, I mean, look, we’re, obviously, we’re going to delve, we’re going to delve into both the policy, sort of the status of immigration reform in general, because there is a bit of a contradiction here, right? The public is against, our own polling showed it, is against the President going off on his own doing it. However, and it all depends on how you word this stuff, the policy itself isn’t unpopular. And I’m careful by saying I don’t think there’s, that certain immigration policies are popular. I think it’s more they’re tolerated. But the point is they’re sort of, they have, they’re favorable with a majority of folks. So I think that was what complicates this debates, is that you can get caught up in the politics of this, and ignore the policy, because there’s another part of this. Why do we think these folks are going to self-deport? I mean, I kind of think it’s fantasy land that the three to five million people for three years’ notice, if they’ve stayed in the shadows for this long, what’s the incentive to come out temporarily for three years?
HH: Well, that’s an interesting policy debate. But what I’ve seen is the conservative critique is that we want to primarily talk about the lack of authority of the President to do what he did, that it’s a Constitutional, in fact, crisis. John Eastman is a professor of law, was just on with me pointing out that he’s inventing a lawful authorization. It’s not merely prosecutorial discretion, and that media keeps describing it in terms that are biased in favor of the President’s interpretation, when in fact the critique of what he did articulated by people like Leader McConnell and Speaker Boehner and professors like Eastman and myself, is that wait a minute, forget the policy, he just doesn’t have the authority to do this. This is lawless.
CT: Well, and I think that that’s, here’s, the question is, who’s going to file the suit and who can file the suit? You have to be an aggrieved party. Who’s the aggrieved party? This is a question I had, I moderated a panel of Republican governors last, on Tuesday this week, and I asked this question, who’s the aggrieved party? Governor Perry spoke up and said the state of Texas is, and then he went through a reason how, because that’s the other part of this. If you believe this is unconstitutional, and I think the courts are going to decide this, you’ve got to file a suit. The question is who files the suit? And I do feel like I’ve got a better idea of who files the suit, that it’s going to be a state, a state attorney general. I’ve heard from the state of Texas with Governor Perry, and by the way, somebody we’re trying to get on this week, and the state attorney general from Oklahoma has also spoken up about the possibility of doing it, because the state case for filing the suit would be the federal government, you know, that President Obama put an undue burden on social services in the state, etc., and it wasn’t a law that was enacted, you know, that he didn’t have the power to do this, it should have come from Congress. So…
HH: Interesting, Dean Eastman told me of a suit that’s already been filed in North Carolina by a workman’s comp insurer saying that they cannot insure people who get the letter of recommendation from President Obama, because it’s illegal. So there is actually a person with standing. I was unaware of it. But it seems to me…
CT: Okay, so that would be another person with standing, because that was the part of this that I’ve been trying to figure out, is who would have standing?
HH: Right, and I wonder how hard does Manhattan-Beltway media, and I don’t put you on trial for representing them all…
CT: No, I understand what you’re saying.
HH: But how hard do they go to find the people like Andrew McCarthy or John Eastman to make sure that they are heard from, for example, Jonah Goldberg wrote this, this week. The reason Jonathan Gruber has been so outrageously undercovered by the mainstream media, and you covered him, by the way, is obvious. The whole story is an indictment of the entire ecosystem of establishment liberalism from supposedly explanatory journalists who pick sides from the beginning, to the academic elites who serve as willing mercenaries for the Democratic Party while pretending to be unimpeachably objective followers of the facts, to the press corps that carries water for the whole enterprise. Gruberdammerung runs against the narrative that only lovers of limited government are driven by self-interest and greed. It gives the average person a glimpse into how the sausage is made, and embarrasses the sausage makers. What do you think about that, Chuck?
CT: I agree with certain parts of it in that I think it’s an indictment on sort of how Congress works, and how Washington works, and how legislation is written. But the idea that only liberals do this is, I think, mistaken. I mean, the entire process of how the system is gamed, how the CBO scoring is gamed, and how what seemed would be common sense, whether sometimes it’s as simple as the issue of dynamic scoring, right, where you don’t, where the CBO pretends that you don’t know what any impact would be on a tax cut, or sometimes their rigidity, where they claim well, something will be, it shows up in the ledger as deficit reduction even though you know, it doesn’t really do it. So I think it’s an indictment on the whole system. To only limit it to liberals, I think, is sort of not, is flying a little bit blind in how plenty of Republicans have gamed the system, too.
HH: Now that’s absolutely true, and I imagine the Bush years, the left would have had arguments about who wasn’t being put on and who was being put on. Let me talk about very concretely a story that broke this afternoon. I don’t know how you’re going to deal with this, because it broke this afternoon. The IRS inspector general has discovered 30,000 Lois Lerner emails. Now IRS has testified under oath they could not be recovered. They’ll have a defense that we just didn’t know they couldn’t be recovered.
HH: But what do you intend to do with that story? That’s huge, Chuck Todd.
CT: Well, I also have Ferguson. I also have the Benghazi report that came out. I also am trying to do something on energy as well, so, and never mind some 2016 stuff. So I’ll be honest, Hugh, you always make my Friday more uncomfortable. I’m sitting there saying I thought I had every story that I wanted to deal with covered, and then you always throw me one more. So thanks a lot.
HH: Are you going to cover Webb, because I think James Webb presents a very interesting problem for Hillary Clinton.
CT: To a point, I do think he could. He could. He presents, put it this way, if you were to go into a factory and say who’s the perfect potential challenger for her, I think the only thing, the only problem is I think demographically, having, he doesn’t necessarily, a southern white guy isn’t necessarily the perfect primary challenger to her. But he’s to the left of her in economics, will come across as stronger on national security, even as he’s more to the left of her, less hawkish, certainly will be incredibly critical of her, particularly on Libya. He’s been, he was from the beginning critical of the entire Libyan operation, and being somebody who wore the uniform doesn’t hurt. The question is, can he raise money? I thought it was fascinating, if you saw the Jim Webb news, within 12 hours, Tim Kaine puts out a PAC email talking about being ready for Hillary. It tells you that, you know, I think the Hillary people, that wasn’t an accident. I think they are nervous about him if he ever got traction.
HH: And I have been watching, I put in an interview request which has not been responded to earlier today of Senator Webb’s office, because I am curious about…
CT: I would bet you he comes on.
HH: I know, and he told me to contact the office. And I am curious as to what he’s going to do on immigration, because it seems to me the opening against Hillary.
CT: Right, he was not in favor, you know, I’m old enough to remember when there were a whole bunch of Democrats who weren’t supportive of some of these immigration reforms, particularly having worried about the idea of basically wages going down. And that suddenly, you know, and there was a lot of labor unions members worried about that.
HH: And jobs being taken. So I’m curious, were you surprised that former Secretary of State Clinton, it took her less than 10 minutes to issue a full-throated endorsement of the President’s action
CT: Oh, if it’s not a reminder that this was, look, I know we’re all shocked that everybody plays politics with issues, but this was pretty, I mean, that the politics of this has been pretty obvious from the get-go, which is the Democratic Party, and look, and if you look at it from Obama’s point of view, he broke promise after promise with Hispanics. And he felt like he had to come with something, or they risked alienating Hispanics for a long time, which is why I think you saw Hillary Clinton so quickly do that. But I have to say there’s another part of this story that we haven’t talked about enough, and I think we’re going to play the demographics game, and that is white working class voters are, you know, dealt a thumping to Democrats in 2014, and immigration is one of the reasons. So you know, yes, for every gain they make, and maybe long term, the demographic trend will be better off for the Democrats, but they also have a white working class problem. I think a Minnesota, I think Iowa, I think Wisconsin, I think you’re going to start seeing that for every Arizona that the Democrats think they’re going to bring into play, I think some of the northern Midwestern states are going to come into potentially being in play for the Republicans.
HH: 45 seconds, Chuck, there is, however, this enormous issue of a crisis of confidence in the government – did the President have the authority to do what he did…
HH: Did Lois Lerner hides these emails, what is going on in Ferguson, how do you cover that this weekend? Who are your guests?
CT: Well, Ferguson is really sort of, that one bothers me more than any, because we’re anticipating problems before we even know it. And I almost wonder is that really the right way to go? That’s going to issue even more trust issues. So look, I’ve got a couple senators on the hook. We’re going to do an immigration…don’t forget, I’ve got Iran that may come out on Monday, the Iran deal.
HH: All right, good, you’re going to have a great Meet The Press, Chuck Todd, and I just hope that Lois Lerner shows up somewhere in there along with Gruber. Always a pleasure, Chuck Todd. You can follow him on Twitter, @ChuckTodd.
End of interview.