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Daily Beast Columnist Kirsten Powers: It’s Safe To Say That Obama Has Been A Huge Disappointment

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The affable columnist who is a regular on Fox News was very candid in her assessment of the President’s performance on the show today. The audio and transcript follow.




HH: And I’ve been looking forward to this. It’s the first interview of Kirsten Powers on the Hugh Hewitt Show. You know her as the resident affable, wonderful lefty on Fox News. But a week ago tonight, I was together with Kirsten at an event talking seriously about religious freedom in America, so I know there’s at least one issue on which Kirsten is right. Kirsten Powers, welcome the Hugh Hewitt Show.

KP: (laughing) That’s so generous of you, Hugh.

HH: Well, we’ll find out if there’s more, but we’ve got one in common, right? You’re a religious freedom person.

KP: Yes, yes. I think we do have that in common.

HH: Tell people about that, because that room was primarily conservative Republicans, and here’s Kirsten Powers, the well-known liberal from Fox News, and tell us why you are committed to First Amendment free exercise freedoms.

KP: Well, I mean, look, I think most Americans are, and I think even, and I know a lot of my conservative friends disagree with this, but I think most liberals are as well. And what has happened is there have been a group of people, I refer to them as sort of the illiberal left, because they’re not really very liberal, but they are on the left who have decided that there are certain things that you are allowed to think about a variety of issues. Right now, there’s a handful on abortion, on same sex marriage, climate changes. And if you veer off from that, they will use varying tactics, you know, up to like what happened to Brendan Eich at Mozilla, where you actually lose your job, to, or just smearing people, tarnishing them with calling them racist or misogynist and these other things. And I just think it’s gotten a little out of hand, and it’s very toxic, and I find it to be very illiberal. And I think that, and when I have spoken to my liberal friends about some of the issues that I think most of your listeners probably know about, because it’s only really covered in the conservative media, they’ve been as horrified as anybody else. I just, they don’t really know what’s going on, because it doesn’t get covered by the New York Times.

HH: Why do you think President Obama is so stubbornly pursuing the abortifacient mandate in the face of, you know, no one saw that coming. No one thought that this was going to be covered and mandated by Obamacare on believers who have an objection.

KP: Well, I think that he, I don’t know, you know, I always try to avoid getting into motivations. I don’t really know what is ultimately motivating a person. I certainly think that he has a strong constituency that cares a lot about this issue, and has put a lot of pressure on him. And I think that they really believe that’s the rights of the woman, and this situation trumps the rights of the religious believer. And to the extent that they even acknowledge that there’s a tension, I don’t even really feel like they necessarily think that there’s a tension. And you know, I know there are a lot of people who feel that this was really done as a sort of attack on the Church.

HH: Yes.

KP: And you know, I’m not sure that, you know, because I can’t ever get into what motivates someone to do something. You know, President Obama, but certainly the groups that were behind it, I think we can acknowledge are pretty hostile to religion and to the Church. But at the same time, I will say that they really do believe this. They really do believe that women have to have access and have this covered by the government, that it’s essential to their freedom, and that this is just their worldview.

HH: Well, let’s not agree too much, Kirsten Powers, because that would be disappointing. I have, one of my closest friends in the world, my college roommate, is an old colleague of yours from the Clinton administration, Marc Gearan, and I call him up every now and then, and I say to Marc, you know, Marc, you guys have broken the IRS, you’ve broken the Secret Service, you’ve broken the Administration of Veterans Affairs, or the Department of Veterans Affairs. It looks like the CDC is broken. At what point, Kirsten, do you realize Democrats just can’t run anything?

KP: What did he say?

HH: Well, he doesn’t engage. He just laughs. You know, and he’s from Massachusetts, though you’re from Alaska. You should know better.

KP: I know. Well, I mean, I don’t know what your question. Is your question that whether I think the Obama administration is doing a bad job? Or that the government is inherently imcompetent.

HH: Are you losing faith? Are you losing faith in the ability of government to function well in trying on these massive things, like the Minnesota Health Exchange is broken. The Oregon Health Exchange is broken. The Maryland…have you lost faith, yet?

KP: No, and the reason I haven’t lost faith is because I don’t attribute it to an inherent problem with the government, or that the government can’t ever run anything. I just don’t believe that. I think that President Obama has been particularly bad at his job. And I think you know, when you look at the backstory on the rollout of, I mean, it’s such unbelievable incompetence, I don’t think that I can take away from that, that if a competent person had been given that project that they might not have had a different result, because it’s so mind-boggling that you wouldn’t even have wanted to know whether the exchanges would be able to handle the users that were going to be logging on, right? I mean, these are such basic things, that I just feel like from that, I just can’t deduce that no one could ever create a program that’s successful. And we have some successful programs, and I’m sure that you can tear apart Medicare and Social Security, but they are functioning systems. They have problems that have to be dealt with down the road, but I don’t think that had to go the way that it went in terms of the consumer experience.

HH: Now Kirsten, as a Democrat, and as a veteran of the Clinton administration, would you rank for me from most competent to least competent the three Democrats – Obama, Clinton and Carter. Who was the worst of those three on competence issues?

KP: Well, I mean, it’s a little hard for, I mean, Clinton was the most competent, obviously. And then I don’t, you know, Carter, I was a child, so I don’t have, you know, I didn’t live through that, so I don’t know that I have as much of a sense of that. And I also have a real affection for him for his human rights work. So I don’t know that between the two of them I could say. But I think that Obama, it’s safe to say that Obama has been a huge disappointment, I mean, if that’s what you’re getting at. I mean, I don’t think there’s any, I don’t really think there’s any comparison between him and Bill Clinton. I don’t even, I mean, we’re not even, I don’t feel like we’re even talking about the same universe there.

HH: So he’s that much of a failure, but you’re still a Democrat?

KP: Well yeah, I mean, you wouldn’t just change, I mean, I’m a Democrat just because that’s where I sort of fall, you know, if you started going down the issues where I usually fall. And I’m, you know, it’s not the same, I really consider myself more of a liberal, you know, and then I vote for Democrats. Do I like the Democratic Party? Not particularly. Like I’m really kind of tired of the political parties.

HH: Do you think that the Senate is going to go Republican as a rebuke to President Obama?

KP: I think that that could be overstating what happens, and it probably is going to go red. But as you know, it’s very heavily tilted, was favored in that direction anyway. And most of the contested, not all the contested races are being fought on pretty conservative ground. So I think it was already sort of built in, sort of baked into the cake to start with.

HH: Mark Pryor’s toast, isn’t he, down in Arkansas, he’s finished?

KP: I don’t know. I mean, I’m not making any predictions, yet, but I mean, I just, I think at this point, you know at this point, it looks very much like it’s going to be a Republican Senate. But at the same time, it is surprising at how close a lot of these races are.

HH: Kirsten Powers, I love that you came on. I hope you will come back early and often. I was so impressed meeting you on Thursday. And so now you and Joy Reid are my two favorite Democrats. Joy’s always a happy lefty, too.

KP: Okay, well thanks for having me.

HH: Great to have you.

End of interview.


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