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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
After Party: Where Do We Go from Here?
Aired December 20, 2008 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DONNA BRAZILE, CO-HOST: This week, factories across the country shut down as the recession dug its claws into the auto industry. And the president announced billions of dollars in bailout loans.
DAVID BRODY, CO-HOST: But would bankruptcy be a better solution than a taxpayer bailout? And is a massive stimulus the right medicine for this recession? Hey, Donna, that rhymes.
BRAZILE: No pain, no gain. I'm Donna Brazile. And I'm ready to hash out the economic and political alternatives with some of my favorite progressives.
BRODY: And I'm David Brody over here with three top conservatives. After you finish, Donna, they're coming your way and they're going to show you guys just how wrong you are.
BRAZILE: Come on out of the wilderness, we'll see about that. It's time to start THE AFTER PARTY.
Let's get right to it. President Bush has made a U-turn over this auto bailout. Has he finally found religion? Nico Pitney of the Huffington Post, let me ask you, the Republicans rejected this just a few weeks ago. Now President Bush, well, what happened?
NICO PITNEY, THE HUFFINGTON POST: Once again, we came right up to the brink. And thankfully, President Bush agreed with the overwhelming consensus on this, except for the far right wing of the Republican party that we needed to take, you know, swift action to save the auto industry. Of course, because it's President Bush, there's a specific addendum to the bill requiring that U.S. auto workers, their wages be lowered to match foreign auto workers, but that will be overseen by President Obama when he takes office. So I doubt we'll see...
BRAZILE: Yes, there are a lot of conditions on this, Josh. And Josh Green with "The Atlantic," welcome to THE AFTER PARTY.
JOSHUA GREEN, THE ATLANTIC: Thank you.
BRAZILE: Here, you can drink all you want. Just make sense. Now let me ask you a question. I mean, clearly, there are some winners, some losers. The president has put a lot of conditions on this. I mean, who will come out of this, you know, with their heads up high?
GREEN: Well, in the short term, the clear winners are GM and Chrysler, because what looked like it was going to be a death sentence just got commuted for three months. I'd also would throw into that category the auto workers, who are going to have a paycheck through the holidays. But after that, it's not really clear that there are a lot of winners.
The Obama administration in the sense and the chance, you know, that they're not going to inherit quite as bad a problem as they would if some of these companies went bankrupt. But beyond that, you know, there's still a lot of work to be done.
BRAZILE: Jamal Simmons, you hail from the great state of Michigan. You know a lot about the auto workers. You've been advising Democratic presidents and members of Congress for a long time.
JAMAL SIMMONS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Not that long.
BRAZILE: Hey, man, look, I know I'm old, OK, but you're ancient. But look, will this help Detroit?
SIMMONS: It certainly won't hurt Detroit. The problem that people are facing in Detroit is that all these folks who have - who are there, who are working the auto industry need to keep their jobs as Josh just said a few minutes ago. And what this did was basically commute their sentence. They now have three more months to get there.
I was sitting at Thanksgiving dinner just in November. I was sitting there with our family. Three out of four of my grandparents came to Detroit because of the auto industry. Some of them left coal mines in West Virginia to come to Michigan and work in the furnaces and to put coal in the furnaces. That was a better job.
And over the course of the generations, that family has now got people who are doctors and people who have master's degrees, because that's what happens when working people have money. They invest in their families, they invest in their communities. So we can't put all the weight here on the workers. We've got to allow them to make some money and keep them employed so that we can have a better, more vibrant economy.
BRAZILE: Let me just say this. You know, for eight years, we've been looking for a glimpse of compassionate conservativism. And George Bush this week may have given us the first sign of it. You've got to see this. Come on.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If we were to allow the free market to take its course now, it would almost certainly lead to disorderly bankruptcy and liquidation for the automakers. Under ordinary economic circumstances, I would say this is the price that failed companies must pay. And I would not favor intervening to prevent the automakers from going out of business, but these are not ordinary circumstances.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRAZILE: Look, the president said this is not ordinary circumstances. President-elect Obama this week said that President Bush has been sleeping at the switch. Now, you saw what George Bush just said. What's going on here? GREEN: After eight years, he woke up. I mean, where's that guy been for the last eight years? I think, you know, partly, even Republicans realize the effect that the death of the auto industry, the sudden death would have in these economic times. I think also that Bush is beginning to think about his place in history. After all he's done to this country, does he really want his final act to be kind of, you know, killing off the state of Michigan?
PITNEY: Would this be happening if he were not in the legacy tour right now? I think it's highly unlikely.
SIMMONS: I don't know, I'll give you two other words, electoral college. Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Western Pennsylvania, Wisconsin -- all these states are states that rely on the auto industry. And we've got people like my friend Janelle Ross who's got an auto dealership in Ohio. And if this thing goes to bed, and the auto industry bankrupts, people like them, the small car dealerships of higher networks, all fall apart. This is - the ripple effects...
BRAZILE: Do you think this will help President-elect Obama with his stimulus package once it's introduced come January?
SIMMONS: I do, yes, because I think that, you know, it adds a bipartisan veneer to the idea that things are really, really bad. We need a major stimulus package. We need major economic reform. And it's not just liberals, it's not just Democrats who are making that point. The former president of the United States agrees.
BRAZILE: Let me also ask you about president-elect, you know, final selection, the final round of, you know, so-called cabinet secretaries. In the end, we're looking at, you know, several high- ranking people. Of course, we talked about Clinton. We've talked about a number of others, but eight state schoolers, seven Ivy Leaguers, four basketball (INAUDIBLE), one cheerleader, two Republicans and, of course, two Southerners, one from the Ninth Ward. But we're missing - hearing a (INAUDIBLE), right? Right? What's going on here?
PITNEY: I mean, I think, you know, across the board, there -- people are thrilled about the cabinet selections. I think, you know, maybe you might hear some grumbling about Lahood at Transportation. He doesn't quite have a background in that area, but I think he...
BRAZILE: But he was on the House Transportation Committee.
PITNEY: True, true, true, but - yes, and he works well with Obama.
BRAZILE: Probably driving American car. What else?
PITNEY: Well, yes.
BRAZILE: Jamaal, thumbs-up, thumbs-down on the cabinet selections?
SIMMONS: Oh, so far, I think this has been -- so far, we've got most of them on the board now. It's been a great group of cabinet members. Ron Kirk yesterday or this week was named the head of the United States Trade Representatives office, the first time an African- american has been there. You see people like Susan...
BRAZILE: The former mayor of Dallas.
SIMMONS: Former mayor of Dallas. Susan Rice, Hillary Clinton, Hilda Solis, these are really good, quality people. And every time you heard a name, people nodded and said, yes, that makes sense. There was really no doubt about this (INAUDIBLE) too. I mean, as different as these people are in terms of the background. You know, you compare them with the Bush administration, you know, these are the kids that s in the front of the bus, not the back of the bus. These are experts. These are experts. These are Nobel laureates. These are the kind of people you want running your government in a time of crisis.
GREEN: Although Bill Richardson is there. He might have been (INAUDIBLE) and the back of the bus.
BRAZILE: Knowing Bill, he was driving that bus.
Nico, progressives, many of my liberal friends are very, very upset about the president-elect decision to invite Rick Warren to give the opening prayer at the inaugural. By the way, I just have to tell you, what's the big deal? Aretha Franklin is going to sing. She will clear the air. What's going on here?
PITNEY: I think it was the wrong choice. As someone put it, it's great to bring someone like Rick Warren into the tent. It's a different matter to give him a throne. This is a national event meant to kind of unify the country. I don't think it was right for that. That said, to me it matters much more what Obama is going to do policy-wise. I think people have a right to complain and voice their protests, but there are more important matters coming. And that's where we've got to...
BRAZILE: But you know Rick Warren. He wrote that bestselling book "The Purpose Driven Life." I have it not only on audio tape, as well as the book version. I don't agree - that's correct. I don't - more copies of my book. But I don't agree with everything. I don't agree with him on gay marriage, of course. I don't agree with him on abortion, but I agree with his efforts, of course, to bring the evangelical movement into the polls in terms of anti-poverty, fighting AIDS, etcetera. So what's the problem?
GREEN: Well, the problem is that a lot of liberal interest groups who have chased President Bush for eight years see Obama as, you know, being the be all end all. They assume that he's going to come in and do what they want. And not just gay groups, but across the liberal spectrum, people are going to have realize that Obama's going to have to make certain priorities. People aren't always going to be happy with them. I think this is a case where maybe the Obama folks didn't quite realize the reaction they were going to get, but it's not that different than the anger we heard among some liberals when Hillary Clinton was named Secretary of State. And I'm sure there are going to be other examples.
BRAZILE: Was this a sister soldier slap at the gay and lesbian movement?
SIMMONS: Oh, I don't think so at all. Think about who Barack Obama is and who he's been since he's come on the national scene in 2004. He's somebody who said there's more that we have in common to unites us than there is that divides us. And if we focused on those things that unite us, we can get great things done.
I think he wants to be president of all the people. Rick Warren leads millions of people. And in fact, if we look at California where Prop 8 passed, there are millions of people who actually voted for barack Obama, who probably agree with Rick Warren on some of these issues. So the president of all the people, he's going to bring Rick Warren to the table. And that's going to bring more things.
An African-American, you know, African-Americans have historically had to look at American heroes and both see what was good in them, and accept the things that weren't so good in them. FDR is a great hero in the economy and progressive, but he used to integrate the armed forces. George Washington owned slaves. So I think that we have to accept the fact that people are not defined by sole small, not small but sole issues.
BRAZILE: I also want to mention that one of the lines of the civil rights movement, Dr. Joseph Lowry, I had to say this, will be, of course, giving us the benediction. I love Joe Lowry. Look, we'll come back in a few seconds to talk about Caroline Kennedy's journey to the United States Senate. This is THE AFTER PARTY. We'll be right back.
BRAZILE: Welcome back to THE AFTER PARTY. I'm Donna Brazile. This week, Caroline Kennedy was seen at (INAUDIBLE), a big hot spot in Harlem with Reverend Al Sharpton dining on collar greens and chicken. What do you think they were talking about, Josh?
GREEN: I think they were talking about Caroline Kennedy being the next senator from New York.
BRAZILE: Do you think she's qualified?
GREEN: You know, I think she has a record of public service, but I think if her last name wasn't Kennedy, you know, the field would not have been cleared for her to become senator from New York. So no, I don't necessarily think that she's the best choice for the job. But obviously, if you're dining with Reverend Sharpton in Harlem, and you're a Kennedy, you're probably bucking for a Senate seat.
BRAZILE: But if collard greens are on the plate, she is really looking for something. What do you think she's looking for? Do you think she has it, you know, made in the bag, so to speak?
SIMMONS: I don't think so. And I think she's got to be careful that she doesn't get trapped into this inevitability argument, much like Hillary Clinton tried to wage in the primaries. She's got to make sure she's talking to people at the grassroots, not just people at the grass tops. And I think there are a lot of people in New York who are going to be concerned about this family issue and whether or not she really understands.
For instance, if she's supposed to be the person with teachers, she should be going - doing some school visits and going to visit some school children and maybe go to some parent meetings, talk to people who are on the ground, who really are going to be the ones that have to support her here.
Now I understand this is an election with only one vote, which is the governor's...
SIMMONS: ...but the governor has to have the political support to appoint her.
BRAZILE: You know, she is -- she's looking for consultants. I think Jamal needs a client.
But Nico, I want you to tell me a little bit about Caroline Kennedy's qualifications. Let's listen to her right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CAROLINE KENNEDY, JOHN F. KENNEDY'S DAUGHTER: I told Governor Paterson that I'd be honored to be considered for the position of United States senator. I wanted to come upstate and meet with Mayor Driscoll and others to tell them about my experience and also to learn more about how Washington would help these communities. And there's a lot of good people in this candidate that the governor's considering.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRAZILE: Sounds like she's ready.
PITNEY: She is a very smart person. She's clearly well informed. And I feel for her because she's in a very tough spot. She's the only person who in a sense is required to be out there campaigning because people feel like she needs to work for it. But in the other sense, people bristle at the fact that she's taking such a public role.
I think - I personally think Paterson ought to appoint a placeholder, an elder statesman who can hold the spot until 2010 and let there be an election. If she can win it on her own merits, that's great. If she can't, then she can't.
SIMMONS: You know, we make a lot about this nepotism argument. But you know, doctors put their kids into medical school. Lawyers have their kids come up in their offices. But we are in a political age, where you know, we're not supposed to be doing politicking.
(CROSSTALK) SIMMONS: For Caroline Kennedy, it's politics as usual. She certainly does have to earn it. But you know, this notion that we as Americans don't allow this to happen, I mean, we've seen this a lot.
BRAZILE: Well, look, you got to admit that the Kennedy brand is a strong brand in American politics, but let's talk about Bush and Cheney and what they're leaving. You know, they're starting their legacy tour, repackaging, of course, the last eight years. And the president, as you can see this week, is already trying to come across as a compassionate conservative. Will it work?
PITNEY: I think it's got a chance. You know, the people that think progress have been tracking the Bush library, which is going to be the kind of nexus of the legacy project. And they're already trying to spin Katrina and his response saying it's a lesson in the limits of government in, you know, in its ability to respond. I mean, they are - they may not be successful, but they are going to try their heart out all the same.
BRAZILE: Jamal, can they repackage eight years of failure?
SIMMONS: I'm going to be a little bit generous here.
GREEN: There you go.
SIMMONS: On the plus side, George Bush can't can say that we have not been attacked since 9/11 as long as he's been president. And I think he does deserve some credit for that.
And point number two is he's certainly has had a cabinet and an administration that's been diverse. One of the reasons why Barack Obama, people were ready to vote for Barack Obama as president was because of Condi Rice and Colin Powell. And they would not have been there were it not for the Bush family, both the father and the son.
On the negative side, don't undermine our values, whether it was torture, spying on Americans, not responding to Katrina. And I think you're going to have to answer for that in the history books.
GREEN: Also, if you look at the content of what this, you know, nostalgia tour comes as, we're talking about things like torture, like Guantanamo Bay. I mean, at the end of the day, history is going to judge the Bush administration on its actions, on its policies. And the substance of his policies is not the sort of thing that's going to make him a shining example for future generations.
BRAZILE: But the Vice President, who I think will have a special, special place from his undisclosed location in American history, this week said, of course, that Gitmo Bay has been a success. What was he thinking?
PITNEY: You have to have...
SIMMONS: Wait for the memoires.
Well, it's hard to know because not many people exactly what's happening in Guantanamo Bay. So until we lift the curtain up and see what's going on down there, I think we don't know really what they've been doing.
BRAZILE: Well, this is the holidays. And we're all in a generous mood. Let's give some gifts out. You know, Bush, Cheney, they're leaving the office. What will you give the outgoing administration? Let's be generous. And of course, we want to give President-elect Obama a lot of good things. So what would you give Bush and Cheney?
PITNEY: You know, they - President Bush has wanted a bump in his approval ratings for years and years and never got it. I will give him a bump, two points, bring him up to 21% maybe approval. That's -- I feel like that's pretty generous.
BRAZILE: You are generous. Come on.
SIMMONS: I'd give George Bush the box set of "The Matrix" because after that move in Iraq if he dodged that shoe, he's got some pretty good reflexes. And for President-elect Obama and his team, you know what I'd give them? I'd give them a little Ex-lax. They need to loosen up and let the bad stuff out faster. This thing with...
SIMMONS: This thing that happened with Blagojevich really was not their finest shining moment. They've got to learn that when you get in trouble, get the bad information out fast. Get, you know, get into the public sphere and then let's move on. They turned a two-day problem into a two-week problem.
BRAZILE: Let's get to Josh.
GREEN: All right, for the Bush administration, I'd give them paper bags, the way the Detroit Lions fans wear over their heads.
BRAZILE: Oh, God.
GREEN: Because if you want to talk about an 0-14 team, you know, there you have it. For the Obama administration, I give them a carton of Marlboro's and one of those big hubcap ashtrays that college kids use, because he's going to have a lot of stress. He's got a lot of pressure. He's got a lot of crisis to face. And he's going to need some stress relief.
BRAZILE: I hope he puts it in the rose garden, because I don't think Michelle will allow him to smoke in the house.
Well, I'm a liberal so I'm going to give George Bush free dance lessons. Seems like he needs to the back slide so he can get on out. And Laura Bush is complaining that she may have lost her ability to cook. I'll give her a couple of cooking lessons. We'll start with Cajun and then we'll go on to the pepper stuff from Texas. President- elect Obama, what would you give him? PITNEY: You know, I hope that the press who right now, they, you know, a lot of them like him personally. And so they feel OK to cover him poorly. I hope that the press kind of decides not to like him as much personally, so they can cover him in a reasonable way.
BRAZILE: Thanks to Jamal Simmons and Josh Green, Nico Pitney. They'll be back for the last call, of course.
In a moment, David and his team will come out of the wilderness with a Christmas tree all decorated for us progressives.
BRODY: We've got no Ex-lax. So...
BRODY: All right. Thanks for joining us on THE AFTER PARTY. I'm David Brody of the Christian Broadcasting Network. And now, we're under the watchful eyes of Donna Brazile and her progressive friends. Let's see what the conservatives have to say, starting with the auto bailout. Has President Bush hit the skids with conservatives yet again with this decision?
Amy Holmes, CNN contributor?
AMY HOLMES: I think the answer is yes. And conservatives are not at all happy about this, but neither should Barack Obama be happy with this. He is kicking the can down the road. So this is going to land right smack in the middle of Obama's, you know, first few months as president of the United States. I mean, I would rather have W. key scratched off the keyboard than me having to like revisit this issue back in March.
BRODY: All right, Stephen Hayes, we stand - what do you make of that?
STEPHEN HAYES, WEEKLY STANDARD: I think yes, he's hit the skids with conservatives, but I think it's a gift, it's a Christmas gift to Barack Obama because he gives him so much political cover, that he enables him to really ratchet this up when they revisit it after Inauguration.
BRODY: Brian Debose, "Washington Times."
BRIAN DEBOSE, THE WASHINGTON TIMES: I say that because this -- the only really problem with the original bailout was that we kept talking about new bailout money from the auto industry. This comes out of the TARP. I don't agree with it. It's -- I don't think it's going to keep them out of bankruptcy. And Obama's going to have to give them some more money in February. With this being said, it'll be like the second round of money because Bush has already given it to them. This is already...
HOLMES: That may be painful.
DEBOSE: You know, the ball has already started rolling.
HOLMES: This is hugely unpopular with the American people. I mean, the polling shows that, you know, the average voter thinks it's absurd. Why are we using taxpayer money to bail out companies that can't run themselves? And I thought it was really interesting that our liberal colleagues said, you know, has George Bush finally found religion? Well, since when are we praying at the altar of Chrysler? This is ridiculous.
BRODY: Good line, Amy. That's a good line. Hey, listen, but House Republicans are upset about this thing, too. I mean, it's like a scene from "Braveheart." You know, like Jim Dament (ph) storming the capital with all of his, you know, Tom Cober (ph) dressed as Mel Gibson. I mean, they're upset - they've been upset at Bush for a while because of these fiscal conservative ideas that Bush supposedly has. But that he's the one bailing them out in the end, Stephen.
HAYES: Look, he has been a big spender since 2001. I mean, this is not -- in a sense, this is really nothing new. It's just sort of the natural climax of what he's been doing all along. But you know, he said this week that he is abandonening the free market in order to save it. It's such a ridiculous argument on its face. And he keeps making reference to principal as he goes around talking about his legacy. You know, I think those of us who liked his principles in 2002 don't really like him in 2008.
DEBOSE: I don't have a lot of respect doing any interesting in what the House Republicans are saying right now or the Senate Republicans either.
HOLMES: But everyone's holding the line.
DEBOSE: But they are the ones who year after year approved budget after budget after spending measure after spending measure. They - and they continue to say the president needs us, the president, this is the direction the president wants to take us. And now that it's, you know, sort of come down crashing in front of their face, he did it.
BRODY: I want to - real quick, let me get to a quick little clip of President Bush this week because clearly, this has not enamored himself with conservatives with some of his talk. Here's a clip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: If the company fails to come up with a viable plan by March 31st, it will be required to repay its federal loans. The automakers and unions must understand what is at stake and make hard decisions necessary to reform.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRODY: Amy, March 31st comes around, I mean, are these companies really going to be viable? I mean, is this wasted money? What's this?
HOLMES: I feel like I'm watching Frankenstein. You know, this thing will never die. What is wrong with bankruptcy? You know, Senator Corker actually gave the auto industry, actually, just the big three, I think we often exaggerate that they are the American auto industry, but he gave them an option, which is to take the bankruptcy stigma off of the table, but still have policies that would then have to renegotiate these contracts, which have been impeding the auto industry's efficiency. Why are we going down that road? Why are we just throwing taxpayer money at it?
HAYES: Well, I'm feel like I'm watching "Alice in Wonderland" where up is down and black is white. I mean, what is he talking about? How are they going to repay the federal loan if they've spent the money or gone a long way to spending the money without a viability plan? I mean, really, you're talking about companies that are on the verge of bankruptcy and likely will go under. And he's talking about having them repay federal loans. I mean, really, I just don't understand what he's talking about.
BRODY: Go ahead.
DEBOSE: Corker's plan is absurd. Chrysler did that in '79 and '83. We've already seen that. We've already seen what happens to that. Chrysler is now here again asking for more money.
HOLMES: Here we are again.
DEBOSE: These kinds of policies don't work. They're going to have to go through Chapter 11. And the suspicion was always that if Chrysler had actually gone through bankruptcy, they would not have gotten rid of as many people as they did.
HOLMES: And they may not be here now...
HOLMES: ..hat in hand.
HAYES: Well remember, listen, if you pull back the cameras a little bit, think about the big picture on what we're talking about. I mean, you're talking about redefining the relationship between the citizens and the government when you're talking about this amount of money.
And the initial bailout that was approved is $13.4 billion. Well, the mood of the economists who testified alongside the CEOs was saying that they needed $125 billion to stay solvent. This is crazy.
BRODY: Well, speaking about money, I mean, here comes Barack Obama. Now we're hearing the word trillion, as in $1 trillion for an economic stimulus plan. And there's no reason to believe that he won't get that type of money at this point. You know, but Grover Norquist, the anti-tax renegade guy in Washington said, you know, put the whole thing up on the Internet and let the public see what's in this bill, because I got to tell you, we've already heard talk about there could be like from the U.S. Conference of Mayors, there could be dog paths and dog parks and fights. I mean, what's going on?
HOLMES: And battling prostitution and so on.
BRODY: But he's going to get, I mean, he's going to get... HOLMES: Well, at this point in time, it's $500 billion here, $500 billion there. We've lost all sense of perspective on this. But there is a real political - there are land mines here for Barack Obama and Democrats that try to do this, which are all those projects that will become headlines. I mean, if you didn't like the bridge to nowhere, out of a trillion dollars, you're going to have at least a half a dozen of them. And it's going to cause real problems for Democrats, who by the way if you remember, said we were the party who balanced budgets remember back in, you know, the Bill Clinton era. We were the party of fiscal responsibility. A trillion dollars?
HAYES: Well, you're already seeing this. I think one of the things that Republicans are doing effectively, maybe having learned lessons from losing these battles before is they're getting out in front of this argument. So you know, recently I got an e-mail from Jeff Flake's office, the Congressman from Arizona, laying out several of these projects -- $6 million for a splish-splash water park in Miami, $180,000 for restrooms in a zoo in Pocatello, Idaho. These are the kind of things that I think will slow people up at least, make them think twice about it.
DEBOSE: I don't think people fully understand the dynamic of what we're talking about in terms of the money. This year alone, we spent a trillion dollars over the budget for this year. Barack Obama wants to spend another trillion dollars on top of the deficit we already have. That's $2 trillion in the hole, not to mention the $13 trillion in debt that is already established that we have to pay interest on.
This is untenable. I mean, we're talking about bankrupting the federal government, which can't be done, because they're just going to keep printing money and keep printing money to pay for these things until the dollar becomes worthless.
HOLMES: But is there maybe a silver lining in this is that if he -- if Democrats pass this trillion-dollar stimulus package, if you want to call it that, where's the money coming from for universal health care? What about his other domestic agenda policy items which Democrats - rather conservatives will be fighting.
BRODY: Well, let me real quick move on because I want to talk about Rick Warren, because that's been a big deal this week. And you know, we talked about Ex-lax I think earlier. I mean, this is a Pepto Bismol - no, I don't want to bring back Ex-lax, believe me. But Pepto Bismol for the liberals, I mean, they just went into - I mean, they were signing up for anger management classes after this. I mean, unbelievable. Stephen, what did you make of the Rick Warren fiasco? According to the liberals at least, it's a big fiasco?
HAYES: Yes, I really - I think it's much ado about nothing. I mean, this is a guy who as they pointed out, I mean, you know, has sold millions of books. He's incredibly popular. And he is not a conservative preacher by any stretch. I mean, he's with the left on many of their important issues. I think this is really a reaction to the loss of the marriage amendment in California and to an overreaction to that law.
BRODY: Let's hear Barack Obama real quick speak about this. He addressed it at a press conference this week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: We're not going to agree on every single issue, but what we have to do is to be able to create an atmosphere when we -- where we can disagree without being disagreeable and then focus on those things that we hold in common as Americans.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRODY: OK, so Brian, let me get this straight. The liberals preach tolerance. And here is Rick Warren and Joseph Lowry, who's going to give the benediction. Hello. I mean, there's tolerance right there for you.
DEBOSE: I couldn't believe what I heard before he came on here. And I still can't -- and the notion that they're calling Rick Warren a leader of conservatives religious right movement is outrageous. He's always been a fringe figure. He's always been sort of outside of any group. And he's apolitical. And then, you know, you get to the point where which preacher would you rather have put up there to give the invocation? I mean...
HOLMES: Jeremiah Wright.
DEBOSE: I don't understand...
HAYES: You know, you weren't allowed to criticize him on Jeremiah Wright and his 20-year association with Jeremiah Wright because that was bigoted. But his, you know, very quick association with Rick Warren, asking him to give a prayer somehow...
HAYES: ...tells us everything we need to know about Barack Obama?
HOLMES: But even if we actually - even if you look at that sound byte where Barack Obama says, you know, he and I disagree on certain issues, on the central issue that these critics are criticizing him for, he actually agrees with Rick Warren. He opposes gay marriage. He's for civil unions. And he even said in a debate that the reason that he opposes gay marriage is based on religion.
HOLMES: If you had heard that come out of a Republican's mouth that he's going to set policy based on religion...
DEBOSE: It's almost...
HOLMES: ...I mean, he would be dragged off the stage.
DEBOSE: It's almost as if they have just come up with some idea that maybe we can ignore what he said before and that really wasn't him. He was just trying to win the election. But now he's proven it to us. HOLMES: But isn't this really an effort, though, to say that the position that California has took on Prop 8 is somehow extreme when, in fact, 30 states have a, you know, marriage amendments to fighting marriage between a man and a woman?
BRODY: Well, there seems like, you know, that seems to be the nerve ending here on all of this. But you know, to quote the philosopher Rodney King from the L.A. riots, can't we all just get along? You know, that's what Barack Obama is pretty much saying here.
All right, when we come back, how will history view the Bush legacy? Boy, we could talk about 45 minutes on that one, longer.
BRODY: All right, welcome back to THE AFTER PARTY. I'm David Brody at the Christian Broadcasting Network. We are under the watchful and I would guess critical eyes of progressive friends over there.
But I'm joined now by the top three conservatives we have here: Amy Holmes, Brian Debose, and Stephen Hayes.
Stephen, let me ask you about Caroline Kennedy, because I mean, this is, I mean, talk about we got nepotism possibly, we've got royalty, American royalty. I mean, you know, if she's ever the senator of New York, I would think they would introduce her as her royal highness or something. I mean, what -- before I get to you real quick, let me play -- I'm worked up over this thing. Goodness gracious. I got to take medication. Look. Let's play a clip of Kerry Kennedy real quick, her first cousin.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KERRY KENNEDY, CAROLINE KENNEDY'S COUSIN: One position that's severely underrepresented is that of a mother. And Caroline is primarily a mother. And she cares about kids. She brings those experiences to the Senate that only a mother can bring. And I think that's important as well.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRODY: See, she's a mother.
HAYES: The intrigue around this whole selection is fantastic because you have these three... BRODY: It's so cut and dry.
HAYES: ...prominent Democratic clans. You have the Clintons on the one hand. And there was talk earlier this week that Hillary Clinton did not want Carolyn Kennedy to get the seat. And then she quietly, I guess, told her supporters not to block it. Then you have the Cuomos on the one hand, and there is inner marriage between Kerry Kennedy, formerly Kerry Kennedy Cuomo and Andrew Cuomo, who's another potential candidate for the seat. And then, you know, it keeps expanding out.
But I think the bottom line for me is that David Paterson would be crazy not to appoint Caroline Kennedy to the seat.
BRODY: Not to - so you guys -- do we agree that she's going to get the seat?
HOLMES: Politically, yes. But let's face it, if we were talking about Caroline Schlossberg, this conversation would be absurd. We wouldn't be saying her qualification that she's a mother. Sarah Palin had five kids. And the very first day that she was announced the media said, well, could she serve as the mother of five? I mean, this might even be irresponsible of her.
BRODY: But she's not a Kennedy.
HOLMES: But I think it's fascinating that the, you know, the party of the people has turned into the House of Lords, where we have these like inheritance seats. We need to keep a Kennedy in the United States Senate.
DEBOSE: But the Senate is modeled after the House of Lords. It's always been modeled after the House of Lords.
HOLMES: But elected...
DEBOSE: But you know, not really. You've got a Prescott Bush, Herbert Walker Bush and then George Bush goes to the White House. You got a Kennedy, a Kennedy. I can -- Dodd and Dodd.
HOLMES: Biden and soon to be new Biden.
DEBOSE: Biden and soon to be new Biden. I mean, you know, there's just so many positions that are inherited through family relations in the Senate.
HOLMES: Didn't liberals attack George Bush for this (INAUDIBLE) and drive in 2000 that he was, you know, the inheritance cabinet?
DEBOSE: It's in there. It's hypocrisy to say that that is not what the Senate is about.
HAYES: But let's just talk about that is for New York. I mean, if you have -- if you're David Paterson, you have an opportunity to pick somebody who's served as a consultant to the president.
HAYES: To pick the vice president, would you not dream of that access for a junior senator? I mean, it would be crazy not to pick her.
HOLMES: But isn't it troubling though that you know, I'm even hearing Democrats say he should pick her because she would be such a powerful fundraiser for him? Isn't this what Blagojevich is getting in trouble for? That he's, you know, appointing someone because that person couldn't raise money for him.
(CROSSTALK) BRODY: All right, let's move on to President Bush real quick. His legacy. He's on the magical mystery tour now or whatever he's doing. And did you get a sense, Steve, what is this going to be like exactly for George Bush? How will he be remembered? Is this going to be a Harry Truman type situation where he was not looked upon all great coming out of office, but maybe give it 10, 15, 50, 75 years?
HAYES: Well, I think that's their hope, but they're certainly not taking any chances. So I think the Bush administration and his top advisors have been working now for more than six months to help shape this legacy. They've been working on this thing called the Bush legacy project, where they've been meeting regularly, talking about the kinds of things that they want to highlight to the country as he's on his way out.
I mean, I think, you know, it was easy to listen to the progressives sort of downplay the fact that we haven't been attacked since 9/11. But if you look back at the public opinion polls taken at the time, you know, some 80% of Americans thought we'd not only be attacked again, but we'd be subject to a major catastrophic attack. It's a big deal. And it's because of his policies that we haven't been attacked yet.
BRODY: This administration is taking some major hits over water boarding and torture, especially Dick Cheney. Let me play a clip of Dick Cheney this week on ABC.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In hindsight, do you think any of those tactics that were used against Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and others went too far?
DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE And on KSM, one of those tactics of course why they're reported as water boarding, and that seems to be a tactic we no longer use, even that you think was appropriate?
CHENEY: I do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRODY: Any problem with this for the administration?
HOLMES: With one month to go, not very much. But - and when you look at Gitmo, I mean, even "The New York Times" just a few weeks ago said well, letting them out, that's going to be a little tricky. Do we want to throw them into our federal court system where they can maybe use it against us? Rendition is difficult because these countries actually don't want these guys. These are actual real terrorists that are down there. And we don't have any easy answers. And all of a sudden, "The New York Times" figured that out now that Barack Obama's going to be the commander in chief.
DEBOSE: Exactly. That has been the argument altogether. The only problem I have with some of the messaging that has come out with respect to Dick Cheney is trying to defend the morality of torture and other things that went on versus the legality. You can defend the legality. Morally, that is something totally different. And I don't like the merger of the two things. That's the only thing that's really been problematic.
BRODY: All right, less than a minute. Holiday gift time. It's Christmas. Please, give something to President Bush or the Obama administration. Steve, let's start with you. What do you have for - do you have anything for Obama or Bush this holiday season?
HAYES: Well, I'm feeling generous. So I think I will give Barack Obama an easy button like we've seen in those ads, because he seems unwilling to make the hard decisions. He did it in the state senate career. And we seem to be seeing the same thing in his press conferences.
And for George W. Bush, I think I'd give him a PT Cruiser, because it's likely to be the only thing he gets back from this bailout.
BRODY: Very nice. Amy Holmes?
HOLMES: Well, Nico, he had my idea, which is to give George Bush a couple extra approval points. I mean, it couldn't be any worse. Barack Obama, maybe a magic wand. I wouldn't wish these problems on anyone. And actually for the sake of America, I want him to succeed because if he's a successful president in tackling these crises or these issues, that just makes all of us stronger.
DEBOSE: I think I'd give George Bush just a little bit of the yellow cake uranium they actually found in Iraq that no one seems to be talking about for some reason.
BRODY: What would he do with it?
DEBOSE: Well, he could just -- I'll just write in "I told you so". And they can show it to him. Barack Obama, every new leader deserves a copy of Machiavelli's "The Prince". That's what I'd...
BRODY: Very nice. I've got a calendar to give to George Bush of the top like 12 conservative blunders. Like Harriet Myers would be a nice picture of her. You know, the Dubai ports deal. That'd be on the calendar, you know. Maybe the...
HOLMES: Do you want to taunt him?
BRODY: What's that? Why not? Just give it to him to shoe costs...
HAYES: Not very Santa like.
BRODY: You know, it'd be like this or something like that.
Guys, thanks. Brian, Stephen, Amy, stick around because Amy is back for a last call when we come back. Donna and Nico are going to join us for that. And I hear their footsteps. Every week, I hear their footsteps.
BRAZILE: Merry Christmas conservatives!
BRODY: Oh, wow, look at that!
BRAZILE: I'm generous.
BRODY: Any weapons of mass discretion in that?
BRAZILE: It's last call here on THE AFTER PARTY. I'm CNN contributor Donna Brazile with Nico Pitney of the Huffington Post.
BRODY: And I'm David Brody with independent conservative Amy Holmes. Nico, let me start with you. You are in the position here of defending President Bush. What do you know? I mean, come on, isn't this going to be somewhat of a waste of money, if these companies don't get it together by March 31st? You really think they're going to get it together?
PITNEY: If we were, you know, we're on the verge of a messy bankruptcy. And if that were to take place, then your question would look crazy. I mean, we'd say, of course, why didn't this happen? How could he have, you know, dropped the ball? So no, I don't think it's a waste of money at all. And I think President-elect Obama, his stimulus package will pick up. I know it's only three months, but it'll pick up where President Bush's proposal left off.
BRAZILE: Amy, this is a loan to the future for the auto companies to keep running their engines. Why are conservatives so heartless and not supporting the president?
HOLMES: Well you know, we are not Alice in Wonderland. Conservatives love Obama for his foreign policy and Democrats love Bush now for his domestic labor policy. I think what conservatives are saying, and certainly how I feel about it, is what is -- what's wrong with a bankruptcy if that gets their house in order? What has been bogging down these auto industries are these what was it over 2,000-page contracts with the United Autoworkers. And they haven't been able to be efficient. And that the companies that are doing well in this country...
BRAZILE: Don't you think the auto workers have made a lot of concessions?
HOLMES: ...are unionized.
BRAZILE: They've given back their benefits.
HOLMES: They said that they weren't willing to go back into those contracts. They rejected Senator Corker's, you know, compromise to be able to address this without going into bankruptcy.
BRAZILE: Senator Corker, who supports giving tax credits for foreign companies to come into the states who are not helping local workers? HOLMES: (INAUDIBLE) also in Tennessee as well.
BRODY: But Nico, don't you think the UAW, I mean, they're not going to budge much here really. They're going to have to budge. They're going to have to do something.
PITNEY: They have...
BRODY: Yes, I know they said they have budged, but they're going to have to, on the wage issue especially.
PITNEY: You know, let me talk about that wage issue. There is a zombie lie, you know, a lie that will not quit. And that is that workers are making $75 an hour, that that's the average wage. It is simply not true. And you know, as Jamal said earlier, you've got to be paying these middle class workers if you expect them to, you know, put money back into the economy, make the next generation better off.
HOLMES: But I could make the best cupcakes on the block. But if I -- if they cost me $2 a cupcake and I sell them for $1.95, I'm going to lose money. Everybody knows this. It's very straightforward. The auto industry obviously needs to cut costs. That $78, that's not their wage, that's their cost.
PITNEY: And they've got to make a better product.
HOLMES: They have to make a better product...
PITNEY: And Democrats are completely...
HOLMES: And what we're also ignoring...
BRAZILE: (INAUDIBLE) costs are rising when the price of fuel and food, of course, rising.
HOLMES: Fuel is going down.
BRAZILE: What's wrong -- well, that's in some -- some people locked in those high prices. But what's wrong with workers making enough money to get by and to, you know, meet their obligations?
HOLMES: You do have workers who are doing that in non-unionized auto plants. And they are getting by. I think what we're talking about is do we want these workers to have this gold-plated rich deal that is driving the industry into the ground?
PITNEY: Oh, come on. I mean..
BRAZILE: Who's going to deliver the mail? Who's going to, you know, pick up the garbage, if we get rid of workers in this country?
HOLMES: We're not getting rid of workers. What we're doing is that we are reforming the auto industry so they can be competitive and effective and keep these people in their jobs.
BRAZILE: All right, it's time to move on. BRODY: You don't want to move on.
BRAZILE: No, let's pray.
BRODY: Let's do that. Let's bring in Rick Warren.
BRAZILE: Do you think Rick Warren will use his opportunity to really make amends with the gay and lesbian community for his support of Proposition 8?
HOLMES: You know, I think, Nico, you mentioned during the break that he's only going to have two and a half minutes. This is an Inauguration.
BRAZILE: That's a long time. If you start slow, ride fast.
HOLMES: I mean, I don't think this is going to be his opportunity to be, you know, railing on about social policy. This is to inaugurate the United States president. I actually think Barack Obama choosing him was interesting. And I think the left is probably, I think they're squealing a little too loud about this. It's symbolic, but when it comes to the agenda, do we really think Barack Obama is going to become all of a sudden a pro-life...
BRAZILE: Is it just the left because I read on your blog that some pro-lifers are worried as well.
BRODY: Yes, of course, I mean, there pro-life Christians out there who are really - they're ripping Rick Warren, but that should be a signal to liberals to say you know what. Rick Warren isn't this, you know, crazy, religious right guy that's trumping the life issue and marriage issue constantly. As a matter of fact, he's taken hits from James Dobson and others, because of exactly that, that he hasn't gone and talked about the life issue and the marriage issue as much as. So I mean, he's kind of looked upon, Nico, a little bit as a moderate within evangelical circles.
PITNEY: Sure, I understand that. That said, he's asked can you name an issue where you disagree with Dobson? He can't give an answer. He's, you know, compared gay marriage to incest. I mean, I think there are perfectly good reasons for people to be upset about the choice.
But that said, you know, it is a short invocation. And I think policy matters. And here's why the paranoia is justified. President Clinton, great on a lot of issues, but the two big planks of his agenda that affected gay Americans, you know, don't ask, don't tell and the defense of marriage act, they were not on the...
BRAZILE: Aretha Franklin has a great hit out "Say a Little Prayer. Aretha Franklin. She has a great hit out, "Say a Little Prayer for You." Maybe she'll say a prayer for everybody when she gets up to sing.
BRAZILE: Oh, look at you, little soul man here.
BRODY: You don't want me to dance. All right, guys, thanks to obviously our great panelists. Donna and I back for a final comment in just a moment here on THE AFTER PARTY. Cue that music. I love that music.
BRODY: All right, everybody, back on THE AFTER PARTY. Donna Brazile, what do you want for Christmas? You've got a list. I know you do. You must have a list.
BRAZILE: Well, of course, I want world peace, human rights for all, the end to the genocide in Darfur. I also would like to see women respected all over the world and health care here at home for all Americans, including those children without health insurance. And of course, hmm, we have a black president, but I would love to have those 40 acres and a mule promised to my great grandparents from Abraham Lincoln.
BRODY: Very nice. That's a huge list, by the way. All right, here's mine. My 6-year-old wants that hot Rod Blagojevich doll, which has got to be selling at Toys R Us, I would hope, the AFTER PARTY soundtrack. Yes, you're going to jam to that. I'll jam to it. You don't want to see that, though. And then the pro-life and pro-choice. You know, I'm sick of the demonization on both sides. So let's just get that over with.
BRAZILE: I'll buy that. Thanks for joining us. Happy holidays, everyone.