THE CHENEY INTERVIEW

THE CHENEY INTERVIEW

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs generated some criticism when he was a bit glib when questioned about former Vice President Dick Cheney's interview with CNN's John King. He drew laughs when mentioning Rush Limbaugh and Cheney as the least popular members of the "Republican cabal".

At least one correspondent, and also Pat Buchanan, felt that Gibbs was not showing proper respect for a former vice president. Gibbs seemed to acknowledge this point but I wish that he would have responded that he would have been more respectful if the Vice President had shown more respect for the facts and the truth.

Today, Adrianna Huffington had a great column on the Cheney interview. She illustrated how much more informative it would have been had Jon Stewart conducted the interview. Stewart would have confronted Cheney on the spot when he made spurious claims and accusations.

It should also be pointed out that Cheney showed no respect for the tradition under which former Presidents and Vice Presidents refrained from criticism of their successors. By contrast, Cheney went so far as to accuse President Obama of placing our country in more risk of terrorist attacks.

homer   www.altara.blogspot.com

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MyDD Interview with Nancy Pelosi

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On Wednesday morning, January 21, I had the opportunity to sit down with the Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi to talk about Barack Obama's inauguration, as well as the outlook for the 111th Congress.

The Speaker evinced a real understanding and vision for what needs to be done in the next two years. At the same time, she showed deference to and respect for President Obama, whom she was still clearly excited to have seen be sworn into office the day before, asking us to "let him lead," and to "make judgments at the end of a Congress, at the end of a term, but not on the day today."

During our conversation in her office in the Capitol, the Speaker expressed an amazement at what she called the "eloquence" of the crowd at the inauguration, while also making clear a determination to find out why a small, yet significant portion of those ticketed for the event were unfortunately unable to get in. We covered a wide range of issues, from the recovery package to healthcare to immigration to tax policy - which she indicated would be better approached holistically than in a piecemeal manner, perhaps indicating a desire for tax reform.

You can listen to the interview below, download it as an mp3, or read the rush transcript.

Jonathan Singer: How did you feel, both as the first inauguration of your speakership as well as just this historic moment in general?

Nancy Pelosi: We all knew it would be an emotional moment to see the first African-American sworn in as President of the United States. We all knew it would be great because of who he is and what a powerful intellect he has and [his] great vision for America.

It was pretty exciting, though, to see the crowd. He was eloquent, but the eloquence of that many people turning out in that low temperature and the attention that they paid... it was just sensational.

I loved the speech. It was really a document of vision and values for our country, commitment and courage to tell it the way it was. "These are our challenges."

Singer:"The era of responsibility" really stuck out to me. We can have times where we shirk our responsibilities, but this isn't that time.

Pelosi: It's a crisis. Shirking responsibility is a luxury we can rarely ever afford, but certainly not now.


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MyDD Interview with Tim Daly

I wrote a little earlier about SEIU's popular media organizing program, reaching out to progressives within the performing arts -- actors, musicians, writers, etc. -- to harness the great talent available to help forward a progressive agenda. Part of this effort includes the Guess Who's Knocking initiative through which SEIU brings these artists out to knock on doors and meet with actual voters on a one-on-one basis. As I explained on Sunday, "The program is a great way to get organizers even more motivated to knock on doors, and it also is a great way to spread a message quickly in a non-traditional way (voters might call some of their friends to let them know Daly or someone else came by their door to ask for their vote)."

On Sunday, Josh and I had the chance to sit down and speak with actor Tim Daly of "Wings" and "Private Practice" fame, who came out to Nevada to canvas door-to-door. I have cut down the conversation from about 35 minutes to about five minutes, and you can listen to it below.

Josh and I are up in Las Vegas through election day blogging about the campaign, and our coverage has graciously been sponsored by SEIU.

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MyDD Interview with Mark Begich

At the Netroots Nation conference last week down in Austin, I had the chance to catch up with Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich, a Democratic Senate candidate in the state of Alaska and a key member of the MyDD Road to 60 Act Blue page.

You should be able to listen to the audio of the interview below in the not too distant future (apparently it's still formatting), but for now please do read the rush transcript of the interview in which Begich lays out a number of the themes of his campaign and presents a strong case as to why members of the MyDD community, and the netroots more broadly, should be supporting his campaign.


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Jonathan Singer: In 2004 Tony Knowles was able to get 45, 46 percent of the vote. You're consistently polling ahead, but kind of in the mid- to high-40s. How do you get from the mid- to high-40s to the plurality that takes home the day?

Mark Begich: I think that there's a couple things. First, the dynamics between '04 and now are way different in Alaska, and there's a couple elements, first the campaign dynamics and then as means of candidates there's a different dynamic.

First, the campaign dynamics. In '04 our delegation was in the majority. Senator Stevens was the Appropriations chair. Lisa Murkowski had two years already there. She was a woman candidate, which cut right into Tony's base. The other piece was the in the last two weeks Ted Stevens came out with an ad for Lisa Murkowski and said, "If you abandon us, Alaska will lose out. You can't break the team up. We're there, we're bringing back the bacon." Those were the days when people loved bacon and they also had no problems with the delegation in the sense of some of the issues they're dealing with today.

The other thing is Bush was still popular back then, not like he is today, so it was a very red state. And the other piece was there was a third candidate, independent candidate, that kind of appeared out of nowhere. Actually dressed very similar to Tony Knowles, talked like Tony Knowles. Showed up, spent about $175,000, $200,000 towards the end of the campaign. When the campaign was over he vanished. And he picked up 3 ½, 4 percent of the vote, built it right out of the back, I believe, of Tony Knowles.

This cycle it's different - the campaign, all it's dynamics. The delegation is no longer in the majority on either side. Stevens has lost his powerful position. Earmarks are in trouble all across this country. His ability to bring back stuff is harder. It's four years later. The President is at the lowest ratings ever. The dynamics of the country have switched, too, and Alaska has switched.

And the independent candidate who's in this time is a right to lifer, Buchanan delegate, and loves to brag about it. We always put our thumb up and say, "keep going." So it's a different dynamic than what played last time.

Singer: And in the view of some on the right, Stevens is conservative on life but not 10,000 percent conservative?

Begich: Right, right. And this guy can peel right off his back. And because he comes from an area called Nakiski, which is a very conservative area which Republicans treat as a guarantee - here's you're delivery of the votes, not a lot, but it's a delivery - this guy is from there and he is a proud hard right to right. So he will not take one vote from me where Tony had that problem with that other candidate.

The other thing that's different, Stevens and Don Young are both under a cloud of investigation and other activities. That's all swirling around. Stevens popularity back then was 70 percent positive, 12 percent negative, so he was very popular. Today, I don't know what the latest...

Matt Browner-Hamlin (staffer): His negatives were in the 60s. That's the furthest we've seen it.

Begich: Yeah, they were deep. His reelect number when we did a poll three months ago was 31 percent. He's never been in that position.

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McAuliffe to MyDD: I'll Work As Hard for Obama as I Did for Clinton

This afternoon I had the chance to ask Clinton Campaign chair Terry McAuliffe if he had any message for the MyDD community. Here's what he had to say on the day's event, as well as moving forward through the rest of the 2008 cycle:


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Jonathan Singer: At MyDD, there are a lot of Clinton supporters on the site. Online, a lot of Clinton supporters. What do you say to them today? What is Terry McAuliffe's message today?

Terry McAuliffe: First of all they should be very proud. Hillary got 18 million votes. She raised all the issues, made healthcare the preeminent issue here domestically.

They all worked hard. They ought to be proud of what they accomplished. We came very close. It was one of the closest elections of all time. It's no fun losing. But you know what, they ought to be proud.

As Hillary said here, she's made it easier now for a woman to run for President. People aren't going to question, can a woman be President, can she be commander in chief, is she tough enough to deal with the defense issues. Those issues have gone away. So a lot was accomplished in this campaign. That's what you should take away from it.

Singer: So you're finally going to get to take some time off. After that, will you be raising money to pay off the debt? Also, will you be raising money for the Obama campaign? Have you, personally, talked about your role going forward in helping out?

McAuliffe: No. I've told all of the donors this week that we need to 100 percent get behind Senator Obama. We're going to do several events for Senator Obama. I had to get through today's activities and deal with all that.

We're going to do whatever it takes. Listen, I'm a party man. I've been with this party for 30 years, for the last 15 years working as a pretty much full time volunteer. So we have to win this White House, so I'm going to work as hard as I worked for Hillary  for Senator Obama.

Singer: Couple last questions, specifically on the party. Barack Obama decided to leave Howard Dean as chairman of the party for the duration of the campaign. What are your thoughts on that? Is that something you're in favor of or don't really have an opinion one way or the other on?

McAuliffe: First of all, no chairman has ever been removed, so I'm not sure why people even raised that as an issue. The chair of the party is elected by the DNC membership. It has nothing to do with the nominee of the party. So the terminology I thought was a little weird. It's not up to anybody to keep him. Howard got elected, and he's there until February 2009. So, no chairman has ever left when a new nominee has come in. So he's there working hard, and he's going to help us win top to bottom.

Singer: As someone who was there for the last five months of a presidential campaign the last time around.

McAuliffe: Five months? Four years.

Singer: But I mean the last sprint as chairman of the party.

McAuliffe: Yeah, yeah, okay.

Singer: What advice would you give him for this last sprint?

McAuliffe: Well, the calendar that I worked on very hard as you know for '04, we had a nominee by March 10, John was the nominee on March 10th. And then on March 25 in this building, which is a little bit historic, I held a unity dinner here, which was great. We had all candidates who ran. We had President Clinton, Vice President Gore, former President Carter came in -- first DNC event he had been to since he had left office, believe it or not -- right here in this building. It was jammed. I don't know, we raised like $20 million.

So the key now for Howard, obviously, unifying the party, raising money, you know, just getting everybody ready to go, being out there on TV, making sure everybody understands what a horrible President George Bush has been. You know I was George Bush's biggest antagonist. They don't like me over in the Bush family, but that's alright. And you know what I said from day one, turned out to be right, he's the worst President we've ever had. It's unfortunate for the sake of this country.

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