Panel on the Future of Bipartisanship

Panel on the Future of Bipartisanship

FOX News Special Report With Brit Hume - November 5, 2008


REP. NANCY PELOSI, (D-CA) SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: This president goes into office with more expectations than any president I can ever remember in my lifetime.

GEORGE BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I told the president-elect he can count on complete cooperation from my administration as he makes the transition to the White House.


HUME: Some thoughts on all this now from Fred Barnes, Executive Editor of "The Weekly Standard," Mort Kondracke, Executive Editor of "Roll Call," Juan Williams, Senior Correspondent of National Public Radio, and the syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer, FOX News contributors all.

Well, the president-elect has made one selection at least of the man whom he would like to be the White House chief of staff, a very big and important job, and that is the person of Rahm Emanuel, known to all of us as a former Clinton White House aide who rose to power in the Democratic leadership in Congress first by running very successfully the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee which delivered the House to the Democrats two years ago.

And since then he has continued to be a member of the leadership. He is regarded, I think it's fair to say, as smart and tough and seasoned, and, Fred Barnes, what else?

FRED BARNES, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, "THE WEEKLY STANDARD": Well, not bipartisan, that's for sure. I talked to a lot of Republicans. They didn't take this as a gesture of bipartisanship or an olive branch from president-elect Obama to them.

And then, of course, the legislative liaison that has been picked by Obama is someone who works for Henry Waxman, now, the extremely partisan and also very smart Democratic congressman from Los Angeles.

So if bipartisanship, if bringing the parties together and ending polarization is the top thing, that didn't reflect it.

But there are still things that they can--look, Obama is going to get a honeymoon. And what Republicans are saying is, OK, we'll give him a honeymoon, but we have some issues that I think Democrats are interested in as well. Let's do those first. Let's do energy.

There will be a stimulus package. If you want to get together on, then Democrats will have to have tax cuts as well as just spending on a whole lot of things.

HUME: --ram it through with no--

BARNES: They do have the votes there.

HUME: Easily. They had it before.

BARNES: If you had seen Nancy Pelosi today, you would have thought that all she was ever interested are in being in Congress is bipartisanship. She said the word "bipartisan" over and over again, governed from the middle.

These are things she has never done before, but now's the chance.

HUME: Back to Emanuel, Mort. He was a member of the Clinton White House. Bill Clinton had, in those days, at least, a centrist agenda.


HUME: I understand, but he had a more centrist agenda than Barack Obama ran on.

KONDRACKE: Rahm Emanuel is, ideologically speaking, a centrist. He has fought the left wing of the party, and he was the guy who recruited all of these Democrats to run in conservative Republican districts and win. That's how they got the majority in 2006, because he said you got to let these people vote their districts some of the time.

So he's not an ideologue, but he is a savage, ruthless partisan. And the whole idea that Barack Obama says we have to resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long, and then Rahm Emanuel? He is not exactly a bridge builder.

JUAN WILLIAMS, SENIOR CORRESPONDENT, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: The reason Rahm Emanuel was picked is because Rahm Emanuel is the guy you bring in to make sure all the clocks and trains are running on time.

And what's the reality? We're dealing with a guy who's been in the Senate for two years, who doesn't know how to make the deals in Washington, and he needs somebody like this who can come in and whip everybody into shape.

Rahm Emanuel is very close to Nancy Pelosi. So what you've got here is an instant bridge to Democrats on Capitol Hill.

Obama's fearful, in fact, that the pressures will come from the left and come from people like Pelosi, Hillary Clinton, and the like. And so here is his opportunity now to build bridges to the left and maybe give him some slack so he can do some of the bipartisan work.

Now that's putting the kindest light on this, but that's the hope.

Let me just say that there's also two other lines of criticism I heard today. One is Chicago is now running the world because Emanuel, as you know, is another Chicago man and close to Richard Daley. And so all of a sudden it looks like that.

And the other one is the black caucus thing--well, gee, we thought that was the kind of job that might have gone to a prominent black politician.

So I think that's an indication of the kind of pressures that exist already on the new president.

HUME: Already, right.


CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: I will give you a kinder interpretation, that when a guy wins with 350 electoral votes, sweeps in with large majorities in the House and Senate, and he talks about reaching across the aisle, you don't believe him. There is no reason to.

In making his calculations to who is going to be in his White House, he is not thinking about the feathers of Republicans ruffled or not. It is about, a, as you said, protecting his back against either ideologues in his party, left-wing ideologues, or just against the rough and tumble inside stuff he doesn't know about.

So this is all about him. He will talk about governing in the center, but he doesn't have to. He will decide which way he is going to govern, what policies he will choose entirely on the basis of what he thinks will advance his status, advance his party, and get him reelected in four years.

This is a man who was elected on essentially no idea. Reagan was elected on a set of ideas. He was elected entirely on his persona, which means with the majority he has and with the sort of undefined nature of his own ideology, he can do anything he wants.

KONDRACKE: I disagree on that point. I think he was elected on the basis of some ideas, which is to say everything that George Bush is against, or was in favor of, he's against.

George Bush is a supply-sider. He's a Keynesian. He believes on building the economy from the bottom up. It is a reversion to traditional Democratic principles. There is idea content there.

KRAUTHAMMER: He ran on tax cuts. That's a Reagan idea.

KONDRACKE: But you know the tax cuts are actually checks.

BARNES: Here are the test whether they are really interested in any bipartisanship, and the issue is card check, the one that would allow unions to organize without having a secret ballot election by workers ahead of time.

And if they bring that up early on, they know that will drive Republicans crazy, the business community crazy. It is a divisive, polarizing issue. If they bring it up quickly, it will show you where they're going.

HUME: Also publicly unpopular.

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