Grading Gregory is a weekly column highlighting one of Meet the Press’s headline interviews with the best journalist in the business, David Gregory.
This week, David Gregory turns his attention towards the 2012 races, hosting chief strategist for Obama’s re-election campaign David Axelrod, and RNC Chairman Reince Priebus (yes, I had to look up the name to make sure I spelled it right)
It was a fascinating week in politics, with Herman Cain’s spectacular exit from the race, and Mitt Romney/s contentious interview with Brett Baier of all people. Gregory comes out swinging with Axelrod asking him to defend Obama against a criticism by Chris Christie among others – that Obama has been a “bystander-in-chief” and been out campaigning while the serious work is being done in Washington.
Gregory even pointed out that Obama has waited and waited and waited to implement any of the provisions of the Simpson-Bowles debt reduction plan, and has instead allow Congress to chase it’s tail over tax cuts/spending.
To his credit, Axelrod didn’t come after Christie personally, but pointed out that Obama has had to make some really difficult political decisions (including nabbing Osama, Ghaddafi, and Al-Awlaki) and managed to save the American auto industry while certain Republican candidates (read: Mitt Romney) are on record saying they would have stood idly by and watched Detroit crumble.
It was a fairly good reply, but I really wish that Axelrod would’ve just referred Gregory here.
Now, the reason that Gregory is the best in the business is because he is fair to both sides – and he begins to hammer Axelrod over some unfair remarks made by the DNC and other Democrats of accusing Romney, a family man who has served as a clergyman in the Mormon faith as having no “moral core” and accusing the Democrats of the “politics of personal destruction.”
Axelrod was able to pivot away from the moral issue and stated that:
“This is about public character…Last night Governor Romney said that the, the EPA was the president’s tool to crush the private enterprise system. When he was governor of Massachusetts he boasted that he had the toughest rules against CO2 emissions from plants, that he had the toughest rules when it comes to climate change and greenhouse gas emissions. And now it’s like that never happened. Now he’s, now he’s on the other side of it. This is the reason I suppose why he and his aides absconded with the hard drives from their computers when they left the governor’s office because they think they can just erase the past, that what you said before doesn’t matter now.”
Great rebuttal by Axelrod, but I’m going to side with Gregory on this one – it’s a bit of an overstatement to say that Romney has no moral core – and it is destructive politics.”
Gregory then turns to Reince Priebus (As Jon Stewart once said, you can’t spell “pubic rerinse” without Reince Priebus) and the interview becomes predictably dull. National Chairman of both parties are rarely entertaining characters, and always have to worry about offending any part of their party, so they rarely say anything of substance, and even though Herman Cain had just held one of the most bizarre press conferences ever in which he stated that he was opening up a new campaign headquarters, was never going to quit, and was quitting the race within a few minutes of each other. I guess he subscribes to the Palin idea that quitting means fighting (Seriously, they both said they quit in order to keep fighting harder…it makes no sense)
It only takes a minute or so For Mr. Preibus to make a connection that you are going to see over and over and over again this election season, and that is trying to equate Obama to Jimmy Carter. (full disclosure – my senior thesis was on Jimmy Carter and energy policy, and I am way too familiar with Carter to speak objectively about him). The idea is that Carter was an unpopular president that American threw out after one term, and that Obama should be the same.
Priebus states, “President Obama’s poll numbers are worse than Jimmy Carter’s poll numbers. For the first time in his presidency, he’s waking up this morning wishing that his poll numbers were as good as Jimmy Carter’s.”
Gregory again shows that his interview preparation and grasp of the issues is second to none and counters “That’s actually…out of context…because you had a spike that Carter had around the the Iran hostage issue, mostly they were lower than where President Obama is….you’re fooling the American people.”
Priebus actually manages to disregard this nugget of truth and decides to pull out the big guns and lays down a “this president has been a disaster to this country, David.”
Whoa, Reince…settle down dude, let’s get some context on that statement. Oh, actually there is none. He just simply throws that out there after mumbling through something about Obamacare. Gregory actually just blows by that statement, probably for the best. Although I must credit Gregory for getting Reince and I to agree on one thing…
MR. GREGORY: All right. How about a harder one. Do the Packers go undefeated?
MR. PRIEBUS: I think they do. They beat the Giants today. They’re, they’re going undefeated, and I think they’re going to the Super Bowl. I can’t wait.