Setting The Week in Politics: Huntsman, Perry, Obama and More

Monday, August 22, 2011

Welcome to Politics Bites, where every afternoon at It's A Free Country, we bring you the unmissable quotes from the morning's political conversations on WNYC. Today on The Brian Lehrer Show, Melinda Henneberger, contributing editor to, discussed the battle lines being drawn within the GOP and other news of the week.

Why Huntsman's in the headlines

Jon Huntsman runs to the left of every other Republican presidential candidate. After this weekend, it appears he has a new campaign strategy: owning that position.

Months into the race and way behind in the polls, the former Governor of Utah and Ambassador to China tweeted his belief in evolution and global warming, then went on a Sunday morning talk show to call his opponents—frontrunners like Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann—unelectable. A shot at the headlines? Sure. But Melinda Henneberger welcomed Huntsman's edge, saying it could give the Republican party something to think about as they look beyond the primaries.

He's starting to have fun with it, and when you're at 2.2 percent in the polls, you can do that...He's making the case that if his party wants to have a real shot at winning in the fall, you can't go with Michele Bachmann, you can't go with Rick Perry.

Was Rick Perry serious about Ben Bernanke?

Where Huntsman took his time, Rick Perry wasted none. Only a week into his campaign, Perry has packed the headlines; he already has what Henneberger calls a "greatest hits" of statements from the stump. Most inflammatory was Perry's comment that Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke may be guilty of treason for what Perry believes is damaging fiscal policy.

How serious was he? Brian Lehrer wondered if Perry was simply attempting an analogy to show how much he disagreed with Bernanke, but Henneberger reminded him that Perry's made similar comments about Barack Obama. She worried it would be the trope for his campaign.

When you walk up to the line on all these things...I personally don't like to hear anyone from any side questioning other people's motives for their policies, and I don't think it's particularly helpful to stir up this who-loves-their-country-who-doesn't.

Hoping for change from Obama

Swagger is in abundance for the Republican field, but it's been seriously lacking in the White House. Henneberger said there's been some truth to the claims that President Obama has been "leading from behind," offering Americans more commiseration to than comfort.

He seems in all his recent, many speeches like one more frustrated American who can't get anybody from Congress on the line. He kept giving these listless statements about, 'Everybody call Congress, let them know they have to do something,' as if he weren't a player in it.

Henneberger hoped that the President's post-debt-deal vacation would refresh him, and that he'd return to work with new ideas. "He better come back with some energy and some new thinking on this," she said.


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Comments [11]

NO NEW TEXAS ! from a pledge for the rest of us.

Consider how much of a mess has come from Texas - bank failures, Enron, GWBush.

Consider the number of harmful Republican extremists from Texas who distort US government policy.

Consider the fundamentalists from Texas
who also distort policy and try to silence
science- while advocating more prisons and less help for society's most vulnerable

Consider the massive amount of Federal money that comes FROM the Northeast and California and GOES TO place like Texas while they whine about the evils
of government.

Maybe its time for a new pledge :


Aug. 22 2011 03:19 PM
Stephan from Queens NY

WTF does the American people want? We need Jobs but we don’t want the Gov. to hire because we don’t want more public employee. Yet we don’t see the private companies stepping up and add employees to their payroll, yet every day the news state that these corporations are sitting on loads of cash. The American corporate way was to have debt on the books; suddenly they are cautious about debt, give me a break. They just want to drive this country into the ground and make sure Obama don’t get into office next time. Most people still think he should not be leading this country. He will not because they keep saying that he is not a leader. I think that’s the default thing that is said about any black man that takes a position that was normally occupied by whites. Even in sports they can’t QB most football team and not able to site in the left seat of commercial aircraft. I do agree with Melinda, the president just keep repeating his message over and over. Doesn’t he realize Americans don’t want to learn from their mistakes, they feel they don’t make mistake s, so how will they learn and make the future better?

Aug. 22 2011 11:17 AM
amalgam from NYC by day, NJ by night

Just one point of fact on the Fed that seemed to escape Perry, regardless of his position:

Perry made the link between Bernanke and the Fed's decision-making and the Obama admin., suggesting that the admin. essentially dictates what happens at the Fed. The Fed is an independent central bank, not a part of the Cabinet or of the Treasury Dept., etc. They make their own decisions. Period. (And more often than in years previous, there is debate and dissension.)

Aug. 22 2011 10:26 AM
The Truth from Becky

The current sitting President has the right to campaign for re-election! Stop behaving as if he is doing something unexpected. bush campaigned and tricked you weirdo's into a re-election.

Aug. 22 2011 10:24 AM

As for the last caller, the one about more easy money just setting up a bigger bust, saying that about our current situation is nothing but economic illiteracy. No matter other people believe that, it does not make the economic reasoning any more sound.

Aug. 22 2011 10:23 AM
Camille Mazurek from Park Slope, Brooklyn

Whenever a politician (or anyone) claims something is unconstitutional he/she should be made to site the paragraph or sentence that he/she feels proves it.

Aug. 22 2011 10:21 AM
Jay F.

So snarky... Can't stand your guest laughing at her little jabs. Get some real commentary please.

Aug. 22 2011 10:20 AM
Chris from Brooklyn

RE: Pataki as a do-nothing

Obama's Presidency has been comprised of little action (on account of an obstructionist Congress) and little calling-out of the immaturity or attempt to rouse the people. The last thing we need now is another do-nothing.

Aug. 22 2011 10:19 AM
Dorothy from Manhattan

Pataki bumper sticker:
At least he's not crazy.

Aug. 22 2011 10:19 AM
The Truth from Becky

I love both yours Brian and Melinda's sneaky little jabs about eloquent speaking. We are not all stupid, we hear the sarcasm in that comment.

Aug. 22 2011 10:17 AM
Paul from New York, NY

"Almost treasonous" if he does print money. Not treason based on his past policy, but if he does start to print more money. Both concepts may be ill advised, but please try to refrain from spinning the truth to suit your platform.

Aug. 22 2011 10:10 AM

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