From Christie to Wall Street, All Eyes on New York

Monday, October 03, 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, USA Today Washington bureau chief Susan Page and New York Magazine national affairs editor John Heilemann discussed the New York area's impact on national politics, from Chris Christie to the Wall Street protests.

The Right tries to elevate Chris Christie, while the Left tries to take Wall Street down a peg. Whether you're focused on economic woes or the election (or both), chances are you have eyes on the New York metropolitan area.

Wall Street as what's wrong

First, the protests. There's no doubt about their increasing influence of Occupy Wall Street over the past two weeks, as similar anti-corporate demonstrations have sprung up in other urban areas like Chicago and Los Angeles. There are, however, doubts in the mainstream as to what the protesters demand from the banks, financial institutions, and businesses they're railing against.

There was some discussion among John Heileman and Susan Page about whether language like "occupy" put the movement in danger of seeming too radical or militant for milder Americans to get behind. But both agreed that the concerns of the protesters, articulated in various forms on the street and the internet, were mostly valid and popular. Heileman said that gaining further support was contingent upon an even clearer expression of principles, and a greater focus on one problem in particular.

Wall Street is very much the locus of what is still wrong with the American economy. If this group becomes a little more nuanced, they will start to make arguments about the nexus between Wall Street money and politics, and that's where there's a real base of concern in the country. Whether the group is capable of capitalizing on it and speaking to it effectively, I don't know.

What Republicans like about Christie—and what they might hate

Meanwhile, on the other side of the Hudson River, speculation abounds about New Jersey Governor Chris Christie changing his mind and joining the race for the Republican presidential nomination.

Rumors ratcheted up last week when Christie was to give a speech at the Reagan Library in California. Christie made some surprising comments, but they weren't about a run for the White House; Christie touted his record of accomplishments through with a divided government (his state legislature is Democratic). Brian Lehrer asked John Heileman: Is "compromise" a word Republicans want to hear?

When he says compromise, what he means is, 'I beat the hell out of the Democratic legislature and they gave in to most of my demands.' That sounds a lot more appealing to people in the Republican party than the kind of compromise that someone like Jon Huntsman is putting forward.

"Compromise" isn't a four-letter word for Christie because the base likes his brand of negotiation. What the base might not appreciate, according to Susan Page, are his positions on issues like gun control or climate change—positions that play well in his region and home state, but might not withstand the party's scrutiny on the national stage.

We've seen the kind of trouble Rick Perry has gotten into for the very acceptable position he takes in Texas on immigration: It is almost disqualifying for him in these primaries, and I think Christie could face a very similar process.


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Comments [11]

FYI. Occupy Wall Street has a very accessible website, with minutes from their daily General Assembly,Video stream, etc. so why not have guests, like the speaker from the non violence site, who is up to date on the topics?

Citizen radio has a reporter there every day, and the Majority Report web/pod cast gives updates, live reports and informed analysis daily. No excuse for such ignorance from our "mainstream " salaried journalists.

Oct. 03 2011 01:07 PM
Joe B from Brooklyn

Susan Page sounded like a dimwit. Or at least just out of touch.

Thanks Amy from Manhattan for correcting the guest.

Oct. 03 2011 12:13 PM
Dr.Saul Moskowitz from Woodbury NY.

It seems to me that you are forgetting the fact that the "Tea Party"was funded by the Koch brothers and Corporations.This protest is not sponsored.This is just the beginning of the "push back" against the rich-poor divide and a dysfunctional government.The wealthy and the Corporations are put on notice that all movements started with small demonstrations that didn't stop!Hooray to the demonstrators.
Why is Obama made the scapegoat for the economy and not the Republican complete lack of cooperation and bipartinship?All the Media is guilty of this in my opinion."DUMBING DOWN" the public is an equal opportunity indictment of all our media!

Oct. 03 2011 11:41 AM

Nj taxes are now uP to double mortgage. Christie -- identify that issue (then combine municipalities)

Oct. 03 2011 11:17 AM

Chris Christie as a presidential candidate is a sick joke. He's profoundly unqualified for the job and the MSM needs to stop drooling all over him.

Oct. 03 2011 11:12 AM
George from Westchester

Those proposals offered (by the Wash.Post) seem in some way an attempt to usurp, define and direct the movemnet with and in their own terms. Kind of the idea of conquering through definition. It is not that simple to my mind.

Oct. 03 2011 10:45 AM

Can our journalist guests say something factual: the faux "populist" Tea Parties have a giant media network promoting them with generous, favorable coverage in Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. , Fox News and so on? Also, these "Tea Party" expresses get their main funding and professional staff from right wing millionaires like Koch, Coors, Mellon, and so on. please Brian, invite other nationally known journalists from the Nation or the Atlantic or Mother Jones, Rolling Stone. These guests are clueless.

Oct. 03 2011 10:27 AM
Holley from Brooklyn

It's wishful thinking (from Heileman?) to say that OWS might somehow turn into a broader movement along Tea Party lines. Yes it may have started as an insurrection with no real leader, but the Tea Party has been massively funded now by the Koch Brothers. So the "grassroots" have major $$$ most of which is well under the radar of the public (and the mainstream media).

Oct. 03 2011 10:27 AM

"It's REVOLUTIONARY" Susan Page whines about the statements in the Occupied Wall St paper, her fear of actual public reaction to repeated outrage palpable. She's a child...unaware of what it actually takes to change something in this country of empty headed grazing cows. She obviously doesn't have the slightest idea what revolutionary is all about.

What is wrong with Page and Helleman? Yack yack yack natter natter natter blah blah blah...Yeah, that's really going to divert the vicious forces that have this country by the balls.

I applaud wholeheartedly Occupied Wall St and I hope it soons begins to reach a level where the rage of the common man is actually felt with the force that it actually has.

Oct. 03 2011 10:26 AM
Amy from Manhattan

I think the part of the declaration about poisoning the food supply has to do w/actual food poisoning, like what happened most recently w/cantaloupes. 6,000 people a year die of food poisoning in the US, & many more become very sick, many of whom never fully recover. The FDA has far too few inspectors to keep the food supply safe, & there are too many food producers who are negligent & let the food they make become poisoned.

Oct. 03 2011 10:26 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

Segments like this are are just so much idle gossip that ignore the vacuum of leadership in the White House. Why not include Ron Suskind in this conversation sometime soon, Brian?

As NYT's Joe Nocera points out, "Suskind bluntly says (Obama) "wasn't ready" to be president, so deficient in even the most rudimentary leadership skills that it took him over a year to realize that his White House was in chaos."
"Very few of these things reflect well on Obama."

Very few !!???? And what has changed....duh? And we are still wasting time nitpicking on Christie's diet or Cain's so-called "inexperience"? It's mind boggling that people are committed to re-electing proven incompetence.

This is a critical point, and eight years of Obama will leave us a demoralized and much poorer nation. We won't like this future.

Oct. 03 2011 09:49 AM

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