CNN's GUT CHECK | for May 4, 2012 | 5 p.m.
– n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle
BREAKING: LUGAR TEN POINTS DOWN WITH FOUR DAYS TO GO: A new Howey/DePauw poll shows Indiana State Treasurer Richard Mourdock leading Sen. Richard Lugar, the most senior Republican in the Senate, 48-38% in the Indiana Republican primary. LINK
What famous interview – often described as "a television epic" – aired 35 years ago this week?
On Fridays we like to reach out to the masters of the political class for their observations on the world of politics. Today, we asked two well-known political veterans, Susan McCue and Ron Bonjean, what was the most significant news event of the week and why?
What was the most significant news event of the week and why?
Ron Bonjean, a Republican strategist and partner in Singer Bonjean Strategies
“I think the most significant news of the week was President Obama making a surprise trip to Afghanistan. Prior to that he was being hammered by the media for his Osama bin Laden ad that attacked Mitt Romney. This allowed Obama to take center stage and show Americans his foreign policy platform. However, while the strategy was executed flawlessly, it had the unintended effect of reminding voters that we have troops in harm’s way in Afghanistan, which is widely unpopular. While he was able to change the message away from his disastrous Osama bin Laden ad, he still came away giving voters a hangover feeling about Afghanistan that it is not going away soon. ... People were fascinated that the president flew into Afghanistan at night and had to get out in the morning. But it also made it obviously clear that we have made very little progress in Afghanistan to allow our president to land there during the day.”
Susan McCue, Democratic strategist and president of Message-Global
“President Obama’s flawless trip to Kabul on Tuesday to ink a strategic partnership agreement with President Hamid Karzai set the stage for his entire campaign and direction the country wants to head: Forward. It was a strong surprise, done just right, not overplayed, not underplayed. His talk about partnerships and a future of peace with Afghanistan is not small talk. It’s big. His message about seeing ‘the light of a new day on the horizon’ was pitch perfect and fell right in tune with some positive economic indicators at home.”
Did you miss it?
Leading CNNPolitics: Why Obama can't match the Reagan economic recovery
Now it looks like the Obama team will have to set aside hopes of a Reaganesque recovery. That's because job growth is following a familiar pattern: strong in the winter, weak in the spring.
Leading Drudge: October Surprise
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is calling early elections so that he and his government will be free to deal with Iran’s nuclear program this September-October, one of Israel’s best-informed political commentators said on Friday night.
Leading HuffPo: Darrell Issa Seeks Contempt Vote On Fast And Furious, But Boycotted When Democrats Sought One
House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-California, is threatening a vote to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress, but when Democrats tried a similar move in the Bush administration, he called it politics and boycotted.
Leading Politico: The very public race for veep
They say they don’t want the vice presidency — that they like the jobs they have now, aren’t seeking national office and can’t imagine Mitt Romney would ever pick them. But for the handful of GOP rising stars viewed as potential running mates, actions speak louder than words.
Leading New York Times: On Sundays, Tight Obama Circle Sizes Up Election
President Obama walks into the Roosevelt Room of the White House and takes his seat around a table. The West Wing, as on most Sunday evenings, is quiet except for the tight circle of advisers who gather for a confidential briefing on his re-election.
The political bites of the day
- The President frames the recent job numbers… -
PRESIDENT OBAMA TALKS JOBS AT AN EVENT IN ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA: “Now this morning we learned that our economy created 130,000 private sector jobs in April and the unemployment rate ticked down again. After the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, our businesses have now created more than 4.2 million new jobs over the last 26 months, more than one million jobs in the last six months alone. So that's the good news. But there's still a lot a folks out of work which means that we got to do more.”
- … and Mitt Romney frames the numbers differently -
MITT ROMNEY COMMENTS ON APRIL’S JOB REPORT AT A CAMPAIGN EVENT IN PITTSBURGH: “The unemployment rate has dropped to 8.4% and normally that would be cause for celebration, but in fact, anything over 8%, anything near 8%, anything over 4% is not cause for celebration. But in fact, the reason it dropped from 8.2 to 8.1 was not because we created a lot of jobs. As a matter of fact, only 115,000 net new jobs we created, that was well beneath what it was expected to be. It should have been in the hundreds of thousands, but it wasn't. The reason the rate came down was because about 340,000 people dropped out of the work force.”
- But would you cross it if it came? -
REP. PAUL RYAN TALKS ABOUT THE VICE PRESIDENCY WITH WTMJ IN MUSKEGO, WISCONSIN: “If that bridge ever comes for me to decide to cross it, I will make that decision then, but I haven’t had to make that decision.”
- Turner Still proud of his baby -
TED TURNER ON PIERS MORGAN LAST NIGHT: “I wanted CNN to be the "New York Times" for the news business, not the - not "The Daily News." I wanted it to be "The New York Times." And I thought that for the long term, that would be the best position to be in, even if the ratings weren't the greatest. If you had the most prestige and you were the network that everybody turned to in times of a crisis, that that was the most important position, in the news business, to hold..."
MORGAN: "Let's talk about some news. What do you make of America right now, today? What do you think of your country?"
TURNER: "I think it's terrible that politics have gotten so money oriented with this Supreme Court ruling that the corporations can give unlimited amounts, that the moneyed interests are taking over the country. And there's too much disagreement and arguments between the parties. I believe in pulling together to make the country better right rather than pulling, tearing it apart for partisan reasons. I think the country comes first.”
What stopped us in 140 characters or less
"With the perspective of three years now, do you feel that you ever obstructed justice or were part of a conspiracy to obstruct justice?"
By starting the Watergate portion of his interview with disgraced former President Richard Nixon with that question, British journalist David Frost was signaling to the former president that this sit down was not going to be a walk in the park.
While the matchup of Richard Nixon and David Frost was unexpected, it pitted two men looking for something similar. Nixon, who had been out of the White House for three years, saw the interview as a way to repair his shattered image and reframe the way Americans saw the Watergate scandal. Frost was known for interviewing celebrities, not politicians, and he saw the Nixon interview as a way to reclaim a career that was on a downward spiral.
Nixon famously dodged many of Frost’s questions, at one point telling Frost that the term "Watergate" had come to encompass all charges thrown at Nixon during his presidency. Instead of leaving it at that, however, Frost continued to focus on the actual Watergate scandal.
The repeated questioning – the interview was more than 28 hours long (though not all on Watergate) – began to wear on Nixon. As tension in the interview built up, Nixon told Frost that he had “impeached myself” and came close to admitting a cover-up.
“I will admit that during that period, rather than acting primarily in my role as the chief law enforcement officer of the United States of America… that I did not meet that responsibility,” Nixon said. “And to the extent that I did not meet that responsibility, to the extent that within the law, and in some cases going right to the edge of the law in trying to advise (White House counsel John) Erlichman and (chief of staff H.R.) Haldeman and all the rest in how best to present their cases, because I thought that they were legally innocent, that I came to the edge. And under the circumstances I would have to say that a reasonable person could call that a cover-up. I didn't think of it as a coverup. I didn't intend it to cover up.”
In a 2002 interview with NPR, Frost recalled his reaction to Nixon’s answers on Watergate. “I sensed at that moment he was most the vulnerable he’d ever be, ever again,” Frost said. “It seemed like an almost constitutional moment with his vulnerability at that point… I think that was probably one of the reasons why it was something of a catharsis for the American people at that time that he had finally faced up to these issues.”
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