Former NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw made an appearance on MSNBC’s The Cycle on March 4 and criticized President Obama for campaigning too much instead of governing. Brokaw also castigated Obama for refusing to negotiate with Republicans over the budget impasse and the sequester cuts.
Progressive panel member Touré asked Brokaw if the budget impasse was because the GOP is “refusing” to work with Obama because they are “incented [sic] to not work with the president.”
Brokaw replied that he didn’t think that Republicans were flat out refusing to work with the President but are negotiating with an eye to the 2014 midterm elections and don’t want to give away too much. Brokaw went on to lament that Obama is doing little else but demonizing the GOP instead of looking for ways to work with them.
Touré: This appears to me to be no way to run a government. These constant sort of deadline situation after deadline situation and there is at least one if not two or three more in the future. But is it that we’re forced into this because one party is not only refusing to negotiate but is incented to not work with the president?
Tom Brokaw: Oh, I don’t think that’s the case. I think in both cases that they’re staking out positions and looking forward to 2014 when the Congressional elections are coming up again. Republicans want to hang on to what they have and they’d like to get the Senate. They can’t raise taxes with their base because that becomes toxic for them. The President, on the other hand, wants to demonize the Republican Party and use that to energize his base and hope that he can get the House back.
So, at the moment what we see are the two sides playing chicken with each other, running down the highway toward each other, probably will swerve at the last moment. My guess is as these cuts begin to take effect and that they are more draconian than they appear to be now and the country begins to really hurt and begins to protest then they’ll quickly find a way to get out of it and both will claim victory at some point.
But for the moment, we’re in the stage at this moment where they’re going to continue to hold their positions, they’re going to try to make rhetorical victories against one another for a while, and it really is a terrible commentary on what it has come to in Washington, DC. What really puzzles me is that members of this Congress, Republicans and Democrats alike, by the way, are going to retire at some point or go home, and they will take with them the reputation as the worst Congress in the history of the republic in terms of not getting anything done. And there are not a lot of heroes on the Senate side either.
You know, the fact is that Speaker Boehner is right. Let the Senate come in here and start to play with this a little bit. Where’s their budget? The president can start his budget process over there.
I think the president, by my lights at least, spent entirely too much time in the last two weeks campaigning, in effect, all around the country, lining up that Saturday Night Live parody–all those people who will be affected. When he ought to have been maybe at Camp David and said to Boehner and his team and members of the Republican side on the Senate side, ‘Bring the leadership up here, let’s spend five days showing the public that we are interested in trying to make a heroic effort to get a deal, here. Can’t make any calls out to anybody else except maybe your press representatives but not to your caucus members. We’re going to sit here and negotiate this. You’re the leaders of the Congress, I’m the leader of the country. We’ve got to find a way to work this out.’