Week In Politics: U.S. Jobs Report For July

Audie Cornish speaks with political commentators David Brooks of the New York Times, and Jennifer Granholm, host of The War Room on Current TV. They discuss the new jobs report.

Copyright © 2012 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

More now on the political implications on those jobs numbers, plus the rest of the week in politics. We're joined, as usual, by David Brooks of the New York Times and sitting in for E.J. Dionne is Jennifer Granholm. She's host of the War Room on Current TV, a columnist for Politico and former Democratic governor of Michigan. Governor Granholm, welcome.

JENNIFER GRANHOLM: Thank you.

CORNISH: David Brooks, good to see you.

DAVID BROOKS: Good to see you.

CORNISH: So, first of all, those jobs numbers, Governor, the president's not likely to turn the economy around in the next three months, but are today's numbers good enough for independent voters?

GRANHOLM: Well, we'll see, right? But progress is good and since the president is really very clearly making the case about choice and is taking on Mitt Romney's tax and jobs plan very clearly, to put that choice before those independent voters, I think in the end, he ends up prevailing. And I think that's why you're seeing an uptick in the swing states and in, frankly, national polls as well.

CORNISH: At the same time, David, the president is obviously trying to - essentially seems to be trying to convince voters that Mitt Romney is not the guy to fix it, not that, you know, the president necessarily has a plan to fix it.

BROOKS: Yeah, well, and we actually are beginning to see bifurcation. The national polls, Romney's doing okay. He's doing pretty well. He's getting extremely high ratings in the red states. But as Governor Granholm mentioned, in the swing states, Obama is ticking up slightly where the ads are running. And so we're looking at the possibility that we could have a huge or a significant national majority for Romney as the red states go hugely for him, but the swing states go slightly for Obama.

And we could have one of those situations where the electoral college goes one way and the majority vote goes the other. That's sort of a slight trend the last couple weeks.

CORNISH: Now, I want to move from the presidential campaign trail for a minute and look at Congress because both of you wrote this week about the Texas Senate race, where Tea Party backed candidate Ted Cruz won the Republican Senate nomination over a candidate that had the backing of Governor Rick Perry. Governor Granholm, to you, what makes this race worth watching?

GRANHOLM: Well, I think, clearly, the ascendency of the Tea Party candidates in the Senate is worth watching because as we see in the House, the Tea Party is sort of like the tail that wags the dog, in terms of the Republican caucus. I also think it's worth watching because for Democrats, especially in the swing states and in the blue states, it provides an opportunity.

I mean, you know, David, I'd be curious - I didn't read your column, but you're considered sort of a pragmatic conservative. And for many people who are pragmatic conservatives, who are moderate conservatives, many of the policies of the Tea Party just turn them off. And it's an opportunity for the Democrats to put forward a vision that attracts those independents. That, I think, is going to be interesting in the general election.

BROOKS: Yeah, I'd say he - I think Tea Party is not quite right for Ted Cruz. You know, when he was 13, he got a fellowship to study (unintelligible) from a think tank, then he went off to Princeton where he studied with Robbie George, who is sort of a conservative superstar. Then he went to Harvard Law School. He was a clerk for Justice Rehnquist.

He's sort of a product of sort of the conservative, if you want to put it, Madisonian(ph) tradition, which is very, very small government, but a pretty deep intellectual tradition. And you look at a lot of these so-called Tea Party senators, they're not sort of rabid outsiders. They're highly educated people who have grown up and have been really trained in this conservative cadre school.

And what he will do and I think what a lot of these people will do, will put a very deep and pretty intellectually substantive and very Madisonian approach. It will make compromise much harder. It's not so great for sort of moderate Republicans like me who are more Hamiltonian, who see a little more role for government. But they are going to be a very intellectually serious force with deep and firmly held sort of intellectual roots for a long time.

CORNISH: But it's interesting here. I mean, David, in the House, it wasn't just that there are Tea Party lawmakers, it's there are so many, right? I mean, in the Senate, it really hasn't been the same case. You had Senator DeMint, who kind of was already there and moved to the forefront of this for the Senate. And you had Rand Paul. Does movement into the Senate really signify the maturity of this political movement?

I don't know, Governor, if you feel the same way.

GRANHOLM: Well, here's what I think. I think you're right about the intellectual underpinnings of these newer Tea Party members, David. But what concerns me most is that that intellectual underpinning will serve to put an imprimatur of it's a good idea on this elimination of government in every role of people's lives except for in the most intimate decisions that they have to make.

And that, to me, is what's dangerous for the United States in a global economy. If you don't have an active partnership between government and business to make a good reason for business to locate here, then we will continue to lose jobs to our economic competitors who don't have the fealty to Adam Smith, to laissez faire, to hands off and trickle down as many of these Tea Party-ers do.

BROOKS: It certainly makes compromise more difficult. They come with a pretty clear view that there was a sort of Madisonian, very limited government tradition in the United States. We've wandered away from that; we have to get back to that tradition. And so that's going to make it a much more polarized body than it was probably for years and years, much harder to reach a budget deal.

CORNISH: Which is saying something for the Senate, where the votes we're talking about are one and two, you know, on either side with these.

BROOKS: Right. And so that's interesting is the war for the soul of the Republican Party. You've seen it in Texas just now, where the outsiders are clearly beating the Republican establishment just time after time after time, in part because the establishment didn't put down those intellectual roots, didn't raise those cadres, have inferior, more mediocre candidates. And to their credit, the people on the further right, they just have done better for 20 or 30 years, and they're reaping the benefits.

CORNISH: David Brooks of The New York Times, thank you so much.

BROOKS: Thank you.

CORNISH: And Jennifer Granholm, host of "The War Room" on CurrentTV and former governor of Michigan. Governor, thank you for speaking with me.

GRANHOLM: You bet. Pleasure to sit in for E.J.

Copyright © 2012 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.