Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
November 11, 2002
POLITICS: It's Connie Chung's Party
Connie Chung's interview with New Mexico's Democratic Governor-elect Bill Richardson the day after the election rankled me. Here's the part that did it:
CHUNG: Ambassador Richardson, outgoing Majority Leader Tom Daschle said that the reason why the Republicans did so well was in part because the Democrats' message on the economy did not get out.
Do you really believe that the Democrats had an economic plan? And I know you're going to say that Daschle presented it on the floor of the Senate, but I don't know that anybody really got that message.
RICHARDSON: Well, Connie, I think two reasons were responsible for Democrats not doing well.
One was President Bush's frenetic campaigning. He was good at it. And he made a difference. He went to one county in New Mexico. Although I won in a landslide, the one county he went to, I didn't do well.
The second reason is, I think the majority leader is doing a good job, but I don't think the Democrats had an economic message. I was able, here in New Mexico, just at the local level, to talk about economic growth, competitive tax reform, even tax cuts to make our state more competitive. People care about bread-and-butter issues, putting more money in their pockets, economic growth, entrepreneurship. And I just don't see nationally the Democrats talking about that.
CHUNG: Yes. I know. But don't you think, in this election, basically the people were concerned about terrorism? They were concerned about having the country support the president if he invades Iraq. Those were the concerns. The economy, of course, was important, but, apparently, they weren't voting that way.
The transcript doesn't quite capture her indignation that a Democrat, a Clinton Democrat, was daring to disagree with her analysis that any Republican victory had to be only about terrorism, and couldn't possibly be even partly based on people preferring Republican solutions on economic growth issues. But Connie Chung wasn't going to be denied; she moved on to a more congenial subject, Robert Reich, who was all too happy to argue that nobody could have voted Republican based on economic issues because "the Democrats have a very strong record on the economy. . . Look at what happened. In the Clinton administration, you had a great economy. In the Bush administration, you have a lousy economy." So, she asked him, "Robert Reich, tell us, what do you think? Is 2004 going to be a tough one for the Democrats, because we can't see the light right now today?" And, "But what happened? I mean, do we blame Daschle? Do we blame Gephardt? Was it the leadership?"
Whaddya mean, we?