Posts Tagged ‘Jon Raston’

My Three Cents on Sharron Angle’s Face to Face Interview

By Elizabeth Crum | 3:54 pm June 30th, 2010

If you have not yet seen last night’s must-see Sharron Angle interview with Jon Ralston, here it is.

Although she has been widely criticized for running from the media since her nomination, Angle deserves credit for sitting down with the best, toughest political interviewer in the state.  Having been in the Face to Face hot seat before, she had to know Ralston would not go easy on her (he didn’t).  Angle’s willingness to stroll over those coals ought to dispel any notions that she is afraid to show up and engage.

And kudos to Face to Face for booking her when no one else could.  And for doing such a great job with all the before/after quotes and clips with which to confront and question her.

On the issues:

Social Security — There is no doubt that Angle has morphed her rhetoric on this one.  She’s moved from talk of elimination to reform and “personalization.”  And if she had a dollar for every time she’s talked about protecting the existing funds of our nation’s seniors in a “lock box” over the past few weeks, she could personally fund the entire program.  She is now saying she is for giving people a choice, Rand Paul style, between the existing entitlement plan and some privatized/personalized version.

But her position on this really doesn’t matter because as Ralston rightly pointed out, Social Security as a program is going to be fine until roughly 2037 which means it will be eleven months into 2036 before Congress admits there is a problem and does anything about it.

I do give Angle some credit, though, for working into her remarks what I think were some fairly effective comments about Harry Reid/D.C.’s idea of fixing things, which is to raise taxes, print more money or go deeper into debt.  That kind of talk appeals not only to conservatives but to independent voters of a certain kind.

Jobs and Unemployment Benefits – Angle did a very nice little dance step when asked about prior comments that it was not her (or any Senator’s) job to create jobs.  She did so by way of saying it is the role of a Senator to “create a climate conducive to creating jobs.”  Sounds like a line straight out of the Professional D.C. Campaign Consultant’s Playbook.

But she did not move as gracefully when challenged on past remarks about the extension of unemployment benefits and a “spoiled citizenry.”  Angle tried to say she wasn’t really talking about people themselves, but about a system that does not dole out money and manage incentives the way it should.  “What has happened is the system of entitlement has caused us to have a spoilage with our ability to go out and get a job,” she said.

It sounded pretty thin, but she had to try to mitigate because it’s just not a wise to call unemployed and hurting people “spoiled,” especially when their numbers represent roughly 14% of the people who could vote for you.

I think Angle’s insistence that the state ought to stop paying unemployment benefits because “there are jobs that do exist” will not be taken well by folks (and their friends and families) who fill out umpteen applications a week and show up at every Job Fair and still can’t find work.  Not sure why you’d keep insisting there are jobs out there when comparative to the population that is out of work, there really are not.

Incentives for Small Businesses — I’m guessing Angle did not really mean to praise a bill for which Harry Reid will get credit if passed, but that is just what she did when Ralston asked her if she supported the tax incentives for small business that are moving through the Senate this week.  And you can bet it’ll show up in a Team Reid ad.

“People are really looking to those second amendment remedies” – This is another past Angle-ism that is tricky to walk back, though she gave it a try by admitting the comment was “a little strong,” explaining that what she really meant is that people are “afraid of their government” and then whipping out that trusty old stand-by, the out-of-context defense.  I thought Ralston did a great job of confronting her with her statement and trying to get a straight answer as to whether she really thinks taking up arms against Washington D.C. is a viable option.

Perhaps Angle and certain other Tea Party candidates will one day figure out that dropping broad hints about storming the halls of Congress with sawed off shotguns is not the way to win hearts and minds.  Or general elections.

Separation of Church and State – The upshot, despite some analysis that sees her position on this as fairly radical, is that Angle holds the same position as most of the Christian Right as well as many non-Christians who are not hostile to some expressions of faith and religion in the public square and the schools.

Her contention is that while the U.S. Constitution says there shall be no establishment of state religion, it does not in fact include the words “separation of church and state” and that we, at times, go too far in trying to keep the two totally separate.  Especially when talking about the rights of parents to educate their children (at no additional cost) in religious rather than secular schools if they see fit to do so.

Abortion – Angle is a purist.  No abortions for any reason, including incest and rape.  It’s actually the most consistent pro-life position one can hold, but it raises the ire of many and does not appeal to most moderates of either party.  I think it’s a problem for her, electorally, but this is one issue on which she has apparently not adjusted her views.  (I found it interesting that Ralston asked her about capital punishment as a follow-up.  She made a distinction between protecting “innocent life” and the criminal, which one takes to mean she is ok with the death penalty in some cases.)

Overall, I thought she did fairly well, although she smiled, laughed and nodded agreeably a bit too much.  As candidates not accustomed to running for the U.S. Senate may tend to do when they are nervous and being grilled under a spotlight in front of the entire state.

Hopefully we’ll see another of these interviews soon, as well as a debate between her and Reid.