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Week In Politics: Special Election; Jobs


And on that note, we turn to our regular Friday political commentators, E.J. Dionne of the Washington Post and David Brooks of the New York Times. Welcome back to you both.

DIONNE: Good to be with you.

DAVID BROOKS: Good to see you.

BLOCK: That notion that we just heard in Mara's piece, David, about a general softening of support for President Obama that goes well beyond the formerly Democratic district, do you see the results on Tuesday as yet another big red flag for the president and his campaign theme?

BROOKS: And so, independents have not flocked back to the Democrats and that's the warning sign, especially white, working class independents. I wouldn't extrapolate it into the presidential race, but I do think it should be a severe warning flag for the Democrats who want to keep control of the Senate. I think that's a much bigger danger right now. It's hard to read what the presidential race will be out of this.

BLOCK: E.J., a warning sign, do you think there?

DIONNE: Obama didn't carry that vote, but the Democrats got absolutely clobbered among working class whites in the 2010 election. And I think this should remind them in places like Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, maybe New Jersey, that this is a part of the - either the Democratic or potentially Democratic constituency where they have to do a lot of work.

BLOCK: E.J., alarmist, overly alarmist, what do you think?

DIONNE: And what I was struck - I visited White House this week - is there's no complacency in there right now. I mean, they are aware that the combination of the bad economy and some other bad breaks, and possibly some decisions they made, have put them in a harder position than they'd like to be in. So, they're not panicking yet. But I think they're aware of some of the things James was talking about.

BLOCK: David Brooks, would you say that No Drama Obama would be well-served to have a bit more drama right now?

BROOKS: No. If you want to pick somebody who is opposite from James Carville, I think Barack Obama more or less fits the bill.


BROOKS: If I were them, I would've done something a little riskier, a little newer, a little fresher, something with political plausibility to actually get a jobs bill. I really think they should take a few more risks in that department.

BLOCK: David, any thoughts on new things you gleaned from the Republican debate this week?

BROOKS: So I think Romney is in a stronger position because he can say this guy is not electable. And he's got a lot of evidence to point to.

BLOCK: E.J., I want to ask you about a moment in the debate on Monday. There were cheers from the audience when the prospect was raised: Do you let someone without health insurance die? And we may remember there was a moment during an earlier debate when the fact was raised that Rick Perry had overseen more than 230 executions as governor, there was big applause for that. Would do you make of that?

DIONNE: I think this is very dangerous for the Republicans. I don't know how many people actually watched that debate, but the Tea Party has not improved its image at all. And I think it's beginning to taint the image of the Republican Party.

BLOCK: Okay. E.J. Dionne of The Washington Post, David Brooks of The New York Times, thanks very much.

BROOKS: Thank you.

DIONNE: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.