Buddy Roemer talks pork to the people: Buddy Roemer won’t be present at tonight’s Republican debate.

Although he served four terms in the House, then one term as governor of Louisiana, Roemer isn’t getting invited to most of these GOP sessions. But last night, he did a seven-minute interview with Rachel Maddow. If you have seven minutes to spare, we would suggest that you watch it—click here.

Two reasons:

First, Roemer is very strong, at least in his rhetoric, on two extremely important issues. In this, his first response to Maddow, he explained why he isn’t getting invited to the GOP debates:
ROEMER (9/6/11): My suspicion is it might have to do with money and my approach to it. I could be wrong, Rachel. I’ve been out of politics for 20 years. I've been a happy man in Louisiana building a small bank, about $1 billion worth. We help jobs get created out in the real world. That’s what I do. I’m a jobs guy, not a lawyer, not a politician.

But I’m the only guy running who was a congressman and a governor. And I know this business, and I’m concerned about America, so I entered four weeks ago. I have slowly crept up to my 1 and 2 percent.

I will add to that over time, but here’s my difference: $100 limit, no PAC money, no Super PAC money, and I fully disclose every penny that I collect.


I will get on a debate, Rachel. It will happen. My issues are jobs and the corruptive power of big money in campaigns. Those are my two issues.

No one else talks about it, no one else cares about it. I mean, I want a president with passion about jobs, and that’s what I expect from Mr. Obama day after tomorrow. That`s what I’m looking for. Not a specific plan, but I want passion for jobs.

This country’s in trouble. I don’t see it in the Republican Party. I don’t see it in the presidency. I’m concerned. That’s why I’m running.
Roemer was good last night when he talked about jobs, but he was very strong when he talked about “the corruptive power of big money in campaigns.” “It’s all about the money,” he later said. “It’s about the big checks and special interests, Rachel. And it’s Democrat and Republican. I see no difference.”

In part, we think this interview is worth watching because of Roemer’s discussion of corruptive power. But at the end of the session, we’ll suggest that you look for something else—for a skill which might be useful to progressives and liberals. That would be Roemer’s ability to speak in ways which might break down tribal walls among voters. You may get the gist of what we mean just from reading the transcript:
ROEMER: I’m a proud Republican, but I’m a prouder American. And this is about America, Rachel. Something’s wrong in our system. And it’s special interest money.

Unfair trade with China? I’d love to talk about it all day. Now that’s a jobs program the president ought to stand for. He ought to protect American jobs. I’d support him if he did. Nobody else is doing it.

MADDOW: Buddy Roemer, Republican presidential candidate, former governor of Louisiana…
“I’d support him if he did.” Given the state of our tribal politics, that’s a very old-fashioned approach.

Progressives should learn to speak to voters in ways which break down walls of tribal resistance—in ways which stress and suggest similarities, not differences. We were struck by Roemer’s skill in this area, although this is unlikely to help him in the short run.

Ironically, we think Maddow is quite poorly equipped when it comes to this skill set. Among progressives, we think she embodies the self-defeating high-snark tribal instinct more than any other public figure. But we’re glad she had Roemer on her show. If progressives seek long-term success, we think the guy is worth studying.


  1. (1) Will follow link to Roemer and be cheered by a smart pol daring to say true things about jobs & money;

    (2) Everything about this new format satisfies the eye. It is also much easier to read. Congrats, M. Cherbonnier, encore une fois.

  2. comments on the daily howler??? too much!

    Keep up the good work.

  3. I love that we can now comment on your blog! I also recommend your posts to everyone I know. You'd be amazed (or maybe not) at how many very smart, liberal and progressive people, never see discussed anywhere the topics, especially around public education, you regularly broach here. This is an invaluable site.

    PS: I still disagree with you about The Help, though.

  4. There's certainly room for various opinions about The Help (or about any movie). In my view, many of the published criticisms have been quite hard to follow.

    A statement from the NYT op-ed column last Monday by Professor Turner: "With one possible exception, the women [in the movie] are remarkably unlikable, and not just because of their racism."

    That strikes me as a very strange statement. I'm not even sure which woman Turner sees as the possible exception. Is the Emma Stone character "remarkably unlikable?" Is the Jessica Chastain character? I really have no idea why a person would make that judgment about either one of those characters.

    A person is free to respond to the characters in a movie any way she likes, of course. A person could decide that Atticus Finch is an ass. A person could see The Courage of Lassie and decide that she doesn't like collies. But usually, a writer will realize that she has reached a bit of an outlier judgment, and she will explain her view. If the NYT had any editors laying around, they might have asked Turner to explain that puzzling statement.

    I think the debate is very interesting, given the way it seems to pit the judgments of the professors against those of regular people. Until the professors can explain themselves, I'll vote with the average folk, although the film has shortcomings, as almost everything does.

    A fascinating topic...

  5. In a cruder way, I think Hoffa's exhortation in Detroit was doing the same thing. He pitched it as the working folk against the Tea Party and their financiers. He didn't even call out Republicans, he certainly has supported a few in the past. But he correctly noted the issue — it's class warfare and the other class was winning big.

    The media, of course, focused on the inflammatory snippet of rhetoric about taking them out (by voting, of course), but his identification of what is really going on was spot on. The Democrats have long abandoned fighting for the working people, it'd at least be nice to have some honest assessments of the problems out there. From wherever we can find them.

  6. Comments? COMMENTS? And responses to comments?

    Next we'll be handing out coffee. I like the new look, but kind of miss the old-school, hand-coded sterility of the original. Still, a good move.

  7. Finally an accessible and inviting format; I love it.

    A long time reader in TEXAS.

    Larry D