February 27, 2004 | Broadcast

American Morning

With us today from D.C. is Cliff May, columnist for Scripps-Howard News.

Good morning, Cliff. A first-timer by the way, welcome to “Gimme a Minute.”

CLIFF MAY, FMR. RNC COMM. DIR.: My pleasure.

HEMMER: And CNN political analyst Donna Brazile. She’s out of New Orleans. She’s made it back to the nation’s capital.

How was your week, Donna?

DONNA BRAZILE, CNN POL. ANALYST: It was great. I wish I could go back home.

HEMMER: I bet you do.

And here in New York, Andy Borowitz of “The New Yorker.” A double shot of Drew today.

Good morning, Andy. Nice to have you back here.


HEMMER: Let’s start with Cliff, the first-timer. Presidential politics. It’s February 27th. Could the White House not afford to get into this election race this soon?

MAY: No, I think the White House had to get into it. In fact. they’re a little bit late really. What happened is everyone expected that the Democratic candidates would during the primary season beat up on each other. They didn’t. They all agreed on thing. Let’s beat up on Bush. It’s time for Bush to begin to push back.

HEMMER: Donna, has the battle been joined or just kind of sore to this point?

BRAZILE: Well, the president had to come out and defend that paper thin record he has accumulated over the last three and a half years, but you know what, he said bring it on, and the Democrats are ready for him.

HEMMER: This could be one long election, Andy.

BOROWITZ: The president has refused to mention John Kerry by name, which is weird, because that seems like a name he could actually pronounce.

HEMMER: Just for the record, my calendar says 248 shopping days left before the election in early November.

Talk about day marriage, Donna, the amendment supported by the president. Are the Republicans winners on this issue or not?

BRAZILE: I think it’s going to be a very difficult issue for them to navigate. It will help solidify their base and to give them more red meat, but swing voters, independents, they are more interested in jobs, the economy, winning the war on terrorism. They don’t want another cultural war; they want to focus on the real issues.

HEMMER: How about it, Cliff?

MAY: This issue was not on the president’s to-do list, believe me. Reasonable people can disagree about whether marriage should be redefined to include gay people. What they shouldn’t disagree on is who gets to decide. It’s not for hyperliberal judges in Massachusetts and one liberal mayor in San Francisco. The voters have to have some say. You can’t just impose this by fiat.

HEMMER: What’s your vote, Andy?

BOROWITZ: No constitutional amendment. If you want to keep gays from getting married, just tell them about in-laws.

HEMMER: Rosie is in on it now, too. So it’s getting deeper.

Howard Stern, his radio program has been pulled from Clear Channel Communications from six markets across the country. Rush Limbaugh was coming out yesterday expressing his concerns about free speech and protections that are in. He called it a little frightening, his comments from yesterday.

Cliff, start us off, is there a double standard, as Limbaugh claims, or not?

MAY: I think Limbaugh has got a point, I guess I often do. I think the thing here is that there shouldn’t be censorship, but there should be good taste. And the head of a big corporation like Clear Channel should be embarrassed to say yes, I produced “Bubba the Love Sponge” for a living.

BRAZILE: Well, you know, I don’t listen to Rush Limbaugh or Howard Stern, but as a former radio talk show host, I believe Howard Stern has every right to appear and say what he feels.

HEMMER: You know who else loves sponges, don’t you? Borowitz.

BOROWITZ: You know, in defense of “Bubba the Love Sponge,” I think he was one of the finest presidents we ever had.

HEMMER: Under the radar — Donna, what’s under your radar? What did we miss?

BRAZILE: Well, everyone focused this week on Alan Greenspan’s dire forecast on the deficit, but no one paid any attention to the Center of Budget Priorities report on the long-term impact that our nation’s unemployment is having on our working people in this country. I think that deserves a little more say.

HEMMER: Got a bit of a mention last night.

Cliff, how about you?

MAY: The fundamental human right is the right to live. Without that, it doesn’t matter. Terrorism takes away that right. But the U.N.’s court, the international court of justice, so called in the Hague, has never condemned terrorism. This week it sat in judgment of Israel’s right to put up fences, nonviolent passive means fences, to keep terrorists of their communities. That part of it was kind of ignored, and I think it’s an outrage.


BOROWITZ: Well, Mel Gibson denied charges of anti-Semitism from the set of his new movie, “Lethal Rabbi.”

HEMMER: That’s on borowitz.com, is it not?

BOROWITZ: Borowitzreport.com.

HEMMER: Thanks. Good to see you. Cliff, Donna, Andy, have a great weekend you three, OK.