Tags: Pfeiffer | election | Republicans | administration

White House Senior Adviser Pfeiffer Talks Impeachment — Part III

By    |   Tuesday, 05 Aug 2014 07:40 AM

White House Senior Adviser Dan Pfeiffer met with reporters July 25 at an hour-long breakfast held by The Christian Science Monitor. This is the third article in the series, with the first article discussing his opening statement and questions from moderator David Cook, senior editor of The Monitor, and the second article presenting his answers to questions from reporters.

As the discussion continued, Susan Page, Washington bureau chief for USA Today, asked a relatively soft question about how the view in the second term differs from that of the first, but it was interesting that she noted in passing that Pfeiffer and Valerie Jarrett, another White House senior adviser, are the only senior staffers who have been at the White House throughout.

Pfeiffer responded rather self-righteously that the administration tries to do the right thing and to consider issues from the standpoint of how President Obama is going to feel about them 10 or 20 years later.

In response to another question, regarding the weight accorded by the White House to politics, he explained that "at the end of the day, this president's not going to let us do anything he disagrees with substantively because it's good politics." Pfeiffer claimed that the administration "took a lot of heat" in the first term for doing things that were politically unpopular, like the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), the bailout of GM and healthcare reform. However, he concluded, again self-righteously, that sometimes bad politics had to be accepted "because it was the right thing to do."

As a follow-up on the earlier impeachment discussion, a reporter asked whether Pfeiffer thought "it would be a good thing for the president to be impeached by House Republicans." Pfeiffer responded that he didn't think it would be a good thing, that it had been "bandied about" by Sarah Palin and he asserted that there is "nothing within six universes" that would justify impeachment. (Still, the fact remains that it was Pfeiffer who "bandied about" the notion at this event, not any Republican zealot.)

While the main story line is that Pfeiffer has taken a more extreme position on impeachment than is warranted given that there is no real movement to do this on the part of Republicans who make party policy in Congress, as opposed to Palin, some of the questions by reporters made Pfeiffer look quite moderate and reasonable.

For example, when a reporter from the BBC asked how the administration could allow the Israelis to kill children in Gaza, Pfeiffer pointed out that Israel has a right to defend itself against rockets being fired on it from Gaza.

The very next questioner asked about a suggestion by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., that the president has been too slow to recognize that extremist Republicans were not good-faith negotiating partners. This gave Pfeiffer an opportunity to list several areas where Obama has stared the Republicans down without giving up anything of substance — he said the "fever broke" on raising taxes, but while the extremism of the Republicans "remains a challenge," Obama has won on the payroll tax cut, the shutdown and the fiscal cliff.

Alexis Simendinger of RealClearPolitics asked Pfeiffer to comment on the state of the Senate races. Pfeiffer responded that contrary to some reports, the Democrats' posture has strengthened in states like Alaska, Arkansas and North Carolina, although he doesn't see these as races that will be indicative of the outlook for the presidential race, as the governors races will. The White House, in his view, has benefited from Republicans thinking it was a good idea to run candidates for the Senate who are serving in the unpopular Republican House.

Asked to size up the Republican field for 2016, Pfeiffer responded that Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, has some appeal as an opponent, because he is "deeply out of step with the country on a wide array of issues," while Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., is interesting as the only Republican who is speaking to younger voters, but it's doubtful he "has the organization to pull it off, but there's a germ of something there."

Responding to a question as to whether Hillary Clinton has been distancing herself from second-term foreign policy on Gaza, Ukraine and Iraq while on her book/campaign tour, Pfeiffer disagreed and added that Obama doesn't see it that way and considers her "very supportive" and "incredibly loyal," and given the "highly charged" 2008 campaign, they have demonstrated "notable loyalty and friendship to each other."

(Archived video can be found here.)

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Robert-Feinberg
White House Senior Adviser Dan Pfeiffer met with reporters July 25 at an hour-long breakfast held by The Christian Science Monitor.
Pfeiffer, election, Republicans, administration
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2014-40-05
Tuesday, 05 Aug 2014 07:40 AM
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