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Notes from the July 11, 2010 broadcast of Meet The Press

July 11, 2010

This morning’s broadcast began with an exclusive interview of White House spokesman Robert Gibbs. The interview focused primarily on the politics of the midterm elections. The new poll showing 62% of Americans think the country is on the wrong track (29% say right track) shows the Democrats and the president have a tough job keeping voters on their side.

Gibbs is an impressive spokesman in this kind of setting… maybe better than Axelrod, at least in presentation.

David Gregory had a very good follow-up when Gibbs tried to dodge the question about Democratic candidates running away from the president for these elections… although in the end, Gibbs never really answered the question.

Gregory’s theme, “Is the Obama Administration failing or were expectations too high?” is effective, but again, Gibbs didn’t engage and Gregory didn’t follow-up.

Gibbs throws in the names of Congressman Joe Barton (who apologized to BP) and John Boehner (who could become speaker if the Republicans gain a majority in the House). It looks to me like the Democrats will be repeating those names a lot in the run up to the November elections.

Gregory plays an excerpt from Obama’s July 2008 foreign policy speech in Berlin (while he was still a candidate) as a way of introducing the idea that Obama was going to change US foreign policy but so much is still the same. Gibbs counters that the reason we now have the strongest international sanctions ever on North Korea and Iran is exactly because we now have better relations with so many countries around the world.

I was really sorry to see Gregory end the Gibbs segment with a sill discussion about LeBron James. This is the chummy, inside DC stuff people are really turned off by.

The round-table featured MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow (just back from Afghanistan), former congressman Harold Ford, Jr., New York Times columnist David Brooks, and Republican leader Ed Gillespie.

The upshot of their discussion on the midterm elections is that it will be about the economy and jobs. Republicans will say the Democrats aren’t doing enough to fix the situation. Democrats will say we shouldn’t give the reins back to the Republicans who created this mess.

David Brooks says if the liberals can’t succeed at a time when Wall Street an the oil companies are the villains, then there may never be a liberal moment in this country.

Gregory lost control of the table only once… when Maddow tried to engage in a real conversation.

What is that yellow thing on Ford’s wrist?

The final part of the conversation, keying off of Maddow;s trip to Afghanistan was good. Maddow was asking very good questions and offer thoughtful insight into the situation.

As always I am glad to see a “Meet The Press Minute” to close the show. Gregory contrasted this week’s spy story with one from the 50s where accused spy Elizabeth Bentley was a MTP guest.

Today’s transcript will be here.

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