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Notes from the January 30, 2011 broadcast of Meet The Press

January 30, 2011

Today’s broadcast featured an exclusive interview with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the unfolding events in Egypt. David Gregory pushed Clinton on whether or not the Mubarek government is “stable,” a word she used to describe it just a few days ago. Her response basically said the United States is not ready to pick a favorite in this dispute—which is a significant change in US policy.

Clinton said (paraphrase), what was possible for these kind of regimes in the 20th century is no longer possible in the 21st century.

Gregory asked, if Mubarek leaves would the United States offer him sanctuary? Clinton responded that we are only at the beginning of what is happening in Egypt. “I am not going to get into hypotheticals.”

“We need a transition to real democracy, not a faux democracy,” said Clinton

NBC’s Chief Foreign Correspondent Richard Engle gave a live update from Cairo where you could hear the fighter jets overhead.

Next up was Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). He largely supports Secretary Clinton’s comments but he also commented on the geo-strategic importance of Egypt to US national interests, particularly the Suez Canal and the Middle East peace process (the underlying meaning here is that a new government in Egypt may or may not be good for the United States).

In domestic politics, despite the Tea Party, he says there is more unity in the Republican party than there is among Democrats. He also said our entitlement programs can’t be fixed on a partisan basis. “But I am not going to negotiate the deal here with David Gregory,” McConnell said.

McConnell pointed out the we have votes on the continuing resolution and the debt ceiling coming up soon and these should be seen as opportunities to do something about the crises facing America. Gregory pushed him on whether or not there would be a government shut down, but McConnell sidestepped.

Former US Ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk was the next guest. He said that where Egypt goes could have a tsunami effect on the rest of the region. “For Mubarek, his compact with the people has been broken and cannot be repaired. And there is nothing he nor we can do about it,” Indyk concluded.

New York Times columnist Tom Friedman say to watch and see if the Muslim Brotherhood hijacks the Egyptian revolution (as happened in 1979 Iran when a populist revolt was hijacked by Islamists) or will the brotherhood join the government as a participant?

In the roundtable, Katy Kay of the BBC said that for a generation or more the West has been told that for Middle Eastern governments the only choices are authoritarianism or Islamism. Are those still the only choices?

And then, proving that no world crisis is big enough to preempt talk of the 2012 US presidential race, NBC White House Correspondent Chuck Todd said President Obama is doing a little better among independent voters but still faces an uphill slog. The best news for Obama is that no Republican has emerged as a viable, uniting candidate.

My note: Last week’s sole, scheduled political guest on Meet The Press was Republican leader Eric Cantor. This week’s sole, scheduled political guest was Republican leader Mitch McConnell. And now next week’s show will be a commemoration of the 100th anniversary of former Republican President Ronald Reagan’s birth. Can we then expect three broadcasts in a row organized around people from the Democratic Party?

Today’s Meet The Press transcript will be here.

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