Tennessee Star National Correspondent Neil McCabe: ‘Things are Becoming Very Binary, Both on the Left and the Right’


Live from the iHeart Media studios in Washington, D.C. Wednesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. –  host Leahy welcomed Tennessee Star National Correspondent Neil McCabe to the newsmakers line.

During the third hour, McCabe weighed in on current events taking place in cities where protesters are bringing down historic statues. He was concerned that both the left and the right had become binary as the Democrats move further left and Republicans edge out conservatives.

Leahy: We are joined now by The Tennessee Star National Correspondent Neil McCabe. Neil are you there?

McCabe: Michael! How are you?

Leahy: I am busy guarding the statue of Andrew Jackson in Lafayette Park. My mission was successful Neil. (McCabe laughs) They didn’t tear it down last night.

McCabe: Well, there are a lot of statues. This statue attacking has gone on for two or three weeks now and it’s absolutely crazy because the news reports that are going around the world show these mobs tearing down statues. Usually, that’s when a regime falls. Right? 

Leahy: Right!

McCabe: That’s a revolution or when there’s unrest. I don’t know. My neighborhood doesn’t have a lot of unrest. There are still some downtowns that haven’t been torched. It’s crazy to me when I think about the impression that people in other countries have about what’s going on in the United States.

And at the same time I’m also thinking about, how did we let this happen? When two weeks ago or three weeks ago we were told don’t worry it was only a small fire at St. John’s Church that every president since Madison has attended services at. Just a small fire in the basement. 

Why are you making such a big deal about it? And it’s just a small fire. Then you have the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs apologizing because they walked outside with the president to try to give the impression that there was law and order and calm.

I wonder if that statue and there was a real riot and people insisted on taking that statue would the Army show up? Would the Army say that’s not a lawful order? We know that the Department of Defense has pretty much said, wait, were not involved in this.

There was a helicopter pilot who sort of buzzed the crowd in Washington to try to break up some of that disorder. Those guys are going to get court marshaled. Nobody will go to jail for tearing down any of these statutes. But that helicopter crew is going to lose their stripes and get busted.

Leahy: If the president has his way if you deface up to 10 years in prison. I think there’s an existing law that says that. He’s apparently going to sign an executive order that says let’s enforce that law.

McCabe: (Scoffs) I have signed an executive order because if I don’t my federal government won’t enforce the law. Well, that’s encouraging Mike.

Leahy: (Chuckles) I’m here just to provide encouragement to you, Neil.

McCabe: I know. There are a lot of laws that are already on the books. I don’t wish lynching on anyone but it’s already against the law to kill someone. Right? I don’t know. These are crazy times.

Leahy: In the big news, you had a great exclusive story that we published yesterday at The Tennessee Star. Steve King, a long time conservative congressman from Iowa told you that Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy was supportive of his opponent who beat him in the primary.

McCabe: Right. I think what people have to remember is that conservatives are in the Republican Party but they are not welcome in the Republican Party. And Kevin McCarthy is not a conservative. Kevin McCarthy has an entire career on Capitol Hill and even as a staffer was in the faction known as leadership.

And we have an example of Steve King. And a lot of it he would tell you were his own fault. When John Boehner wanted to be a Minority Leader King opposed him and supported a kid named Mike Pence. When Boehner wanted to be Speaker of the House, King said no. I’m going to vote for someone else.

And then of course when conservatives led by Mark Meadows who is now the White House Chief of Staff in what became the House Freedom Caucus when they forced out John Boehner as Speaker, King was part of that movement.

When President Barack Obama proposed Obamacare Steve King opposed it and John Boehner had a meeting of Republican Congressmen and said we are not going to oppose this we don’t have the votes. We are going to let it happen and move on. So now there are four times where King went up against leadership.

One of his acolytes Kevin McCarthy who was the Minority Whip under Boehner, now the Minority Leader, these leadership guys they’ve had enough. The country guys from Northwest Iowa and basically I’m convinced The New York Times reporter made up quotes and inflated what he wanted King to say and basically accredited it to King. 

Basically they strung the guy up. Conservatives have to wonder. What is going on with the Republican Party? And the last point I want to make about King. One of the reasons why leadership and Republican leaders don’t like him is because he is so influential in the Iowa caucuses.

That Iowa Caucus in 2016, Ted Cruz won that because he was backed by Steve King. And it was that Iowa Caucus that made Donald Trump a much more conservative candidate. He took positions in Iowa that he has held to win the presidency and be president today.

Leahy: Last question. We’re talking about the Republican Party still having room for conservatives. The Democrat Party on the other hand seems to be going full-fledged communist, socialist, you name it. The latest Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez primary victory apparently Jaamal Bowman, he defeated Elliot Engel or is leading Engel 61-36 in a primary up there. What do you make of that?

McCabe: Engel not a small guy. He’s Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee. Recently at least he was the Chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. The very famous and notorious DCCC. He’s the guy who’s in charge of the political wing of the Democrats and he got taken down. What we’re seeing is things are becoming very binary. Both on the left and the right. 

Leahy: Yes. Right. Far left and far right. Last question. Hogan Gidley, deputy press secretary has been announced to be the campaign spokesperson for the campaign. I think that’s a good move. What do you think?

McCabe: A very good move. He’s very close to the Huckabee’s obviously. And I will tell you he is the finest dresser in Washington, D.C. The man is a very very smart dresser.

Leahy: He is sartorially splendid. I did a case study at Vanderbilt when I was an adjunct professor many years ago on Brian Lamb. You know Brian Lamb the CSPAN guy. A great guy. The phrase that came to me talking about Brian Lamb. Sartorially splendid. That guy is always immaculately dressed in a sharp suit. So Hogan Gidley is following.

McCabe: Good guy. I like Hogan very much. He’s going to do a great job. He’s always been good to me.

Leahy: Has the campaign lost its mojo? Can it get it back?

McCabe: Ah, I don’t know. (Leahy laughs) I’m not really impressed.

Leahy: Stay tuned. I think that’s the theme. (McCabe laughs)

McCabe: We need Steven K at the helm!

Leahy: Ohhh. That’s a topic for another day my friend. (McCabe laughs) But I don’t think you are the only person saying that. 

Listen to the full third hour here:

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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Photo “Republican and Democratic Logo” by DonkeyHotey. CC BY 2.0.









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