‘Nation’ Editor: Rubio ‘Not Ready for Prime Time’

Feb 15, 2013 12:38pm
abc vandurhuevelff mi 130215 wblog Nation Editor: Rubio Not Ready for Prime Time

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This week, we asked editor and publisher of The Nation and frequent “This Week” roundtable guest Katrina vanden Heuvel to answer five questions.

1) What was your reaction to seeing Sen. Marco Rubio grab a bottle of water as he was giving the Republican response to the State of the Union? He must have known how that would appear, no?

What I saw on Tuesday night was yet another Republican “savior” who is not ready for prime time. Doing TV isn’t easy – in some ways you have to feel for him over the water bottle. But really he’s lucky, because what we all should have been talking about was Rubio’s vote Tuesday to oppose the Violence Against Women Act. The idea, in 2013, that anyone could vote against the Violence Against Women Act and still be considered a serious national political figure is ridiculous and should be the headline. Instead we’re talking about water bottles.

2) Should bipartisan legislation actually pass to overhaul the nation’s immigration system, does that help shift Latino votes away from Democrats and toward the GOP at the polls in 2014?

It could win some votes in the short term, but long-term the Republican Party will need to go much further, particularly on economic issues, to capture Latino voters long term. I’m more concerned about the legislation itself, and whether it goes far enough to meet the needs of guest workers and other groups whose fate is muddled in the current legislation. President Obama can also draw distinctions with the GOP by taking action by executive order on issues that would never pass congress, like ending the deportation of undocumented parents immediately.

3) What do you make of all the talk about Gov. Chris Christie’s size? Is his weight a legitimate concern for voters if he decides to make a run for the White House in 2016?

Like Gail Collins, I welcome Chris Christie’s candidacy as a possible renaissance for William Howard Taft biographies. But seriously, Chris Christie should be far more concerned about the foreclosure rate in New Jersey and the impacts of his austerity cuts. His policies will prove far more damaging to his candidacy than his weight.

4) Former vice president and environmental activist Al Gore has received has received some flack for selling Current TV to Al Jazeera. Does the sale bother you?

I think we need more good journalism and investigative reporting on our airwaves, period. Al Jazeera English has played host to some intelligent discussions, which we need more of. If they can use this as an opportunity to bring more investigative reporting, long-form journalism and informed debate to the airwaves, then we should all welcome them to the arena. (By the way, I thought Time-Warner cable showed political and journalistic cowardice by dropping Current because of the Al Jazeera deal.)

5) The last few years have been tough for many print publications. In December, Newsweek stopped producing a print edition. Do you expect that “The Nation” will reach a point when it will follow suit?

Never! The Nation turns 150 in 2015. We’ve survived I think, for 150 years by staying truly independent, and by filling our pages with unfiltered takes on politics and culture. Magazines of opinion like The Nation continue to matter because they are a critical counterforce against the tabloidization, consolidation, dumbing-down and fact-challenged “debate” that dominates our political culture.

Today The Nation is now available weekly on more than a dozen digital platforms with more than 1.1 million readers. We have more print subscribers today than we did a decade ago, and we firmly believe – as our readers do – that the printed word is an essential part of the mix.

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