Better Know a Guest: September 4 – 7, 2012

The Colbert Report Guest Line UpHello, Hubsters!

One convention down; another to go. So, goodbye Tampa, hello Charlotte! What will happen at the DNC? And can anything equal the breath-stopping, mindboggling spectacle produced by an improvising Clint Eastwood? It was performance art at its most bizarre—the bad and the ugly, without much of the good. I personally would rather have had an expose of the “fistful(s) of dollars” the Republicans are receiving from billionaires. Clint, you are “unforgiven.” That said, it brought a little interest to some otherwise dull proceedings. Whether it was exactly the kind of interest the GOP wanted, well—that’s another story. But it does lead to a question: will Betty White REALLY appear at the DNC doing a parody? Rumors, rumors . . .  In any case the responses across the internet have been delightful, starting with (but definitely not limited to) Obama’s “This seat’s taken.” Have you been looking at them? Do you have any favorites?

I’m planning to do view at least some of the the Dems’ speeches; I know that I should have done the same with the Republicans, but I just couldn’t bear it, and so I guiltily turned the channel to more entertaining shows. For me, this year’s DNC is a bit bittersweet. Four years ago, I actually attended the convention where Obama became the official nominee. There was so much hope and amazement back then, and it continued throughout the election. Now, I’m just praying the Democrats can pull off a victory, and if they do, I’m expecting more of the same stalemate I’ve witnessed for the past term. So I completely understand why Stephen and Jon aren’t coming together for a full-fledged election-night “Indecision.” There’s probably very little joy in the election at all these days, and I don’t think they’d want to be sitting there announcing a Romney/Ryan victory. Still, I thank the two of them for what they’ve been doing lately, especially Friday’s incredible episodes. Both Stephen and Jon were in top form, with Jon, especially and finally, being uncharacteristically blunt. All hail the best F*$*%g News Team, as well as the writers and producers of both shows. Thank you. And Stephen . . . you can come and talk to my empty chair (or even sit on it) whenever you wish.

And by the way: Happy Brazilian Independence Day on September 7th. Yes, that means something to me.

Now, let’s take a look at the guests.


Tuesday, 9/4: Reihan Salam

Reihan SalamSigh. Why another conservative? We’ve had them all through the Republican convention (with the exception of Carville), and Reihan Salam certainly has his bona fide right-wing credentials. Having begun his professional career with The New Republic, followed by a two-year stint as David Brooks’s editor and researcher at the New York Times, he’s now a blogger for The Agenda, part of National Review online. His path to his current position is quite interesting, having gone not only through the Times, but also The Chris Matthews Show, where he worked as a producer, and The Atlantic magazine, none of which are especially conservative in nature. In addition to his role at the National Review, Salam serves as an adviser to e21, which deals with “economic policies of the 21st century.” A glimpse at the website convinces me that, at the moment, their most fervent agenda is the repeal of Obama’s healthcare program.

With the equally right-wing Ross Douthat, Salam co-authored the book Grand New Party: How the Republicans Can Win the Working Class and Save the American Dream. On the publisher’s page for the book, the description states that: “Grand New Party shakes up the Right, challenges the Left, and confronts the changing political landscape.” Apparently, they are suggesting that the party go “beyond Reagan.” I actually think that the GOP has already done that; I’m not sure Reagan, at least as he was back then, would be conservative enough for the current incarnation of the GOP.

The Brooklyn-born pundit attended the prestigious Stuyvesant High School (how could you attend a science high school and back the GOP, oh Mr. Salam?) and Cornell University. Apparently, he veers from the party platform in his support of gay marriage. Like many people, including former boss Brooks, he backed the Iraq war initially and then backed down. Well, thank you, guys. Voice your support, get us into this mess with your loud and shrill voices, and then whine your mea culpas after the mess many of us predicted would happen, actually did happen.


Visit his website, which has links to his blog, video clips, and more.

He also writes from, and here’s a column that addresses why he thinks Mitt Romney is losing.

One of Salam’s other blogs (he’s a busy fellow) is

Not enough Salam for you? Reuters has hired him to write a column, too.

And he has a Tumblr.

Like him on Facebook.

He addresses the the question of racism among Republicans vs. Democrats.

Follow him on Twitter.


Wednesday, 9/5: Michael Grunwald

Michael GrunwaldOne of the most important pieces of legislation Obama got passed—although not in the amount he originally proposed—was the stimulus bill. It saved various industries, including automobile manufacturers, from totally collapsing and probably kept us from a total economic meltdown. Yes, as Paul Krugman keeps point out, it needed to be much greater to do what it had to do, but at least it did something. In Michael Grunwald’s opinion, it helped prevent a depression. Grunwald’s new book, The New New Deal: The Hidden Story of Change in the Obama Era, takes an extremely close and detailed look at the stimulus. He carried out more than 400 interviews with both Democrats and Republicans and explains exactly what the allocated money achieved. The book has received rave reviews from Politico, the Chicago Tribune, the Economist, Publishers Weekly, and numerous other newspapers and journals.

Grunwald is a senior national correspondent for TIME magazine and he’s won some of journalism’s most coveted awards, including the George Polk Award for national reporting, the Worth Bingham Prize for investigative reporting, and the Society of Environmental Journalists award for in-depth reporting. The Harvard graduate began his career at the Boston Globe and thereafter worked for the Washington Post from 1998-2007. (He covered the events of September 11, 2001.) Now a resident of Florida, his earlier, also well-reviewed book focused on that state: The Swamp: The Everglades, Florida, and the Politics of Paradise.


Visit his site. (There are also links to buy the book from there.)

Here’s his blog at TIME, Swampland. Read his advice to Team Obama. (Are we better off than four years ago? Yes, we are! Yes, we are!)

Here’s his official author’s page at Simon & Schuster, where you can read some excerpts of his work.

Find out six revelations from The New New Deal on The Daily Beast.

Read a review of The New New Deal in Slate.

Follow him on Twitter.

Watch him discuss the economy on this video with Jared Bernstein.

OOOH: He blogged about “The Clint Eastwood train wreck.” “[H]onestly, all I can think about is Dirty Harry scolding an invisible president in a chair for making an anatomically impossible suggestion.”

Like him on Facebook.


Thursday, 9/6: Bill Richardson

Bill RichardsonI’ve always really liked former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson, and had high hopes he might become the Democrats’ presidential candidate at some point (he tried and failed in 2008) or have a strong role in the Obama administration. However, that was not to be. Whether it’s true that there are some John Edwards-like skeletons in his closet (having to do with the use of campaign funds to pay off a woman), as is sometimes rumored, or something else, he has generally taken a lower profile than I’d like in terms of his actual qualifications. It would be wonderful if he does some serious campaigning for Obama, because Richardson connects with Latino voters and that is an important and growing group in our country—and one that’s somewhat alienated by the virulently anti-immigration views of the Republican Party. (He was worried about Romney choosing Rubio for that reason.) I think that, should Obama win again, he’d be an excellent replacement for the departing Hilary Clinton as Secretary of State. As the former ambassador to the UN, and as a special envoy who has helped win the release of American hostages in various locales, he’s well-positioned for that job. But again, I think there have been too many troubles—prosecutions that haven’t panned out and yet have stained him—for that to occur.

Since leaving the public sphere in 2010, Richardson has become a Special Envoy for the Organization of American States (OAS) and serves on the boards of boards of World Resources Institute and the National Council for Science and the Environment, among others. He frequently appears on the Spanish-language network Al Punto as a pundit.


Visit his website.

Follow him on Twitter.

He says that the international community wants Obama back in the Oval Office.

Richardson recently supported some of Bill Clinton’s more positive statements about Romney’s business acumen (and scolding of Obama for his strong criticism)—but mentioned that there’s still anger over his support for Obama, rather than Hilary, in 2008.

Back when he was governor, he had a chance to pardon . . . Billy the Kid (posthumously, of course). He chose not to.

He’s weighed in on the troubles in Syria.


Friday, 9/7: Ed Rendell

Ed RendellFormer Pennsylvania governor and fracking fan Ed Rendell is back on the Report. Pennsylvania is, of course, a hugely important state in the upcoming election and one that Republicans “promised” to deliver to Romney by demanding voter ID. (Although those laws are being struck down.)

Although he has called the US a country of “wusses” for canceling football games in the snow (see below link to his last appearance with Stephen), he does think that what was really cowardly was not banning assault weapons. Here, I agree with him fully. That said, he is a huge critic of Obama, which I’m sure he’ll discuss during this convention-time visit. He definitely does not believe in Obamacare. Why is he a Dem at all? But back to the wussie thing: that’s the title of his new book, A Nation of Wusses: How America’s Leaders Lost the Guts to Make Us Great, which came out in June. I’m sure he’ll want to discuss that with Stephen even more than the convention. It’s winning praise from conservatives like Sean Hannity as well as from Bill Clinton and Chris Matthews. Rendell and Clinton share that don’t-criticize-Romney-for-Bain opinion, by the way.

Post-governorship, Rendell has taken a job as a commentator on MSNBC’s more conservative show, Morning Joe.


Watch his first visit to TCR.

Read all about the girls he loves. They’re bitc… dogs. Literally. Actually, this is a colorfully written full profile and interview with Rendell that appeared recently in PhillyMag.

Like him on Facebook.

Rendell opines on the upcoming election and how Pennsylvania might vote.

Watch him on PBS’s Need to Know.

The New Republic reviews the book.

He apparently wanted Romney to pick Michele Bachmann as his running mate. I don’t think that’s because he thought she was good.

The ardent supporter of Hilary Clinton believes she’ll run in 2016. I think 2016 is a long way away and we never know what will happen or who will emerge.


And now, let’s check in with our good friend Jon Stewart!

He—and the Best F*$%*ing News Team—will be down in Charlotte this week with the DNC.


Tuesday, 9/4: Tom Brokaw

We all know Mr. Brokaw, former NBC news anchor, current special correspondent for NBC, chronicler of “the greatest generation,” and frequent guest on TDS. I’m sure he’ll have some fascinating perspective on both conventions.

Watch his most recent Daily Show appearance. On Jon’s site you can find links to all the other clips—five in all.

Brokaw has visited Stephen, too. Here’s a clip on his September 2011 appearance and one from April 2009.

His book, The Time of Our Lives: A Conversation About America, is being re-released this month with a new preface by Brokaw.

Newsman to newsman: Ron Burgundy interviews Brokaw (on “Funny or Die”).


Wednesday, 9/5: Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand

She’s my senator! New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand was appointed to the job when Hilary Clinton left to become Secretary of State. Many of us were initially suspicious of this upstate Representative, but she has since won re-election and pleased most of us very much.

This is Gillibrand’s second visit to TDS.

Visit her website.

Follow her on Twitter.

Like her on Facebook.


Thursday, 9/6: Austan Goolsbee

Here’s another repeat guest, the man who was chief economist for the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board until 2011 and who now teaches at the University of Chicago.

Goolsbee has been on so much that Jon’s website had a “sneak preview”—a “cheat sheet” on him.

Here’s his page at the University of Chicago website. You can see what he’s teaching!

In June, he said that Obama should issue a “mea culpa,” because we’re not in the place he wanted us to be right now. Sigh. Why do the Dems demand that of their politicians, dragging them down just when they’re vulnerable, when the Republicans never do?

Follow him on Twitter.

Read his blog.

He’s appeared on TCR lots, too. Here’s a clip of his most recent appearance.


Friday, 9/7: No guest announced

I assume Jon will use this episode to wrap up, as he did last Friday. If that changes, I’ll let you know.


Have a great week, everyone! And be sure to let me know which guest you’re most looking forward to. Alternatively, you can imagine the most awesome thing that might happen at the DNC and tell me that, as well.




  • CN Helper

    I am sharing your sighing over Reihan Salam, karenatasha, but I am sure Stephen will make the interview entertaining.

    A lot of political insiders making the media circuits, amirite people? It seems like being this close to the election we are having a plethora of Congressmen and high level political operatives. I don’t expect a lot of political objectivity at the interview table of either show this week.

    That being said, both boys brought it so hot and hard last week, I am excited to see how this week turns out. I am also curious as to how the correspondents are going to react to what will be a decidedly more enthusiastic pool of subjects at the DNC.

    • karenatasha

      Hot and hard, CN? *Fanning self*

      Yes, this week will be political operatives for the most part. That’s why I was so glad to have the author of the Rand book last week. It was a breath of fresh air. But Carville was fun.

      And I know that Stephen and Jon will offer us political refreshment. And I’m sure they’ll find plenty to deal with. The Dems have a way of producing plenty of amusement. Sigh.

  • susan209

    I agree, CN Helper. As to Mr. Salam, I recall Stephen once saying that he wished he could get more conservatives on his show but that for some reason they were afraid to come on (with tongue planted firmly in cheek at least somewhat). I guess he’s gotten his wish and as you said, he’ll make the interview brilliant as always. Since I’ve been away awhile, I won’t comment on Stephen and Jon having brought it on “hot and hard last week” but if they do that again next week, at least the Democrats will not have a platform against it.

    • CN Helper

      Nice to hear from you. You have been on my mind, so you must have read my telepathic waves. I was like, where is Susan? According to the constitution of CNH, you (susan209) are not allowed to be a stranger.

      I stand by my “hot” comments. They are on fire folks!

  • karenatasha

    Ha! Love your last line, Susan! That’s so true.

    Actually, I think Stephen can make an interview with anyone interesting by virtue of his character. It’s more often Jon who’s the problem with a conservative, because he tries to be “fair.” I think the reason he was able to come on so strong last Friday was that it wasn’t against a “person,” but an entire ridiculous platform.

    Grunwald does sound interesting to me, however (and it looks as if he’s easy on the eyes, too) and Richardson can be fun. I don’t much like Rendell, though.

  • TiaRachel

    I’m quoting you over at dkos tonight, ’cause I’ve had it with writing up right-wingers (& centrists, too). Glad you did it so I don’t have to anymore ;~)

    • TiaRachel

      Whoops, meant that for the post, not the comment. Though both would actually be true…

  • lockhart43

    The interview with Michael Grunwald sounds interesting. I know Ed Rendell will want to talk about his book, and I know that it’s the Democratic convention and all, but can they please talk about fracking? Pretty please? When the former governor of a state that has a lot to lose with fracking is fully supporting the very thing that could destroy the state’s natural resources entirely, I feel that the topic gets pushed ahead of a book about how he thinks some (I’m pretty sure he means the people that aren’t him) of America’s leaders are wusses.

    In TDS Land, Tom Brokaw! And Austan Goolsbee! It’s gonna be a good week.

    • karenatasha

      Well, he and Rendell actually went over fracking last visit, so I’m not sure they will again. My expectations are that the conversation will alternate between his book and what’s happening at the DNC.

      Loved Brokaw and Jon tonight. Jon’s always at his best when hitting at media ridiculousness, and it was interesting to watch Brokaw try to soften it a bit.