Poor Luke Russert got cut off at the knees today after he asked Nancy Pelosi if her old self was blocking a younger generation of Democrats from attaining power. That's a solid question, as Russert points out himself, the Democratic Party's caucus leaders will all be over 70 years old. Compare that to the GOP party which is grooming its young stars like Paul Ryan and Eric Cantor and priming some of them for 2016 (and beyond!). Where are the Democrats' next crop of leaders?It's a solid point (Dave Weigel thinks so!). And we wouldn't have played the "Is she going to go?" game in the past few days if the possibility of Pelosi's retirement wasn't an issue facing the party.
But that isn't what Russert said this morning. Russert's quote went like this (video here): "Mrs. Pelosi ... some of your colleagues privately say that your decision to stay on prohibits the party from having younger leadership. It hurts the party in the long term. What's your response?"
And the point he got across, and what Nancy Pelosi heard was something like "Why don't you retire, old lady?"
So how could he have done that better? Well here are a few suggestions we noticed:
He Should Not Have Been Luke Russert: Apparently, there is a rule in journalism that Luke Russert cannot ask questions about people's jobs because he was related to Tim Russert. You see, people think Russert got his job primarily because of his dad. That's the first step. The second corollary to this Russert rule is that you can't ask people if they deserve their jobs if people don't think you deserve yours:
Slate's Matthew Yglesias, gets more to the point with a suggestion wrapped in a giggle:
Can’t stop LOLing at @lukerussert asking if Pelosi is too old. Maybe just replace her with someone famous’ son?— Matt Yglesias (@mattyglesias) November 14, 2012
And here's another suggestion with it plain and simple, quit being Luke Russert, Luke Russert:
Luke Russert needs to stop with his whole "I'm just a kid representing kid issues!" bit.— ಠ_ಠ (@26hundred) November 14, 2012
He Should Have Tweeted Her: Look at how much more of a cogent argument Russert made when he got on his home turf and had time to put his question into context:
While Pelosi laughed off my Q as age-ist, many House Ds will privately gripe it hurts caucus that all 3 leaders are 70+.— Luke Russert (@LukeRussert) November 14, 2012
And never mind how your personal feelings about Ryan and Cantor and their effect on the GOP this year, this is way better than the way he came off this morning:
The longer the top 3 stay, the longer it takes to infuse the caucus with new blood like #GOP did w Cantor, Ryan, McCarthy etc.— Luke Russert (@LukeRussert) November 14, 2012
He Should Have Surveyed What He Was Up Against: Nancy Pelosi was not alone up there when Luke Russert asked her his question. She was, as Slate's Dave Weigel put it, rolling deep. Like Lil' Wayne deep, like all of the House's incoming class of female members deep. And knowing that he wasn't on home turf, he should have figured out his phrasing ahead of time: "By making herself a sort of avatar of female accomplishment, he tried to make the idea sound risible. Even the new members, who hadn't been around for Pelosi's reign as Speaker, were offended at the suggestion," writes Weigel.