Arianna appeared as a guest on CNN's "Fareed Zakaria GPS" on Sunday, along with Eliot Spitzer, Ross Douthat And Katrina Vanden Heuval. In the second part of the roundtable, the group discussed Sarah Palin and what the Tea Party movement represents.
"Is the right's answer to Obama going to be, you know, what traditionally happens with parties in opposition -- they go to their base, and they find somebody who's true to the base, but probably can't win the general election?" Zakaria asked.
"Well, Sarah Palin is responding to something beyond the base," Arianna responded. "She is responding to the anger at the bailout. And she's responding to a sense of unfairness among the American people which goes to independents and which goes to a lot of middle class Americans who are feeling that the game is rigged, that the fix is in, and that therefore, they're in real trouble. And she's appealing to that.
"If you really interview a lot of the people in the Tea Party movement, no matter what their first explanation is, their second explanation for their anger is the bailout. And I think Republicans and Democrats have to come to terms with that. Especially now that we're seeing this anemic Wall Street reform going through, which we all know is not going to prevent the next meltdown."
It's a very right-wing kind of anger, Vanden Heuval countered. "I mean, I think both Arianna and Eliot are right that the president should have put demands on Wall Street, talk about personal responsibility. And in defaulting there, he has left a vacuum open for the right to seize this 'I'm on your side,' mantel. I think what he did with B.P. -- there were two Obamas there. The speech wasn't very strong. But the next day standing tough on the side of people against BP was strong.
"But I do think the core question of our time in my view -- people may disagree -- is the role of government. Really. And I think that debate is happening proxy-wise with that deficit-versus-investment debate right now. And unless we win that, we are going to see long-term unemployment in this country -- joblessness, that I think will scar this country even worse than the Great Depression."
"Ross, do you, when you look at Sarah Palin, the Tea Party -- does this just seem to you generic populism. Or is there a shift to the right?" Zakaria asked.
"There's absolutely a shift to the right," Douthat respnded. "You can see it in basically every opinion poll you look at. And you can tell it's real, because it isn't just on issues related to taxes and spending that are in the news -- if you look, people have actually shifted to the right on gun control for instance, since the last election, on abortion since the last election. So it's real."
"I think what you see with the Tea Party is sort of there's an inner core, and then an outer group of sympathizers. And the inner core is as you say, pretty right wing, pretty partisan, pretty sort of doctrinaire Republicans, I would say. And in some cases they aren't people who are involved in politics before. But they are people who would have always voted Republican."
"But then you have a second ring of people who tend to sympathize with the Tea Party movement. And you see this in opinion polls. People who say, 'I'm not a Tea Partier, but I like what they're up to.' ... I don't think it's just the financial bailout in Wall Street and so on. I think it's everything from the G.M. bailout, and the Cash for Clunkers, to sort of the spending on, you know, people who may have lost homes. ... It's a sense of rewarding people -- using public funds to reward people who made bad bets."
"This goes to what Arianna was saying, the sense of unfairness," Spitzer concluded. "There is no accountability in the asymmetry as we all have said over and over. We -- we socialize risk -- privatize pay. But I think Katrina put her finger on it. The real debate under this is what is government all about? What should it be doing? And we give all this money to Wall Street, but then ask nothing back. And we're not investing adequately in school, in high speed rails, in R&D, in the sorts of things that will permit us to compete either with China, or Vietnam, or Brazil. And I think that sense of underinvestment, however you do it -- through a government program or the private sector, is what is gnawing at people."