The expression “With all due respect” has to be among Washington’s most priceless phrases because its loose translation is, “This is going to seriously piss you off…” or “”You’re a f–king idiot, so pay attention for two seconds and listen to what I’m about to say, please.” It’s the politician’s way of being rude without getting thrown out of the Chamber. But journalists use it, too. MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell took Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) to task and employed the phrase this afternoon over the nomination of Richard Cordray to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The senator then snapped at her for interrupting him. There were no smiles throughout the entire interview until the end, when Mitchell apologized.
Let’s take a look.
Mitchell: What’s wrong with Cordray …what about him personally, is he not qualified for this job?
Shelby: Well, we didn’t get into his qualifications…we didn’t get that far…uh
Mitchell interrupted…“Senator, with all due respect, isn’t that the issue?
Shelby (annoyed): Andrea, wait a minute. You asked me a question, if I can answer…The question is not whether he’s qualified, it’s a question of the structure. ..This would be unprecedented in American history to put this kind of power in one person. We’ve asked for three changes and until we get those changes we’re not considering the merits or demerits of a nominee. …I don’t believe this nomination is going to be confirmed, but that’s up to the Senate itself.
Mitchell: With all due respect, the agency has existed, Elizabeth Warren headed it, and at this point you’ve got someone who is arguably well qualified. The suggestions for those three little changes many would say would actually take all the power out of the agency, creating a commission to run it, which could be deadlocked.
Shelby: We’re all consumers. We do need some regulation, but we don’t need all the power being put in one person … not subject to oversight, not subject to a counsel. …What we’ve made are substantive proposals, they are not three little deals, they’re substantive.
Mitchell rallied…There are other banking regulators who do not have Senate Appropriations..that has been a tradition with regulators.
Shelby got personal, mentioning the Federal Reserve, which her husband of course chaired: Well, Andrea as you well know, the Federal Reserve has a board of governors and a chairman. …It makes more sense because this is unprecedented power. What we need, not more regulations, but more jobs. …We’re trying to right the ship and I believe we will.
The interview concluded, but not before Mitchell made nice with the senator. “Sen. Shelby, I did not mean to interrupt you before, Sir.” He smiled, looked down and replied, “That’s okay.”