Chris Matthews On What The Republicans' Script Would Have Been Had Obama Not Gone Into Libya

I'd say Chris Matthews got this one right with what the GOP presidential hopeful's line would have been had President Obama not gone into Libya; they'd have been attacking him. There are a lot of liberals and I count myself among them who have huge
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I'd say Chris Matthews got this one right with what the GOP presidential hopeful's line would have been had President Obama not gone into Libya; they'd have been attacking him. There are a lot of liberals and I count myself among them who have huge issues with why we decided to go in there and with the hypocrisy of pretending that it's for humanitarian causes when there are dozens of other countries that are facing far worse situations than the one in Libya.

And if this ends up going as well as anyone could hope for now that we've committed to going in there, and in the end and we oust Gadhafi in a short amount of time and we see some actual democratic movement and real elections take his place with less loss of civilian life than we might have seen with what Gadhafi was already planning for his own people, I'll be more than happy to have egg on my face. I'm not wishing for things to go badly there, but if that is the end result, I'll be very surprised. I would personally love to see our foreign policy take a turn where it centered on ending poverty and ending armed conflicts rather than continually profiting off of both.

And any liberal that was against our other military interventions as I was in the Middle East has a legitimate right to criticize what's going on now. As Chris Matthews, Howard Fineman and Joan Walsh discussed here, these hypocrites in the Republican Party who never met a new armed conflict that they didn't love who are carping now about what's going on forfeited that right to do the same when they decided to cheer lead for Dubya and his invasion of Iraq. As Matthews pointed out, their criticism of what's going on now is nothing but knee-jerk reaction and automatically attacking anything a Democratic president does.

Transcript via Lexis Nexis below the fold.

MATTHEWS: Yes. It would have been nice if George W. had dithered a bit before taking our nation into war with Iraq --

WALSH: Yes. Yes. That would have been great.

MATTHEWS: -- based upon faulty information. And I`m not sure it was faulty in his case. He built it up.

WALSH: Right.

MATTHEWS: Here’s Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, who I`m sort of being charmed by lately in New York.

(CROSSTALK)

FINEMAN: Uh-oh.

WALSH: Oh, no.

MATTHEWS: Here`s "The New York Times" today -- quote -- "This is not the time to critique what the administration has done or will do."

Well, it`s certainly in the tradition of Arthur Vandenberg.

Your thoughts?

FINEMAN: Yes. Well, Haley Barbour is a smart guy. He`s one of the ultimate inside political players. And I think he`s wise to take that distance, because nobody is going to believe that all these other Republicans, like Newt Gingrich and so on, are suddenly neo-isolationists who don`t want to engage in the world.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

FINEMAN: They spent a decade cheering on George W. Bush and Dick Cheney --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: The freedom agenda.

FINEMAN: -- as they tried to rearrange the planet. I mean, nobody is going to buy what those people are selling.

MATTHEWS: OK.

FINEMAN: So, Haley is smart to stay out of it, and not try commit the mistake that somebody like Mitt Romney did.

MATTHEWS: You know, some day, digitally -- we probably can already do it -- maybe at The Huffington Post, you can do it.

FINEMAN: Right. We will try.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: You can simply create or confect what they would have said if you had done the other thing.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: For example, suppose we had a slaughter, a horrible slaughter of people, a couple of thousand people mowed down in Benghazi while we watched.

FINEMAN: Right.

MATTHEWS: What would Newt have said? Do you think he have been opportunistic and said something? You can digitalize what he would have said.

FINEMAN: Sure.

WALSH: You could. You could write the script.

MATTHEWS: And the same with Mitt Romney.

"America stood by."

FINEMAN: Right.

MATTHEWS: They all would have said it.

WALSH: Right.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Can’t they hear themselves in the echo chamber of B.S. they live in, that the minute the guy did the opposite of what they said he did -- he should have done, they would have attacked that? It’s just automatic criticism.

Your thoughts, Joan?

WALSH: Well, it’s so shallow, too. And that’s what you’re saying, Chris. It doesn’t matter. If something different happened, they would have a different principle. So, they are not -- they are not applying any kind of coherent principle of foreign policy or of domestic policy.

They are just looking for opportunities to cheap-shot the president. The people who were criticizing Bush had a coherent -- had coherent reasons to criticize him.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

WALSH: It wasn’t like that. There was -- there was coherence to the point of view, whereas, here, I think you’re exactly right. They would just be trashing him, whatever did he. And it feels that way. It feels cheap. It feels shallow. It feels --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: You know why you’re a good person, Joan, besides being a good journalist?

I believe that, if he had allowed the -- and I think Howard, too -- if he had allowed the slaughter of people right there in Benghazi, as we watched it, as he promised to kill every germ in that country, disinfect the germs, if he had done what he said, like "Mein Kampf," had actually gone ahead and did what he said he was going to do --

WALSH: Right.

MATTHEWS: -- and we had stood by, the president of the United States leading us, and done nothing, you would have been morally ashamed of that, and would have said so.

WALSH: Right.

MATTHEWS: So, you`re not just fickle like these other pols, or these pols out there who simply just go the way of the political movement on their side.

Your thoughts, Howard.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: You would have been here.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Everybody in America would have been ashamed.

(CROSSTALK)

FINEMAN: My thought is, according to our military correspondent Dave Wood at The Huffington Post, a lot of people in that area of Benghazi -- Benghazi is the area of Eastern Libya that, on a statistical basis, has provided more people for al Qaeda, more volunteers than any other place.

MATTHEWS: Does that mean we want Gadhafi to mow them down?

FINEMAN: No. No. No. No. No, that’s my point.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

FINEMAN: I think it’s a better -- even a better expression of our concern for the humanitarian aspect of it --

MATTHEWS: Yes.

WALSH: Right.

FINEMAN: -- that we want to save them regardless.

MATTHEWS: Yes. That’s very nuanced.

(LAUGHTER)

WALSH: Uh-oh.

MATTHEWS: You will pay for that.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you, Howard Fineman.

Thank you, Joan Walsh.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Howard is the greatest.

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