Mary Matalin: Newt Gingrich, Dick Cheney And Rush Limbaugh Exemplify Conservatism

Mary Matalin on John King's State of the Union defends those great champions of what she considers "conservatism" as opposed to "Republicanism", Dick
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Mary Matalin on John King's State of the Union defends those great champions of what she considers "conservatism" as opposed to "Republicanism", Dick Cheney and Rush Limbaugh. Seems she's not taking too kindly to the "Endangered Species" headline at Time Magazine or to Wanda Sykes smack down of Boss Limbaugh. Bob Corker didn't want to answer whether Cheney's appearances are good for the party or not but Matalin of course thinks her old boss being out front and center defending torture is the greatest thing since white on rice.

We also are getting our first glimpse of how the right wing is going to go after Sykes. Call her stupid and uninformed and carp about how unfair it is for anyone to dare to use a personal attack on Limbaugh. Claim that no one on the left ever attacks Cheney or Limbaugh for their ideas, but instead only make personal attacks. We all know the right wing would never dare to try to call anyone on the Democratic side of the aisle a terrorist. Right Mary? And if you think no one has attacked them for their ideas you're walking around with blinders on.

I wonder if Matalin realizes that her being out there telling lies defending her old boss about how torture worked and saying it's legal when it's not is almost as bad for the GOP as Newt Gingrich, Dick Cheney and Rush Limbaugh being their P.R. department? Of course given her participation in the White House Iraq Group whose purpose was to sell the invasion of Iraq to the public, this is nothing new for her.

KING: Mary, I want to start with you. If you look at the Sunday talk show landscape this morning, you'll see John McCain, Newt Gingrich, and your friend and old boss, Dick Cheney. And as we showed in our last segment, the cover of Time magazine this week is "Endangered Species." As you know, on the left, they're having a field day with the Sunday lineup, saying, great, if that's the face of the Republican Party, more of it. Let's have more to it, specifically to the point of the former vice president.

You know the debate he has stirred up over the past several weeks, beginning right here on "State of the Union." Helpful or hurtful for the Republican Party for Dick Cheney to be out there so much?

MATALIN: Well, if you consider the -- as I do, as most conservative do -- that Republicanism and conservativism are not necessarily synonymous, that when Republicans aspire and ascend is when they go back to what they do best, which is radical reform and being a party of ideas, as they did post-'64, as they did post-'92. When you have the people who best exemplify and represent those ideas getting (ph) and articulating them, like Newt Gingrich and Vice President Cheney, then that's a good thing.

You'll note whenever the Democrats attack Dick Cheney for being out or what he's saying, they never attack the ideas. There's never an answer for what he's speaking about, it's always just a personal attack.

Specifically, and I'm sure he's speaking even as we speak now about how really damaging and dangerous it was for this president to release the legal memos on the EITs, on the enhanced interrogation techniques. Very dangerous, very bad precedent and will come back to haunt this president.

So rather than have an argument about that, there's a personal attack on Dick Cheney, which means there's no argument against the ideas, which goes to what the Republicans need to do, which is to quit being an echo as Goldwater said, really the godfather of the conservatives and present a clear choice.

KING: Do you want to jump in on that one? Are they personal attacks or will you take on the ideas?

ROSEN: I think Mary's probably the best spokesperson the Republicans have right now, but the attacks on Dick Cheney have been fairly specific. I mean he, after all, I think came on to this network and said that he thinks that the president is making this country less safe.

So the responses back have been about where Americans feel that we have been less safe and that the more vulnerable and that President Obama, as we see from the polls, has been addressing that. And in fact, Americans now feel more safe under this president than they did over the last several years. I find that poll fairly remarkable.

KING: That is -- I want to jump in, I'm sorry to interrupt you, but I want to bring this because Hilary makes an important point. Mary, security, keeping you safe, has been the Republican Party's calling card. Before 9/11, but especially since, 9/11, if you look at the most recent CBS/"New York Times" poll, who is more likely to make the right decisions about keeping the nation safe, President Obama, 61 percent, Republicans in Congress, 27 percent. That is a stark turnaround and a problem for your party politically, isn't it?

MATALIN: Well, it is absolutely, it is irrefutably true that Barack Obama, particularly on his personal approval, when you ask those surface-skimming questions, he gets high numbers.

When you go deep into the policies, both domestic and foreign, there is a support you can call them conservatives, you can call them trust the verify, call them peace through strength, whatever you want to call them, those are hard security positions.

Smart diplomacy is not working. It's not working with Iran. It's not working with North Korea. It's not working with al Qaeda and what he's doing that is working making people feel and people can identify with is doing a enhanced counterinsurgency, if you will in Afghanistan, Pakistan, as General Petraeus talked about this morning. People understand that.

But they do not think, and Dick Cheney is 100 percent right, specifically the things that endanger our security are releasing our sources and methods of intelligence and impending the potential release of these detainee photos at the end of May. The ACLU is running our national security.

That, specifically, unequivocally will not make us safer, will endanger us as evidenced by what happened when photos were released before. So there's specific examples of where this is happening, and that people feel good about it because we have not been hit again is not evidence that that's the course that will keep us safe in the future.

ROSEN: You know, Vice President Cheney had six years to prove to the American people that their torture methods actually did help keep people safe and they never did it and they're not going to be able to do it now. I heard General Petraeus say something fascinating this morning in your interview. What he said was, when they sat down and had these tri-lateral meetings last week with Pakistan and Afghanistan and the United States, that more progress was made in those meetings, in those few days than had been made in years in terms of understanding. That Ambassador Holbrooke and General Petraeus, who was not a Barack Obama appointee, he was a Bush holdover, that essentially what they're saying is, we're actually getting somewhere now with our efforts. And that, I think is something that's resonating. And that, I think, is due to this attitude.

KING: I want to shift our focus. Hilary and I, Mary, you're in New Orleans, safely out of the Beltway. Hilary and I were at this annual event in Washington last night, it's the White House Correspondents' Dinner. It was meant to have fun. The president came and he's a good performer.

ROSEN: We missed you, Mary.

MATALIN: I didn't miss you guys, sorry.

KING: The entertainment was Wanda Sykes, the very funny comedian. And she was very funny, and very pointed in her humor, but then she reached a point where many think she crossed the line. I want you to listen to Wanda Sykes last night and I want both of your reactions. She's talking here about Rush Limbaugh and his statements that he would like Obama's administration, which he calls liberal socialism, to fail. Let's listen.

SYKES: That's treason. He's not saying anything differently than what Osama bin Laden is saying. You know, you might want to look into this. I think maybe Rush Limbaugh was the 20th hijacker, but he just so strung out on Oxycontin, he missed his flight.

KING: Hilary Rosen, I know you're not a fan of Rush Limbaugh, but was that over the line?

ROSEN: You know, Rush Limbaugh gets by on theater, and when anyone holds him accountable for his words, when he says things like "I want this administration to fail and I'm proud of it," when he makes money of politicians, his defense is always, "Listen, you know, I'm as much entertainment as I am substance." Wanda Sykes, hitting right back in entertainment. I think it's fair game.

KING: Fair game to call Rush Limbaugh the 20th hijacker, Mary?

MATALIN: Well, I rest my case. It's a perfect example and it epitomizes what I just said about -- not that it's Wanda Sykes' responsibility or within her capacity to make an argument against what her Rush Limbaugh talks about every day, which is the essence of conservatism, she attacks him personally.

So it's just part of what the paradigm is when you confront conservative ideas. Just like the Democrats -- let me go back to the torture thing. Torture, this is not torture. What the enhanced interrogation techniques were, were legal, they were limited, they were used on water boarding, which has become -- completely blown out of context.

It was used on three people, which Nancy Pelosi knew about, she at least knew about Abu Zubaydah, which led us to KSM, which led us to thwart all those second wave attacks, which saved lives. So much of what made us safe, was classified, is now coming out in a way that is going to make us less safe in the future. So rather than take on those arguments, we call Rush Limbaugh a drug addict.

KING: I'm going to call time-out here, because we're over time. I could spend all day with two of my favorite ladies and favorite moms. We're going to have to call it quits for today, but we will have this conversation I suspect many times in the weeks ahead. Hilary Rosen, Mary Matalin, thanks for coming in this morning.

UPDATE: I thought I'd share this with everyone as well. When John King said this:

As you know, on the left, they're having a field day with the Sunday lineup, saying, great, if that's the face of the Republican Party, more of it. Let's have more to it, specifically to the point of the former vice president.

He was talking about this ad by the DNC. What the ad does not address is that even though Republican policies have been rejected by a large portion of the electorate, that doesn't stop our corporate media from giving them more than their fair share of air time on these Sunday shows. Does anyone think that Barack Obama would be getting as many interviews as John McCain has had he lost the election?

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