August 26, 2016

This is unreal. Kellyanne Conway graced the set of The Rachel Maddow Show last night. Among other things, Rachel asked about the "pivot" away from a total ban on Muslims to an "extreme vetting" of those entering the United States.

As usual, Rachel had clearly done her homework. The "extreme vetting" that the Trump campaign correctly identifies as originating during the Cold War, was vetoed by Harry Truman, passed as an override by Congress anyway, and then found unconstitutional. By all modern legal measures, the similar Trump proposal would also be found unconstitutional.

Transcript below:

Maddow: Let me ask one more specific, on that. There's this one, from the Ohio speech, the terrorism speech, which I thought was just a fascinating turn, and it was on this issue of extreme vetting. What he's describing as extreme vetting, for people who want to emigrate to the country. And what he said was, "In the Cold War, we had an ideological screening test. Time is overdue to develop a new screening test for the threats we face today." What is that about? What is the Cold War precident for that?

Conway: He's basically saying, this is not the first time the country has done this, or that it's been done. That we've done this before, but for some reason, we've become lax.

MADDOW: When did we do it before?

CONWAY: He's saying, there's a Cold War precedent.

MADDOW: But what is the Cold War precident?

CONWAY: ...for vetting. And he's saying that in this case, past is not necessarily prolog, but that we -- but you talk about vetting, people haven't comment like, oh, my god, that's a new situation. What if we did vet people based on their ties to terrorism, if we did that a little bit better? is anybody arguing that we're not letting people in the country right now who do have ties to terrorists?

MADDOW: The Cold War precedent was an ideological vetting. That did exist in the Cold War, in the early '50s, it was called the Mccarron Act, which I'm sure you know. And Truman vetoed it, and Congress passed it some other way. But what survived, famously, was thrown out by the United States Supreme Court because it was ruled to be unconstitutional. So there's a Cold War precedent for ideological vetting of immigrants. In this case, it was to stop Communist front groups. But it didn't pass constitutional muster, and we've never had anything like that since that ever has passed constitutional muster. So what he's asking for is a new extreme vetting system, which has previously been tried and ruled unconstitutional and we abandoned it half a century ago.

CONWAY: 67 years ago, right?

MADDOW: Yeah. so that's [pause] a hard case -- so I want the pivot on substance to happen too. I really do!

CONWAY: He's at like four issues a week now that he's talking about. [crosstalk]

MADDOW: He has to make sense! He has to make sense when he makes these policy pivots, in order for them to be successful.

CONWAY: It sounds like you disagree with the policy, and that's fine.

MADDOW: You can't have a McCarron Act now, it's unconstitutional.

CONWAY: People can look at it and say, it's ridiculous, unconstitutional, or they may say, that may work, I'd like to hear more about it. But either way, I feel confident that our campaign respects the voters, and they say they want policy prescriptions, a conversation about substance. I said this before, I would rather lose a campaign about style, than -- or who said what today about whom,-- than lose it on substance. because I feel like it's the issues that favor us. People in the last 200-something polls taken on Obamacare -- otherwise known as the Affordable Care Act--you have many people who still have problems with -- you have many millions of Americans uninsured, you have people looking for work, schools that are failing our students. and the fact is, Hillary Clinton from what we're told is going to give a speech tomorrow about none of that. her speech is --

MADDOW: She's going to give a speech about you guys.

CONWAY: But that's odd. it's odd for this reason. again, it's not -- she's running for President of the United States. and Presidents have to have vision and so leadership in a way that you make the election about the future, not the past. and you make it about your own beliefs and your own values and vision, not just trying to make the other person look like he takes the wings off butterflies. I watched Robby Mook last week, probably such a smart guy. very loyal to Hillary Clinton. he knows what he's doing. He's a great competitor, and yet most of his interview was about Donald Trump. And I keep looking at that and saying, when are we going to hear from you? I mean, scarcity is their strategy. Politico ran a headline today that said Hillary Clinton's strategy to run out the clock to November. I think that's a disservice to voters. I think she should lay it all out, she ought to lay it out and say my policies on x, y and z are right, and yours are wrong.

Trump is the candidate of substance because he's up to FOUR issues a week! And who cares if his prescriptions are unconstitutional, voters might want to debate all the unconstitutional, unworkable ways we can solve our problems! Stop talking about Donald Trump, Hillary, and start talking about why we all should hate Obamacare! Because then we win on "the issues"!

It's easy to see that Rachel Maddow was exasperated. Several commenters have said on Twitter that they wish Joy Ann Reid, rather than Maddow, had interviewed Conway. I don't think it's that Maddow fails in these interviews, though, so much as she insists on trying to connect to the humanity of her subject. Joy Ann Reid, on the other hand, focuses like a laser on the words that are being said, and has an instant sorting mechanism in her head between what is true and what is BS. And when Joy Ann Reid's BS detector goes off, there is no time in which she says "I really want to have a discussion of substance with you, fellow human." No. It's "you don't get to come on my show and make stuff up."

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