As Chris Matthews explored yesterday on Hardball, the Republican right is going nuts trying to claim that President Obama is "weak on terror," led by the likes of Dick Cheney and his clan. The conversation featured ex-Cheney aide Ron Christie, who mostly fumbled around trying to, as Matthews put it, "defend the indefensible". (And he didn't even mention the fact that it was Cheney himself who secretly freed two of the terrorists from Gitmo later credited with forming Al Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula.)
Matthews also played a clip of Republican Jane Norton, a candidate for Colorado's Senate seat in 2010, taking the Cheney Offensive another step:
Matthews: This is Republican Senate candidate Jane Norton at a town hall in Colorado this week. Let’s listen because it is the same anthem.
[Video clip] Jane Norton: And what I believe is happening, Steve, is the fact that the rights of terrorists are more important in this administration than the lives of American citizens. We are seeing it in the criminal field. We are seeing it in the health care field. We are seeing it in almost every area that we are looking at.
Matthews: What do you make of that? What do you mean the lives of Americans aren't as important, that’s why there is a health care bill because the Democrats don’t care about the lives of Americans?
Here's what we make of that: These people are insane.
CORN: Well, let‘s go—let‘s go—let‘s go back to Liz Cheney, because, in the sometimes you quoted, she also said, “It is time for the president to making defending this nation a top priority,” as if he is not making—he has the daily briefings. He figures out what to do in Afghanistan.
MATTHEWS: What is our arsenal? What do we spend every year on national defense?
CORN: He‘s attacking Pakistan with Predator drones.
CORN: Do you seriously believe that he comes to work each day not thinking about defending the country as a top priority? Do you seriously believe that?
CHRISTIE: Oh, No. I absolutely think he wants to protect the country.
CORN: OK. So, then, you differ with Liz Cheney.
CHRISTIE: Excuse me.
CHRISTIE: My point is, the Democrats, I do not believe, view this as a war on terrorism. They look at this as a legalistic matter. The interpretations we have heard from the president of saying, the alleged act, or he said the suspect, that is a legalistic terminology.
CHRISTIE: The Republicans, the Bush administration recognized this.
MATTHEWS: You are making a formidable effort here to defend the indefensible.
But here is some more of this stuff, this argument that everything that the Republican Party does makes the country stronger and everything the Democratic Party does, no matter what it does, makes us weaker, so that maybe someday, when we get hit again, because every country is going to get hit eventually, then they will be able to jump up and say, we were right, you were wrong.
I know how this game is played. Here is a Republican Senate candidate, Jane Norton, at a town hall in Colorado this week. Let‘s listen, because it is the same anthem.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JANE NORTON ®, FORMER COLORADO LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR: And what I
believe is happening, Steve, is the fact that the rights of terrorists are
are—are more important in this administration than the lives of American citizens.
And we are seeing it in the criminal field. We are seeing it in the health care field. We are seeing it in almost every—every area that we are looking at.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: What do you make of that? What is it—what do you mean the lives of Americans aren‘t as important? That is why there is a health care bill, because the Democrats don‘t care about the lives of Americans?
CORN: She is saying that the rights of terrorists...
MATTHEWS: What does that mean?
CORN: ... are more important than the health care bill.
MATTHEWS: What does this jabberwocky mean?
CHRISTIE: But, again, you are trying to pin one...
MATTHEWS: I‘m asking.
CHRISTIE: I‘m trying to answer your question.
MATTHEWS: There‘s a whole pattern of lines coming out of the Cheney household and elsewhere of the same stuff.
CHRISTIE: Let me talk to you about the pattern that is coming out from Republicans at the federal level, at the state level.
CHRISTIE: Republicans are very concerned about the leadership of this president, his administration.
From the outset, the president said he...
MATTHEWS: Because he got elected.
CHRISTIE: The president said he wanted to close—Chris, again, you are trying to make light of something that is very serious that you two should actually take more serious consideration to talk about.
MATTHEWS: What is that?
CHRISTIE: This president from day one has said, I want to close Guantanamo, without actually thinking through the ramifications of doing so. I‘m going to bring people, enemy combatants to the United States, conferring constitutional rights on them that they didn‘t have before.
These are very serious issues. And you can laugh about it and you can talk about it, but it does make this country less safe.
CORN: They are serious issues.
MATTHEWS: The idea that because you are on the right wing of a political argument that somehow makes you more patriotic is insane.
CHRISTIE: Oh, no. And I didn‘t say that.
CHRISTIE: This has nothing to do with being partisan, Chris.
MATTHEWS: There is a good argument out there that Gitmo and all that it represents worldwide has caused more people to sign up for organizations like al Qaeda to give up their lives in suicide attacks on Americans because they are so hateful of America, because they see us as the evil one.
CHRISTIE: And they see us as the evil one because they have already issued fatwas that say that they do not like the United States.
CHRISTIE: But that is not why they are...
MATTHEWS: It is a legitimate argument on both sides.
MATTHEWS: David Corn, Ron Christie, the idea of the moral superiority on security of the right wing in this country is an absurdity, after what happened in the last administration.
Video of the full segment is here.