May 25, 2009

Well, it seems Tom Ridge isn't a Rush Limbaugh fan. On yesterday's State of the Union show on CNN:

KING: Where's Tom Ridge?

Are you in the Rush Limbaugh/Dick Cheney version of the Republican Party or the Colin Powell version of the Republican Party?

RIDGE: I'm in the Tom Ridge version of the party. And my version of the party is simply, when you're asked to serve, as I have been by two Republican presidents -- one gave me a draft notice and sent me to Vietnam and the other called me away from the office I had led as governor, and neither one asked me where I stood on gay rights or abortion. They said, "Will you serve?"

And I think, for the American public -- for the Republican Party to restore itself is not as a regional party but as a national party. We have to be far less judgmental about disagreements within the party and far more judgmental about our disagreement with our friends on the other side of the aisle.

KING: You've used those terms, "need to be less shrill, less judgmental." Who's being shrill? Who's being judgmental?

RIDGE: Well, I think a lot of our commentators are being shrill. I mean, I don't disagree...

KING; Rush?

RIDGE: Yes, I -- listen, Rush Limbaugh has an audience of 20 million people. A lot of people listen, daily, to him and live by very word. But words mean things, and how you use words is very important.

KING: I want to be clear, though. You think Rush is among those being too judgmental, too shrill?

RIDGE: Well, I think -- I think Rush -- Rush articulates his point of views in ways that offend very many. It's a matter of -- matter of language and a matter of how you use words. And it does get the base all fired up, and he's got strong following. But, personally, if he would listen to me -- and I doubt if he would -- the notion is, express yourselves, but let's respect others' opinions. And let's not be divisive.

Let's lead our party based on some principles that have been very much a part of who we are for decades, and let's be less shrill, in terms of -- and, particularly, not attack other individuals. Let's attack their ideas. Let's explain, in a rational, thoughtful, responsible and reasonable way why our ideas and our approach are more acceptable, why they should be more acceptable to the average citizen.

With Ridge the dynamic is kind of interesting, because he doesn't have go groveling to the Flaming Gasbag, so he may not wind up being forced to.

He also made clear that he disagreed with Dick Cheney:

KING: On the threshold question Vice President Cheney has raised, he says because of the changes in policy that President Obama has made the American people less safe. Do you agree?

RIDGE: Well, I agree that both men in principle are saying the right thing to the American public. President Obama has said we must conduct ourselves and combat terrorism in a way that's consistent with our value system, and I think he is spot-on.

I also think the vice president in his retort saying, look, we need to do everything we can, everything possible to protect American citizens, and I think Americans in large agree with both.

I think the interesting...

KING: But do you -- you had the intelligence. You served in a very sensitive position in those days after 9/11. Do you believe we are less safe today because of steps taken by President Obama?

RIDGE: I do not.

KING: You disagree with Dick Cheney then?

RIDGE: Yes, I disagree with Dick Cheney, but I also disagree with the approach both men are taking.

Indeed, he goes on to criticize Obama for being too "backward looking" in dealing with torture and Gitmo and the like -- the classic centrist's mantra.

But it is interesting to see the sensible Republicans trying to retake control of their party. Lotsa luck with that, fellas.

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