Rachel Maddow and The Nation's Chris Hayes discuss Liz Cheney's hackery and her neocon pressure group Keep America Safe which was pretty well set up
January 12, 2010

Rachel Maddow and The Nation's Chris Hayes discuss Liz Cheney's hackery and her neocon pressure group Keep America Safe which was pretty well set up to give Cheney credibility she doesn't deserve, rewrite history for the Bush administration and attack President Obama on matters of national security. Of course that wouldn't work out so well for them if she and her cohort Bill Kristol weren't allowed to go on the air and spew bullcrap unchallenged by the hosts who allow them on their shows. As Rachel points out George Stephanopoulos did actually bother to point out an inaccuracy in Keep America Safe's recent ad, but then didn't challenge her when she didn't answer the question. Useless.

MADDOW: A remarkable political moment to share with you. You know that former Vice President Dick Cheney‘s daughter, Liz Cheney, has formed a neoconservative pressure group, right? That‘s the ostensible reason why she gets on TV so much these days. Remarkably, on one of those myriad TV appearances, someone actually confronted Liz Cheney about something she‘s been arguing for that makes no sense.

Amazing. Somebody confronted her. It finally happened!


GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS: I want to show our viewers a little bit of this ad you all are running in the wake of this, hitting the president for a tardy response to all of this. You show him playing golf, 24 hours later, the president coming out and finally saying something another day after that, 46 hours later.


OBAMA: But what already is apparent is that there was a mix of human and systemic failures that contributed to this potential catastrophic breach of security.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Arguing that the responses were much better under President Bush, yet as many Democrats have also pointed out, President Bush waited I think six days before doing much about Richard Reid, the shoe bomber.

LIZ CHENEY, KEEPAMERICASAFE.COM: Well, I think you‘ve got to go back here and look at the way this president has dealt with terror since he‘s been in office. And the point of that ad was this notion that you cannot win a war if you‘re treating it as sort of an inconvenient sideline.

MADDOW (voice-over): Wow! What a rhetorical duck. It‘s like she didn‘t even hear the question. Let‘s see that again on the instant replay.

STEPHANOPOULOS: President Bush waited I think six days before doing much about Richard Reid the shoe bomber.

CHENEY: Well, I think that you‘ve got to go back here and look at.

MADDOW: OK. Stop. Freeze it. All right.

This is the key part of the interview. Liz Cheney, why are you hitting President Obama for waiting four days before he talked about an attempted attack when President Bush waited six days? That‘s the question. And it‘s a good one.

So, here‘s her answer. Now, watch her mouth as she opens it and closes it and words come out.

CHENEY: The way this president has dealt with terror since he‘s been in office.

MADDOW: That‘s it. Right there.

CHENEY: .that ad was.

MADDOW: She gets asked about President Bush and his record on responding to terror and then she completely ignores the question and starts talking about Obama again.

CHENEY (distorted voice): . this president has dealt with terror since he‘s been in office.


MADDOW: Tada! She just completely ignores the question about the double standard for Bush and Obama. Just completely ignores it. And the interview plods on and they move on. Just amazing.

And for the record, the president was in front of cameras on Monday, December 28th, talking about the Christmas Day bombing, which according to my math is three and not four days after the attempted attack on Christmas Day she was implying for.

I don‘t know if Ms. Cheney will ever feel a need to answer questions about the things that her pressure group does, but the questions worth asking about that group and its activities are mounting. For example, there was their pseudo mini-documentary about the people of Standish, Michigan, about how Standish was being railroaded by evil politicians who wanted to flood their little town with prisoners from Guantanamo that these folks in Standish really didn‘t want.

I would love to hear Liz Cheney explain how she squares the people of Standish being forced into this mini-movie plot with the fact that the City Council of Standish, Michigan, unanimously passed a resolution asking for Guantanamo prisoners to be sent there. I don‘t think she‘s ever going to feel like she needs to explain herself, but I am curious.

There was also this ad released by Cheney‘s group in October, deriding this very TV network for criticizing Liz Cheney but refusing to debate her, which was very awkward, because we kept asking her to come on this show to, you know, debate. And she kept turning us down.


MADDOW: I understand, a lot of people say “no” to being on this show but not a lot of them do so while claiming that MSNBC is afraid to debate them. Be not afraid, Ms. Cheney. I promise I will not bite.


MADDOW: So far, the Liz Cheney pressure group has demanded to debate people who are perfectly willing to debate her but she won‘t do it. They have tried to get us to pity the poor, pushed around people in a small town in Michigan who asked for what Cheney wants us to pity them for. And they‘ve attacked President Obama for something that President Bush did.

If that were my record, I would want to be good at ducking questions, too.

Joining us now is Chris Hayes, Washington editor for “The Nation.”

Chris, thank you very much for being here.

CHRIS HAYES, THE NATION: Thanks for being here, Rachel. I was impressed with your telestrator skills.

MADDOW: It took me sort of all day. I will admit to figure out how to do that. But I just felt like this was this incredible moment. Nobody ever makes Liz Cheney sort of holds her to account for the double standard and just about everything that they‘ve done since she founded this pressure group.

And it was this great moment because she got asked but then she didn‘t answer. And I wonder if that‘s—if she just knows that she‘s good at evading questions and that makes her more confident at putting things out that have double standards.

HAYES: Well, I think that what makes Liz Cheney confident is the fact that there is no earthly reason that anyone should be listening to Liz Cheney on anything, other than the fact that she is the prodigy of an alleged war criminal. I mean, she is able to go out there and spout about whatever it is she wants to spout about because the Washington establishment has incredibly feudal conceptions of what earns someone a spot on a Sunday show. But aside from that, you know, there are thousands of people that are as qualified as Liz Cheney to talk about anything. And I mean across the political spectrum.

The only reason she is there is because she is Liz Cheney, she‘s Dick Cheney‘s daughter. I think that, you know, kind of intuits you from worrying about the kind of petty concerns of answering questions or logic or anything like that.

MADDOW: After she did start getting quite a bit of face time, after she and her father both started speaking out very early on in the Obama administration, she did form this organization.


MADDOW: Keep America Safe is the name of the group. What is—what is its purpose? What is it for?

HAYES: I honestly think, I mean, there are two things. One, its purpose is to demagogue terrorism and to kind of pursue this terribly atavistic view of the war on terror that Dick Cheney had.

But really—I really think it is there so that there‘s some putative reason other than her being Dick Cheney‘s daughter to put her on TV, like all the—like—when Keeping America Safe got up and running, all of a sudden, there was like a new chyron underneath her that seemed sort of more -- less embarrassing and more credible than just, you know, Dick Cheney‘s daughter.

I mean, I was doing—I‘m trying to find on the Internet if there is any tabulation of actually how many points that they‘ve purchased of advertising, because I don‘t even—it‘s very unclear how much they‘ve actually spent and where. And that‘s incredibly hard to come by. I couldn‘t find it anywhere.

So, I don‘t even know, like, whether these are the kinds of ads that people produce so that they get re-run on television shows, or actually, they‘re actually doing anything at the first order level that they say they‘re doing.

MADDOW: A new CNN poll that came out today on the issue of terrorism, said a majority of Americans, it was like 57 percent, approve of the way that President Obama responded to the Christmas Day attack. And in addition to the Liz Cheney stuff, there was a unified, screaming.


MADDOW: . chorus of Republicans hitting him over this issue.


MADDOW: Did it just—did it just not work? Did they not do enough?

What happened?

HAYES: You know, I think your—I mean, I think the 57 percent, given how just colossally earth-shatteringly stupid the news cycle was in the midst of the Christmas Day, you know, attempted underpants bomb, that‘s a really heartening number, because I do think that everybody is kind of operating on the Republican side, whether it‘s Pete Hoekstra or Peter King or Liz Cheney, or whoever is operating off this old playbook in which you kind of press these buttons and the public reacts in this Pavlovian way.

And I do think that that number, you know, and these polls, who knows how deeply that‘s registering. But I do think it shows that kind of press and response has weakened over time. And I think that‘s really a positive thing and I hope the Democrats take note that they don‘t need to be in this defensive crouch whenever something like national security or the ersatz war on terror comes along.

MADDOW: I think it also means, for journalists, that they can get out of the defensive crouch, too. That it‘s OK to ask follow-up questions and point out double standards in those things and nothing bad will happen.

HAYES: Absolutely.

MADDOW: Hopefully.

Chris Hayes, Washington editor of “The Nation,” tonight gets points for using atavistic, thank you very much for joining us. It‘s always a pleasure.

HAYES: I always try to bring one to you, Rachel.

MADDOW: I know. You‘re our vocabulary gnome. That‘s why we love you, Chris.

HAYES: Thanks, Rachel.

MADDOW: All right.

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