David Shuster: Larry Craig a 'Moral Insult' to Katrina Victims

On the Wednesday night edition of MSNBC's "Hardball" Chris Matthews and David Shuster continued to use the Larry Craig scandal to bury the GOP and while Matthews declared "the downfall of" Bush's party was "driven by every movement of the body politic" it was his colleague Shuster who outdid him when, after running down a litany of GOP troubles ranging from Craig to the resignation of Alberto Gonzales, charged: "It all adds moral insult to the injuries being suffered today by the victims of Hurricane Katrina."

Not only did Shuster, mock the President's return to New Orleans on the two-year anniversary of Katrina, as he noted: "The memories of an incompetent administration divorced from reality are still hard to forget," he also took umbrage with a harmless prank of Karl Rove as he concluded his long-winded rant this way:

"In Washington White House staffers unveiled that they cared about wrapping up Karl Rove's car in plastic. The prank, while perhaps funny to them, provided fresh field for critics who see a White House that is caught up in its own cozy world. The White House did offer a statement today on the Larry Craig sex scandal. A presidential spokesman expressed disappointment but refused to say whether Craig should keep his job. That means the White House is trying to stay detached from Senator Craig in much the same way the White House has tried to stay removed from the lingering Gulf Coast problems since Hurricane Katrina. I'm David Shuster for Hardball in Washington."

The following is Chris Matthews' introduction at the top of the show, followed by the entire Shuster piece as they occurred on the August 29th edition of "Hardball":

Chris Matthews: "Good evening, I'm Chris Matthews. Welcome to Hardball. Our top story, obviously, tonight President Bush resides in a political bunker. The downfall of his party driven by every movement of the body politic. Just 48 hours ago he gave up his pal, Alberto Gonzales to the political wolves. Yesterday he watched in awe as yet another warrior of the cultural right was caught in the spotlight of illegal, sexual misconduct. Misconduct, against which his party has mounted a chest-thumping, full-throated campaign, a campaign of words, that once again, has not been underwritten by actions. Even their holiest colleagues are now forced to acknowledge that the public indecency of Senator Craig has exposed the sub-prime Republican morality of those who have dared to rate themselves as culturally conservative?"

...

Matthews: "But we begin tonight with Hardball's David Shuster and his report on the tough times now facing the Grand Old Party."

David Shuster: "In the midst of a horrific week for his White House and his party, today in New Orleans, President Bush tried to show a happy face while staring at another challenge, the two year anniversary of the destruction from Katrina."

George W. Bush: "Hurricane Katrina broke through the levees, it broke a lot of hearts, it destroyed buildings but it didn't affect the spirit of a lot of citizens."

Shuster: "On that point the President is correct. Two years ago residents, stuck for days at the New Orleans convention center, were so angry at the lack of any government response that their spirited cries haunted the nation and sent the President's approval ratings tumbling. And while the White House is trying to put the focus on the ongoing recovery, thousands of Gulf Coast residents still live in FEMA trailers, large parts of New Orleans are still uninhabitable and the memories of an incompetent administration divorced from reality are still hard to forget."

Bush: "And Brownie, you're doing a heckuva job."

Shuster: "On top of the awkwardness today in remembering Katrina, the President's week began when he saw his longtime friend, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, driven out of town over a spate of scandals."

Bush: "It's sad that we live in a time when a talented and honorable person, like Alberto Gonzales, is impeded from doing important work because his good name was dragged through the mud for political reasons."

Shuster: "The politics, however, that fueled the U.S. attorney scandal came from the White House. And few Democrats or Republicans believe, this year, that Gonzales was talented or honorable."

Alberto Gonzales: "I'm ultimately accountable and responsible for what happens within the department but that is, in essence, what I knew about the process, was not involved in seeing any memos. Was not involved in any discussions about what was going on."

Shuster: "Gonzales, eventually retracted that statement and a dozen others. But President Bush seemed oblivious."

Bush: "I haven't seen Congress say he's done anything wrong."

Shuster: "However, nearly everyone else paying attention, did, when Gonzales testified."

Sen. Arlen Specter(R): "I do not find your testimony credible, candidly."

Sen. Diane Feinstein(D): "I have never seen an attorney general so contemptuous of Congress."

Rep. Jay Inslee(D): "If you count the number of times this attorney general has refused to shoot straight with the U.S. Congress, it has to set a congressional record."

Shuster: "On Tuesday the President and his party suffered a huge embarrassment when court documents revealed that full-throated conservative Senator Larry Craig was arrested for his behavior towards another man, an undercover cop in this airport men's room."

Sen. Larry Craig: "Let me be clear. I am not gay, I never have been gay. I did nothing wrong at the Minneapolis airport."

Shuster: "The Republican blamed the Idaho media, gay groups and the police for his arrest, for his guilty plea and for not telling anybody about it for months. The problem, among others, is that the GOP campaigns as the party of family values and Senator Craig's bathroom bust underscores the hypocrisy. Never mind Craig and his old attacks on President Clinton."

Sen. Craig from 1999: "The American people already know that Bill Clinton is a bad boy, a naughty boy."

Shuster: "There is former Republican Congressman Mark Foley, who built his social life on male pages. Conservative pastor Ted Haggard, who had trysts with a male prostitute. Republican Senator David Vitter, who campaigned as a family man but later acknowledged encounters with a woman who police described as a prostitute. It all adds moral insult to the injuries being suffered today by the victims of Hurricane Katrina. But as the President was finishing his solemn speech this morning."

Bush: "We, we care deeply about the folks in this part of the world."

Shuster: "In Washington White House staffers unveiled that they cared about wrapping up Karl Rove's car in plastic. The prank, while perhaps funny to them, provided fresh field for critics who see a White House that is caught up in its own cozy world. The White House did offer a statement today on the Larry Craig sex scandal. A presidential spokesman expressed disappointment but refused to say whether Craig should keep his job. That means the White House is trying to stay detached from Senator Craig in much the same way the White House has tried to stay removed from the lingering Gulf Coast problems since Hurricane Katrina. I'm David Shuster for Hardball in Washington."

Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens is the Deputy Research Director at the Media Research Center.