Meredith Vieira Cites 'Conservative' David Brooks to Bash Bobby Jindal

On Thursday's "Today" show NBC's Meredith Vieira invited on former George W. Bush assistant Mary Matalin to discuss the excessive spending in Barack Obama's budget, and the interview got off to a promising start as Vieira actually asked Matalin, "Do you see it as a disaster in the making?" However the segment quickly turned sour when Vieira cited a critique of Bobby Jindal's post-Obama address response by New York Times columnist David Brooks and claimed: "Conservatives were criticizing him for stale ideas. He didn't say anything, nothing new." Matalin ably defended the Louisiana governor as seen in the following exchange:

MEREDITH VIEIRA: You know, you talk about a united Republican Party, but I want to read to you something that David Brooks said, now he's a conservative columnist. This was after governor Bobby Jindal gave the response to President Obama's speech on Tuesday. Brooks said, "To come up at this moment in history with a stale "Government is the problem. We can't trust the federal government." It's just a disaster for the Republican Party. The country is in a panic right now." And he went on to suggest that the party is out of touch with where this country is and where it is headed. So, you do not agree with what he said?

MARY MATALIN: No, I don't, and I live in Louisiana now, as you know, and Bobby Jindal is an extraordinary public servant. He's the greatest public policy innovator in the country today, and that isn't what he said. That's David Brook's rendition of it. Who, who's a friend. But his, Bobby Jindal has made more progress in Louisiana in the shortest period of time in the history of the state and probably in the country. Education reform and, and ethics reform. Everything that put Louisiana downscale is now one of the top states in the country. What people who are objecting to, about Governor Jindal's presentation was the presentation itself. And you know, demonstrably he was much stronger on "Meet the Press" and much stronger on the "Today" show than he was in front of a teleprompter. I think if you want to take the measure of a man, I'd rather see him be able go up against you than stand in front of a teleprompter.

VIEIRA: But you know Mary it wasn't just that. It was, again conservatives were criticizing him for stale ideas. He didn't say anything, nothing new.

MATALIN: No, these are not stale ideas. These are the essence of the, of fiscal conservatism upon which this country was founded and prospered and he is applying in, in the state of Louisiana. What is an old idea that's never worked in the history of this country or any other is government growing, which does not create wealth. It discourages investment and wealth creation. And the, they call, they're calling those ideas stale, but those are the only ones in the history of this country that have created prosperity. It worked for Kennedy, it worked for Reagan, it worked, it got us out of the last recession, and it's the only thing that's gonna grow this economy again.

The following is a complete transcript of the segment as it was aired on the February 26, "Today" show:

MEREDITH VIEIRA: Mary Matalin is a former assistant to George W. Bush. Good morning, Mary.

MARY MATALIN: Good morning, Meredith.

VIEIRA: You just heard some of the details of President Obama's budget, including another $750 billion for banks that is set aside, just in case, $634 billion for health care, nearly $4 trillion in total. As a fiscal conservative, how far off the floor is your jaw this morning?

MATALIN: I, I, well, this is a different kind of presidency, isn't it? Although these are old-timey policies, the likes of which, though, at this, of this magnitude we've never seen. And to pay for this, we are going to not just raise taxes on the rich -- two-thirds of whom are small business owners who create three-quarters of all the jobs -- but now we're gonna eliminate tax deductions for that same class of people. We are absolutely going to discourage investment, savings, job creation, and we're going to -- he says he's gonna reduce the deficit, cut it in half, which is still a greater deficit than George Bush ever had. It is, it is jaw-dropping. That's a good word for it, Meredith.

VIEIRA: Do you see it as a disaster in the making, Mary?

MATALIN: I don't know that it's going to pass. The pattern seems to be that Barack Obama, who's an, an incredible and outstanding and unprecedented deliverer or presenter, gets this big boost when he presents a policy, but as the policy is examined, the support for it diminishes. He has a lot of conservative, fiscal conservative blue dog Democrats that he's going to have to deal with. He has a united Republican Party now who has refound their origins in fiscal conservatism, and he has some governors balking out there. So, I hope it doesn't pass in its current form.

VIEIRA: You know, you talk about a united Republican Party, but I want to read to you something that David Brooks said, now he's a conservative columnist. This was after governor Bobby Jindal gave the response to President Obama's speech on Tuesday. Brooks said, "To come up at this moment in history with a stale "Government is the problem. We can't trust the federal government." It's just a disaster for the Republican Party. The country is in a panic right now." And he went on to suggest that the party is out of touch with where this country is and where it is headed. So, you do not agree with what he said?

MATALIN: No, I don't, and I live in Louisiana now, as you know, and Bobby Jindal is an extraordinary public servant. He's the greatest public policy innovator in the country today, and that isn't what he said. That's David Brook's rendition of it. Who, who's a friend. But his, Bobby Jindal has made more progress in Louisiana in the shortest period of time in the history of the state and probably in the country. Education reform and, and ethics reform. Everything that put Louisiana downscale is now one of the top states in the country. What people who are objecting to, about Governor Jindal's presentation was the presentation itself. And you know, demonstrably he was much stronger on "Meet the Press" and much stronger on the "Today" show than he was in front of a teleprompter. I think if you want to take the measure of a man, I'd rather see him be able go up against you than stand in front of a teleprompter.

VIEIRA: But you know Mary it wasn't just that. It was, again conservatives were criticizing him for stale ideas. He didn't say anything, nothing new.

MATALIN: No, these are not stale ideas. These are the essence of the, of fiscal conservatism upon which this country was founded and prospered and he is applying in, in the state of Louisiana. What is an old idea that's never worked in the history of this country or any other is government growing, which does not create wealth. It discourages investment and wealth creation. And the, they call, they're calling those ideas stale, but those are the only ones in the history of this country that have created prosperity. It worked for Kennedy, it worked for Reagan, it worked, it got us out of the last recession, and it's the only thing that's gonna grow this economy again.

VIEIRA: Alright, Mary Matalin, as always, thank you very much.

MATALIN: Thanks Meredith.

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