Matthews Rolls Red Carpet for Bush-Bashing Bartlett

Conservative author?  Want to be invited on MSM shows and given deferential treatment?  No problema!  Just be willing to take serious shots at a Republican president.  Case in point: on tonight's Hardball, Chris Matthews rolled out the red-carpet for author Bruce Bartlett, who had worked in the Reagan and Bush, Sr. administrations.  Title of Bartlett's book? "Impostor : How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy".  Bingo!

Highlights:

Matthews: "If you had to narrow it down to the biggest offense, as you see it, that Bush is not conservative, what is it?"

Bartlett: "Spending.  Spending is just totally out of control.  Bill Clinton was actually vastly better on the budget and there is simply no comparison between the two."

Matthews: "Have you found out from people on the inside why this president won't say 'no' to spending?"

Bartlett: 'They always tell me that it's because the bills are passed by a Republican Congress, so by definition he would have to veto Republican bills.  A lot of the tax provisions are just pork on the tax side.  They're just giveaways with no economic effect."

Really? So unless there's some central-planning stimulus motive behind a tax cut, it's better to put money in the hands of government than leave it in the private sector?  I wonder what Bartlett's former boss Jack Kemp would think of that?

The only area in which the pair parted ways was on Iraq.  Matthews is apparently convinced that President Reagan would not have invaded Iraq.  Bartlett, while stating "I'm not a supporter of the war," expressed the belief Reagan might have invaded if he believed Iraq had WMDs. His best line of the night: "If your hated enemy is holding a gun at your head, I don't think you have an obligation to check to make sure the gun is loaded before you take him out."

Matthews was unconvinced: "We disagree, but fair enough."  Chris sent Bartlett off with this pat on the back:

"I think the book's got a lot of great points in it.  I think you have a great critique from the right rather than the usual critique from the left. Buy the book!"

Mark Finkelstein
Mark Finkelstein is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.