Former New York governor George Pataki on Friday turned the tables on Chris Matthews for accusing conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh of rhetoric that is "alien to America."
In the opening segment of MSNBC's "Hardball," the host was doing his darnedest to make the case that Republicans, led by Limbaugh, are attacking President Obama for no good reason.
After showing a montage of some recent Limbaugh statements, Matthews asked, "Does it matter that you`ve got someone on your side of the political world that is out there accusing the [Times Square] bomber of being a Democrat, like he`s on assignment from the Democratic Central Committee?"
"I mean, this kind of talk is so alien to America!"
Pataki marvelously responded, "Well, it`s not really. All you have to do is watch some of your colleagues on MSNBC and you see the same type of talk from the other side" (video follows with partial transcript and commentary):
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: You know, Governor, I`ve always respected you as a sort of a common-sense guy, somewhere in the middle, somewhere toward the right, depending on what`s going on. And yet I can`t find any Republican -- center, center right or right -- who will take on this guy, Limbaugh, this tub of whatever. He says this guy`s dividing America. He says that blacks are out there to take back what they rightfully own in this country and he`s on their side. He says this bomber that we`ve been talking about the last five minutes is a registered Democrat. He says that the president is not of this country. He says he`s got enemies all over the country and he`s Nazi-like.
Will you distinguish yourself on at least one of these points from Limbaugh?
GEORGE PATAKI (R), FORMER NEW YORK GOVERNOR: Of course.
MATTHEWS: Where? Just name one time you...
PATAKI: Of course, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Because you`ll be the first Republican on this show...
PATAKI: Sure. Absolutely.
MATTHEWS: ... to say you don`t agree with -- where are you not a ditto-head here?
PATAKI: I`ll start at the end, with the last one. I do not think this regime in any way resembles Nazism. I disagree with him on...
MATTHEWS: It`s a regime?
PATAKI: This government.
MATTHEWS: OK. Sorry...
MATTHEWS: You`re falling into the trap of these whackjobs.
PATAKI: ... but this government...
MATTHEWS: No, I know, but that`s what...
PATAKI: OK, this administration, does not, in my mind, resemble in any way a Nazi government. This administration has put in policies I fundamentally disagree with, but that`s part of the democratic system.
MATTHEWS: Do you believe that Faisal Shahzad is a registered Democrat?
PATAKI: Well, that`s -- that`s...
MATTHEWS: Where does your side get this nonsense?
PATAKI: You know...
PATAKI: Chris, Chris, Chris, that...
MATTHEWS: He`s not!
PATAKI: Chris, I don`t know. He`s a citizen. And whether or not he is, is a matter of public record.
MATTHEWS: He`s not!
PATAKI: To me, it doesn`t matter. He`s clearly a captured terrorist and should be treated as such.
MATTHEWS: Right. Does it matter that you`ve got someone on your side of the political world that is out there accusing the bomber of being a Democrat, like he`s on assignment from the Democratic Central Committee?
PATAKI: You know -- you know, Chris...
MATTHEWS: I mean, this kind of talk is so alien to America!
MATTHEWS: Go ahead.
PATAKI: Well, it`s not really. All you have to do is watch some of your colleagues on MSNBC and you see the same type of talk from the other side. It is political rhetoric by people in the media. When it comes from people in public office, I think it is reprehensible. And you should try to have an intelligent dialogue, and I do.
Later, Matthews played some quotes from prominent Republicans which he felt were examples of over the top rhetoric:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MIKE PENCE (R), INDIANA: The American people deserve to know why the administration was slow to respond and why the necessary equipment was not immediately available in the region.
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), MINORITY LEADER: Yes, we`ve been lucky, but luck is not an effective strategy for fighting the terrorist threat.
MICHAEL STEELE, RNC CHAIRMAN: Jobs are not being created in this economy the way they should. There are a lot of people have given up on the one thing that this administration has been selling from the very beginning, and that`s hope.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
Horrors! Can you imagine the NERVE of: one Congressman saying that people want to know why the administration was slow to respond to the Gulf oil spill and lacked the proper equipment necessary to deal with it; another Congressman saying that luck isn't an effective counter-terrorism strategy, and; a Party Chairman saying that with an almost 10 percent unemployment rate, folks have given up hope?
When you consider what Democrats regularly said about former President George W. Bush while he was in office, this is all EXTREMELY tame by comparison.
But of course, with an advocate like Matthews, criticism of the man that gives him tingles up his leg is verboten.
Fortunately, Pataki was having none of it:
PATAKI: Chris, what you`re basically saying is that when you have a fundamental disagreement with the policies of this administration and feel that they have not helped to create jobs and get the economy growing, that somehow, it`s unfair political criticism. I don`t think so.
Neither do most Americans.