Former Bush Aide Smacks Down Joan Walsh For Questioning W's 'Psychological Compass'
A former advisor to George W. Bush smacked down Salon's Joan Walsh Monday for questioning the 43rd President's psychological compass.
Appearing on MSNBC's "Hardball," GOP strategist Ron Christie also gave Chris Matthews a much-needed education on why going into Iraq was a successful part of Bush's strategy to prevent America from a follow-up attack after 9/11 (video follows with transcript and commentary):
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Let’s go to a thing, much more serious than the war itself, which cost the lives of 77,000 people and counting. President Bush writes about not finding weapons of mass destruction, quote, "When Saddam didn’t use weapons of mass destruction on our troops, I was relieved. When we didn’t discover the stockpile soon after the fall of Baghdad, I was surprised. When the whole summer passed without finding any I was alarmed. No one was more shocked or angry than I was when we didn’t find the weapons. I had a sickening feeling every time I though about it. I still do." So, he’s talking about his subjective feelings here again. And here’s the question: he says later on that he protected us from being hit again by attacking in Iraq, but then says I didn’t find any weapons. He protected us from the weapons that didn’t exist.
JOAN WALSH, SALON: That didn’t exist.
MATTHEWS: I think it makes no -- Joan, it makes no logical sense to say, I protected us from the weapons they didn’t have. There were no nuclear or biological or chemical. They weren’t there. I protected us by going to war, 77,000 dead people later, and I should get credit because we weren’t hit again by weapons that don’t exist. It doesn’t make sense to a regular person listening to this.
WALSH: It doesn’t make any sense. I mean, come on, he sits there and says he’s sickened, he’s saddened, he’s angry about it.
MATTHEWS: Who cares?
WALSH: And then, the three -- but also the three of us remember he did that funny little routine at one of the -- one of the big Washington dinners where he’s on his hands and knees, looking behind the couch, where the WMDs? That was hilarious. Are you sickened? Are you sickened or do you think it’s funny? I mean, that’s where this guy’s moral compass and psychological compass -- something’s always off to me. Something --
RON CHRISTIE, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Wait a second. I am not going to let you sit there and talk about his psychological compass for someone who you don’t even know.
MATTHEWS: Help us explicate this poetry. How can you --
MATTHEWS: He said that he was sickened by the fact there was no WMD there. Then he said, by the fact, we fought the war, he protected us from being hit again. By what, the WMD that wasn’t there? There’s no logic to that.
CHRISTIE: No, the logic is very simple. The fact of the matter of is, we were hit on September 11th, 2001.
MATTHEWS: By al-Qaeda.
CHRISTIE: By al Qaeda. The president of the United States took every step necessary, going to war in Iraq, he believed that was the right thing to do -- going to war in Afghanistan, working with Congress to create the Department of Homeland Security.
MATTHEWS: But the question was Iraq.
CHRISTIE: No, Chris, the question is --
MATTHEWS: The question was Iraq.
CHRISTIE: You asked me to justify --
MATTHEWS: Matt Lauer asked him, how do you justify all the horror stories that were accompanied to the Iraq war? He answered it was justified because we weren’t hit again.
MATTHEWS: Nobody got killed when we defended -- let’s listen to Matt. Let’s listen to the exact discussion so you can focus here again. Here’s President Bush in the 9/11 attacks in his interview with Matt Lauer. Let’s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATT LAUER, NBC NEWS: Here’s something else from the book, "September 11th redefined sacrifice. It redefined duty and it would redefine my job. I could never forget what happened to America that day. I would pour my heart and soul into protecting this country whatever it took." It took two wars.
GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Yes.
LAUER: It took thousands of lives, American lives, billions of dollars. You could say it took Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib.
LAUER: And government eavesdropping and waterboarding. Did it take too much?
BUSH: We didn’t have an attack. Three thousand people died on September the 11th, and I vowed I would do my duty to protect the American people and they didn’t hit us again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: The decision point was going to Iraq. How does that decision to go to Iraq save lives?
CHRISTIE: Part of his overall strategy.
MATTHEWS: How did that -- that’s the issue.
CHRISTIE: Well, you’re taking out a very unstable dictator.
MATTHEWS: Seventy-seven thousand people dead. How did that stop us from being hit again by the al Qaeda?
CHRISTIE: Because you’re taking out a very unstable dictator who used weapons of mass destruction against his own people.
CHRISTIE: You didn’t let me --
MATTHEWS: Go ahead. Make your point, but I don’t hear anything here.
CHRISTIE: My point is it was part of a broader comprehensive strategy, Iraq, Afghanistan, Homeland Security. You can quibble with his decision to go to war, Chris, but the fact of the matter, is president was able correct. We were not hit again after September 11th.
MATTHEWS: What does Iraq have to do with the decision by the enemy, whoever it is, which enemy we’re talking about here.
MATTHEWS: Joan, what is the role of an Iraq in keeping us safe?
WALSH: I don’t believe that there’s any role, Chris. I don’t believe there’s any role. There was no al-Qaeda involvement in Iraq. There was no Iraqi involvement in 9/11. It was a war of choice. It was a war that the neocons had been pushing and pushing literally for years. They got their man. They got their man to do it, and, you know, we’re still stuck there many thousands of lives later.
MATTHEWS: It’s the same old conflation, game of conflating. He always conflates. He conflates 9/11 with Iraq. He did it again there. He kept conflating weapons of mass destruction, keep it confusing what kind of weapons we’re talking about.
CHRISTIE: We didn’t get hit again. You can say all you want conflation all you want.
CHRISTIE: Part of a broader strategy, we were not hit again. He made it his number one mission to protect the American people and for that we have a lot to be grateful for.
Readers should note that this is the second time in the past two "Hardball" installments that Matthews has made this same absurd point about Iraq and 9/11. As NewsBusters previously reported, he did this in his final segment Friday.
The former President and most rational Americans understand that Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with 9/11, or at least no linkage has been determined.
However, as Christie accurately noted, the Bush administration saw the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq as being integral parts of preventing a follow-up terrorist attack on our nation.
Whether one agrees with that strategy or not, the indisputable fact is there has not been a successful attack on our mainland since. Whatever military and homeland security actions taken by the previous administration to protect us have to be considered as having accomplished this goal.
If the only thing Iraq did was centralize the war on terror in a land thousands of miles away from our shores thereby keeping our enemies at a safe distance, that in itself validates the strategy.
Folks like Matthews and Walsh can question whether the loss of life was worth that end, but as the Commander-in-Chief's most vital role is to protect the citizens he serves, this perilously liberal couple would be on weak footing with most Americans.
As for Matthews, this is the second time in five days he's been schooled by a GOP strategist. Makes you think that Keith Olbermann is wise to not allow such folk on his program, as "Countdown" would look like quite a classroom if the host ever let anyone on his show that actually knew something.