Previewing the opening of the George W. Bush Presidential Library on Thursday, rather than positively reflect on the legacy of the Bush presidency, MSNBC unsurprisingly chose to mock and minimize his eight years in office. During The Daily Rundown, host Chuck Todd introduced a segment on the former president with a spew of Bush “gaffes." He then mocked, "I miss this part of Bush because Obama never does this stuff."
After playing the clips, Todd spun, "Some of the lighter moments there from Bush's time in office. President Obama's always a little more careful. President Bush would dip into some of those things." Todd has gone so far as to excuse gaffes made by President Obama, blaming his speechwriter for the errors. [See video after jump. MP3 audio here.]
Todd might have this skewed view of presidential history, given that MSNBC virtually ignores the numerous gaffes throughout President Obama’s career, but will mock gaffes made by Republican politicians on a regular basis. Unfortunately, Todd couldn’t stop there with his Bush criticism, instead asking his panel about the legacy of “polarizingly [sic] unpopular presidents” like Bush, “lead to the other party winning a lot of presidential elections in a row.”
Speaking to Politico’s Jonathan Martin, Todd decided to ask, “Will Bush be to blame again if somehow Democrats win in '16?” Todd’s softball question enabled Martin to not only smear President Bush, but the entire Republican Party:
I think he will take a share of the blame. But I think you will see more -- more blame cast on a party that is resistant to modernizing. On issues like immigration. Other cultural matters. But the real issue, because there's so much talk about immigration and gay marriage. The central problem to me for Republicans is the economic issue.
Apparently Todd and Martin couldn’t resist using the Democratic talking point of blaming President Bush for the country’s problems, and clearly think that whoever the Democratic candidate is in 2016, should run against President Bush.
As if the anti-GOP sentiment on MSNBC didn’t stop there, in the next segment Todd brought in fellow MSNBCer, Chris, "thrill up my leg" Matthews, to discuss 2016, mainly Hillary Clinton. After talking about former First Lady Barbara Bush saying she hopes her son Jeb Bush chooses not to run for president in 2016, Matthews then went into Hillary cheerleading mode:
This really looks like a Hillary year coming up, and it really feels like it. Women my age have been waiting to vote for women for all these years. Hillary’s a notch or two as you know to the right of Obama.
Matthews didn’t stop there, instead choosing to double down on his desires to see Ms. Clinton run for president:
Everybody knows a lot about her. They know the whole story, and I think that she's a notch or two, do you think, to the right of the president, and very brilliant. Always perfectly positioned to the sweet spot there.
See relevant transcript below.
The Daily Rundown
April 25, 2013
9:45 p.m. EDT
GEORGE W. BUSH: Fool me once, shame on -- shame on you. If you fool me, you can't get fooled again. I think they misunderestimated the will and determination of the Commander in Chief, too.
CHUCK TODD: I miss this part of Bush because Obama never does this stuff. Some of the lighter moments there from Bush's time in office. President Obama's always a little more careful. President Bush would dip into some of those things. We're back now live from Dallas, Texas. The former president knows how to have a little fun as we showed you there. But he also hasn't shied away from tough talk, particularly when it comes to the state of the Republican Party. He recently said the party has to find a nominee that can stand by conservative principles and defend them to the American people. Let’s bring in our panel. Politico's Jonathan Martin. Former Chief of the U.S. Office of Citizenship for President George W. Bush Alfonso Aguilar and the Washington Post’s Dan Balz. Dan, Can the Republican Party win a national election for the presidency again without figuring out the Bush legacy?
DAN BALZ: Possibly. But they have to figure out how to deal with both the controversial parts of his time in office and also the things that he was talking about in the 2000 campaign that I think some people in the party believe they need to get back to, and I suspect president Bush, if he decided to talk about this, would recommend that.
TODD: You know, Alphonso, it is ironic hearing -- I know what you're advocating for on immigration reform. But hearing the -- nobody uses the phrase, but it was the definition of what Bush advisers in 2000 would say was compassionate conservatism.
ALFONSO AGUILAR: Correct. I think the Republican Party has a lot to learn from President Bush and his legacy. But I think he understood that we could engage minorities like Latino voters. And he got great support from Latino voters. But without compromising principles. And that's the difficult balance. Because you don't want to start giving up principles, and that’s the difficult balance. And you don’t want to start giving up principles because you're going to end up with a big tent, but very empty. So I think President Bush understood how to engage Latinos. He had a great position on immigration. But also he engaged Latinos and got their support, specifically Hispanic and evangelicals, by being pro-life, pro-marriage. So for those who in the party establishment say let's stop talking about those social issues, well those social issues were attractive with Latino voters.
TODD: You know Jonathan it’s interesting, you look back at American history, and a polarizingly unpopular president's lead to the other party winning a lot of presidential elections in a row. Hoover led to five straight Democratic presidencies. You look at what Carter did. Led to three straight for the Republicans. Will Bush be to blame again if somehow Democrats win in '16?
JONATHAN MARTIN: I think he will take a share of the blame. But I think you will see more -- more blame cast on a party that is resistant to modernizing. On issues like immigration. Other cultural matters. But the real issue, because there's so much talk about immigration and gay marriage. The central problem to me for Republicans is the economic issue. I mean, the Obama folks--
TODD: They haven't figured out how to talk at the kitchen table again.
MARTIN: The Obama folks will tell you ObamaCare was popular with a lot of people. And a lot of Republicans want to say if we just fix immigration or just stop talking about gay marriage or abortion everything will be hunky-dory. There’s a more fundamental challenge for the party on economics. Being the party of the middle class.
TODD: Dan, it's interesting though on the social issues, I think you and I were -- you were remarking to me about this yesterday. Not much on social issues in this library.
BALZ: No, there isn't. And that's actually not a surprise. Because, I mean, the president very pro-life as a politician. And yet he didn't always lead with that. His conviction was clear, but he talked about a lot of other things. I mean, the social issue in a sense that he deals with more in his library is the initiative in Africa
TODD: The humanitarian crisis.
TODD: Right, Alfonso?
AGUILAR: I would say that that's part of rewriting history a little bit. You have to understand, President Bush worked very closely with faith based organizations, with pastors, definitely within the Hispanic community he worked very closely with Hispanic evangelicals and he emphasized his position on life and marriage. I mean, he in a joint session of Congress endorsed an amendment to establish marriage between a man and a woman. And he was still popular with independents and Latinos. So again, it's the
-- the balance is how to get those voters without compromising principle.
9:54 a.m. EDT
CHUCK TODD: Dignitaries, bush veterans coming in, streaming in right now. It's a live picture here of the library. You see two sets of places where you get some good seats. These are really good seats and then there's a little side area there. Let's bring in the host of MSNBC’s "Hardball" he’s going to lead our coverage at 11:00 A.M. Chris Matthews, and Chris what you are first more foremost than anything is a political junkie and a history junkie. Moments like this, five presidents together.
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Yeah. I was thinking of a great joke, and I guess it would be a barroom joke. Who are the only four Presidents in the United States not buried in the states, not buried here?
MATTHEWS: These guys.
TODD: These guys, right.
MATTHEWS: So I think it is great to have them together. I think there is sort of a club, as has been written about by our friends. I think that they will be nice to each other and supportive, and it's sort of -- it's sort of a gentleman's agreement that they all be positive about each other. There’s something a little bit indecent about a president dumping on another president. Of course we’ve had very tricky histories like Harry Truman had no love for Ike, for example.
TODD: Herbert Hoover was very bitter for years.
MATTHEWS: My favorite line is Ronald Reagan having beaten Jimmy Carter, and they are riding along in the car coming up to the Capitol, and -- and Reagan was trying to break the ice, so he's talking about his Hollywood days which he always did, you know. So it's all over, and afterwards Jimmy Carter calls up his friend Jerry Rafshin [sic] who worked in Hollywood for years and said who is Jack Warner?
MATTHEWS: So they don't all have a lot in common, these guys, you know.
TODD: Alright, we've been talking a lot about Barbara Bush's unexpected comments.
MATTHEWS: I love it, I love it.
TODD: Coming out, could she be speaking for where the country is on this stuff, that maybe the idea of Hillary versus Jeb, on the one hand, we political junkies think it's great, it’s interesting you want a war game it out, that maybe the country says, wait a minute, we're not the Brits, were not a monarchy.
MATTHEWS: And there's always more than the two candidates in every election.
TODD: That's right.
MATTHEWS: There's the zeitgeists the tide. I mean Bill Clinton was going to win in '92
TODD: That's right.
MATTHEWS: And Jack Kennedy was probably going to –
TODD: You knew Obama would win '08. You could feel the tide.
MATTHEWS: 32 is going to happen. There are years that are very tough, like 2000 and maybe '92, they’re tougher to call. This really looks like a Hillary year coming up, and it really feels like it. Women my age have been waiting to vote for women for all these years. Hillary’s a notch or two as you know to the right of Obama.
TODD: And it's Hillary. What you’re saying is she's going to get elected because her name is Hillary, not because her name is Clinton. That’s my point. You know what I mean by that?
MATTHEWS: I think it all helps. Everybody knows a lot about her. They know the whole story, and I think that she's a notch or two, do you think, to the right of the president, and very brilliant. Always perfectly positioned to the sweet spot there, and I think, on the other hand, the Bushes, just too many times, and I think that Jeb is a very humble guy.
MATTHEWS: His brother said he was going to be, but turned out he didn't. I think he knows education really well. He'd be a great cabinet member, maybe a great vice president. I was thinking the other day, Christie/Bush that might be a good ticket.
TODD: Could be interesting. You and I will talk a lot about it. And in about 50 minutes Chris will lead our coverage.