Chris Matthews welcomed conservative radio host Laura Ingraham – straight from her knockout victory over NBC’s David Gregory on the “Today” show a few weeks back – to his panel on the Sunday program bearing his name. Given how well Ingraham did against one liberal foe, NBC must have felt better about its chances with a panel of CBS’s Gloria Borger, TIME magazine’s Joe Klein, and the New Republic’s Andrew Sullivan. Unfortunately for NBC’s producers, they were wrong (partial video link to follow).
The conversation began with illegal immigration. After an introduction, with salient points made by Klein, Ingraham, and Sullivan, one could sense the coming imbroglio when Sullivan implied that the whole problem was caused by Republicans. Matthews asked: “Why is there such fear on the side of the people who really want action on illegal immigration?” Sullivan rather ineptly responded: “Because part of the real base, the Republican base, regard any attempt to integrate these 11 million illegals into a guest worker program or anything else as amnesty and therefore they go off the minute you even mention it, and that is Bush's problem.” Rather facile, don’t you think Andrew?
Borger entered the discussion: “I think Americans don’t want to reward people who break the law. But I think more and more Americans understand assimilation is part of what we are.”
Ingraham struck back:
“What the public saw at these rallies was not assimilation. What they saw was people very angry, very upset, waving flags other than the United States, some American flags but a lot of Mexican flags. And I'll tell you something, people don't have any faith that this government is going to enforce new laws, check new boxes, go through new hoops.”
Later, Sullivan stirred the pot again by blaming the current debate on this issue on – wouldn't you know it? -- talk radio: “Laura, you're right, there is a legitimate, serious, valid argument about closing the borders but the rhetoric that’s used by the right on talk radio has only served to inflame and, I think, understandably…”
Ingraham wisely interjected, “Did you see some of the rhetoric used at the rallies?” Sullivan didn’t really answer this, and, instead, continued with his vilification: “Yes, let me tell you this, it has inflamed, and will inflame and alienate many Hispanic voters -- let me finish my point -- that the Republicans need. So you have the rhetoric poisoning the Latinos against the Republicans.”
In response, both Matthews and Ingraham challenged Sullivan at almost the same time, with Matthews asking, “What is the rhetoric you don’t like?” and Ingraham dittoing, “What is the rhetoric?” Sullivan responded, “Hoards. Invasion.”
Klein entered the discussion: “Listen, this debate hasn't been going on for two decades, it's been going on for two decades times 10. You could have gone to an Irish rally in 1848 and seen Irish flags there.” Ingraham brilliantly challenged: “Then why aren’t you seeing Irish people in Ohio in favor of illegal immigration?” When Klein appeared to be rambling non sequiturs, Ingraham correctly answered her own question: “No, because their wages are down.” Klein’s retort? “Because a minority of people have always been know-nothings, and have always been supplanted by the vast majority of Americans.” Ingraham chastised, “You can talk louder, Joe, but it doesn't make your point any better with the American people.” This seemed to rattle Klein a bit.
As the discussion moved forward, the consensus sans Ingraham was that any bill passed by Congress would, of course, hurt the Republicans. Matthews asked, “What happens if Republicans pass a tough bill? What will be the consequences electorally this November?” Borger responded, “If they pass a tough bill it's going to hurt the Republican Party.” Sullivan agreed, “This is doing to Latinos what Katrina did to blacks and that is what Bush wants to avoid…quite understandably so.”
Ingraham countered: “I disagree with Gloria. I think if Bush stood firm on the border first then said we're going to deal with people who’ve been here for a long period of time but we need to show good faith on the border, I think he’d do much better.” Predictably, Sullivan saw this as a lose-lose: “I think he loses any which way. Any which way he loses.”
After the break, Matthews began a new discussion about Christian Conservatives. Ingraham was speaking about different factions of religious conservatives, and Klein interrupted with what could be construed as an anti-Semitic remark: “And there are Jewish conservatives like Jack Abramoff.”
Later, Klein went into a rant wherein he suggested that Lou Sheldon and James Dobson are charlatans. Ingraham countered: “By the way, what Joe just said about James Dobson is the reason I have hope despite everything that’s happening on immigration that the Republicans will still keep winning because as long as you keep offending people who think Jim Dobson has done some good things then you guys aren’t going to ever win the heartland.”
You tell ‘em, Laura.
Video Link courtesy of Expose the Left.