Glenn Beck tells his followers to grab the kids and guns and head to some farmland. Charles Krauthammer and others encourage renewed Republican obstruction to President Obama. Republican-run companies are either threatening layoffs, or actually laying off workers, out of sheer spite – and it’s clearly spite because, after all, nothing’s changed since the day before the election except a re-elected President Obama. Super PAC donors have turned on Karl Rove in a white hot fury for purportedly wasting their money on losing races (which include the presidency, of course, along with over a dozen down ballot races). Texas is threatening to secede from the union. Again.
No, the right-wing reactions to President Obama’s re-election have not been pretty. If only jealousy, sour grapes and petty vindictiveness were attractive human qualities, Republicans would have a pretty effective strategy going. But they’re not. And they don’t.
Mary Matalin, wife of far left political strategist James Carville (and how that marital union manages to soldier on is one of the mysteries of the universe) personified the scorched earth position of the right wing of this country, post-Obama-re-election, in a discussion on CNN with Van Jones, hosted by Wolf Blitzer. Her no retreat/no surrender attitude – after an election that was an unequivocal mandate against Republican candidate Mitt Romney and, by default, the Republican party itself – was startling, mired as it was in delusion, denial, hostility, and a stubborn adherence to a losing message. As one of the leading faces of the Republican Party, Matalin cleared up any question there might have been as to why the Republican Party’s attitude and message, along with the messengers, have been soundly rejected. Matalin appeared surly, shifty, smug, purely spitting and frothing at the mouth in insane, jaw-jutting fury, in stark contrast to Van Jones’ reasonable, calm demeanor.
Wolf Blitzer: What’s the next chapter for this nation? We’ve got two experts to weigh in, Republican strategist and CNN contributor, Mary Matalin, is joining us from Houston, Democratic strategist and CNN contributor Van Jones is here in Washington. Van, let me start with you. Can this President do what he largely failed to do in the first four years, get a coalition going, with Republicans, and get some bi-partisan legislative achievement through.
Jones: Well, he absolutely can. First of all, I think there’s a myth out there that he never tried. He put on the table, people forget, significant cuts. He put on the table tax cuts for 98% of Americans, for small business. The Republican congress made a decision they didn’t want to work with him. But he’s still there, after all the filibusters, after all the Super PAC money, after all the birther smears, he’s still there. I think now the better angels in the Republican Party can come forward and look at some of the stuff he put on the table earlier. But you have to remember: He’s also strengthened. The Republican Party has now shown itself to be in this demographic cul de sac. They cannot win another national election until they reach out, so there’s pressure on them also to reach across, and I think that’s good for the country.
Blitzer: The Republicans, Mary, as you know, retained the majority, a decisive majority, in the House of Representatives, so where do you see bi-partisan cooperation going, if at all?
Matalin: Well, it’s certainly not initiated by this President. There’s no record of that, Van is completely wrong. He’s completely erroneous, and he was there when, I believe he was in the White House when the President said to Eric Cantor, who came with all the Republican ideas in hand, “elections have consequences, Eric, and I won.” He didn’t include any of those Republican ideas, he had majorities in both chambers and he jammed through his own agenda. And his campaign was marked by malice [Van Jones shakes head] – Van, his campaign was marked by malice and mendacity, it was full of derision and division and destruction, and distraction and distortion. I don’t see how he can, and, and, how anyone would trust him, even Democrats. He has no mandate for anything.
Jones: Well, I think it’s not true he doesn’t have a mandate, he said very clearly that he thinks that people who make more than $250,000 a year should pay more taxes. 60-70% of Americans agree with him on that, so he has a mandate for that. The other thing I think is that, you know, he also was a victim of a lot of really nasty, I think, offensive attacks on him. We went through a dark, ugly period in American politics the past two years. My hope is that we will get past some of the vitriol now, he is still there, the Republicans are still there, the problems are still here, and there is common ground, and I think we’ve gotta recognize that the President is sounding the right tone. Frankly, Mitt Romney sounded a much better tone, frankly, than you just did, Mary. I think people want to come together now.
Blitzer: Well, Mary, let me ask you, you said the President . . .
Matalin: Because, you know why, Van, because Romney is a gentleman . . .
Blitzer: Hold on, Mary, when you say the President doesn’t have a mandate, he did win a majority of the popular vote [Matalin shakes head] and he won decisively in the electoral colleges, especially if he wins Florida, and we haven’t made a formal projection yet on Florida, but he’s slightly ahead. [Matalin smirks, sits back, licks her lips.] So why do you say he doesn’t have a mandate?
Matalin: What is his mandate? What is his issue mandate, Wolf, free contraception? Penalizing rich people? The revenues he raises from that will kill jobs and won’t reduce the deficit.
Jones: A balanced approach to deficit reduction. A balanced approach to deficit reduction.
Matalin: That doesn’t have anything to do with deficit reduction. Van, that’s what he said. It was a campaign of platitudes and pap, and it was divisive. And it was destructive. I don’t care what you think, Van. And he did not have any issues mandates, other than free contraceptions and taxing rich, he’s the only history of president who has, president in history, has a lower re-election margin and fewer electoral votes than his first time around. He won in a squeaker . . .
Jones: This is the spirit that turned the Republican Party . . .
Matalin: . . . by running a tactical campaign.
Jones: The spirit that you’re showing, unfortunately, is exactly what I think we’re trying to get away from now. I think the Republican Party has to make a decision: Does it want to be a permanent minority party that has this sort of vitriolic tone, or does it actually want to try to find common ground where it’s there. This President [Matalin shakes her head] put tax cuts on the table, 98% tax cuts were rebuffed by the Republicans. He put on the table tax cuts for small businesses this past year. Rebuffed by [Matalin rolls eyes and throws up her hand] the Republican Party. And so I think the Republicans have an opportunity to go back and look at those earlier offers and say, you know what, Mr. President, we’ll take you up on that. They don’t even have to move from their own position, they just have to vote for their own policies this President has been championing.
Blitzer: Very quickly, Mary, ’cause we gotta go.
Matalin: What?!? It’s four years of distortion, division, derision, and it’s gonna be four more, but luckily the House of Representatives and Romney laid out a foundation for reform agenda going forward which will be, which will be grounded in the House of Representatives. I’m proud of Mitt Romney, he’s a gentleman, he was courageous, he ran a campaign of conviction and he should be proud of himself, unlike the Democrats, who really really have excelled at the politics of personal destruction.”
Examine the rhetoric Matalin put out there: Divisive, destructive, derision – and yet, it was her article in the National Review that attacked President Obama as being a “political narcissistic sociopath” who “leveraged fear and ignorance with a campaign marked by mendacity and malice.” It was she who blamed the election loss on the weather: ”Unfortunately and unfortuitously, forces of nature bookended the general election: Our convention was compromised by one weather disaster and our momentum stalled by another.” It was she who turned on one of her own party’s mainstays, in fact, the RNC keynote speaker, Chris Christie, blaming him, in part, for the election loss: ” . . . Chris Christie’s deplorable and gratuitous gas-baggery infused the campaign with a toxic political pollution.” It is she who seems suddenly not to remember the multiple Pants on Fire lies of Mitt Romney and his campaign. It is she who has forgotten Romney’s blunderbuss tour of Europe. It is she who has chosen to ignore his “47%” speech. And yet, she still blames the election on a storm and Chris Christie and the Obama campaign not playing fair.
If there were ever a singular symbol of why the Republican Party is known for little integrity and a frenzied inability to shake hands with the truth, Matalin is it. And if ever there were a culture of “destruction” and “derision,” Matalin symbolizes it. In fact, she is the personification of all the hatefulness and impotent blame-placing the right-wingers yearn for, the same mean-spirited rhetoric that turns everyone, except that little core group, completely off. Like Jan Brewer and Sarah Palin and Sean Hannity and others before her, Matalin is delivering what the hard-core base of the Republican Party wants: Disrespect of and contempt for President Obama. Unfortunately, rehashing the election and the fact that the President “won by a squeaker” is moot, irrelevant, and not designed to encourage the other children to play nice. It’s also not going to change the result, either now or going forward.
Hey, Matalin: Elections have consequences. President Obama won. Deal with it.