Scarborough claimed "all Republicans are winners" in torture debate dividing party; reached different conclusion on Democratic differences over Iraq

››› ››› RYAN CHIACHIERE

Joe Scarborough claimed "all Republicans are winners" because of a debate that has split the Republican Party over President Bush's plan to redefine the Geneva Conventions. However, Scarborough previously saw differences within the Democratic Party over Iraq policy as potentially problematic.

On the September 20 edition of MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews, Scarborough Country host Joe Scarborough claimed that "all Republicans are winners" in the debate within the Republican Party over President Bush's plan to redefine the Geneva Conventions, because Republicans running in more liberal districts can "point to [Sen.] John McCain [R-AZ] and say, 'See, that is my Republican Party. I'm a moderate just like John McCain,' " while those running in more conservative districts can say, "I'm sticking with the president." But Scarborough had a very different take on debate within the Democratic Party over Iraq policy, stating of Democratic divisions over a proposal by Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) to redeploy U.S. troops from Iraq by mid-2007: "Now, if it's true, as Abraham Lincoln said in his historic 1858 Senate campaign, that a house divided against itself cannot stand, today's vote shows the Democratic Party's foundation to be a little shaky."

Scarborough added of the vote on the Kerry amendment: "[T]he Democratic Party's road to retaking Congress just got a bit longer."

As Media Matters for America noted, during the same segment of the June 22 edition of Scarborough Country, in which Scarborough blasted Democrats for their split vote on the Kerry amendment, Scarborough baselessly claimed that "the majority of Mr. Kerry's party voted with George Bush" to "maintain the course in Iraq."

From the September 20 edition of MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews:

CHRIS MATTHEWS (host): Well, we'll have to see who is winning right now. Thank you very much, David Shuster, for that report.

So the question we ask is, is this debate over torture helping or hurting the Republican Party ahead of the midterm elections? Joining me right now is the host of Scarborough County, Joe Scarborough. What's your verdict? Is this a clever ploy by the Republicans to put the focus on terrorism and away from Iraq?

SCARBOROUGH: Well, if you're a Republican, you hope they're that smart. But you're, you're exactly right, Chris, when you talk about the difference between the debate on the war on terror and the war in Iraq. When a politician is debating Iraq, it cuts against Republicans badly. When you talk about the war on terror, any time you talk about the war on terror, it's positive for the GOP, and in this case, were the president on the top of the ticket, were he running against a John Kerry or Al Gore in 2006, then he could be called an extremist for being too far right for his own party.

But in this case, it's great -- all Republicans are winners. If you were Chris Shays up in Connecticut, you can point to John McCain and say, "See, that's my Republican Party."

MATTHEWS: Yeah.

SCARBOROUGH: "I'm a moderate just like John McCain." If you're [Rep.] Katherine Harris [R-FL and Republican nominee for Senate] or if you're a congressman running in northwest Florida, you say, "Listen, those liberal Republicans and Democrats can protect detainees' rights" -- they wouldn't say that, they'd say terrorists' rights -- "all they want. I'm sticking with the president." So, in this case, everybody's a winner.

From the June 22 edition of MSNBC's Scarborough Country:

SCARBOROUGH: Now, from terror at home to the war on terror in Iraq, today the United States Senate continued its fiery debate on whether to maintain the status quo or to bring our troops home. Now, if it's true, as Abraham Lincoln said in his historic 1858 Senate campaign, that a house divided against itself cannot stand, today's vote shows the Democratic Party's foundation to be a little shaky because when the Senate voted today on John Kerry's plan, that would have set July 2007 as a withdrawal date from Iraq, only 12 Democrats and one independent voted yes. The majority of Mr. Kerry's party voted with George Bush, which allowed the measure to be defeated by an overwhelming 86 to 13.

You know, the bitter Iraq debate, I believe, holds the greatest opportunity for Democrats to retake control of Congress for the first time in 12 years. But once again, the party appears determined to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Make no mistake of it, George Bush's Iraq war is unpopular. Americans don't trust the president. They don't think the cost in blood and money are worth it, and they don't think the Pentagon has a plan to lead this great country to victory.

And even though I still support the war, it's obvious even to me that the Democratic Party's unity on this issue would spell doom for the president and his party. Democrats, independents, moderate Republicans would all support candidates this fall who promise to bring the troops home in a year.

But unfortunately for John Kerry and the volunteers who run Democratic campaigns across the country, the overwhelming majority of Democrats didn't even support their own party's amendment on the Senate floor. And because of that, the Democratic Party's road to retaking Congress just got a bit longer. It's time for the Democratic Party to quit running scared and start offering a clear alternative to George W. Bush. If they choose not to, expect the Republican Party to once again stay in power, not because they're good at governing -- God knows they haven't been lately -- but because the Democratic Party is so bad at running elections.

With me now, let's bring in Peter Beinart. He's the author of the book, The Good Fight: Why Liberals and Only Liberals Can Win the War on Terror. He's also editor at large of The New Republic. And Laura Schwartz, she's a former adviser to President Bill Clinton and Democratic strategist. And also Pat Buchanan, MSNBC's political analyst.

Pat, my God, what's happening to the Democratic Party here?

[laughter]

SCARBOROUGH: I mean, I -- you hear they're against the war. You hear that this war is going to be what brings George Bush and the Republican Party down. If you look at the polls, that's certainly what it says. But when they have a shot to bring the troops home in a year, they overwhelmingly abandon John Kerry, their last presidential candidate, and vote with George W. Bush. What's up?

BUCHANAN: Well, the Democratic Party is divided, conflicted and confused. It is also quite nervous. It is also trying to take a position to put itself exactly correct politically. And that is why they come off so unattractively and so divided.

Whatever you say about the Republicans, they stood together. They look like they have conviction. They're standing behind the president.

Joe, I agree that if the war's gone terribly and the Democrats hadn't got into this debate, the Democrats would benefit. But I believe by getting into it and taking a stand that can be demonized as cutting and running and getting out and setting deadlines for the enemy, they have made a strategic blunder once again. I think the very fact that the Republicans got them into this voting situation and they voted in a divided way -- that debate has hurt the Democratic Party.

SCARBOROUGH: It's, it's just terrible. And I, and I -- keep the three-screen up, T.J., because these three people we're looking at all oppose the war in Iraq. And, and yet, they probably can come together agree more tonight on what the Democratic Party could do than the Democratic Party.

Laura, and let me ask you, why can't your party speak with one voice on the Iraq war? Why can't they caucus together and agree to disagree on some of the smaller points, but on the larger points say, This is going to be our position. It's what we're going to tell America tomorrow on the Senate floor, and it's how we're going to campaign this fall so we can retake control of the Senate and the House. Why can't they do that?

SCHWARTZ (former Clinton White House director of events): Well, I think they're exercising their democracy and ability to discuss more than one amendment for the half of the party. You know, the one thing that is unified is that this Democratic Party agrees with the majority of Americans that we can't have a permanent presence in Iraq and we have to have a plan to bring them home.

SCARBOROUGH: Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait.

SCHWARTZ: -- we have chopper deployment.

SCARBOROUGH: But what does the Democratic Party agree with? The Democratic Party doesn't know what it believes. How can you say they agree with the majority of Americans when they can't even agree with themselves?

Network/Outlet
MSNBC
Person
Joe Scarborough
Show/Publication
Scarborough Country
Stories/Interests
Propaganda/Noise Machine
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