Matthews Does His Job for a Change

In my No-Ownership Society piece, I referenced a segment on Hardball; here's the video for those who didn't see it, followed by some pertinent bits of the transcript.

[Starting at the 6:00 mark, when Matthews really starts laying into Cantor…]

Matthews: Congressman Cantor, we're in a national crisis right now; I'm looking at the market every day and it's scary; and we have a president of United States who's still in office, he still lives at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. The normal president, at this time of a crisis, would be on national television at 9:00 at night talking to the American people about the problems we face. Do you still take—have confidence in this president you've elected? You voted for Bush the last time; you supported him. Does your party still support President Bush in the way he's leading this country economically? Do you like the job he's doing?

Cantor: [pause] Well, listen, nobody—

Matthews: Do you like the job that Bush is doing?

Cantor: Chris, Chris, no one likes an economic crisis. We have, as I said before—

Matthews: Do you like the job the president is doing, leading this country?

Cantor: —a confident, we have a crisis of confidence. What this president has done through his Secretary of the Treasury has reached out and tried to make the situation right itself so that the families of this country will not have to worry about where their retirement is coming from. And you know what? It is about time that we start to—that we stop the finger-pointing and start solving the problem. That's exactly what this campaign should be about, that is what John McCain is talking about, and you compare that to what Barack Obama has been saying the last 24 hours—let the voters hear that, because the question will be when they go into the ballot box, is, who, in their minds, is going to best be able to approach a problem and solve it as quickly as possible without trying to point fingers and lay blame.

Matthews: The problem you have is that your colleague from Virginia, Tom Davis, who once ran your campaign committee, said that if the Republican Party was dog food, they'd take it off the shelves. And you haven't used the word "Republican" tonight; your party didn't use it in the acceptance speech; John McCain never said the word "Republican"; he never said the word "Bush"; you're trying to take off your uniforms and run from the field of political battle and claim you're not Republicans. You're claiming—you're running against this administration! And I'm not going to let anybody get away with that kind of foolery! You have to take responsibility, sir. The policies of this administration that has gotten us into this mess—you can't walk away and say, "Oh, we had nothing to do with this," can you? Say it if you want to.

Cantor: No!


Cantor: Listen, Chris, it is John McCain and Barack Obama who are on the ballot for the presidency of this country, and what the choice is before the people is whether they're going to vote for John McCain, who has had the record of experience, who has been a reformer in Washington, versus Barack Obama, who has been in the Illinois Senate and then been in Washington for three years, with very little record to show for it, and frankly very little demonstrable ability to solve problems—


Matthews: Okay, is the Republican Party responsible for the economic policies of this country right now? That's all I'm asking.

Cantor: I think we're all responsible.

Matthews: What do you mean "we're all"?!

Cantor: The Democrats have been in charge of Congress for two years; they have been unable to pass any legislation of any consequence and that also is why we're in the situation that we're in.

Matthews: I have never in my life seen a party run from its own record like the Republicans have.

[snip to 12:03]

Matthews: I'm not pointing fingers here, gentlemen; I want to ask you both to answer a question—yes or no, you can answer either way, you're elected officials; I'm not. Congressman Wexler, do you take responsibility politically for the performance of the Democratic Congress the last two years, yes or no?

Wexler: Of course we do.

Matthews: Okay. Do you take responsibility, Congressman Cantor, for the performance of this president the last eight years? Do you take responsibility for that politically? The performance of this president? Yes or no?

Cantor: I take responsibility for—I take responsibility for my performance in the seat that I hold in Congress and our party in Congress.

Matthews: So it's every man for himself now in your party?

Cantor: Absolutely not. I support the policies that our party has put forward.

Matthews: It sounds like you're jumping ship, sir.

Cantor: No way!

Matthews: Are you defending President Bush's performance as president of the United States, as economic manager of this country, here tonight? Do you defend his economic performance as of tonight? You got him elected!

Cantor: This president has always been for trying to return more of the people's money to them, those who earn it; he has been a commander-in-chief who's gone out after the threat that has been presented to this country—

Matthews: Change the subject. Change the subject. Next time you quote Harry Truman, Congressman Cantor, remember what he said: The buck stops here.

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