CNN Panel Pushes Republicans to Say Cheney Should 'Just Shut Up'
Three CNN personalities and one regular commentator on Monday's No Bias, No Bull program all tried to get Republicans Bay Buchanan and Kevin Madden to disown former Vice President Dick Cheney, and agree with some unnamed Republicans who call for him to "just shut up." Host Roland Martin characterized Cheney's multiple media appearances recently as "turning into a big problem for the family of Republicans" and that "some Republicans wish the former V.P. would just shut up." Correspondent Jessica Yellin and Drew Griffin saw no good in the politician's media tour, with Yellin labeling Cheney "one of the least popular figures in the Republican Party, aside from Rush Limbaugh." She asked Buchanan, "Why is it good for him to speak out as such an unpopular guy?" TruTV's Lisa Bloom agreed with the unnamed Republicans: "I think a lot of Republicans probably wish Cheney was secured in an undisclosed location right about now."
[This item, by the MRC's Matthew Balan, was posted Monday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Martin began the segment, which began ten minutes into the 8 pm Eastern hour of the CNN program, by playing three sound bites from some of Cheney's recent interviews. After introducing his two guests, he asked Buchanan: "Now, Bay, the Republican leader in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, recently called the Bush presidency a 'millstone around our necks.' Does having Dick Cheney out on the talk show circuit help Republicans in any way?"
Buchanan thought it did help: "We have to speak out against the president's policies when we disagree with them. And so on two points, Cheney should be out there. Number one, he believes that what Obama is doing is damaging this country's security....And secondly, he can get through the groupies in the media - the Obama groupies - he can be heard....So, he represents many, many of us who believe that somebody's got to take on these policies of Obama, and let Americans know that's not where Republicans would go."
Yellin then interjected, telling Buchanan, "Okay, Bay, let's get real. Dick Cheney is one of the least popular figures in the Republican Party, aside from Rush Limbaugh. Now he is aligning himself with Limbaugh, attacking one of the most popular figures, Colin Powell. So, the question is, why is it good for him to speak out as such an unpopular guy, especially when the former president himself has said it's time to keep our silence and let the new president do his job?"
Buchanan answered by criticizing Powell, and tried to correct the correspondent's assessment: "You know, Colin Powell...when it was to his advantage to associate with Republicans, he did so. And when it was to his advantage to abandon us, he did so. He does not agree with our economic policies. He does not agree with our social policies. He agrees with Obama, and now he says we should embrace this idea that, you know, go the Obama way....Why do we even need us if we're going to agree with Democrats? And so to suggest he is some popular figure in the Republican Party is a complete mistake, is an error."
Martin responded to Buchanan as he prompted Madden for his take: "Kevin, first of all, when Cheney says, well, we don't need to moderate, you have to have moderates in a party. You have to have more than just folks who are on the far-right, and so is it nuts for Bay to say that, well, Colin Powell agrees with nothing? He is a Republican." The Republican strategist understood the anchor's point, but didn't entirely agree:
MADDEN: No. Well, two points. First of all, I have worked up on Capitol Hill, and when I was in - I worked when we were in the majority, and the reason we were in the majority, Roland, was because we governed through the moderates. You look at many of these suburban areas, in places like Columbus, Ohio, places like Philadelphia - seats that are now held by Democrats were once held by Republicans. So the way to govern a majority is through the moderates. Secondly, I think, look, I don't think there was an attack on Colin Powell. I think that Vice President Cheney and Colin Powell have had their differences. Those differences are now public. But I do believe that, if we're going to again regain the majority as a party, we have to look at the loss of Colin Powell as emblematic of our struggles with independents and moderate Democrats on national security issues and economic security issues. So as a party we can't - we don't necessarily have to moderate. I agree with Vice President Cheney on that. What we have to do is modernize our message on issues like health care, energy, education, so that we reach this larger swathe of the American electorate.
Bloom and Griffin then entered into the discussion, continuing Martin and Yellin's earlier points and bringing in poll numbers to support their argument:
BLOOM: Okay. Okay. But, Bay, only 27 percent of voters at this point are identifying as Republicans. Doesn't the party have to expand its base, and do so immediately?
BUCHANAN: You know, the American people, if you look at that same poll, 33 percent, it has dropped for Democrats as well. And then there was a poll by Rasmussen last week that in a congressional ballot like they - it was a generic ballot - what was it? 39 percent went Republican and 40 percent went Democrats. That's one percent.
BLOOM: Yeah, but the Democrats are not hurting right now. They are not in any trouble.
BUCHANAN: No, you're wrong. You know, being in power is a tough thing. They no longer have Bush to kick around. They no longer have this idea of change, and so those things are gone for them. They have to run on their record. What they're giving us is Barack Obama and this extreme agenda of his to spend us into oblivion, and that is going to be something they have to defend. In the meantime, we got to get fresh new faces, so the American people can see the future is these guys. Meanwhile, we got a couple of attack dogs doing some good work for us-
GRIFFIN: So, Bay, Bay, why not just tell Cheney to shut up and let Obama collapse under his own weight-
BUCHANAN: No, no, no - look, look-
GRIFFIN: And the Republicans will just swoop into power?
BUCHANAN: You know, first of all, you can't tell the former vice president to be quiet, because he feels a need to get out there and make sure the American people know that what this guy is doing is harmful to this nation. And, secondly, you need attack dogs. You don't want to use your new, fresh faces as attack dogs. You want the old guys who has been in this and know it is a contact sport to get out there-
BLOOM: But I'll tell you something, Roland-
BUCHANAN: And what has happened? Cheney now has your attention and Gibbs' attention.
BLOOM: I think a lot of Republicans probably wish Cheney was secured in an undisclosed location right about now.
Martin let Madden have the last word at the end of the segment. He replied to Griffin's earlier point about telling Cheney to shut up: "Real quick, to Drew's point, I don't remember anybody in the media saying that Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter should have, you know, just shut up and go away when they were making those arguments....Look - Dick Cheney, whether the media likes it or not, is a national security expert, and he's arguing these policies on principle."