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Mary Matalin’s perspective on the first two months of Obamanomics

Tuesday, March 10, 2009
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HH: Joined now by Mary Matalin. Hey, Mary, welcome back, I haven’t talked to you in a while.

MM: Hello, Hugh, I was just thinking about you. I don’t know why, but I’m glad to hear from you.

HH: Well, thanks for joining us. I’m just thinking, I want people with perspective going back a few years and a few turns and twists in Washington, D.C. What are you thinking as you watch this new administration unfold, and as markets decline, and as people’s anxiety level goes up. What’s Mary thinking?

MM: Thank you for asking. I think my having a thirty year perspective gives me, I don’t want to say I’m panic-free, because my husband’s always in a panic, which is infectious, but I do have the perspective we’ve been through worse. Reagan had a worse recession, and arguably George W. Bush, I was there in that pre-9/11. We inherited a recession. We acted quickly, and the recession, in combination with 9/11, was shallow and short, and we went on to have 52 months of consecutive growth. I’m not doing talking points here, but the notion that those policies were failures, they’re not. Tax cuts worked for the economic pitfalls in the 60s and the 80s, and in 2000. They’ve always worked. They never won’t work, because they incentive work and savings and all the rest of it. Your listeners know all this. What distinctly doesn’t work, has never worked in the sweep of history is what we are doing now. So I’m pained. I’m really pained, and I’m scared by the resistance to acknowledge this. When you’re, as I was talking to your guy before I came on, Jim Cramer, when liberal, lefty economists and supporters are starting to freak out, when 14 Democratic Senators are caucusing to stop the omnibus bill, then there’s sane minds there, and he just, Obama keeps forging ahead. And I’m not one of those that didn’t want to give him a chance and all that jazz, but this is just a reordering of the government the likes of which we have not seen since we were having this debate befor the Revolution.

HH: Now I do want to give him a chance as well. I want him to succeed. I don’t want him to fail, but I want his policies to fail and they have failed, I think, Mary Matalin. I think people have recognized that and investors are saying now. You hang out, obviously, with a lot of Democrats. How widespread is the recognition that either the liberal Democrats, the most liberal Democrats in Congress are running the show, or the President really doesn’t have a clue about economics?

MM: Well, before I answer that, I know why I was thinking of you, because I think Rush mentioned on his show that even though you were on vacation, you blogged in defense of him, and I just can’t stand when these distortionists, that’s what I called them on Sunday shows, the distortionists, the way they can demonize the message is to go after the messengers.

HH: Right.

MM: They take…and all of which we know, but the way they do it, and they can only do it with they distort what they said. When we say we want him to fail, of course we don’t mean him, we don’t mean the country, we mean exactly what you just said, so thanks for being a long distance defender there. I don’t think, of course, I don’t hang out with a lot of Democrats. I happen to be married to one, but we go to our separate corners on things like this. But it’s just undeniable. You can blame Bush all you want, but since his election, since Barack Obama’s election, the market’s lost, the GDP has lost a third, the market’s lost a third of its wealth. It’s $3 trillion dollars. You add $3 trillion dollars worth of loss of wealth to the $4 trillion dollars plus that’s in these various expenditures, and people have lost track of them, that adds up to, because no one’s following the numbers, that adds up to, just remember this figure, one half of our entire GDP in six weeks. Think about that.

HH: Wow, that is remarkable. Now Ronald Reagan got hammered in 1982. You remember, I remember, because even though he inherited the Carter economy, he didn’t turn it around fast enough. I think there’s a false sense of security among Obamians that they will not be blamed no matter what happens. And I think they’re already getting blamed. What do you think, Mary Matalin?

MM: Here’s what’s different, and we were there together in the foxhole. What we did not have then was you or Rush or Sean or Glenn Beck. We didn’t have any alternative outlets for information, in print or electronic, and we didn’t even have cable. I’m not just talking Fox, there wasn’t anything other than the three nets, and the big street papers. And so it took information, there weren’t advocates in the volume and with the magnifying force of information age technology then that we have now. So information can move faster and the blame or the explanation, let’s say it that way, can be understood more freely. Secondly, what’s going on now is people are so clued in at inordinate rates to what’s going on in the economy, and they’ve made, they’re exacerbating the problem by creating a greater crisis and a greater sense of panic so they can act more deeply into reordering the government. And that’s making people pay attention more than they would, because there’s panicking and there’s stalling, as Warren Buffett said this morning, or whenever he said it. I’ve lost track of time now. You’ve got to stop panicking people like this. So the information age technology is working to the advantage of people who want to stay informed, and people are more informed, because it’s effecting their every hour. It’s just a different environment.

HH: And Mary Matalin, in terms of what the GOP ought to be doing, there’s a Rasmussen Poll out today that says essentially the party is leaderless. And you will remember ’93 as well as I do, and we were leaderless then as well, because that’s what happens when you lose the White House and you lose the Congress. But I’m not at all, not all worried about this. Are you? And what’s your advice to senior Republican leaders across the country?

MM: I’m not worried because what always leads, and they don’t like it when we say this, and they think we’re cornballs, but it’s true, and I always read my history in times like this, what always leads are ideas. What is missing now is the language. And the more frustrated that conservatives out there get, and they’re the same number there always was, conservatism didn’t go away, Republicans just were repudiated, the more they have to study, the better. They’re studying in frustration, out of not hearing enough of it out of Washington, with the exception of a handful of Eric Cantors and folks like that, but they have to study for themselves, which is a good thing, which puts an extra burden on you and Rush, et cetera. But you know, the leadership, somebody will find the language to match the ideas, and the ideas are what’s going to be victorious. And I know that sounds abstract, but the ideas are simple, and they all go back to freedom. Anything, think of any government action. If it limits your freedom, it’s bad. You don’t have to be a policy wonk, okay? If they’re taking too many taxes from too many people, or from the people that are creating the jobs, that’s a limit of freedom. If there are too many regulations, that’s a limit of freedom. It all comes back to the same place. We founded this country, and the only way this country will prosper and succeed at the rate is has been, is if we keep a limited government which is there to keep order, to enforce contracts, to secure us, that kind of business, not to control us.

HH: Mary Matalin, always…the clarity is wonderful, grate to talk to you again, we’ll catch up with you again soon. It was wonderful.

End of interview.

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