RUSH: People in the e-mail are asking me if I’m going to touch on what’s been happening on the news networks regarding me and this No Labels bunch, and we do have some sound bites on it so I think I will touch on it. (taps table) There. I just touched on it. Ah, let’s go ahead and do it. Let’s start Sunday morning on Meet the Press during the roundtable. David Gregory spoke with one of the cofounders of No Labels, Mark McKinnon, and Joe Scarborough about the No Labels movement and me. Gregory said, ‘Mark, you’ve been accused of ‘childish magical thinking.’ That was Frank Rich in the New York Times today. ‘The idea that the heavy lifting of moving the country forward could be accomplished by a No Labels group is to many on the left and the right just unthinkable.”
MCKINNON: We’ve had a great success already because we brought together the harsh persons on the left and the harsh persons (snickers) on the right. Rush Limbaugh, Frank Rich, they’re all attacking us because they don’t — they think it’s magical thinking when Cory Booker works with Governor Christie, working together for solutions. They don’t want that because it doesn’t help their ratings; it doesn’t help their profits.
RUSH: Come on, McKinnon. You’re supposed to be… Aw, jeez. He’s supposed to be some media wizard. This has nothing to do with ratings or profits, for crying out loud. Now, that answer… That disappoints me. This guy is not half of what his billing is. I mean, that is just too easy. Ratings and profits? This No Labels group is somehow going to affect profits or ratings? No, this is about common sense. If anybody is concerned about profits and ratings, it’s you guys in No Labels trying to come up with political clients. You’re out of it. All of this is very simple, folks: Who got shellacked in the last election?
So what are they trying to do?
Change their name again. They’re not liberals? ‘No! We’re just a bunch of No Labels people. We don’t believe in labels. We want civil discourse. What’s wrong with civil discourse?’ What you’re doing is taking the passion out of whatever it is you’re doing. Well, you’re not taking the passion out. You’re trying to get away with your passion by saying it’s not labeled. Here’s more on this. This is from the same show. Gregory said, ‘Well, Joe, what about devil’s advocate time here, which is: Why don’t we recognize that ‘politics’ is not a dirty word? That people do have deeply held ideological views and differences? Look what happened to the Republican Party. It’s become more conservative because a lot of Republicans thought — and even independents — that it got away from basic principles.’
SCARBOROUGH: You have Frank Rich on the left, enraged by what Mark’s doing; Rush Limbaugh on the right enraged — and they have the luxury of never actually governing, never being a president, never being a senator, never being in Congress; realizing that you actually have to, at the end of the day, sit down and deal with people across the aisle. We govern in the middle. We always have.
RUSH: (sigh) Snerdley, a lot of people ask me what happened to Joe Scarborough, and I think he works at MSNBC and he’s gotta keep his job. I don’t know. I have always liked Scarborough. Scarborough was a member of the freshman class of 1994 and a conservative, and he was a rock-ribbed conservative, and he’s always been supportive of me. He always has. But he’s fallen into this trap that everything happens in the middle, or that everything of significance happens in the middle — and the middle doesn’t drive anything. Like I say, you’re never gonna find books in the library, or even one, ‘Great Moderates in American History,’ or ‘Great Moderates in World History.’
Hey, Joe, let’s talk about Reagan and Tip O’Neill. Now, Ronald Reagan had no media supporting him, he had no Republican majorities in the House or the Senate, and he succeeded in 25% across-the-board tax cuts. Ronald Reagan didn’t give up anything. Ronald Reagan didn’t compromise his conservatism away. What he did is he did make a deal. Okay, down the road later on he said, ‘Okay, if we need to raise some taxes here, I’ll do it, but you gotta promise me spending cuts,’ which he didn’t get. He was betrayed on the spending cut business. But this last election, what…? Somebody show me the middle here. The middle, which these guys claim is the independents, where’d they go? They ran away from the Democrat Party. They ran as far away as they could.
That took them to the Republican Party. Why did they go there? Well, let’s be honest. It wasn’t so much because the Republicans were shouting, ‘Here’s who we are!’ All they were doing was saying, ‘We’re not Democrats!’ What happened was that the great independents, the target audience of this No Labels bunch, figured out they had been snookered by the Obama campaign. They didn’t want anything to do with what this guy was doing as president, the way he was governing — and we had a huge shellacking. The Democrats got creamed from Washington all the way down to the dogcatcher level in local communities, and it wasn’t centrism that did that. It was far-out, fringe, extreme liberalism that drove these people to the right.
There wasn’t one campaign from one centrist that took these independents anywhere, and I actually think that many of these people in the No Labels group are failures. They’re failures on the left; they’re failures on the right. Somehow the left doesn’t want ’em, the right doesn’t want ’em, so they’re trying to forge a spot for themselves. They’re also trying to come up with political candidates to run as third parties or independents or what have you. It’s about money. These political consultants have to have jobs. They have to eat. And they do believe that every election is won with the great unwashed in the 20%. That’s where they live and breathe, and as such, they don’t dare be ideologues. But it is ideological principle that drives this country and there is always gonna be a battle, and the objective is to defeat the other guy not ‘getting along.’
Now, after you’ve won the election, yeah, you have to do what you have to do sometimes now and then depending on the numbers, but the first guy that wins an election that comes along and compromises what it was that got him elected, he’s dead the next election. This last election is proof of it. So they continued, I guess, this morning on Scarborough’s show on PMSNBC. They brought in Democrat Leadership Conference President Harold Ford, Jr., to talk about the No Labels group and me, and Mika Brzezinski said, ‘There’s an organization called No Labels, Mark McKinnon — who’s a friend of this show, Republican strategist, among many other things — is one of the…’
No, he can’t be anymore! He’s a No Labels strategist. He was a Republican for one candidate, George W. Bush. He worked with Democrats throughout his career other than George W. Bush. Anyway, for their purposes he’s a ‘Republican strategist’ now, a No Labels guy and is ‘one of the founding organizers, which is an organization that among other things wants everybody to come together and actually have a real dialogue.’ So you see? The dialogue we have here is not ‘real.’ It’s just based on profits and ratings, and the same thing on the left. They’re just worried about profits and ratings. There’s no real dialogue, except the dialogue of these No Labels people, these centrists — and here’s Scarborough talking about it.
SCARBOROUGH: This offended Rush Limbaugh who — who joked about it. This offended Frank Rich.
FORD: Look at Rush, and you look at — I wouldn’t put Frank Rich and Rush necessarily in the same group.
SCARBOROUGH: Conservatives say the same thing on the other side —
FORD: Fair enough.
SCARBOROUGH: — and guess what?
FORD: Fair enough.
SCARBOROUGH: When Frank Rich is gonna compare Republicans to the Ku Klux Klan or have illustrations where they’re in Nazi hoods or Klan’s hoods, then guess what? He’s in that neighborhood — and, by the way, I got no problem with Rush doing what he does and Frank Rich doing what they do. I like an energetic debate, but the fact that they are offended by Mark McKinnon saying we need to be more civil? Well, I think that speaks to their political character.
RUSH: Joe, we’re not ‘offended by Mark McKinnon saying we need to be more civil.’ I don’t know anybody who’s offended by that. I don’t even know that ‘offended’ is the right word. If we are offended by anything, it is the notion that these guys are superior to everybody else in their No Labels structure. It’s pretty much like these independents and moderates who think they’re smarter than everybody else, ”Cause we decide things issue by issue. We’re not closed-minded. We are open-minded! We judge candidates issue by issue by issue. We’re smarter than everybody else. We’re not nearly as bigoted or closed-minded or any of these other things. We are the true smart people.’
That’s what’s kind of funny here because these are people that basically have struck out on one side or the other who are now trying to forge an identity for themselves on some higher plane where only a select few are intellectually mentally qualified to be members, when in fact they’re all liberals. They are all Democrats. Even McKinnon. They’re all Democrats. Kiki McLean, whoever else, the three primary founders, they’re all Democrats in this group. And they’re just got shellacked, and they’re just trying to get away from ‘liberal.’ ‘Democrat’ and ‘progressive’ now got shellacked, so they are No Labels now. Here’s Nicolle Wallace. She’s on the show, too. Scarborough said, ‘Look, you can take controversial stands and be respectful of other people.’
WALLACE: I think therein lies the difference between Frank Rich’s criticism and Rush Limbaugh’s. I think that Frank Rich was offended and somehow threatened, and he speaks from quite a different perch than Rush Limbaugh does. He speaks to an admitted elite. Rush Limbaugh has 38 million listeners who represent a large swath of Americans, not just Republicans —
WALLACE: — and so I think they came at you —
FORD: A lot of them are Republicans.
WALLACE: — from very different perspectives. I think Rush Limbaugh was, I think, defending the right to be principled — which you are, and which you advocate your principles here every day.
RUSH: That’s pretty much right. I mean, the idea that being principled, having core beliefs and not being willing to compromise on core beliefs is somehow rigid or bigoted is a notion that the No Labels people are trying to put forth. But it’s just the latest in a long line of efforts to discredit true believers in whatever they believe. I find it interesting they can’t credit conservatives on conservatism, so they have to discredit us on character or comportment or behavior or one of these things that nothing to do with what we really believe. Because the whole truth of the matter is that none of these people ever tell me I’m wrong. All they do is complain about how I say it.
But they never tell me I’m wrong. They never go that route — or they don’t want to get into a discussion with me about that. (interruption) Well, true. They do make it up, Snerdley, about how I say it. All I’m doing is exposing No Labels. I’m calling a spade a digging implement. That’s all I’m doing here. No Labels are people that do not want to be accurately described. That is a problem for them. When people find out exactly who they are, that is a problem. But I did… No, I noted that Scarborough said that Frank Rich is only like me when he calls the GOP the KKK. Obama did not want to be accurately described. Jeremiah Wright doesn’t want to be accurately described. None of these guys on the left want to be accurately described, hence ‘No Labels.’