A VERY SHORT LIST…. On MSNBC’s “Hardball” last night, Chris Matthews asked leading GOP strategist Todd Harris about what Republicans have done for the United States over the last 20 years. It didn’t go well.
It didn’t seem like an unreasonable question. Harris’ goal was to make the case for Republicans to take power, at least on the Hill, in the midterm elections. Matthews, to his credit, argued that the GOP record matters, and sought one example of the Republican Party doing something worthwhile over the last couple of decades. Eventually, Harris said, “The Bush administration kept the country safe.”
Matthews replied, “I just wanted to get the Republican bragging points straight here. So the Republican Party has kept us safe, except for 9/11. Is that the argument? No, really, because you had the worst attack on the American homeland in history, but you’re bragging about your ability to defend the country…. That’s your defense, right?”
After some additional badgering, Harris replied, “When I decide to write a book about the history of the last 20 years of the Republican Party, I’ll be happy to talk to you about that.”
Matthews pressed on, asking for just one thing. “YouTube is watching,” the host said. “You’re the Republican consultant, one of the best in the country. Tell me what the Republican Party has done for this country in the last 10 to 20 years?”
There was a bit of a satellite lag, but Todd Harris sat silently in response to the question, and Matthews ended the segment. That one of the top GOP strategists couldn’t think of a response to a pretty basic question was not a strong moment for the party.
That said, Harris was put on the spot. The Republican National Committee has a newly-redesigned website on which party leaders have highlighted the party’s accomplishments dating back 150 years. For the past 20 years, the page lists the following: a D.C. school voucher scheme (which didn’t work), invading Iraq (which didn’t turn out well), tax cuts for the wealthy (which isn’t exactly an “accomplishment”), invading Afghanistan (which Republicans didn’t handle well), welfare reform (which Clinton signed into law), and the Contract with America (which, again, isn’t an “accomplishment” in any meaningful sense of the word).
In other words, it’s not just Todd Harris who drew a blank — even the Republican National Committee can’t think of much when it comes to the party’s record of the last 20 years.