On Tuesday, conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh accused the No Labels crowd of being a bunch of "washed-up losers."
On Sunday's "Meet the Press," MSNBC's Joe Scarborough took on Limbaugh's criticism saying he has "the luxury of never actually governing, never being a president, never being a senator, never being in Congress" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
DAVID GREGORY, HOST: We're back, joined by our political roundtable, and look at this finding from our latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll about how people feel about where the country's headed. Look at that, 63 percent think the country's off on the wrong track. Mark McKinnon, you know as a political pro, that that is a really good indication of the independent vote and where that independent vote might actually go. This was a scene this week, the No Labels launch, the idea of an independent political movement that could somehow break ties. And you had some pretty big figures on the right and the left, but you've also 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 on many, on the left and the right, just unthinkable.
MARK MCKINNON: Well, the political--63 percent of Americans are disenfranchised with what's happening in Washington because they see this harsh, poisonous environment and harsh partisanship. A thousand people from--representing all 50 states came to New York to help launch this effort called No Labels, which is designed to bring more civility to politics and address the hyperpartisanship. And we've had a great success already because we brought together the harsh partisans on the left and the harsh partisans on the right, Rush Limbaugh, Frank Rich, they're all attacking us because they don't want--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. And Frank Rich attacked us in The New York Times today saying we only had three black speakers. Well, he obviously didn't watch the event or he's doing sloppy research because we had three prominent featured African-American speakers, including Mayor Booker, who spoke about all the things that he's doing as mayor there. So it's been a tremendous response we're getting from the middle of America who think that we need to work together like the, like the vice president said.
GREGORY: Well, Joe, what about devil's advocate time here, which is why don't we recognize that politics is not a dirty game...
JOE SCARBOROUGH: Right.
GREGORY: ...that people have deeply held ideological views and differences.
GREGORY: ...and that--look what's happened in the Republican Party. It has become more conservative because a lot of Republicans thought, and even independents, that it got away from basic principles.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, sure. But, but as we've been saying for two years on our show, this is still James Madison's Constitution. 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 you actually have to, at the end of the day, sit down and deal with people across the aisle. You want to talk about magical, childish thinking? To quote Joan Didion, Frank Rich and the left have had a year of magical thinking right now, where they believed they can get absolutely everything they wanted, and when they didn't get it, they became petulant and went off in the corner. What did that end up getting them? Well, about 80, 85 newly elected Republicans in the House of Representatives. We govern in the middle. We always have. With, with apologies to Arthur Schlessinger, there's not a pendulum swing ideologically in America. America stays in the middle, and we saw it.
SCARBOROUGH: When, when you go too far left, they slap you back and when Republicans go too far right, they slap you back as well, into the center.
Actually, that's not at all accurate.
After George W. Bush was re-elected in 2004 - and for the first time since Roosevelt in 1936 doing so while expanding majorities in both chambers of Congress - Republicans moved to the left by punting on Social Security reform and completely abandoning fiscal restraint.
As a result, disgusted conservatives barely showed up for the 2006 midterm elections, and Democrats took back both the House and the Senate that year followed by the White House in 2008.
As such, moving to the left - or towards the center as Scarborough would have it - was by no means a successful strategy for Republicans in the middle of the last decade.
After consecutive electoral defeats, along came the Tea Party, which forced Republicans to the right leading to a resounding GOP victory less than two months ago.
As Limbaugh pointed out Tuesday in his discussion on this issue, "All these centrists, all the independents have moved to Republicans in droves, and the Republicans didn't have to do one thing but stay alive to get 'em."
Actually, what Republicans had to do was act like Republicans again instead of Democrats, for quite contrary to Scarborough's assertion, whenever a GOPer moves to the left, he or she fails and fails miserably.
Just ask former presidential candidate John McCain.
Readers are encouraged to review Jeff Poor's take on this exchange.