NBC's Norah O'Donnell Accuses GOP of 'Desperation'

NBC's Norah O'Donnell, substituting for host Chris Matthews on last night's Hardball, demanded White House counselor Dan Bartlett defend Donald Rumsfeld's comparison of war critics to Nazi sympathizers. O'Donnell claimed the criticism smacked of "desperation" and cited an L.A. Times editorial to Bartlett that called Rumsfeld's speech, "inane."

The following are the full questions from O'Donnell to Bartlett:

Norah O'Donnell: "Fascists, Nazis, communists. The new e-mail from the RNC that I saw today called Democrats, 'defeatocrats'. Some may argue that all of this name-calling reeks of desperation."

O'Donnell: "But let me ask you, Dan, though, about the comparisons. We understand that, but some have said, though, that the comparisons and using the rhetoric like Nazis and Hitler and communists and comparing this to World War II may or may not be disproportionate. Let me read you part of, I'm sure you've seen it, the L.A. Times editorial today which was titled ‘Pipe Down Rummy, referring to Secretary Rumsfeld, saying quote, referring to his speech earlier this week. ‘His speech was vintage Rumsfeld. It was also unfair and in many places inane. Take the suggestion that critics of Bush's Iraq policy are the moral equivalent of those who refused to stop Hitler. There's a reason why high school debaters are warned away from Nazi analogies. They're almost always disproportionate.' Dan, you agree with that? It is true that making an analogy to Hitler can be disproportionate to the current battle. While extremely important, the war on terror, comparing it to World War II is overstepping."

Dan Bartlett: "Absolutely not. The fascist movement from that era is very similar to the totalitarian ideology that al Qaeda and other extremists, whether they be Sunni extremists or Shia extremists, those who are wanting to pervert a very rich tradition and peaceful religion of Islam to accomplish a certain set of objectives. They have taken 3,000 American lives on one single morning. They have attacked country after country after country throughout the world with a very determined ideology. They are trying to overturn governments. They took control of Afghanistan. They are trying to take control of Iraq. They are trying to take control of Lebanon. They are doing this for a very specific reason. They want territorial ambition, they want the resources, they want nuclear weapons, they want to destroy the West. It is very similar in proportion, I would argue, and then very many other people would argue as well, so it is a very important historical lesson for us to very well understand today, because the fight we are in today is as consequential as the fight we fought in the last century."

Iraq War on Terrorism MSNBC Hardball