Liz Cheney sympathizes with the Birthers

Joan Walsh saw this last night: Liz Cheney, the most famous former principal deputy assistant secretary of state for near eastern affairs in American history, appeared on Larry King’s CNN show and fielded a question about the Obama birth certificate conspiracies.

Her first response, after being shown a video of a birther screaming at Rep. Mike Castle (R-Del.), and after James Carville suggested it was a problem for Republicans: “I think that the Democrats have got more crazies than the Republicans do.” Then she excused the birth conspiracy theories by bashing the president. The whole transcript is worth reading, as Carville and King give Cheney multiple attempts to crawl back out of the fever swamp.

CHENEY: But setting that aside, I think that — you know, one of the reasons I think you see people so concerned about this, I think that, you know, this issue is people are uncomfortable with having, for the first time ever, I think, a president who seems so reluctant to defend the nation overseas; a president who sits through completely venomous screed by Daniel Ortega and then his only response, when the United States has been hostilely attacked, is to say, hey, you know, basically, I was only there at the time.

CARVILLE: That’s so…

CHENEY: And, you know, we’ve seen this — James, don’t interrupt me.

CARVILLE: Sure…

CHENEY: We’ve seen this again and again and again, where this president seems to sort of want to…

KING: But what does…

CHENEY: …create moral equivalence.

KING: …that have to — are you saying that…

CHENEY: I think it makes people…

KING: Are you saying because he’s a Kenyan?

CHENEY: No, I’m not saying that.

KING: Oh.

CHENEY: I’m saying that people are fundamentally uncomfortable…

KING: The question was about (INAUDIBLE).

CHENEY: …and they’re fundamentally, I think, increasingly uncomfortable with an American president who seems to be afraid to defend America.

KING: All right…

CHENEY: Who seems to be afraid to stand up for what we believe in.

KING: All right, James, do you want to answer that?

CARVILLE: Yes, I do.

CHENEY: And I think that the kind of thing that you saw…

KING: All right, let him answer, Liz.

CARVILLE: Again, you know…

CHENEY: …is indicative of sort of a general…

KING: James, go ahead.

(LAUGHTER)

CHENEY: …feeling of discomfort.

KING: Again, Liz, let him answer.

James, go ahead.

CARVILLE: Yes, I guess we’re supposed to — a volume of words I certainly lost.

(LAUGHTER)

CARVILLE: But again, these people…

CHENEY: I’m quality too, James.

CARVILLE: …again.

CHENEY: But go ahead. Sorry.

CARVILLE: You’re right. I’ve been accused of hurling facts around.

Let me hurl a fact around. These people are poor — these poor pathetic people are believing stuff, just like — just like Ms. Cheney tonight. She refuses to say this is ludicrous because she actually wants to encourage these people to believe this. It’s just a simple thing. This is a nutty thing. There’s nothing to this. I disagree with this president’s policies.

They can’t say that. They can’t say that because…

CHENEY: James, I am…

CARVILLE: …they’re scared they’ll lose the…

CHENEY: …I — James, sorry…

CARVILLE: …this sort of nut wing of their party.

CHENEY: Sorry, James.

KING: We’re out of time, guys.

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: That’s their problem.

CHENEY: I am more concerned — James, I think that there’s plenty…

KING: We’re going to have you back.

(LAUGHTER)

CHENEY: …to be concerned about with this president.

CARVILLE: Right.

CHENEY: And I think that…

KING: All right…

CHENEY: …we’ve got to look forward in terms of…

(CROSSTALK)

CHENEY: …the things that he’s doing to the country going forward…

(CROSSTALK)

KING: All right. Thanks, guys.

CHENEY: …the direction he’s going to take us in.

KING: James Carville and Liz Cheney. By the way, Liz, quickly, are you going to run for office?

If Republicans actually punished this sort of shameless apologizing for conspiracy theories — and for excusing reservists who refuse to obey orders from their president because they believe in those conspiracy theories — all this talk of Cheney running for office will be a joke.

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David Weigel

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