Interview with Representative Peter Welch

By Rachel Maddow Show, Rachel Maddow Show - July 11, 2012

Guest: Rep. Peter Welch

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Ed. Thanks, man.

And thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour.

You know what was a really bad time? The George W. Bush presidency was a really bad time. And not just if you were a liberal and you disagreed with George W. Bush, just if you were an American.

The George W. Bush presidency, the Bush/Cheney years were bad years for us as a country. The national unemployment rate went from a little over 4 percent when he took office to nearly 8 percent by the time that he left. We went from a budget surplus of more than $200 billion to a budget deficit of more than a trillion dollars.

After decades of U.S. household income climbing during the 1980s and 1990s, household fell off a cliff during the Bush years. After poverty declined in the 1980s and declined in the 1990s, in the Bush years, poverty went up.

By the time George W. Bush left office, 6 million more Americans were added to the rolls of Americans who did not have health insurance. Wall Street in the Bush years collapsed. The country was plunged into the worst depression since the Great Depression in the 1930s.

The Bush/Cheney years were a disaster. They were also a series of embarrassments. Remember when they were going to but Harriet Miers on the Supreme Court. Remember when they were going to put Bernie Kerik in charge of Homeland Security? Remember that? Remember Bernie Kerik? Before he went to jail?

Remember when they trolled the reject list of interns from the Heritage Foundation to find people to put in charge of a nation named Iraq. You, college student, the one who applied to be an intern, are you against abortion? Good, do you want to run the Iraqi stock exchange?

Do you remember soldiers in Iraq having to salvage hillbilly armor for their Humvees from junkyards? Do you remember when Cher -- Cher, the celebrity, Cher -- had something called "Operation Helmet" because Bush and Cheney never got around to getting soldiers bullet proof helmets before they started the war? So Cher had to do it, instead. Seriously? Cher, she had to care of that because the government didn`t.

In the Bush/Cheney years, American`s approval rating among our allies dropped by 20 points, by 30 points, by 40 points, and those are the people that like us.

You know, there was the start of two of the longest wars in American history. Both of which were started by the Bush administration, one of which was started under false pretenses and both of which were still raging when they left. It was the drowning of a great American city during hurricane Katrina.

Remember mission accomplished? Remember 9/11, torture? Remember Armstrong Williams? Remember the presidential adviser caught shoplifting repeatedly from Target? Remember that guy?

Do you remember the vice president of the United States shooting a guy in the face?

There`s a reason George W. Bush left office in January 2009 with the lowest approval rating for an outgoing president since Gallup started asking that question back in the 1930s. And frankly, the vice president, Dick Cheney, would have killed to get numbers that high. His approval rating was 13 percent when he left office.

I mean, part of the headwind that John McCain had running in 2008, trying to run as a Republican after George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. I mean, the country was happy to see them go for pretty understandable reasons.

So, now, four years after the Bush/Cheney administration, the new Republican Party nominee, Mitt Romney, has made precisely zero public appearances with George W. Bush or Dick Cheney. And, you know, this is at a meta-level. This is still the most interesting thing in American politics, right?

I mean, the reconstruction of the Republican Party post-George W. Bush and post-Dick Cheney is as yet incomplete and it`s still the most interesting thing to watch at a meta-level in our politics. What`s the new Republican Party going to be after that?

What`s the new Republican Party leadership going to be after them? All of this has led to some very awkward moments on the campaign trail this year for the Republican Party`s new nominee.

I mean, the first President Bush, Poppy Bush, George W`s dad, is much more highly regarded than his son is. But he is a little older and a little unpredictable in public now. Previously, that has manifested as some unexpected crying jags at public speeches and things. Nothing that would harm his image, but there`s an element of unpredictability to him in public now.

In his photo-op with Mitt Romney, it manifested in this very, very awkward moment.


REPORTER: Governor, have you met with George W. Bush while you`ve been here and have you sought his endorsement?

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I haven`t met with president George W. Bush, we speak from time to time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have to get that.

ROMNEY: Now you see why.

BARBARA BUSH, FORMER FIRST LADY: We speak all the time.

ROMNEY: You speak all the time.

GEORGE H.W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT: Has he endorsed you?

ROMNEY: No, no.

BARBARA BUSH: We`ll talk about that.

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