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Hardball Guest: You'd Almost Think Cheney Is an 'Agent of the Nation's Enemies'

Salon columnist Joe Conason appeared on Monday's Hardball to excoriate former Vice President Dick Cheney: "...You would almost think that Cheney was actually an agent of the nation's enemies..." Host Chris Matthews did not disagree or contest this charge.

Conason and Matthews were discussing the war in Iraq and Cheney's continual defense of it. Playing off the Salon.com's columnist's comments, Matthews compared the ex-VP: "That's what they said, by the way, of Joe McCarthy. You couldn't be a better friend to the communist, in effect, than Joe McCarthy."

After the segment's other guest, the liberal David Corn, attacked Cheney as "basically wrong," Matthews blurted, "I think it's going to take a Cambodian reeducation camp to turn him around."

Conason's full comment: "Well, you know, you would almost think that Cheney was actually an agent of the nation's enemies, because everything that he advocates, everything he wants us to do, plays so perfectly into the hands of the people who hate America and who want to create propaganda against us."

A transcript of the September 12 exchange:

5:24EDT

CHRIS MATTHEWS: Okay, here's Washington Post's Bob Woodward today. He took Vice President Cheney to task today. Bob Woodward reported that in 2007, Cheney was the only member of the administration advocating a attack on a suspected Syrian nuclear facility. According to the Vice President's memoir, this was despite the fact that the CIA said they had low confidence that the site was being used to create nuclear weapons. Had he learned nothing from Iraq and the missing weapons of mass destruction? And that's my question to you, Joe. There he is right away. And by the way, Woodward just takes him to task for this.

JOE CONASON (Nationalmemo.com): Well, you know, you would almost think that Cheney was actually an agent of the nation's enemies, because everything that he advocates, everything he wants us to do, plays so perfectly into the hands of the people who hate America and who want to create propaganda against us. I mean, it's remarkable. These- This is an outlook that has been designed to damage our prestige and that's what it's done.

MATTHEWS: That's what they said, by the way, of Joe McCarthy. You couldn't be a better friend to the communist, in effect, than Joe McCarthy.

DAVID CORN: Even if he thought these threats were real and there was a reason to go after them, if you look at how we handled the war, the aftermath, what we did in Afghanistan or didn't do in Afghanistan, they messed it up every step of the way. Not just the reasons to do it, but the doing of it. And, so, it set us back, and that's not just because we attacked, but because we were incompetent after the attack. So, I don't know- Everything Dick Cheney did was basically wrong.

CHRIS MATTHEWS: I think we've got to give up on Dick Cheney, by the way.

CORN: You brought him up, not me, Chris.

MATTHEWS: I think it's going to take a Cambodian reeducation camp to turn him around.


— Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.