Video: Scarborough on the conservative voice

  1. Transcript of: Scarborough on the conservative voice

    JOE SCARBOROUGH reporting: Good morning. Good to see you.

    LAUER: At this stage of the game after two drubbings at the hands of the Democrats do you want the discussion for the Republican Party to be about or Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich right now?

    SCARBOROUGH: Absolutely not, or Michael Steele , or anybody else that's out there.

    LAUER: Give me some names. Who should it be about right now?

    SCARBOROUGH: No, no. It needs to be about our ideas. Because the problem is the conservative party , the Republican Party , stopped being conservative eight years ago. Republicans didn't get drubbed in '06 and '08 because they were too conservative, they got drubbed because they were too radical. They spent too much money, they engaged in military adventurism and their rhetoric was too harsh. They've got to win...

    LAUER: But you say it's got to be about -- it's got to be about ideas.

    SCARBOROUGH: Right.

    LAUER: But you got to have someone to communicate the ideas. So who's going to be the person to communicate them?

    SCARBOROUGH: Well, that's kind of like...

    LAUER: And leave your name out of it for a second.

    SCARBOROUGH: That's -- well, actually that's kind of like saying, `Hey, we've got to make a movie. Let's get a movie and get somebody pretty in front of the camera.' No, you write the script first. And this script's already been written. It's -- and Barack Obama 's giving us the contrast. He's giving us the conflict because he is -- he is a big government liberal, and we need more small government conservatives who actually believe what they say. But you can't double the size of the national debt like Republicans did and go out and make that case in a winning way.

    LAUER: You're talking out of two sides of your mouth. You said the Republican Party 's got to reform or die. And I know that's meant to sound dramatic.

    SCARBOROUGH: Mm-hmm.

    LAUER: But in some ways was the last election the death of the old Republican Party ?

    SCARBOROUGH: Well...

    LAUER: And might that not be a good thing in terms of recreating the party?

    SCARBOROUGH: Well, I don't know if it was the death of the old Republican Party . Maybe the next election will be the death of the old Republican Party . Are Republicans going to wake up? Are they going to realize that not only do they need Dick Cheneys in the party, but they need Colin Powells in the party. They need to expand -- I mean, we should want everybody in the party that we can get and not have a harsh ideological test. And it's what I talk about in the book. We all run around talking about Reagan , Reagan , we've got to be more like Reagan . Well, we've got Reagan 's ideology down, smaller government, less taxes. But we forget Reagan 's temperament. We have to have a better temperament.

    LAUER: Yeah, but how...

    SCARBOROUGH: We can't be shrill. We can find the middle of America . Ronald Reagan , everybody's quoting Ronald Reagan , Palin was quoting Ronald Reagan .

    LAUER: But how do you say to the American people , `We got to look to the future' and yet you keep constantly going back to Ronald Reagan as the...

    SCARBOROUGH: Well, you could -- again, Ronald Reagan 's specific solutions that worked in 1980 won't necessarily work now. But that's just like saying you can't go back and get inspiration from Thomas Jefferson or James Madison . And again, the focus is on Reagan 's temperament. Reagan didn't hate. It was conservatism with a smile. And there was a lot of conservatives out there right now that can find the middle of America temperamentally. That's what we need more than ever.

    LAUER: A couple of -- a couple of things real quickly. Christopher Buckley , who's the son of William F. Buckley ...

    SCARBOROUGH: Right, right, right.

    LAUER: ...modern conservative, says that you, Joe Scarborough , you are the face, the new face of the Republican Party . Do you want to be?

    SCARBOROUGH: Boy, that's frightening. You know, I'd rather them just go with the playbook, to tell you the truth, yeah.

    LAUER: And you've said that Obama 's policy are the biggest challenge to America 's capitalist system...

    SCARBOROUGH: Mm-hmm.

    LAUER: ...ever.

    SCARBOROUGH: Mm-hmm.

    LAUER: If Barack Obama , though, manage -- if the economy happens to turn around in the short term, unemployment goes down, housing prices stabilize, people are borrowing and lending money, how are you going to convince the American people that in the short-term, in the short-term, Barack Obama didn't get it right?

    SCARBOROUGH: Well, that's great news. And let's hope the economy turns around. I'll be cheering for the president if that happens. My concern is the long run. The deficits. This president is going to have more deficits and debt piled on to an already huge debt that George Bush left us, than all 43 presidents combined. We have a long-term problem. It's a crushing problem. Even the president admits his own deficits are just not sustainable.

    LAUER: The book is called " The Last Best Hope ." Joe Scarborough , it's good to have you in person.

    SCARBOROUGH: It's great to be here, Matt.

    LAUER: Nice to see you.

    SCARBOROUGH: Thank you.

    LAUER: Come back and see us. If you'd like to read an excerpt from this book, you can find it at our Web todayshow.com. It's 18 minutes after the hour. Once again here's Erin .

MSNBC
updated 6/8/2009 1:37:35 PM ET 2009-06-08T17:37:35

A return to conservatism:
Try to imagine that conservatism is not a political movement at all, but rather a guiding set of principles grounded in reality and restraint, and flexible enough to sustain America through the next century… British statesman Edmund Burke, the movement's founder, gained international attention 200 years ago with his stinging critique of the French Revolution. Burke and his followers championed customs and conventions that promoted social stability across the ages while declaring intellectual war against dogmas of all designs… But that approach is a far cry from where Republicans have ventured over the last generation.

On the free market approach:
One reason conservatives argue for government minimalism is that a hands-off policy allows markets to reward good decisions and punish bad decisions. The tip of the market spear is that it inflicts pain when stupid risks are taken by a business. Stupid companies die and capital flows to more productive enterprises. That leads to more jobs, an expanding business community, and a stronger nation. But in the land of bailouts, Republicans and Democrats alike do all they can to dull that point and let the dumbest actors survive.

On government spending:
Balancing the federal government's books in good times is not that complicated. You only spend what you have. But unfortunately for the rest of us, these same politicians ignored basic math and were unfazed by the consequences of their reckless actions. These politicians who want to run the U.S. economy should know that as the deficit goes up, so does our overall national debt. And as our national debt increases, so do our interest payments. And together, our debt and interest payments choke off the kind of private investment America needs in order to recover from this crisis… Rome is being burnt to the fiscal ground by its own leaders. Now these politicians who have failed to pass even the most basic tests of competence desire more power and authority over Americans' checkbooks.

On Ronald Reagan:
While Reagan was the most conservative president in half a century, his moderate personality allowed the Gipper to remain firmly in the mainstream of America's consciousness... The Ronald Reagan who revealed himself to American voters was always sunny in disposition, measured in tone, and gracious to those with whom he disagreed... Conservatives who wish to carry the mantle of Mr. Reagan would do honor to his memory if they focused as much on his moderate temperament as they did on his conservative philosophy. Video: Scarborough, Buchanan debate conservatism

On foreign policy:
The classically conservative values that should inform American foreign policy are prudence, restraint, and realism. Those values may be promoted best when conservatives adopt the Weinberger-Powell approach to war. The doctrine directs U.S leaders, in part, to use military intervention as a solution to international crises only after all other means of resolving the conflict are exhausted. History has proven that nothing more violently disrupts a nation's social order than warfare. The fact that conservatism is viewed currently as a movement predisposed to militarism is ironic, to say the least.

On regulation:
"Conservatives need to learn the difference between being pro-market and being pro-business. We must also remember the lessons of Burke, Kirk, and Buckley that taught us how it is the conservatives' job to bring social order out of chaos. That means fighting to keeps regulations out of small businesses' way, but recognizing that order can be brought to the street only by regulating recklessness out of the system."

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