POLITICS
06/12/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

McCain's Bush Problem: Matalin Hints At Key Vulnerability

Mary Matalin, apparently a huge fan of the plodding delivery of conservative talking-points whilst standing in front of a hypnotically swoony green background, was apparently a big fan of McCain's speech in Louisiana last night. She thinks that McCain Change is "catalytic and forward-thinking," while Obama Change is "backwards and potentially cataclysmic." Even still, Matalin couldn't avoid mention of a key McCain vulnerability: the Bush Presidency.

See McCain has to do a whole lot of pretending that the two or three points of difference he has with the Bush regime (1. He was totally Surgey before it was cool. 2. He wishes the environment no specific harm, and wishes it well. 3. He opposes any earmark for Crawford-based brush clearing) constitute a mighty, maverick distinction. Matalin, however, thinks that McCain went too far last night, risking alienating all the weird dead-ender Bush fans that he'll need to win the election in the fall: "But we get it, you know. He's his own man. And you just got to walk a fine line on being your own man and having -- distinguishing yourself from this candidacy, this presidency, without dissing this president."

"You know," Matalin said, "Senator McCain needs to get in front of it, but as I just said, distinguishing himself which he would need to do in any event, just like George Herbert Walker Bush needed to distinguish himself from Ronald Reagan...Now, you've got two guys out there sort of quasi, dissing, dissing President Bush."

Matalin also criticized Obama: "He's just continuing to define himself as not being Bush." Of course, that's exactly what about three-quarters of the country are looking for.

[WATCH.]

ROBERTS: Were you happy with his speech last night? Leslie Sanchez, one of our panelists, Republican strategists, said that that speech was like a bingo game at an AARP conference?

MATALIN: Well, you know, being able to give a good speech is not as important to conservatives as what's in the speech. How you say it is less important. What you're saying and he said some very good things which is big government is not the answer, activist centralized command and control, redistribution government, which is what Senator Obama had in his speech is not good. It's good rhetoric, but it's not good policy.

On the other hand, there are some things that I think he needs to ratchet back. And I don't say this just as an admirer in respect of the Bush presidency. But we get it, you know. He's his own man. And you just got to walk a fine line on being your own man and having -- distinguishing yourself from this candidacy, this presidency, without dissing this president.

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