The Rachel Maddow Show | March 14, 2013
MADDOW: Happy CPAC , America! Yay! Today, at long last, was day one of the big conservative annual confab known as the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington . It's the annual retreat, essentially, for the biggest names in conservative politics . They gather every year in Washington , D.C. , to plot out world domination! Or at least the future of the conservative movement and the future of the Republican Party . This year, CPAC is kind of a big deal, right? After this last election, what lessons will be learned from the electoral drubbing that the Republicans took in 2012 ? Who did conservatives consider to be the future of their movement? Who is the leader of the Republican Party after Bush and Cheney ? This is where they try to figure that stuff out.
And today was day one of that process. On the agenda, for example, muffins and mimosas with the honorable Ken Cuccinelli of Virginia , so you can question the Coch about the ultrasound law while dining on a corn muffin. Also this one, the United Nations versus the United States , the end run around the American way of life . I think that one is about bike lanes. But this was the item on the agenda that caught my eye as soon as the CPAC schedule was released last month. Too many American wars ? Should we fight anywhere? And can we afford it? Now, that is legitimately fascinating. It was it 10 years ago this week that Republicans and conservatives led the charge, and led a lot of Democrats to go along with them to invading Iraq , because they argued, you know, WMD , smoking gun mushroom cloud, whatever, let's just go to war. But, look, now, 10 years later at CPAC , conservatives asks each other, asking themselves whether we as a country might be going to war too much -- them asking themselves that question is really interesting for our national politics around war and peace , as they become increasingly dislocated from standard Republican and partisan axes on those subjects. Are we fighting too many American wars ? What are the conservatives going to say about that? Well, a panel today was moderated by Republican Congressman Steve King of Iowa . Yes, that Steve King . But the real star of the discussion was Republican Congressman Louie Gohmert of Texas . And this was his contribution to the question of do we fight too many wars.
REP. LOUIE GOHMERT (R), TEXAS: One of the things that we have heard over and over again since Vietnam is, you know, well, we don't want to get in another unwinnable war like Vietnam . I'm not going to debate the merits of whether we should or should not have gone to Vietnam . But what I will tell you is, Vietnam was winnable but people in Washington decided we would not win it!
Folks, when you hear people talk about the lesson of Vietnam, it ought to be this: you don't send American men or women to harm's way unless you are going to give them the authority and what they need to win and then bring them home. That's the lesson of Vietnam .
MADDOW: Let us praise the brave conservatives who are willing to ask the question, willing to ask the question of each other whether America is fighting too many wars. But let us also be cognizant while we praise them, that among the applause lines when conservatives ask this question is when people answer that the only problem with the Vietnam War is that it wasn't long enough, that seems like a reasonable answer to the question. See, this is why I love CPAC . I already cannot wait for day two. Thanks for being with us tonight. Now it's time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O'DONNELL." Have a great night. THIS