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Erick Erickson Explains Everything

Erick Erickson appears with CNN’s Howie Kurtz to answer for some of his sillier utterances to clear the deck for his future as a regular contributor to that network.

Most of these things are sophomoric, at best, and it’s not unreasonable to expect better from a grown, intelligent man with a degree from a prestigious law school, a position on his city council, and a family.

While we’re by no means close friends, I’ve known Erick for years through occasional meetings at CPAC and elsewhere.   He’s smarter and better than the crap he too frequently spews. As Erick himself admits, he’s been slow to grow up and realize that his blog posts and Tweets are read by more than his close circle of friends and that he needs to take what he writes seriously.

Like it or not, his position as the most visible face of Red State and, now, his position as a CNN commentator make him a leader in the conservative movement and the Republican Party.   He’s going to have to find his voice as a public intellectual and I sincerely hope he goes with the Real Erick Erickson rather than simply going for laughs and look-at-me sound bytes. It might not be as much fun or even generate as many Web hits but it would be a much more productive use of his position and talents and, I suspect, one he’d look back on more fondly.

via Andrew Sullivan


Transcript follows in case the video becomes disabled for some reason:

KURTZ: Erick Erickson made his debut this week as a CNN contributor. He is a Georgia lawyer, a church deacon, and managing editor of the conservative Web site RedState.com. Erickson’s hiring generated a great deal of publicity, most of the decidedly negative variety.

I spoke with him earlier from Atlanta.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KURTZ: Erick Erickson, welcome.

ERICKSON: Thanks for having me.

KURTZ: You have been getting hammered by liberal commentators since CNN decided to bring you on as a contributor to John King’s program, and it all revolves around the things that you have written. So let’s just go through some of them.

ERICKSON: Right.

KURTZ: On the administration’s health care spokeswoman, you wrote, “Linda Douglass is really the Joseph Goebbels of the health care shop.”

You’re comparing her to a notorious Nazi?

ERICKSON: Yes, to propaganda. I probably shouldn’t have said that. And to be honest with you, I got her confused with one of the congressman who, the same day she came out and was urging people to begin e-mailing in to the White House the — forwarding on the e-mails from friends who were “misrepresenting” the president’s health care plan, a congressman came out and referred to people as “brownshirts.” And I got my wires crossed that day and thought, you know, if they’re going to go down that road, I will too.

I probably shouldn’t have, but I did.

KURTZ: Yes. And She never said that, and she assures me that she never said that.

The first lady, you wrote the following — the headline was, “Is Obama shagging hookers behind the media’s back?” And you write, “I assume not. I assume that Obama’s Marxist harpy wife would go Lorena Bobbit on him should he even think about it.”

Why would you describe Michelle Obama in those terms?

ERICKSON: Well, you know, back during the campaign trail in 2008, a lifetime ago, frankly, in blogging, I was very passionate, very aggressive in defending my side. And at the time that I wrote that, the Eliot Spitzer story was breaking, and the point was — distracted by the language, obviously — that Barack Obama was as much a creature of the media as Eliot Spitzer was. Neither have been investigated. And, you know, since that time, I’ve really learned, headed into, frankly, the David Souter comment, that I don’t have to get personal in blogging to make my point. I’ve definitely evolved over time.

KURTZ: Well, let’s deal with the David Souter comment. When Justice Souter announced his retirement, you said, you wrote, “The nation loses the only goat (EXPLETIVE) child molester ever to serve on the Supreme Court.”

Do you regret writing that?

ERICKSON: Yes, absolutely. It was about the dumbest thing I’ve done.

You know, counterintuitively, I guess, some good came out of it. It was the very first time I realized, Howard, how what I do for a living affects my family as well. Having my 3-year-old heckled and booed in the front yard by a neighbor, having my wife be berated at her office, you know, being a blogger, up until that moment I always considered I was just a guy chatting with friends, even on Twitter. And I realized that I actually reached a point where people listen to what I say and care about what I say, and frankly it was a wake-up call to me that I had to grow up in how I write.

KURTZ: Well, ,you know, at a time when there’s this great debate about threats against Democratic — mostly Democratic and some Republican lawmakers in the health care debate, I stumbled upon something you wrote about a Washington State controversy in which you said, “At what point do people march down to their state legislator’s house, pull them aside and beat him to a bloody pulp for being an idiot?”

Now, I assume you were being metaphorical, but some people might react differently to that.

ERICKSON: You know, the left tried to blow that one up, and I’ve written subsequently about that with a legislator in New York who wants to ban salt in restaurants. And I think the point is valid. The left may not like it.

I’m a local legislator myself, and I am afraid and have been since that time that we’re reaching a point where reasonable people are just going to get kind of crazy with government intrusion in their lives. The particular case in that situation was Washington State banning phosphates from dishwasher detergent.

KURTZ: Yes. I understand, but I’m just talking about your language.

Let me make sure I understand now. Are you now, on RedState.com, going to forcefully make your arguments — and nobody disputes your right do that — without these inflammatory personal attacks?

ERICKSON: Yes, I think so. I mean, I’ve definitely had to grow up over time and realize that it’s not just me and friends anymore.

I think everyone understands you talk in ways with friends and about things with friends you don’t in public. And in some ways, when you talk about things in private and in public, you sometimes use different language. And I’ve definitely had to grow up and realize I am someone now on a national stage and a platform, and what I say and write affects not just me and my family, but others.

KURTZ: I’ve got half a minute here.

This week, David Frum, the conservative author and columnist, frequent guest on this program, was forced out by the American Enterprise Institute after he called the health care vote the Republicans’ Waterloo and criticized it as a big defeat.

Does the right have a lack of tolerance for dissent?

ERICKSON: Oh, good lord, no. You know, David Frum, I think, is disingenuous to a degree.

Yesterday — or I guess it was earlier this past week — said that he wasn’t forced out because of his Waterloo comment. He was forced out because he wasn’t spending any time at AEI.

In fact, in talking to several people at AEI, they’ve all said the same thing, he was never there and never participated. And his story has evolved and the criticisms have evolved. David Frum is one of those Republicans who calls himself still a conservative when it’s clear to me he has evolved, but people still call him that.

KURTZ: All right. Well, “never” might be overstating it slightly.

Erick Erickson, glad we had a chance to talk to you about this. Thanks very much for joining us.

ERICKSON: Thanks very much.

via C&L

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He earned a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Eric Florack says:

    Just because someone with a history of conservative comments shows up on CNN doesn’t make one a “conservative leader”. Indeed, it cuts them down a few notches from that level, because of the song and dance one must do to maintain such a position.. as in what the vid shows us.

    Also, it seems to me somewhat disingenuous on the part of CNN (Gee… big shock of there!) to complain about Ericson’s “fiery comments”. If it wasn’t for those, would they have hired him in the first place?

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  2. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Via Andrew Sullivan says it all. If you, James took anything via Andrew Sullivan, it is not Eric with the silly problem. I read Red State daily, and I must say his is better grounded than James Joyner is. Not judging, just saying.

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  3. Gustopher says:

    I assume CNN hired him because he is a clown, and will be disappointed if he does not refer to anyone as a “donkey f*cking child molester”.

    My only question is whether CNN hired him to be incendiary just for ratings, or whether they are hoping to make all conservatives look like clowns by promoting this conservative clown.

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  4. Eric Florack says:

    To extend the thought regarding a blogger suddenly making that dreaded transition to “conservative leader’… can we say the same for Charles Johnson?

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  5. JohnR says:

    “He’s smarter and better than the crap he too frequently spews.”

    You don’t see any contradiction there? At some point don’t you have to accept the fact that what we say is a measure of who we are? You want to be Beavis when you grow up, fine, but how does that make you a Serious Conservative Intellekchule? Or is that all it takes any more?

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  6. sam says:

    @Bit

    the song and dance one must do to maintain such a position

    Does anybody here think Bit wouldn’t be the freaking Gene Kelly of punditry for a chance to be the CNN house conservative?

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  7. Alex Knapp says:

    “We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.”

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  8. steve says:

    Who then should be considered as the current conservative leaders?

    Steve

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  9. Eric Florack says:

    Does anybody here think Bit wouldn’t be the freaking Gene Kelly of punditry for a chance to be the CNN house conservative?

    Not only no, but hell no…. And for the precise reason Gustopher mentions. face it, the only reason CNN has any conservatives on at all, is not because they’d constitute any sort of balance ; they’re only there to hold the target for a while.

    Who then should be considered as the current conservative leaders?

    At the moment, I would suggest that there aren’t any. Hence, the rise of the (rather unorganized) tea parties, for example.

    To put some teeth in this, I find it interesting that the Republicans who are the most vociferous about claiming the mantle of Reagan, invariably come down to his left.

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  10. Via Andrew Sullivan says it all

    Yes, it says that James first encounters the clip on Sullivan’s site. Does that change its content?

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  11. sam says:

    @Bit

    To put some teeth in this, I find it interesting that the Republicans who are the most vociferous about claiming the mantle of Reagan, invariably come down to his left.

    Why don’t you put some teeth in that and name some names? And then show how the named come down on Reagan’s left.

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  12. wr says:

    Would that be to the left of the real Reagan, or of the cartoon fantasy superhero conservatives like to worship — you know, the one who would never allow a tax increase and never “cut and run” in the face of a military setback or terrorist attack?

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  13. Eric Florack says:

    Why don’t you put some teeth in that and name some names?

    Well, I guess that depends… are we talking about people who want to run for President, for example? IN that event, I suppose we can talk about McCain and Huckabee, for openers. Hell, McCain came down to the left of Bush which is why he lost to Bush in 2000.. and given Bush was at best a centrist, that’s saying something.

    As for how, shall we start with Amnesty?

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  14. Alex Knapp says:

    Eric,

    As for how, shall we start with Amnesty?

    “The legalization provisions in this act will go far to improve the lives of a class of individuals who now must hide in the shadows, without access to many of the benefits of a free and open society. Very soon many of these men and women will be able to step into the sunlight and, ultimately, if they choose, they may become Americans.”

    — President Ronald Reagan, on the occasion of signing the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act, which granted amensty to three million illegal immigrants residing in the United States.

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  15. sam says:

    As for how, shall we start with Amnesty?

    Sure.

    In 1986, Reagan signed an immigration reform bill, the first in 20 years, that legalized the status for 1.7-million people.

    Some defenders of the law dispute the term “amnesty.”

    But here’s how Edwin Meese, Reagan’s former attorney general, characterizes what his boss did: “President Reagan called this what it was: amnesty. Indeed, look up the term ‘amnesty’ in Black’s Law Dictionary, and you’ll find it says, ‘the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act provided amnesty for undocumented aliens already in the country.’ “[Source]

    How’s McCain, or Huckabee, to the left of that in sentiment?

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  16. Eric Florack says:

    So why is it the left is always treating Reagan like he was some kind of extremist?

    And if Reagan was for it, was the left against it, at the time? Amusing, but unavailing, given it was the conservatives who were against it… and remain so.. and rightly so.

    You will notice how McCain has backed away from the idea, these days…

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  17. sam says:

    Well, that was a stunning retort. Not. Recall that you wrote:

    I find it interesting that the Republicans who are the most vociferous about claiming the mantle of Reagan, invariably come down to his left.

    Then you were asked to put up or shut up. So, you put up amnesty. Whereupon, Alex and I showed that Reagan was for it as evidenced by the 1986 law. I asked how that put McCain and Huckabee to the left of Reagan on that issue. Then, in true Bithead fashion, you spouted a little shuck and jive to avoid having to admit you didn’t know about the 1986 law and to avoid having to admit you’re full of shit, again.

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  18. Edgonzo says:

    “he’s been slow to grow up and realize that his blog posts and Tweets are read by more than his close circle of friends”

    Bulldust. Are you saying he doesn’t have a handle on the traffic to RedState or know how many followers he has on Twitter?

    Erickson either does what he does because he figured it plays well, or he’s just a douchebag. Maybe both. But I really do not buy the too slow to grow up spiel, I can’t believe you do.

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  19. Tenebrous says:

    No, Florack is right about Reagan and amnesty. Reagan signed the 1986 law, understanding that it would be a once and for all type deal. Well, 20 years later, we know that it’s wasn’t. So why would anyone CONTINUE to sign amnesty bills knowing now what we didn’t know then? After seeing the damage that illegals have done to all the border states, and not to mention coyotes and “rape trees”, you’d have to be one blind fool to think that amnesty is something any conservative worth their salt would even consider nowadays.

    So, if Reagan was alive today and knew what we know today, what evidence do you have that he’d support an amnesty bill TODAY?

    In the end, yup, Romney and Huck are to the left of Reagan on this particular issue. You lose.

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  20. Tenebrous says:

    And oh, more on topic, Erickson is now doing the mea-cupa/genuflection/I’m sorry for being a “bad dog” shuffle. He bows down before his liberal masters, explaining away all of his conservative “excesses”, trying to ingratiate himself to his new masters. This will result in a tempering of his opinions and eventually a whole-scale sellout of conservativism.

    Go watch “Morning Joe” and see exactly how Joe Scarborough has erm, “evolved”. Erickson has started down the same path as of today.

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  21. Eric Florack says:

    Tenebrous:

    Correct. I’ve been busy at work and unable to respond. The problem with trying to draw a comparison between what Reagan proposed, and what has been proposed sense, is that the two proposals are being treated as equals. They most certainly are not. Ignoring that particular point is understandable , given what they are trying to accomplish with their argument. Still, it’s a fatal flaw.

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  22. […] him for years while I wrote at Red State, and he knows that 90% of what he spews is utter nonsense. James Joyner got at his (kind of) the other day. You can say a lot of things about Erick, but he isn’t this stupid, […]

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  23. Erick Erickson:

    David Frum is one of those Rupublicans who still calls himself a conservative when it’s clear to me he’s evolved. But people still cal him that.

    Erick Erickson -not evolved.

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