In his primetime debut as a FOX News contributor on the January 12 edition of Hannity & Colmes, the network identified former Senator Zell Miller -- who supported President Bush's reelection, spoke at the Republican National Convention, and authored A National Party No More: The Conscience of a Conservative Democrat (Stroud & Hall, 2003) -- as a Democrat. Appearing on the January 12 edition of Hannity & Colmes, Miller, identified by on-screen text as "Zell Miller (D)," was asked by co-host Sean Hannity to share "his thoughts on the future of the Democratic Party." During the program, Miller falsely claimed that the "Republicans stayed in power for 34 years" beginning in 1896; repeated Republican talking points on Social Security, tort reform, and tax policy; heaped praise on former House speaker Newt Gingrich and his new book; criticized Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY); and asserted that he agreed with the Republicans over the Democrats on every issue in 2004.
Miller told co-host Alan Colmes: "[K]eep in mind, when you [Democrats] say that he [President Bush] only got 51 percent [of the vote in the 2004 presidential election], keep in mind that William McKinley only got 51 percent back in 1896, and the Republicans stayed in power for 34 years." Miller's remark resembles comparisons Bush senior political adviser Karl Rove has drawn between the 1896 election and Bush's victories in 2000 and in 2004, but Miller's comparison is factually incorrect: Democrat Woodrow Wilson was president from 1913 to 1921.
Also on Hannity & Colmes, Miller repeated several Republican talking points in support of Bush administration domestic policy initiatives:
MILLER: You have got some very, very tough issues that are going to have to be dealt with in this next Congress. And I mean, they're not just problems that need to be dealt with. They are crises that have to be solved. And I'm talking about the Social Security. I'm talking about the tort reform. I'm talking about what we do in taxes.
Those tax cuts have got to be made permanent. You cannot continue to go along with a tax program that's got an expirational date on it, like a quart of milk.
Both the Bush administration and its conservative supporters in the media have repeatedly used crisis rhetoric to promote plans to privatize Social Security, as Media Matters for America has extensively documented. Miller's claim that there is a critical need for tort reform also echoes unsubstantiated claims by both the Bush administration and conservative pundits on the extent that medical malpractice lawsuits are adversely affecting health care costs and accessibility. Miller's assertion that the Bush tax cuts "have got to be made permanent" echoed Bush's remarks from his January 10 weekly radio address: "For the sake of our economic expansion, and for the sake of millions of Americans who depend on small businesses for their jobs, we need Congress to act to make tax relief permanent."
Miller further indicated his support for the Republican Party by praising Gingrich, attacking Senator Clinton, and explaining his preference for the Republican stance on all political issues. Of Gingrich, Miller gushed: "He is a very dear friend of mine, and I love his new book [Winning the Future: A 21st Century Contract with America (Regnery, January 2005)]. I don't know anyone who understands the issues that face this country and how they have got to be dealt with any better than Newt Gingrich." Miller criticized Clinton by predicting that political calculation and presidential aspirations will dictate her stance on various issues in coming years: "[B]y 2008, she will not be the same Hillary Clinton." When Colmes asked where the Democrats are "more right than the Republicans," Miller replied: "Nowhere in 2004."