MSNBC Panel Goes After GOP for 'Obama Derangement Syndrome,' Forgets Bush Hatred

On Tuesday's PoliticsNation on MSNBC, Dana Milbank of the Washington Post and MSNBC contributor Goldie Taylor joined host Al Sharpton to lambast the GOP for suffering from "Obama Derangement Syndrome," picking up on criticism of President Obama putting his foot on his desk in the Oval Office, without noting any of the visceral hatred felt toward George W. Bush by the Democratic base during his time as President.

At one point, Milbank may have been vaguely hinting at hatred coming from Democrats in the past, although the Washington Post columnist accused the GOP of greater transgression as he claimed that Republicans "have taken it to an entirely different level" in going after Obama.

Sharpton complained of President Obama being "disrespected" as if it were unprecedented during Republican presidencies:

The other thing, Dana, about this is that they have in so many ways disrespected this President that they've lowered the respect level of the office, something that could come back and haunt all parties for a long time. Once you lower the bar to denigrating the President, to the degree that they've done this President.

Milbank responded:

Well, I think that's true, and I think it's been going on for some period of time now, that the idea of the disrespect not just for the person who's holding the office, but for the office itself. And eventually one becomes the other. Now, these Republicans of 2013 didn't invent this, but they seem to have taken it to an entirely different level when even the President's foot on the desk becomes a scandalous issue. But I think we can say objectively now that the President does seem to have a leg up on his opposition.

A bit earlier in the segment, without noting that PPP is a Democratic-leaning polling group, Milbank and Sharpton alluded to a recent poll which found that 29 percent of Republican voters surveyed in Lousiana place blame for the government's 2005 Hurricane Katrina response on Obama, even though he was not President yet. Milbank:

Well, look, from the beginning of this presidency, there have been efforts to discredit him for anything. Some are sillier than others. And as I've explored and you've explored "Obama Derangement Syndrome," it does appear that just about anything, like that poll that you mentioned in Louisiana where a third of the Republican voters were blaming President Obama for Katrina, which happened when he was in his first term in office, so he has managed to get under their skin.

Below is a complete transcript of the segment from the Tuesday, September 3, PoliticsNation on MSNBC:

AL SHARPTON: We're back with a new round of right wing's "Obama Derangement Syndrome," Oval Office edition. This weekend, the White House posted a photo showing President Obama with his foot on the desk in the Oval Office. Drudge Report picked it up, and the far right's outrage machine went into overdrive. TeaParty.org tweeted: "Does seeing President Obama's foot on the Oval Office desk make your blood boil?" Over at Fox, Lou Dobbs says, "The White House released it mistakenly, thinking it's a cool image." And comments from some other Tea Party forums got downright nasty.

What a scandal, what an outrage. Who would dare do something like that? President Bush, that's who. He propped his feet on that very same desk. Where was the outrage back then? President Ford did it, too. Check it out. It looks comfortable. Ford also used to sit on his desk. President Reagan even used his desk as a snack tray. Oh, the scandal!

Folks, the right wing's hypocrisy is clear, and so is their real agenda. Attacking President Obama for anything he does, no matter how big or how small. Joining me are Goldie Taylor and Dana Milbank in his very unpresidential posture tonight. ... Dana, let me ask you, do these ridiculous small-scale attacks from the right serve a larger purpose?

DANA MILBANK, WASHINGTON POST: Well, look, from the beginning of this presidency, there have been efforts to discredit him for anything. Some are sillier than others. And as I've explored and you've explored "Obama Derangement Syndrome," it does appear that just about anything, like that poll that you mentioned in Louisiana where a third of the Republican voters were blaming President Obama for Katrina, which happened when he was in his first term in office, so he has managed to get under their skin.

There's been an effort to portray him as something other than presidential, or as something other than American. Now, probably in this case, they didn't realize that there'd be the old black and white photos showing previous presidents doing exactly such a thing. But, yes, outrage is conditional and seasonal.

SHARPTON: And, Goldie, I mean, as anything, like for example, when the President supposedly was bowing to foreign leaders like the President of China, but they ignored the fact that Republican President Richard Nixon did the exact same thing when meeting Chairman Mao.

GOLDIE TAYLOR, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Sure, well, you know what it's like, Reverend, when you fall in love. You fall in love, everything the other person does is right. Everything they say is funny. But when you're not in love, when you have a deep-seated loathing for someone, then nothing they say or do can be right. And that's what it is with the case with this President. Is there some racial animus at play? Maybe.

But I think this is really more about ideology and the very idea that the principles that this President holds dear, that his integrity, that his way of living, his sense of discipline, his sense of decency, his love for this country, have to come under constant check and charge by this right wing. It helps them to raise money. It helps them to get volunteers for their campaigns. It helps them to turn out the vote. It really does help them to gin up support in any number of ways. And it's a tool, a tool used by, you know, some of the mainstream Republican media.

SHARPTON: Well, that's what bothers me, Dana, is that some of the mainstream Republican leadership in some ways identify with this, or at least do not denounce it. For example, Tea Party activist David Horowitz, in making offensive comments about President Obama at a  right-wing conference that was sponsored by the Koch Brothers. Listen to this.

DAVID HOROWITZ, FREEDOM CENTER FOUNDER, CLIP #1: The reason we don't attack him is obvious, but no one will say it out loud. I will. It's because the color of his skin is black. Actually, actually, he's half black.

HOROWITZ CLIP #2: It is because Obama is a minority that no one will hold him to a standard or confront him with what he has done.

SHARPTON: Now, this conference was attended by GOP leaders like Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Governor Bobby Jindal. I mean, doesn't it show how this kind of garbage has become mainstream in the far right?

MILBANK: Well, Reverend, there's always been this kind of garbage out on the fringe. What's happened here is the Republican party decided to try to harness the power of the Tea Party and embrace these folks. And the problem is when you do that, you need to be accountable for the things you've given the microphone to. The clowns who are out there on the fringe are given more attention because people are in the audience with him, because they're being promoted by leadership within the Republican party. So it works both ways. It has helped them in elections, but now you see that it's had the effect of countenancing this sort of behavior.

SHARPTON: You know, Goldie, the President in this past march talked himself about the tendency of the far right to demonize him with personal attacks. Listen to this.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Sometimes I reflect, you know, is there something else I could do to make these guys, I'm not talking about the leaders now, but maybe some of the House Republican caucus members not to paint horns on my head.

SHARPTON: I mean, it's probably something he wonders about, but I don't know what he could do. This is so deep-seated and has become so vile.

TAYLOR: Well, you know, Dana is absolutely right about this. It is deep-seated. It is vile. We have really mainstreamed crazy in this country, and so, at the end of the day, this President can't do or say anything, really, to bring this back to the fold. Republican leaders can't even go to the White House, can't shake this President's hand, can't have dinner with him outside of the purview of their constituencies, who would then hold them to account for being too chummy with him.

One of the things that I've said about Chris Christie and whether or not he's going to be able to run for the GOP nomination is there's far too many pictures out there of him being chummy with this President. Even in a time of crisis. And so the cat is out of the bag, and they're not able really to stuff it back in. And that's going to be a real problem for them, you know, come 2014 and even 2016.

SHARPTON: The other thing, Dana, about this is that they have in so many ways disrespected this President that they've lowered the respect level of the office, something that could come back and haunt all parties for a long time. Once you lower the bar to denigrating the President, to the degree that they've done this President.

MILBANK: Well, I think that's true, and I think it's been going on for some period of time now, that the idea of the disrespect not just for the person who's holding the office, but for the office itself. And eventually one becomes the other. Now, these Republicans of 2013 didn't invent this, but they seem to have taken it to an entirely different level when even the President's foot on the desk becomes a scandalous issue. But I think we can say objectively now that the President does seem to have a leg up on his opposition.

TAYLOR: True.

SHARPTON: Well, you had two legs up on me, but I got even. Goldie Taylor and Dana Milbank, thank you both for your time tonight.