MSNBCer Suggests GOP Rejected Obama's Request for Speech Because of 'Color of His Skin'

MSNBC's Richard Wolffe went there. The political analyst for the Lean Forward network actually played the race card in his analysis of why the Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner did not accept Barack Obama's big foot move to deliver a speech to Congress on the same night as a GOP presidential debate, as he pondered: "it could be, let's face it, the color of his skin."

Appearing on Wednesday's edition of The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, Wolffe made the following accusation of racism:

(video after the jump)

 


RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: The interesting question is: what is it about this president that has stripped away the veneer of  respect that normally accompanies the office of the president? Why do the Republicans think this president is unpresidential, unpresidential and shouldn't dare to request this kind of thing? It strikes me that it could be the economic times, it could be that he won so big in 2008, or it could be, let's face it, the color of his skin.

The following is the relevant exchange as it was aired on the August 31 edition of The Last Word With Lawrence O'Donnell:

LAWRENCE O'DONNELL: Earlier today, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said the President was not deliberately trying to overshadow the Republican candidates' debate.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CARNEY: It is coincidental. There is -- the president committed to speaking next week after the Labor Day holiday, and immediately upon Congress' return. And there are a lot of factors that go into scheduling a speech before Congress, a joint session speech, and again, you can't, you can never find a perfect time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'DONNELL: The chairman of the Republican National Committee did not see it the same way. Reinhold Priebus – and yes, his real first name is Reinhold -- tweeted, "Barack Obama's request to give jobs speech the same night as GOP presidential debate is further proof this White House is all politics all the time." Speaker Boehner ultimately took the advice Rush Limbaugh gave him earlier today.


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LIMBAUGH: This is intended to disrupt the Republican debate. It's intended to make Obama
look bigger than the Republicans, to look bigger than politics. And this is part of the presidential election campaign, and the House Republicans are gonna have to realize they are part of it. Somebody in the intelligentsia, somebody smarter than we, somebody is going to write a piece or post a blog and say, "Mr. Boehner, Mr. Boehner, you are going to send the independents running right back to Obama if you don't demand, if you don't grant him this speech, because all the American people care about right now is jobs, they don't care about the Reagan Library, they don't care about the Republican presidential debate, all they care about jobs. And if you tell the President that he can't come up on the day he wants, you're just gonna send independents running back." That's what they're gonna say to him, that's how they're gonna try to intimidate Boehner.

Boehner should say, "Mr. President, I'm not gonna assist you in your political games.'

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'DONNELL: Joining me now, the co-author of "Game Change," national affairs editor for New York magazine, John Heilemann. Also, author of Revival: The Struggle for Survival Inside the Obama White House, MSNBC analyst Richard Wolffe. Thank you both for joining me tonight. Richard, is this the night where I have to begin this program by saying Rush Limbaugh is right, the President was trying to upstage the Republican debate? Is there any real working theory to the contrary?

RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: No, you don't have to say that, that Rush Limbaugh is right. This is, obviously, a campaign season, and the next day was a football game, and who really cares anyway? You can schedule both on the same day, doesn't have to be the same time. What's curious about this is not just the back and the forth, because I think people who don't tune into politics, don't tune into this show, are gonna think they are all a bunch of squabbling school kids.

The interesting question is: what is it about this president that has stripped away the veneer of  respect that normally accompanies the office of the president? Why do the Republicans think this president is unpresidential, unpresidential and shouldn't dare to request this kind of thing? It strikes me that it could be the economic times, it could be that he won so big in 2008, or it could be, let's face it, the color of his skin.

This is an extraordinary reaction to a normal sequence of events when the economy is in trouble and we're entering a political season. And the reaction is out of all proportion.
 

Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens is the Deputy Research Director at the Media Research Center.