Lawrence O'Donnell Gets It Wrong - Twice Over - About First-Time Presidential Candidates

Warning: Sweeping pontifical claims ahead from Lawrence O'Donnell. Best taken with shaker of salt.

As is his wont, O'Donnell was holding forth last night during MSNBC's coverage of the Iowa caucuses, making not one but two statements of alleged fact that went beyond dubious to flat-out inaccurate (video after page break) --

O'DONNELL: In Republican presidential politics, familiarity does not breed contempt, it breeds votes. In your lifetime, the Republicans have never nominated a first-time presidential candidate. You have to go to 1964 to Barry Goldwater to get the last one, a fire-breathing conservative who lost worse than any Republican's ever lost. That scared the Republican Party about these first timers. The Democrats, the last four nominees, were first time they ran for president.

RACHEL MADDOW: Yeah.

O'DONNELL: And two of them won, Obama and ...

MADDOW: Well, Chris (Matthews) was talking about feeding the hot hand, your hand is hot, we've never seen you before, but go with it.

One can accurately claim that Republicans are not inclined to nominate first-time presidential candidates, but not nearly to the extent declared by O'Donnell. Does the name George W. Bush ring a bell, Larry? Bush, then in his second term as governor of Texas, was nominated by the GOP in 2000 -- in his first campaign for president.

How about Gerald Ford? After becoming president upon Nixon's resignation in 1974, Ford ran two years later seeking to be elected outright -- in his first campaign for president.

O'Donnell doubled down with his bogus claim, asserting that the Democrats' last four nominees had run for the first time. This is true of the last two -- Obama in 2008 and Kerry in 2004 -- but most assuredly not of the next two. Al Gore was the Democratic nominee in 2000, having run in 1988 and given Michael Dukakis a run for his money. In 1996, Bill Clinton was the Democratic nominee running for re-election, though this could not be his first race for president, seeing how Clinton was, uh, already in the White House.

Jack Coleman
Liberated ex-liberal from the People's Republic of Massachusetts