On Thursday's MSNBC Daily Rundown, host Chuck Todd laid blame for Republicans not speaking at Wednesday's anniversary of the 1963 march on Washington on the GOP, rather than event organizers: "...the Bushes couldn't go, there were health reasons why neither President Bush could go and speak. Other Republicans leaders were invited to speak and they politely declined. In hindsight, do you wish there had been Republicans that had agreed to speak?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Republican strategist John Feehery pointed out that the only African American in the United States Senate was not invited to speak: "I find it completely shocking that Tim Scott [R-SC] was not invited." Todd still faulted Republicans: "But why didn't Boehner and Cantor say, you know....they could have, by going, they probably could have said, 'By the way, we want you to invite Tim Scott,' and I don't thing the King family says no."
Feehery reiterated: "The fact that Tim Scott was not invited I think was a blunder." Fellow panelist and Center for American Progress president Neera Tanden taunted that the lack of a GOP speaker at the event meant the party was "not re-branding."
Todd seemed to echo the sentiment from a story in Thursday's Washington Post that similarly scolded Republicans for not having a presence at the event.
What Todd and the Post failed to mention was partisan atmosphere of the event itself.
National Urban League president Marc Morial ranted:
Somewhere along the way white sheets were traded for button-down white shirts. Attack dogs and water hoses were traded for tasers and widespread implementation of stop-and-frisk policies. Nooses were traded for handcuffs. Somewhere along the way we gained new enemies, cynicism and complacency. Murders from urban America to suburban America. The pursuit of power for power's sake. We stand here today to say it is time to wake up.
Left-wing MSNBC host Al Sharpton added similar condemnation:
Dr. King, and those that fought with him, they fought and they beat Jim Crow. We come today to not only celebrate and commemorate, but we come as the children of Dr. King. To say that we are going to face Jim Crow's children. Because Jim Crow had a son called James Crow Jr. Esquire. He writes voting suppression laws and puts it in language that looks different but the results are the same. They come with laws that tell people to stand their ground. They come with laws to tell people to stop-and-frisk. But I come to tell you just like our mothers and fathers beat Jim Crow, we will beat James Crow Jr. Esquire.
Former President Jimmy Carter got up to the podium and proclaimed:
I believe we all know how Dr. King would have reacted to the new I.D. requirements to exclude certain voters, especially African Americans. I think we all know how Dr. King would have reacted to the Supreme Court striking down a crucial part of the Voting Rights Act....I think we would all know how Dr. King would have reacted to our country being awash in guns and for more and more states passing Stand Your Ground laws.
Former President Bill Clinton then offered his stump speech:
We cannot relax in our efforts to implement health care reform in a way that ends discrimination against those with pre-existing conditions, one of which is inadequate income to pay for rising health care. A health care reform that will lower cost and lengthen lives....We cannot be discouraged by a Supreme Court decision that said we don't need this critical provision of the Voting Rights Act....a great democracy does not make it harder to vote than to buy an assault weapon.
And finally, President Obama added his voice to the liberal chorus:
Entrenched interests, those who benefit from an unjust status quo, resisted any government efforts to give working families a fair deal, marshaling an army of lobbyists and opinion-makers to argue that minimum wage increases or stronger labor laws or taxes on the wealthy who could afford it just to fund crumbling schools, that all these things violated sound economic principles.
We'd be told that growing inequality was a price for a growing economy. A measure of the free market. That greed was good and compassion ineffective. And those without jobs or health care had only themselves to blame. And then there were those elected officials who found it useful to practice the old politics of division, doing their best to convince middle-class Americans of a great untruth, that government was somehow itself to blame for their growing economic insecurity. That distant bureaucrats were taking their hard-earned dollars to benefit the welfare cheat or the illegal immigrant.
How exactly would Republicans have fit into an event where one speaker after another expressed utter contempt for anything conservative?
Here is a transcript of Todd's August 29 exchange with Feehery:
CHUCK TODD: John, I ask you, since you're representing the Republicans here on this panel, the Bushes couldn't go, there were health reasons why neither President Bush could go and speak. Other Republicans leaders were invited to speak and they politely declined. In hindsight, do you wish there had been Republicans that had agreed to speak?
JOHN FEEHERY [REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST]: I find it completely shocking that Tim Scott was not invited. I think that for the most symbolic person in the world from the south, the Republican from the south, senator appointed – that he was not invited-
TODD: But why didn't Boehner and Cantor say, you know-
FEEHERY: Hey, listen, they had it on the schedule. I think they made a mistake, I think they should have gone. But, to not invite Tim Scott was a huge mistake.
TODD: And they could have, by going, they probably could have said, "By the way, we want you to invite Tim Scott," and I don't thing the King family says no.
FEEHERY: Well, how it worked out, there were some mistakes made.
TODD: It felt, it felt – I-
FEEHERY: The fact that Tim Scott was not invited I think was a blunder.
NEERA TANDEN [PRESIDENT, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS]: It's not re-branding.
TODD: Alright, I will leave it there.