Shuster Clips Clintons for Not Playing Nice
Is it the province of a "correspondent" of an ostensibly objective network to proclaim the tactics of a presidential candidate "inappropriate"? Apparently so, when the network is MSNBC and the correspondent David Shuster. The frequent sidekick to Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann got into it with Pat Buchanan on today's Morning Joe.
Shuster spoke out against Hillary's rough-'n-tumble end-game tactics, while a feisty Buchanan defended Clinton's right to go down swinging. Shuster sounded less the reporter and more the DNC member concerned about damage to the party's presumptive presidential candidate. When Mike Barnicle got into the act, he wanted to be sure not to be seen as insulting the Clintons.
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DAVID SHUSTER: What is the plausible scenario for what she's doing now, and do you agree, the only plausible scenario is that she's just trying to permanently damage Barack Obama?Cut to a clip of Bill Clinton on the stump in West Virginia saying that Hillary won Indiana because of "people like you, and places like this." Shuster smelled a rat.
MIKE BARNICLE: What about this one, David? What about the fact that, listen, not speaking ill of either former President Clinton or Senator Clinton [God forbid!], but this is all they've ever done in their lives. They've never worked at a private job, they've never worked in corporate America [Rose law firm?], they've been public people for 30 years. All they know is running! That's all they know: that's who they are.
SHUSTER: Pat, when he says "people like you" to an audience in West Virginia, and he's referring to Indiana, what's the code there?
PAT BUCHANAN: He's talking about, frankly, he's talking about the white working class, the silent majority, the middle Americans, the core of the Democratic party, the working people.
SHUSTER: You just made my point, Pat. Now explain to me, how does that, how does that kind of reference, how does that help the Democratic party in the fall, given that Barack Obama's going to be the nominee?
BUCHANAN [temperature rising]: Very simple. He's not trying to help the Democratic party in the fall!
SHUSTER [or might it have been Barnicle?]: Exactly!. . .
BUCHANAN: He's trying to win West Virginia for his wife!
SHUSTER [Barnicle?]: Exactly!
BUCHANAN: What is wrong with that for heaven's sakes? He's out there working the folks he wants. What would be wrong with Barack Obama going down to South Philly, or going down to Philly, and saying "we can make history, folks. We can win this thing. Don't let 'em say we can't do it!"? There's nothing wrong with that.
SHUSTER: Here is what's wrong with it, Pat. The superdelegates are saying look, there's nothing wrong with Hillary Clinton saying here's why you people in West Virginia should elect me. But when the conversation transfers to "those people," Barack Obama, my opponent said, it becomes here is a whole host of reasons why you should not vote for him. That's a very different strategy.
BUCHANAN: David, I don't care what strategy. She is still fighting with the longest of shots for the Democratic nomination, and she's got the same right to appeal to her voters as he does to his voters. For heaven's sakes, who are we to be telling her how to run the last campaign of her life? I agree with Barnicle: the Clintons have all their chips on this. I read the New York Times, and they're arrogantly giving advice to every campaign and candidate, what they gotta to do and what they can't do.
SHUSTER: Pat, I think you misunderstand me. There's nothing wrong with her fighting for this nomination. But a lot of superdelegates say there's something wrong when she's tearing down her opponent, or trying to make an argument against her opponent in the process.
BUCHANAN: Then tell the superdelegates to go come out for Obama! These gutless wonders are sitting up there hiding on the hill, unable to come out and make a decision.
SHUSTER: Here's where the superdelegates are. They have been told by Hillary Clinton, by her campaign, give us a little more time. We're going to run nothing but a positive campaign. We're going to lift the Democratic party up over the next couple of weeks. But then you see these sort of subtle jabs by Bill Clinton. You see these jabs by Howard Wolfson, condemning Barack Obama for not going to West Virginia. You see Hillary Clinton condemning Barack Obama for not debating her in Oregon [which he pronounces Ore-GONE]. The superdelegates have been told by the Clinton campaign, we're going to run like Mike Huckabee. We're going to run nothing but positive at the end. And it only takes them 12 hours and they can't live up to that promise.Ooh, they're being mean to Barack. Make them stop!
BUCHANAN: David, you sound like the counsel for the defense on the superdelegates' cowardice. Look, if these guys want to end this thing, if they want to end it, end it. We see what she's doing. She's fightin'. She's gonna go down fightin' in West Virginia and saying come on out here and fight me in the Mountains State and I'll beat ya!Got that, Hillary? Howard Dean—whoops!—David Shuster has decreed the rules of engagement.
SHUSTER: I agree, she has every right. But she can't say "I'm going to run a positive campaign" and then have all these jabs at the same time. She can't do that!
BARNICLE: And what about her talking about "white people" yesterday?
SHUSTER: Exactly! She should not be raising that point. Pat Buchanan, Mike Barnicle, they can talk as much as anybody wants, but she should, I think it's inappropriate for her to be making that point.