Blame Game: Lauer Calls Clyburn Out

Let's award a point of light to Matt Lauer.  On this morning's Today, he called out Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) for calling for an end to the blame game . . . right after the congressman blamed John McCain for failing to rally his Arizona troops to vote for the bailout.  But that didn't stop Clyburn from continuing to try to pin the tail on the elephant.

JAMES CLYBURN: We promised 50% of our caucus; they promised 50% of their caucus, or their conference.  We produced 60%, and they produced 33%.

MATT LAUER: Yeah, but in fairness, Congressman Clyburn, the Speaker of the House couldn't even deliver half of her own Democratic delegation from her own state.

CLYBURN: Well, that may be true. But zero from Arizona voted for this, and presidential candidate McCain came in, and he said he brought everybody to the table. But if you check, Matt, you will see that not a single person from Arizona voted for this legislation.  So here is what we have to do, going forward.  I think it's time for us to set aside blaming, set aside all of this extraneous stuff, like a speech that may have been delivered on the floor of the House [alluding to Pelosi's partisan spiel]. It's amazing to me that we can be so sophomoric to believe that a politician would not give a political speech.

That prompted Lauer's pointed response.

View video here.

LAUER: But Congressman Clyburn, let me just ask this.  You say we should set aside blaming, right after you just talked about the Arizona situation where they didn't vote. I don't even know if there's a question at the end of this, but do you understand why people in the country, and Congressman Price [Tom Price, Georgia Republican] you as well, might say: a pox on all their houses?  We've got these partisans speeches, and we've got then these news conferences after the vote pointing fingers.  That's not what's required here.

CLYBURN: We were not pointing fingers.

Right.

After Rep. Price made an appeal to cooperation, Clyburn, apparently not all affected by Lauer's call to bi-partisanship, continued to bash the Republicans.

CLYBURN: If you're going to sit down and solve this problem as adults, I don't think adults would be blaming a speech on the floor of the House.  That is pretty juvenile to me.  The country comes first: Senator McCain has been saying that all year. And I believe it is necessary for us to put the country first.  And you do that by sitting down in a mature way, coming up with legislation as we did, and you deliver the votes you promised. Now they did not keep their promise on the other side. We kept our promise and did better than we said we were going to do.

So in sum, Clyburn's way to "set aside blaming" is to:

  • Point out that McCain didn't deliver the Arizona delegation.
  • Call Republicans "sophomoric" and "juvenile."
  • Brag about Dems delivering more than enough votes.
  • Accuse Republicans of not keeping their promise.

No blaming there!  It's going to be a long week, but credit Lauer for pointing out Clyburn's glaring hypocrisy.

Bonus Coverage: Lauer Zings Pelosi on Partisan Speech

Matt was really on something of a roll this morning.  Just before the Clyburn/Price interview, Lauer was chatting with NBC News political director Chuck Todd, and had this zinger for Nancy Pelosi.

LAUER:  Let me wade in briefly to this Nancy Pelosi speech on the floor of the House the night before the vote. Barney Frank said if anybody on the Republican side had their feelings hurt and then punished the country [by voting against the bailout] that's outrageous, but let's go back to that speech.  You're the Speaker of the House.  You're trying to reach across the aisle to get something done for the good of the country. Why in the world would you, when you need the votes from the other side of the aisle, make that speech?

CHUCK TODD:  I've talked to some Democrats who say it was a strategic blunder.

View video here.

Mark Finkelstein
Mark Finkelstein is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.