Christine O'Donnell: 'Separation of Church and State' Not in Constitution, MSNBC Shocked, Angered

MSNBC on Tuesday continued its attempt to dismiss Republican candidates as extremist, hitting Sharron Angle, Christine O'Donnell and others as "mean girls" who are unqualified for office. Jansing appeared shocked that the Delaware candidate pointed out the phrase "separation of church and state" isn't in the Constitution. She then read from the First Amendment, but failed to find the words.

After playing a clip of O'Donnell from this morning's debate, Jansing sputtered, "I thought she had to be kidding." She then pulled out her "handy, dandy" pocket Constitution and quoted, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof or abridging the freedom of speech.' Amendment number one. I don't even know where to go with that." [MP3 audio here. Click on the article for video.]

What Jansing was thinking of is the Establishment Clause. O'Donnell's point was that restricting the creation of the official religion isn't the same thing as walling off faith from public life. Despite the indignant tone of Jansing, "separation of church and state" isn't in the text.

Regarding other female Republican candidates, such as Angle, an outraged Jansing snapped to guest Michelle Bernard, "And, actually, I'm not finding any of this stuff funny any more. It actually kind of made me sick to my stomach because I feel like somehow we have got to find people who know a little more, can do a little more, something."

The "mean girls" label, which MSNBC used as a graphic, came from a Maureen Dowd column on Sunday. Jansing mocked Angle for saying this to a group of Hispanic high school students: "I don't know that all of you are Latinos. Some of you look a little more Asian to me."

No mention, of course, was made of any gaffes or odd statements of Democrats. Harry Reid, Angle's opponent, in August slammed, "I don't know how anyone of Hispanic heritage could be a Republican. "Do I need to say more?"

A transcript of the October 19 segment, which aired at 11:03am EDT, follows:

 11am

CHRIS JANSING: From belittling the President's manhood to telling an opponent to man-up, are these Republican candidates the new mean girls?

GRAPHIC: New Mean Girls?

JANSING: And speaking of mean girls, Nevada senatorial candidate Sharron Angle manages to offend Latinos and Asians in one breath.

SHARRON ANGLE: I don't know that all of you are Latinos. Some of you look a little more Asian to me.

JANSING: With Angle and Reid separated by a hair in their Senate showdown, will comments like that help put Reid over the top?

11:03

JANSING: Okay, we can't make this stuff up. Last week Christine O'Donnell said she'd have to check on some Supreme Court cases she disagreed on. Now it seems she has to just simply check on the Constitution. Listen to this.

CHRISTINE O'DONNELL: Where in the Constitution is separation of church and state?

CHRIS COONS: An excellent point.

MODERATOR: Hold on, hold on, please.

JANSING: I actually, Michelle, let me introduce Lynn Bernard [sic], Michelle Bernard, president and CEO of the Independent Women Forum and MSNBC political analyst. Major Hillary Clinton supporter, Lady Lynn De Forrester De Rothchild. And Howard Wolfson Deputy New York City mayor and former senior aide for Hillary Clinton. I literally had to find out from our producer on the scene if she was kidding. I thought she had to be kidding. You know, handy dandy pocket, maybe I could send this, the Constitution. "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof or abridging the freedom of speech." Amendment number one. I don't even know where to go with that. Did you think it was a joke, Howard?

HOWARD WOLFSON: I think if was a joke, whether she meant it as a joke, I don't know. She is a Saturday Night Live satire of herself. And last night in New York we saw seven candidates on the debating for governor. People who were obscure, people who weren't running in any serious way. You know, this just debases America's faith in the political system.

JANSING: I'm going to drive the control room crazy. But, If we have that set of clips from the New York governor's debate I want to bring it into this discussion, if we can. It will take them a minute to find them. But, Michelle, let me ask you, because, I sat and watch that governor's debate for an hour and a half. Then I hear about this comment. And, actually, I'm not finding any of this stuff funny any more. It actually kind of made me sick to my stomach because I feel like somehow we have got to find people who know a little more, can do a little more, something. This is such a serious time in our nation's history. How did we get to this point?

MICHELLE BERNARD: I don't know how we got to this point. I'm scratching my head also. Christine O'Donnell has had a lot of moments that just were not stellar moments. But, this was absolutely one of them. And, you know, Chris, I mean, the American public is bleeding and whether we're looking at independents, Democrats or Republicans, you know that most of the American public is looking at these clips, watching television, listening to these candidates on the radio and saying is there truly anyone out there that understands the suffering that we're going through? Unemployment is, you know, through the roof. The foreclosure crisis that we're seeing all throughout the countries. Banks deciding that they're going to start foreclosing on people's homes again. And then you have candidates who profess this love of the Constitution, but then don't understand the Constitution or seemingly haven't read it. People have to be saying, would I been better off moving to a different country? It's very, very, very sad. We need some politicians who need to know what they're doing.

JANSING: And do you know Christine O'Donnell claims she did graduate work at the Claremont Institute? On its website it displays a picture of the Constitution. Howard, since you brought it up, I do want to play that set of sound bites from this debate,. But, frankly, I think New York Times said it was nearly a farce. The Post says it was a farce. This debate for governor of New york, take a listen.

KRISTIN DAVIS (NY gubernatorial nominee): The career politicians in Albany are the biggest whores in the state. I might be the only person sitting on this stage with the right experience deal with them.

UNIDENTIFIED CANDIDATE: I'm not your typical New York politician. I've never been cught with a prostitute.

DAVIS: It will kill thousands of jobs and decimate our economies. In fact, businesses will leave this state quicker than Carl Paladino at a gay bar.

SECOND UNIDENTIFIED: Listen, someone's child's stomach just growled. Did you hear it? Gotta listen like me. Let's talk about the issues. People can't afford to pay their rent. My rent is too damn high.

MODERATOR: Okay, Mr. Cuomo. 30 Seconds for you, sir.

ANDREW CUOMO: Thank you.

JANSING: I mean, even Andrew Cuomo had to laugh, that gentleman was from the Rent is Too Damn High Party." And we don't know, I tried to find out why he was wearing the gloves. So, where do we go from here? We have Sharron Angle who, basically, won't take questions. You have Rand Paul who won't do debates and they're taking questions, they're having debates. At least, say for them, and say for Christine O'Donnell who was on the radio today, they're taking questions, they're having debates. Does it say more about what the Democrats have done or not done because that's where this anger is being fueled and it's allowing for some people who arguably don't have the credentials to run for serious high office.

LADY LYNN FORESTER DE ROTHSCHILD (Hillary Clinton supporter): Well, someone once said that Americans want to elect an eagle and they're given choices between a duck and a chicken. And our political system is so ugly the process that a person has to go through. The person you have to become to achieve elected office is so ugly that the best and the brightest among us are staying quiet, just like the Yates poem. Just like the Second Coming.

JANSING: Is that what is going on?

DE ROTHSCHILD: I really think that is what's going on.

JANSING: I spent a little bit of time in Washington, a lot of time on various campaign trails and people always sort of look at me with rolling eyes when I say to them, You'd be surprised how hard people work. You'd be surprised how good some of their staffs are and how much they genuinely do care. Is it the process that process that allows people who are not so smart to get in? Help us try to understand this.

WOLFSON: Well, I am always in favor of saying nice things about staff. In some of these cases, what you have is a tiny minority of a state's population voting in a primary and choosing the more extreme candidate whether on the left or the right over the more moderate candidate. That's what happened in Delaware. We had an excellent candidate there in Mike Castle. Mayor Bloomberg supported him, moderate Republican, been in the House of Representatives a long time, accomplished bipartisan, but he had to fight in a Republican primary that was tilted to the right and you have the result that you had. So, this person who is not qualified to be the Senate, she's not going to be the next senator is on tv and on the radio making embarrassing statements like that. And for the general public, for the person who, the vast majority of people who weren't voting for her in a primary, they just shrug their shoulders and say, how could the country, how have we come to this?

JANSING: Yeah. Really quickly. I want to go to that op-ed piece in the New York Times by the Maureen Dowd, who compared the ladies of the Republican Party, the races this year to the tween movie with Lindsay, Mean Girls. Quote, "We are in the era of Republican mean girls, grown-up versions of those teenage tormentors who would steal your boyfriend, spray-paint your locker and just for good measure, spread rumors that you were pregnant." So, Michelle, here's what I want to know: Are they the mean girls because you have to be mean or is this a case of sexism where you're tough and you're smart and successful you must be then, as a woman, mean. I won't use the word that rhymes with witch.

BERNARD: You know, Chris, I'm going to say, that if anybody is the mean girl in this, this is Maureen Dowd. I mean, the column she wrote where in the New York Times over the weekend where she's depicting the Republican and conservative female candidates as the Mean Girls, it's kind of ironic coming from a self-professed, progressive, liberal who wrote a column in July of this year for the New York Times where she said the White House wasn't black enough. You know, it's ironic coming from her and what we see with Republican and Democrat candidates, there's been an enormous sea change from the '60s, the '70s and even From the way female candidates ran in 2008. Women are running, whether they're Democrats or Republicans very differently now. You don't see a lot of female candidates of any political stripe talking about their children, their husbands, their families, their grandchildren. They are running for political office much in the same way that men have done and it's the first time we have seen so many Republican candidates on nationwide tickets whether they're running for governor, for senator or for House seats that are running in a very, very different way. And I think most of the nation has been caught by surprise by this but I think Maureen Dowd's column is way, way, way over the top. If she wants to talk about the candidate, she should talk about them on their merits. Are they good candidates or bad candidates. Do they know what they're talking. But, to say they're Mean Girls because, you know, Sharron Angle told Harry Reid to man up is ridiculous.

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center and a contributing editor for NewsBusters.org