Father Michael Pfleger, whose endorsement of Barack Obama until recently appeared on the official Obama website, mocks Hillary Clinton's tears during a sermon at Obama's church, the Trinity United Church of Christ, on May 25, 2008.
Mika Brzezinski realizes that the latest looniness emanating from Barack Obama's church poses political problems for the presidential candidate. But as a person of pallor, the ever-so-PC Morning Joe-er doesn't want to judge a black church—even when the most recent rantings come from the mouth of . . . a white preacher.
Morning Joe opened today with a clip of Father Michael Pfleger guest-preaching this past Sunday at Obama's Trinity United Church of Christ. Pfleger, a fixture on the radical Chicago scene whose endorsement of Obama [h/t Michelle Malkin] until recently appeared on the official Obama campaign website, mocked Hillary Clinton's New Hampshire tears as a sign of her frustrated sense of white entitlement. The screencap shows Pfleger making like Hillary wiping away those tears.
(Watch video above, context included, fast-forward to 3:40 for Brzezinski's humorous comment.)
But while acknowledging the headache Pfleger poses for Obama, Mika was oh-so-loath to comment on the substance or tone of the remarks themselves. Excerpts from her discussion with Tucker Carlson, Mike Barnicle and Willie Geist:
In an attempt to explain how race will impact Democrat presidential candidate Barack Obama's run for the White House, Newsweek has created a "Racial Resentment Index" exclusively for white people without measuring such biases of non-whites.
Apparently, it's only important to Newsweek to identify if racism is a factor in why whites prefer Republican presidential candidate John McCain and not if racism is a factor in why blacks support Obama.
Such can be read between the lines in the article published Friday entitled "The White Stuff: A new NEWSWEEK Poll underscores Obama's racial challenge" (emphasis added, picture courtesy Getty Images):
Even before I heard Chris Matthews mention it, it struck me too . . .
Among the visuals a big-time campaign carefully choreographs is the human backdrop when the candidate speaks—particularly when it's a matter of an important, nationally-televised speech. So it's very hard to imagine that it was coincidence that the crowd visible behind Hillary this evening as she gave her Kentucky primary victory speech . . . was comprised 100% of people of pallor. Kibitzing with co-anchor Keith Olbermann immediately after Clinton's comments, Matthews mentioned it.
CHRIS MATTHEWS: I thought a giveaway line was "who is best positioned to win in November?" That is not exactly a self-crediting commentary. When you position yourself in politics, it's a deliberate effort to try to find a space, not necessarily your own passionate position, or your real position, but to find a place, to triangulate, to try to find a place that appeals to a certain percentage of the voters that will carry you over. And to advertise yourself as the "best-positioned" is not really a statement of authenticity, it's a statement of political positioning. It's a Dick Morris phrase, if anything. It's certainly an odd way to portray it.
I think I know what she's saying, which is "I'm perhaps stronger on defense, perhaps I'm white, perhaps I'm appealing to the working class." I do think it's interesting that her entire crowd was white tonight. That was interesting. Usually they try to mix it up a bit, up near the lectern on purpose, to give it a sense of random selection. It didn't look very random there.
Like choosing Rosie O'Donnell to vouch that someone isn't a 9-11 conspiracy nut?
Of all the people Mika Brzezinski might have selected as a character reference for her father when he was portrayed as a problem for Obama with Jewish voters, Pat Buchanan isn't the first one who springs to mind. Yet that's who Mika [subbing as host for Joe Scarborough, home in Florida awaiting the birth of a baby] called on to defend her dad on today's Morning Joe.
The odd endorsement came at about 6:35 AM EDT today, after Mika highlighted an op-ed in today's Wall Street Journal by Global View columnist [and former Jerusalem Post editor] Bret Stephens entitled Obama and the Jews. Stephens's item contained these lines [emphasis added]:
Paul Krugman is over in Berlin, and—surprise!—concludes that Europeans have things better figured out than we benighted Americans do. The gist of his Stranded in Suburbia in today's NY Times is that dense cities like Berlin, which offer good public transportation, are the solution to the high gasoline prices we are seemingly stuck with. Krugman contrasts Berlin and Atlanta:
Greater Atlanta has roughly the same population as Greater Berlin — but Berlin is a city of trains, buses and bikes, while Atlanta is a city of cars, cars and cars.
So why don't more Americans choose to live in big cities? After citing the current lack of good public transportation and the durability of suburban housing, Krugman points his accusing liberal's finger at his fellow Americans [emphasis added]:
Eleanor Clift's latest online column for Newsweek assumes that white male "Reagan Democrats" are racist and sexist, or at least they're sickened by appeals by too much focus on the "rights" of blacks and women.
Whether the term is Reagan Democrats or NASCAR dads, they're euphemisms for the white men who deserted a party they thought focused too much on the rights of blacks and women.
Isn't that a bit simplistic? Couldn't there be a lot of reasons for white male Democrats to vote for Reagan? There's no room in Clift's racist/sexist analysis for the possibility that defections came because of issues like abortion, the Vietnam War and the "peace" movement, and later, in Reagan's case, the Carter mismanagement of the economy and the Iranian hostage crisis. Clift continued:
On the May 14 edition of "The View" co-host Sherri Shepherd revealed her family once lived in West Virginia, but not in singing "take me home." Apparently West Virginians are racist. Why? Because Barack Obama lost of course. The noted historian and geographer added she knows "why [her family] moved" and "overwhelming white" West Virginia "voted for Clinton."
Shepherd also implied Clinton voters who say they will vote for McCain if Obama is the nominee are motivated by race. Sherri Shepherd previously chided Elisabeth Hasselbeck for raising concerns about those who vote for Obama because of his race. On the April 24 edition, Shepherd proclaimed that she is "a black woman" and "so proud of [Obama]."
Elisabeth Hasselbeck then jumped in and asked "is it always because of racism or because of politics too?" Whoopi Goldberg opined "it’s hard to tell."
Hillary Clinton won among white voters in West Virginia by a 67-26% margin. Pretty lopsided. Then again, that's nearly an even split compared to the 90+ percent of black votes Barack Obama's been racking up in state after state.
So who does Diane Sawyer suggest should reject race-based votes? Senator 90+? Nope. James Carville was Sawyer's guest during the GMA's opening half-hour today.
DIANE SAWYER: I want to talk about the fact that 20% of the voters coming out of the West Virginia race said race was in fact a factor in their vote, and of those Senator Clinton won 84%. Here's my question: should Senator Clinton say she is rejecting the votes of anyone who votes based in any way on color of skin?
On Wednesday’s "Your World" on FNC, host Neil Cavuto talked with talk show host Montel Williams about the election and asked if Williams was backing anyone, to which Williams responded: "You know, I'm into the election year, but I got to tell you I'm -- here I'll do something controversial, so it'll get us both fired. But I'm sick right now of the way the media is attempting to control this election rather than just report the news." [audio available here]
Williams' condemnation of media went further: "People keep being called or claim to play a race card, when it's really us in the media that are playing the race card, trying to bait people to play into the race card. I'm sick of some of what I feel is some of the most divisive politics that I've seen in the last 20 years."
Cavuto again attempted to find out if Williams was supporting any particular candidate, but instead Williams articulated his responsibility as an influential television personality not to endorse anyone:
During MSNBC's live coverage of Tuesday's West Virginia Democratic primary, Chris Matthews three times compared Hillary Clinton to Al Sharpton because she recently cited her popularity with white blue-collar voters as a reason she should be the Democratic presidential nominee. Matthews: "It's almost like she's the Al Sharpton of white people." Keith Olbermann claimed that media coverage of the Democratic campaign has been fair, but still conceded that "if the media leaned at any point early on in this race, it was not against [Clinton], but towards her." Matthews contended that, similar to the way Bill Clinton in 1992 had "a tremendous wind at his back in terms of press coverage because of generation," this time Barack Obama "has benefitted from being the new breeze."
Former DNC chairman Terry McAuliffe also got to poke fun at Matthews over his over the top confession last February that an Obama speech caused a "thrill going up my leg." While discussing Clinton's speech from Tuesday night, McAuliffe joked: "I'm sure it sent shivers up Chris Matthews's leg." (Transcript follows)
Just a few days ago, Barack Obama scoffed at the suggestion he was playing the age card when he accused John McCain of "losing his bearings." But check out the way the Obama campaign has now chosen to declarethat it wouldn't leave the playing field in Michigan and Florida to its Republican opponent:
"We're not going to let John McCain wander around in those states unchallenged anymore."
Wander around? Like the nice ol' feller found ambling down the street in his bathrobe who has to be gently led back home?
The Society of Professional Journalists has decided that it is best to leave a suspect's race out of crime reporting except for "extraordinary" reasons. Of course, to the SPJ, "good reporting" means race info in a story about crime isn't "useful to people in the community" even if the race of a suspect is part of a police report apparently. Despite their claim that they aren't toeing the PC line, their explanation is filled with just the sort of reasoning based on PC thinking -- one of which is that all whites are racists.
Some of you may remember the story in September of 2007 when the Sacramento Bee announced that they were revisiting their policy of including race in their crime stories. A particularly gruesome crime occurred that brought the Bee to revisit their policy when they reported on the suspect leaving out race while Internet reporting as well as the Bee's own comments section on their internet posting of the story reported the race of the suspect anyway.
Reporter Fred Lucas of CNSNews.com (a project of the MRC) has found an interesting quote for Tim Russert or others at NBC and MSNBC to ask Barack Obama about in their next live interview. A "social justice" minister at Obama's Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago wrote an article for the church bulletin last year that the Don Imus incident on MSNBC proved the networks were run by right-wing bigots:
In a column in the April 15, 2007 bulletin, the Rev. Reginald Williams, the associate pastor for social justice at Trinity United, said he was not surprised by the racially charged remarks that talk-radio host Don Imus made about the Rutgers University women's basketball team because "the major networks are run by right-winged conservatives who still see black people as subhuman and portray black people as such."
In the patriotism category, Trinity's Rev. Williams also suggested the Pentagon was training terrorists in Latin America -- an article of faith on the Castro-sympathizing left:
On Friday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith proclaimed: "Barack Obama took some time off from campaigning to go back to Washington, where he got the royal treatment yesterday." Correspondent Chip Reid followed with a report: "Officially this place, Capitol Hill, is Barack Obama's place of employment, but he doesn't come here very often. When he did make a rare visit yesterday he was treated like a rock star."
Reid went on to describe Obama’s "rock star" tour of Congress: "Swarmed by tourists and reporters, Barack Obama slowly wound his way through the U.S. Capitol, visiting the House floor where observers say even some members of Congress appeared star struck."
At one point, Reid explained how Obama reached across the aisle: "Even saying hello to House Republicans." However, Reid pointed out that: "the conversation apparently was less than profound," and played a clp of Obama joking: "They said they were impressed with my jump shot."
After Reid’s report, Smith talked to Democratic strategist Joe Trippi about when Hillary Clinton would get out of the race. Smith began by asking about Clinton’s recent comments in an interview: "First about Hillary Rodham Clinton, gives an interview to USA Today yesterday talking about how well she does with white voters, listening to her husband last night, are the wheels finally coming off this bus?"
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.
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?
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.
Was it Hardball—or the World Series of Poker? Interviewing Hillary's Howard Wolfson today, Chris Matthews accused the Clinton campaign of playing the white race card. Just minutes later, when Wolfson suggested Matthews might be discriminating against Puerto Rican voters, Chris protested "don't play that card on me."
During Tuesday's coverage of the Democratic primaries in Indiana and North Carolina on MSNBC, co-anchor Keith Olbermann dismissed the importance of the finding that approximately half of primary voters considered Barack Obama's pastor Jeremiah Wright was an important factor in their decision, including some who apparently admired the way Obama reacted to the story. And, without naming Fox News, the MSNBC host seemed to accuse FNC of having "done nothing but broadcast this story since it first broke, with the wildest exaggerations and the broadest of interpretations possible." He further expressed relief that, in his view, Wright had not been a strong factor against Obama in the election: "It really does, thank goodness, prove, I think, some of the limitations of the media and of negative campaigning."
Below is a transcript of the relevant comments from Olbermann, which aired about 9:37 p.m. on Tuesday May 6 on MSNBC:
There they go again. Once more, a liberal print journalist has seen racism behind conservative concerns about Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.). Yesterday, NewsBusters noted a blog post by a Chicago Tribune journalist which claims that Obama’s “supposed patriotism deficit” is because white Americans view African Americans in general as less patriotic.
In a May 5 Washington Post article appearing on page A2, “Department of Human Behavior” writer Shankar Vedantam asserted that it is not Revered Jeremiah Wright’s incendiary comments that have damaged Obama, it is his race, sex and public style. If Wright were a white female who wrote her outlandish ideas in a scholarly journal, Vedantam thinks the effects would not be the same.
Another journalist has gone on-the-record equating conservative concerns about the liberal Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) with racism. In a May 5 blog post on the Chicago Tribune’s “The Swamp” blog, writer Frank James expressed his concern about racist white people. James wondered, “How much of Sen. Barack Obama's supposed patriotism deficit among voters has to do with his being African-American?”
Why does James think that whites view African-Americans as less patriotic? According to James’s post, it’s because there is “an assumption on the part of white Americans that a racial group whose ancestors were slaves and which still complains about racial inequalities and injustice must by definition be less patriotic.”
Though she leavened it with considerable levity, there's no escaping the bottom line: Mika Brzezinski sees Pat Buchanan as a nut. An affable one, to be sure. Even one with interesting things to say. But at heart, a nut. A "crazy uncle" fit for the same crate of cracked pots as the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.
The prelude was Mika's reading of an excerpt from a brilliant essay by Charles Krauthammer in today's WaPo. Writing of Obama's recent attempt to definitively hurl Rev. Wright under the Greyhound, Krauthammer observed:
It's hard to think of an act more blatantly expedient than renouncing Wright when his show, once done from the press club instead of the pulpit, could no longer be "contextualized" as something whites could not understand and only Obama could explain in all its complexity.
Turns out the Wright show was not that complex after all. Everyone understands it now. Even Obama.
After Jimmy Carter and Joy Behar, CNN’s Larry King had a prominent liberal guest on his show for the third night in a row on Wednesday, this time Michael Moore. After King played a clip from Bill O’Reilly’s interview of Hillary Clinton which concerned the issue of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Moore pulled out the "black rage" card, as well as the stereotypical rich white liberal guilt. "[Y]ou have to ask yourself, Larry, what's it like to be black in America? And what kind of rage would you feel? And if you did feel that rage, what kind of things would you say that, at times, would be outrageous, crazy even, because you've had to live through this for so long. And I do not believe, as a white guy, that I am in any position to judge a black man who has had to live through that." [audio clip here]
Moore appeared as a guest on "Larry King Live" for the entire hour of the program. His comments on Wright came twenty minutes into the program. Besides explaining away Wright’s many polarizing and outlandish statements, he also attacked Hillary Clinton for her actions in the campaign, as well as his more usual targets of George W. Bush and John McCain.
Would it have been any better for Barack Obama to have said people "rely" on bigotry rather than "cling" to it? I don't think so, but apparently he does . . .
This morning's "Today" aired an extended clip from an interview Meredith Vieira recently conducted of Barack and Michelle Obama. The full interview will be shown Saturday on MSNBC. While I didn't detect any blockbuster moments, there were a few notable nuggets.
On the issue of why he didn't distance himself from Rev. Wright sooner, Obama says: "When those first snippets came out, I thought it was important to give him the benefit of the doubt." That would suggest Obama actually had some doubt as to where Rev. Wright stood. Is that credible, after 20 years in the angry pastor's pews?
Jeremiah Wright is on the Republican "payroll" according to View co-host Joy Behar. Discussing the Reverend Wright controversy, Behar offered her conspiracy theory of a Republican dirty trick: "I think Reverend Wright might be being paid by the Republicans. That's what I think." She emphasized: "He's on the payroll!" This is not the first time Behar has hypothesized on the evil genius of the right. The daytime diva accused Republicans of causing Democratic Senator Tim Johnson's stroke and wondered if the "right-wing" planted the bogus McCain/Iseman story. [audio excerpt available here]
Whoopi then chastised Hasselbeck and those who criticize Obama for his Wright connection: "To sabotage the first black president is outrageous." Behar expressed no such concern over her own smear of African-American Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.
Since Time now sends out its issue on Fridays, perhaps they regret the decision to hand over a page to leftist professor Michael Eric Dyson to proclaim that Rev. Jeremiah Wright is a "war-tested patriot," unlike draft dodgers like Dick Cheney and Bill Clinton. "War-tested" is an odd word, since Wright served stateside, but "patriotism" is even weirder for a man who has alleged that America is a terrorist nation who deserved 9/11. Dyson, used to arguing for bigger thugs than Wright (gangsta-rapper Tupac Shakur) and inveighing against insufficiently radical blacks (Bill Cosby), effortlessly if ridiculously pitched Wright as the uber-patriot, more patriotic than George Bush, Bill Clinton, or Dick Cheney:
Even the angry comments of Jeremiah Wright have to be read as the bitter complaint of a spurned lover. Like millions of other blacks, Wright was willing to serve the country while suffering rejection.
Was Barack Obama's denunciation of Rev. Wright yesterday just some ginned-up anger, a show for the cameras—and the voters? You might think so, to judge by Andrea Mitchell's surprising revelation on today's Morning Joe . . .
JOE SCARBOROUGH: What do you think of the Obama statement yesterday? Was it enough to finally put this behind him?
ANDREA MITCHELL: Perhaps, yes. He had to do it. This thing had been a nagging, you know, problem, an open wound really. This was a very public divorce. I should point out, though, that quite to my surprise when he was out on the stump last night, once again Obama was kind of trivializing it, saying "well, my opponents are making fun of me, and trying to define me, and saying I don't put my hand over my heart, and they talk about my former pastor's crazy statements." So he was trying to blame it on McCain, Hillary, whoever, rather than on what he earlier said in a very specific and dramatic way.
Remember how the MSM swooned over Barack Obama's Philly speech on race after the Rev. Wright tapes pushed the story to the front pages? I expected the same kind of rapturous reaction to Obama's press conference of yesterday in which he definitively ditched the conspiracy-mongering minister.
But, surprisingly, that was not the case at all on CBS's Early Show this morning. To the contrary, the tone was set by the opening graphic shown here, which skeptically asked: "too little, too late?" And when Bob Schieffer and Juan Williams appeared a bit later, they were similarly cynical. Then again, there was one bit of perhaps unintentional candor on host Harry Smith's part, of which more later.
I'm beginning to see Joe Scarborough's skirmishes with Mika Brzezinski on Morning Joe as mere batting practice for the much more serious battles he undertakes in the evening with Rachel Maddow on Race for the White House.
As Noel Sheppard documented, Maddow and Scarborough tangled on April 17th, with Joe possibly having exited the set in the end. The pair were back at it on this evening's "Race," the Air America host this time accusing Scarborough of "tying Barack Obama to Hitler."
Maddow's theme throughout the show was that the media has devoted too much coverage to the Rev. Wright matter. David Shuster, subbing for host David Gregory, lit the fuse.
In a particularly dire analysis on Tuesday’s CBS "Early Show," co- host Harry Smith reacted to the recent media tour of Barack Obama’s former pastor, Jeremiah Wright, and declared: "He's being called the 'Pastor of Disaster' for the effect he's having on Barack Obama's campaign. Why is Reverend Jeremiah Wright taking his case to the public now?"
Smith began the segment on Wright by observing that: "Well, the month of April has probably been the longest month of Senator Barack Obama's life. He started off this month by distancing himself from comments made by his former pastor, Jeremiah Wright. Now he's doing it again."
Smith then talked to Democratic strategist, Joe Trippi, who said of Wright’s media appearances: "It's a nightmare for the Obama campaign. They can't like this at all and they've got no control." Smith went on to comment on Obama’s initial speech in Philadelphia that addressed Reverend Wright: "The speech on race that was so lauded, almost forgotten now." He followed up by asking Trippi: "...is this a campaign killer, can this be a campaign killer?"