CNN's Don Lemon 'Frustrated' With GOP, Wanted to 'Throw Stuff at TV'

November 8th, 2010 4:57 PM

"CNN Newsroom" host Don Lemon is miffed at the GOP -- and he let CNN Senior Political Editor Mark Preston know it on Sunday night. When Preston noted that since the Republicans are once again in the majority in the House of Representatives, they're going to have "to come up and they have learn how to govern," Lemon responded that "They have to learn how the answer the question. Because one person said, was talking about his run for president and the interviewer kept asking him, what are the specifics. Well, my family and I are going to take the Christmas time and pray. I wanted to throw stuff at the television." Mere moments before, Lemon indicated to Preston that he had watched every single Sunday morning talk show and "was so frustrated with these (Republican) guys. Like, why aren't they answering the questions."

Earlier in the program, Lemon had on as a guest one Tim Wise, author of the book Colorblind and scribe of a recent blog post on his website that lamented "The white community that is right-winged," and the "election results [were] a temper tantrum." (See Matthew Balan's NB column on this.) Lemon asked if Wise regretted his blog entry because he had gotten some death threats -- ignoring the fact that conservative pundits get such threats regularly for opining on subjects much less controversial -- and allowed Wise to meander about the Tea Party and other conservatives using the phrase "We want to take the country back" as if it was some racist metaphor. Lemon also remarked that Wise "tells it like it is."

Lemon then took the "Take your country back" hyperbole to the next level when newly elected black Republican Allen West of Florida's 22nd congressional district joined the host after Wise. He actually asked West "but do you understand to some people" the phrase means going back to the days of enslavement and subjugation! Question: How would this even be remotely possible in the year 2010? And "Take our country back" is hardly the exclusive mantra of the GOP and/or the Tea Party anyway. Has Lemon has ever asked any liberals/Democrats what they mean when they use the phrase?

Transcript follows:

LEMON: All right. Senior political editor Mark Preston joins us. So Mark, I saw every single Sunday show this morning. I did not get one specific. I was so frustrated with these guys. Like, why aren't they answering the questions.

MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL EDITOR: Well, because we came out of campaign mode, you know, they made all these promises to the American people. They came out with the document, the promise to America, laying out principles that they said they would bring to Washington. And guess what happened? They won. So now, they have to come up and they have learn how to govern.

Remember, Republicans haven't been in power, certainly in Congress, since several years right now. You have a lot of new members such as Allen West coming, as you just had on. They've got to learn how to govern.

LEMON: They have to learn how the answer the question. Because one person said, was talking about his run for president and the interviewer kept asking him, what are the specifics. Well, my family and I are going to take the Christmas time and pray. I wanted to throw stuff at the television.

PRESTON: Well, they have to do a lot of praying. Look, there's going to have to have a lot of praying in Washington because the fact of the matter is what we have is a very divided country, but we have a very divided Washington now, Don. We have Republicans in charge of the House. Democrats in charge of the Senate. President Obama at the White House right now trying to figure out how to work with Congress.

The real question is what can they get done and really, Don, the real answer to that is going to be in the next couple of weeks. Can they agree on extending President Bush's tax cuts. Republicans want to extend it for everybody. Meanwhile, Democrats, President Obama want to keep it for families and individuals at $250,000 or below. So, it would be interesting to see if they can even cut the deal on that.


LEMON: Ok, this is unbelievable. You should pay attention to this. The Tea Party and other conservatives may be celebrating Tuesday's election results, but some people are fuming. Tim Wise, he has been our regular guest on this show. He has blogged on his Web site a withering rebuke of what he called the "White Right".

He begins with a disclaimer that he is not referring to all white people and that his essay is not anti-white. He says it is addressed to quote, "The white community that is right-winged". Tim Wise joins us now from Nashville.

Ok, Tim so I'm glad you joined us. Thank you so much. Because I've been trying to get in touch with you and get you to do this.


LEMON: I was actually -- I have to be honest -- a little bit stunned when I read this because your -- your language is unusually rough and raw.

WISE: Yes.

LEMON: We know that you tell it like it is.

WISE: Yes.

LEMON: You called the election results a temper tantrum and you sound mad as hell.

LEMON: Tim, do you -- do you regret -- you've gotten death threats because of this, haven't you?

WISE: Sure. Yes, sure.


WISE: I mean, I don't like that, but you know -- but the reality is the death threats are coming from people who very clearly don't have the capacity for reading comprehension. They are the ones who seem to think that in this piece, I'm blasting all white folks or calling for the -- the death of white people.

My goodness, I'm white, my wife is white, my kids are white, my entire family is white. It doesn't make any sense that I would do that kind of thing. What I'm saying is, there are a lot of us white folks who reject the right and in about 40 years, when half of the country are people of color who definitely lean progressives. Even if they're only 25 or 30 percent of us in the white community who are progressive, that is going to be a political majority.


LEMON: Ok so Tim --

WISE: And my point in this letter was they need to enjoy their victories while they can because they're not going to last forever.

LEMON: So it's not sour grape and it's not satirical.

WISE: Oh no. Oh it's not satirical and it's not sour grapes primarily because look, I'm not a shield for the Democratic Party. I've been very critical of the Obama administration as you know. I'm very critical of Democrats. What I'm saying is that the right wing's time is limited unless they can figure out -- and I don't think they have figured out -- how to appeal to people of color and young folks when your rhetoric is, "We want to take the country back."

Black and brown people don't want to go back --


LEMON: He had some really harsh things to say about what he calls the white right. It was really a scathing sort of op-ed or open letter in his blog post. What did you make of what he said?

WEST: Well, I think he's totally out of touch. I think when you look at the fact, here in congressional district 22, I was able to win a congressional district that is in the top five per capita income in the United States of America. It has a population that's 92 to 93 percent white.

So this is not about color. This is definitely about people being able to articulate the right principles of governance and being able to present viable solutions and it really does come down to character. It has nothing to do with color of the skin. And I was very concerned about when he started with this taking this country back rhetoric. It is not time oriented. It's not about going back to a certain period in the United States of America, but it's about going back to constitutional principles, understanding the right and proper mandates of our federal government and their interaction that the federal government with life and society and how does it promote free market and free enterprise.

LEMON: That's what it means to you, but do you understand to some people, when you say, take our country back, they go back to where, back to a time when my people were enslaved or were subjugated? Do you understand, to some people, when they hear those words that's the meaning behind those words.

WEST: Well, that's one of the things that you know, down here, I use the phrase bayonets. Everyone thought I was wanting to go around and stick people and stab people when the word bayonets came from the second day of Gettysburg and it was a rally cry from Colonel Joshua Chamberlain when he faced some very tough situations (INAUDIBLE). So I think that people have an ability to take anything that they want and twist it and take it out of context for their own practical gain and I think that's what Mr. Wise (ph) has done.

Video clip of the Wise segment is here.

Video clip of the West segment is here.

Thanks to NB reader Mike for the tip!