As excuses go, it was right up there with "but oshifer, I was too drunk to see that stop sign." That's the league in which I'd put the defense of Barack Obama over the Rev. Wright mess that Mika Brzezinski offered this morning.
Responding to Chris Matthews' question on yesterday's Hardball as to why he never left Rev. Wright's church, Obama claimed "I never heard [Rev. Wright] say those things that were in those clips." On today's Morning Joe, two of the three panelists weren't buying. The genial Willie Geist came down off the fence where he often resides to frame the issue.
WILLIE GEIST: The fact remains, a lot of people, and these are people we've all talked to, say "if I went into a church with my children, and the pastor said 'God damn America' and the rest of these things, you just wouldn't go back to that church." There are other places to go.
That's when Brzezinski began her bad Johnnie Cochran impression.
View video here.
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: I think he's claiming he didn't hear that.
Joe Scarborough drew on a personal experience to expose the flimsiness of Mika's argument.
JOE SCARBOROUGH: We'll get really personal here for a second. My daughter goes to an Episcopal school in Florida. In the Episcopal church, there is a visiting pastor, still is a visiting pastor there, who decided that the week before Easter, instead of talk about the miracle of Jesus' rebirth, to talk about how Jews massacre Palestinians, and how they are the terrorists, and that the United States of America supports state terrorism.
Well guess what? Despite the fact I haven't been to that church in six months, despite the fact that I'm up in New York City instead of Pensacola, Florida, my phone rang off the hook from 20 different people from Christ Church in Pensacola, Florida, talking about how this pastor used his pulpit to make political statements against Israel and to blast United States foreign policy.
Now please. Had I been a member of that church for 20 years? The Sunday after September 11th the pastor goes on a winder like that one, a bender like that one? Please, Barack Obama, tell me many things, tell me that you haven't bowled in years and maybe I'll buy that. But don't tell me you didn't hear what your pastor said, because you and I both know that's just not the truth. Come up with a better excuse than that, and Americans will take it. But that one? That one doesn't wash.
That's when Mika offered up the season's lamest defense.
BRZEZINSKI: Well, I have an argument for it. I'm not sure you want me to go there. But the argument may be that in that church they did not necessarily, everything, everybody in that church knows the pastor, and they were not, so --
SCARBOROUGH: They weren't shocked.
BRZEZINSKI: They weren't shocked.
Let's get this straight: Mika's defense consists of claiming that Rev. Wright had such a reputation for making outrageous statements, that his "chickens coming home . . . to roost!" wasn't anything out of the ordinary. Thus it's easily imaginable that no one bothered to bring it to Barack Obama's attention.
As defenses go, that's a hell of an indictment. Scarborough drove the point home.
SCARBOROUGH: If they weren't shocked by him saying God damn America, if they weren't shocked by the United States the US KKK A, if they weren't shocked by him saying we deserve what we get on September 11th, if they weren't shocked with anti-Semitic tirades in church bulletins, if they weren't shocked by anti-Italian tirades in church bulletins, then guess what: neither was Barack Obama. So why was he there?